firefighters battling flame from 18-wheeler accident

Burn Injuries From 18-Wheeler Accidents

When most people think of the dangers involved in an 18-wheeler accident, most people understandably focus on the initial physical impact of the collision. 18-wheelers and other large commercial vehicles can weigh up to 80,000 pounds when fully loaded and reach lengths of more than 80 feet, making them capable of causing unimaginable carnage. However, one frequent but often overlooked type of injury following these accidents involves burn injuries stemming from 18-wheeler accidents.

Potential Causes of Burn Injuries After an 18-Wheeler Accident

Burn injuries can occur in many different ways after an accident with a semi-truck. One of the most common causes of burn injuries involves a semi-truck that begins to leak fuel after an accident. While diesel fuel is much less flammable than the unleaded gas most cars and trucks take, it can still catch fire. Diesel fuel has a flashpoint of just under 200 degrees Fahrenheit, a temperature that can easily be reached when diesel comes into contact with sparks from metal grinding against the road or extremely hot parts of a truck’s engine.

When properly designed and working correctly, a truck’s fuel system is isolated from hot parts of the engine and sources of open flames. However, 18-wheeler accidents often involve multiple vehicles, which apply force to the truck from several directions. If the fuel system is improperly maintained or designed, it can rupture, leading to a fire. However, even well-designed and well-cared-for trucks can experience a fuel system leak, potentially leading to a fire or explosion.

In some accidents, the truck accident first causes a fire unrelated to the truck itself, for example, by running off the road into a dry brush. The brush may catch fire, which then spreads to the truck’s fuel system. If the fire damages the fuel system, it can cause a massive explosion, injuring anyone within a large radius.

Another common cause of burn injury after an 18-wheeler accident involves the cargo the truck is carrying. 18-wheelers transport all types of cargo, some of which are highly flammable or otherwise dangerous. For example, some 18-wheelers carry gasoline, paint, rubbing alcohol, or other harmful substances that can ignite when exposed to high temperatures. 18-wheelers carrying hazardous material are subject to strict federal regulations, including regular inspections of the cargo area. However, there is no guarantee that a truck’s cargo won’t go up in flames after an accident. Some trucks also carry a load that, while not flammable, can cause chemical burns when inhaled or when it comes in contact with an accident victim’s skin.

Types of Burns

Most burns fall into three categories, depending on their severity.

First-Degree Burns

First-degree burns typically affect the skin’s outer layer, called the epidermis. First-degree burns most often result in some swelling and redness but do not usually require medical treatment unless they cause severe pain.

Second-Degree Burns

Second-degree burns affect the epidermis as well as the second layer of skin, called the dermis. These burns may result in swelling, pain, and blistering. Some second-degree burns will cause lasting scars and other disfigurement, depending on the seriousness of the burn and which part of the body is affected. Medical treatment may be required, but not in all cases.

Third-Degree Burns

Third-degree burns are severe. These burns affect all three layers of the skin and the underlying tissues. Third-degree burns cause the skin to become very sensitive and painful to the touch. Additionally, the skin may char (change to a dark blackish-brown color) and be very dry. These burns require medical treatment, which may include a skin graft. A skin graft is a medical procedure in which doctors take or artificial skin and apply it over the affected area to heal the skin.

While the immediate concern of anyone experiencing a burn injury is their short-term recovery, burn injuries can have a lifelong impact on those who suffer from them. Often, burns require a lengthy course of medical treatment and, even then, may leave accident victims with permanent disfigurement and a lifetime of lingering pain and other physical limitations.

Have You Suffered a Burn Injury as a Result of an 18-Wheeler Accident?

If you or a loved one was recently involved in a South Carolina 18-wheeler accident and suffered burn injuries as a result, contact the Steinberg Law Firm for immediate assistance. At the Steinberg Law Firm, our dedicated team of truck accident lawyers is committed to advocating on behalf of accident victims and their families, helping them recover from the physical, emotional, and financial impact of an accident. Over the past ten years, we’ve recovered more than $800 million on behalf of our clients and look forward to seeing how we can help you with your case.

To learn more and to schedule a free consultation with an attorney at the Steinberg Law Firm, call 843-720-2800. You can also reach us through our online form. We represent clients in Charleston, Goose Creek, Summerville, and the surrounding areas.

Updated on May 10, 2024

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