Walker Morgan LLC

Chemical Burns

Chemical Burn Injury Lawyers

Certain chemicals can cause burns when exposed to the human body. While chemical burns are often associated with industrial accidents, there are many other scenarios and places where these types of burns can happen. At Walker Morgan, we help individuals and workers get compensation for chemical burn injuries they sustained due to another person’s or company’s negligence.

Definition of Chemical Burns

Chemical Burn Injury Attorney, Walker Morgan LLCChemical burns are injuries that are caused when a strong acid or base comes into direct contact with skin. Chemical burns may be the result of an accident or an assault, and may occur at home, at school, or in the workplace – especially in businesses or manufacturing plants where large amounts of caustic chemicals are used. Mining, medicine, and chemical fabrication are three examples of potentially hazardous industries. Billy Walker and Kirk Morgan have extensive experience with cases involving chemical burns and their effects and are eager to assist you at their Lexington/Columbia, South Carolina practice.

Where do chemical burns happen

The average person is exposed to all kinds of chemicals everyday. Everyday items, like cosmetics and household cleaners, contain chemical compounds — some of which could be dangerous. Additionally, many manufacturing and food processing factories utilize potentially dangerous chemicals in their processes.

The inescapable presence of chemicals in our everyday lives means a chemical burn can happen almost anywhere. While some chemicals are safe and pose minimal health threats, others can cause significant injuries if not used properly.

Here are some potential industries and places where chemical burns can happen:

  • Daycares A daycare may be negligent in the storage of household cleansers which can cause significant injury to children if they are exposed to cleaners like bleach or toilet bowl cleaner.
  • Food Processing Plants Workers in food processing factories may need to work with strong chemicals from time to time. If a person is accidentally exposed to these chemicals, the consequences could be serious. For example, slaked lime (calcium hydroxide) is a common cleaning chemical that can cause burns when exposed to moisture.
  • Defective Products If a company’s cosmetic or hygiene product has not been properly tested for safety, or if a bad batch is sent out, it can result in skin irritation and burns
  • Agriculture Farm work requires the use of fertilizers, pesticides, and week-killers. Accidental exposure to these chemicals could result in serious injury or death

These are just some examples of where chemical burn can happen. Lab and chemical workers can also be exposed to dangerous chemicals, as can janitorial staff and anyone who works with batteries.

Causes of Chemical Burns

Caustic chemicals are found in cleaning products, battery fluid, pool chemicals, drain cleaners, lime, and fireworks. Many other acids and bases are highly dangerous, and serious injuries are possible. The severity of chemical burns may be deceptive. For example, hydrofluoric acid can eat to the bone before the extent of the chemical burn becomes evident to the person.

What are the potential effects of a chemical burn

Chemical burns can result in thermal burns, the complete disintegration of skin and tissue, or even permanent blindness.

This is why it is important to treat chemical burns as quickly as possible. When exposed to a potentially dangerous chemical, you should immediately remove any clothing that was exposed and run large amounts of waters across any affected body parts to flush out the chemical. You should also seek immediate medical attention. Doing so, will reduce risk of permanent disfigurement or blindness.

Liability for Chemical Burns

If your burn was caused due to the negligence or irresponsibility of another person or business, then they may be held liable for medical expenses, lost wages due to being unable to work, and compensation for any significant loss in quality of life or permanent disfigurement. Usually, the person’s or company’s insurance policy will be used to pay these damages.

Negligence can come in many forms. Here are some examples:

  • If a company does not provide proper safety training or equipment, or encourage safe procedures, then they may be held liable for any chemical burn sustained while at work.
  • If you used a product as directed and it resulted in burns, then the manufacturer could be held liable for a defective product
  • If a daycare left out cleaning chemicals that were accessible by children, the daycare could be held liable for any burns sustained.
  • If you are exposed to an unsafe chemical and there were no visible warnings about it in a person’s house, restaurant, or place of business, then the owner of the premises may be held liable under “premises liability” law.

If you’ve suffered serious injury and financial hardship because of a chemical burn, contact our office today to discuss your specific situation. We’re here to help.

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More About Chemical Burns

Chemical burns make up over 3% of burn injuries requiring in-patient medical care. They are generally caused by exposure to either an acid or base. Exposure can mean either direct contact with the chemical or with fumes put off by the chemical. The extent of the burn depends on the properties of the chemical, the tissue area involved, and the duration of the contact before cleansing. Chemicals do not actually need to be hot to burn; the burn results from the chemical reaction that occurs when a given chemical comes in contact with skin or other body tissue.

Acids & Bases

The two main categories of chemicals leading to chemical burns are acids and alkalis—also called bases. These two categories are broadly defined as chemicals with properties that allow them to neutralize each other. The acidity or alkalinity of a substance is measured along the pH scale with 7 being neutral, 0 being extremely acidic, and 14 being extremely alkaline. Not everything that is acidic or alkaline is harmful. For example, lemon juice has a pH of 2, orange juice has a pH of 3, baking soda has a pH of 9, and milk of magnesia has a pH of 10. But on the far extremes of the pH scale are substances that can cause serious harm to the body. Concentrated sulfuric acid has a pH of 1 and liquid drain cleaners have pH levels around 14.

The danger from these types of chemicals is how they interact with body tissue. Acids damage and kill cells by coagulating cells while alkalis liquefy cells. In general, alkali burns are more severe because alkalis tend to penetrate tissue more rapidly and deeply than acids do. These chemical reactions continue as long as the chemical is in contact with body tissue. Cleansing the injury site is a top priority. Often this is done with water, but certain cleansing solutions are more effective if the properties of the harmful chemical are known.

Symptoms

Not all chemicals react the same way and not all people react the same way to different chemicals, but in general there are certain symptoms that are indicative that a person has experienced a chemical burn. Some common symptoms include:

  • Redness, irritation, or burning at the site of contact
  • Pain or numbness at the site of contact

More serious symptoms that warrant seeking immediate medical attention include:

  • Formation of blisters or black dead skin at the contact site
  • Vomiting
  • Low blood pressure
  • Faintness, weakness, dizziness
  • Shortness of breath or severe cough
  • Headache
  • Muscle twitching or seizures
  • Cardiac arrest or irregular heartbeat

Treatment

The Burn Injury Management page has full information on treatment for each of the various burn types. Some basic treatment steps that are specific to chemical burns and can be performed at home include removing any clothing or jewelry that was exposed to the chemical—taking care not to spread the chemical over more skin, washing the injured area for several minutes to remove the harmful chemical and stop the burning process, and administering over-the-counter medication to alleviate the pain.

If the victim starts going into shock; the burn penetrates the top layer of skin; the burn is near the eyes, hands, feet, face, groin, buttocks, or over a major joint; the pain cannot be controlled with over-the-counter pain relievers, or the victim exhibits any of the serious symptoms listed above, then medical attention is necessary. Medical professionals are best suited to diagnose the properties of the chemical and determine the extent of the injury. Hospitals will take patients through an initial evaluation and stabilization process which may include blood tests and other studies to determine if the patient should be admitted to the hospital for additional treatment.

Products

Below is a list of products that contain potentially hazardous chemicals and are routinely found in homes. These products should be stored in a safe location away from access by children. Adults should also be mindful when using these products to exercise safe handling techniques which includes following directions and safety precautions on the label provided by the manufacturer.

  • Agricultural products
  • Batteries
  • Bleach
  • Concrete mix
  • Drain or toilet bowl cleaners
  • Fireworks
  • Insecticide
  • Oven cleaners
  • Pool chlorinators

Furthermore, any products that include any of the following substances should also be treated with extra caution.

  • Hydrochloric acid
  • Hydrofluoric acid
  • Lime
  • Lye
  • Silver nitrate
  • Sulfuric acid

Professional Hazards

The leading risk for chemical burns is in the workplace with workplace injuries accounting for nearly 50% of chemical burns that require admission to a burn center. Certain professions (chemical fabrication, medicine, mining, pool maintenance, etc.) create a higher risk for workers because of the use of large amounts of hazardous chemicals. The CDC estimates that over 13 million U.S. workers are exposed to hazardous chemicals resulting in expenses of over $1 billion annually.

In light of the threat that hazardous chemicals pose, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) established the Hazard Communication Standard. This standard requires all employers with hazardous chemicals in the workplace to maintain safety data on the chemicals in use, make this information available to their employees, and train their employees in proper chemical handling. If a workplace is not following OSHA guidelines, the employer can be fined.

Chemical Burn Infographic

Chemical Burns Infographic

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Our Attorneys

injury lawyer kirk morgan

Kirk Morgan

Attorney

injury lawyer billy walker

Billy Walker

Attorney

injury lawyer will walker

Will Walker

Attorney

injury lawyer chuck slaughter

Chuck Slaughter

Attorney

Types of Burns

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Degrees of Burns

First , second , and third degree burns

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Burn Injuries

There are many types of burn injuries

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Scald Burn Injury

Caused when very hot liquids come into contact with skin

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Electrical Burns

Electricity can burn the skin and is capable of causing internal damage

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Chemical Burns

Caused when a strong acid or base comes into direct contact with skin

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Car/Boating Accidents

Thermal burns can occur if the car catches fire or explodes

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Gas Explosions

Caused when a gas leak combines with an ignition source

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Worker’s Compensation

If you've been burned on the job, you may need legal guidance

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E-Cigarette Burns

Can be caused by defective batteries or overheated vapor

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