California Chemical Burn Injury Lawyer

Our California chemical burn injury attorneys understand that burn injuries can occur at home and frequently happen in the workplace. Chemical burns occur when the skin or eyes come into contact with irritants, such as acids or bases (alkaline). Chemical burns can be very painful and are classified on the same scale as other burn injuries – first, second, or third degree burns.

Chemicals that come into contact with skin may cause a reaction on the skin or within the body. Chemical burns may affect the internal organs if the chemicals are swallowed. While chemical burns are less frequent than some other burn injuries, they are often more serious burns that affect deeper tissues. They also frequently affect the victim’s eyes and may result in permanent vision loss.

Burns are a common problem seen in the emergency department. There has been a decrease in the number of burns in the United States through 2000, but this appears to have stabilized since. Most burns are only partial thickness and occur on the extremities. Approximately 5% of individuals with burns presenting to the emergency department require admission.

In 2011, the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) reported 15,616 cases of exposures to acidic substances, 18,960 cases of exposures to alkaline substances, 20,518 cases of peroxide exposures, and 38,613 cases of bleach exposures. During that time, 352 cases of exposure to phenols or phenol products were reported. Chemical burn injuries account for 2-6% of burn center admissions.

How Do You Get Chemical Burns?

A large number of industrial and commercial products contain potentially toxic concentrations of acids, bases, or other chemicals that can cause burns. Some of the more common products are listed as follows:

  • Acids, such as those in industrial cleaners and rust removers are oxidizing agents or corrosive agents. Oxidizing agents add oxygen to proteins, which changes the structure and thus the function. Corrosive agents denature protein through various mechanisms.
  • Bases (or alkalis) such as lime, potassium hydroxide, sodium hydroxide, cement, or household cleaners like ammonia, act as reducing agents or desiccants. Reducing agents denature proteins by breaking the bonds between the amino acids that make up the protein. Desiccants extract water from tissues through a heat-producing reaction, causing both chemical and thermal burns.
  • Hydrocarbons, such as solvents, degreasing agents, and gasoline act as protoplasmic toxins (they kill cells).
  • Nitric acid is commonly used in engraving, metal refining, electroplating, and fertilizer manufacturing.
  • Hydrochloric acid is commonly used in toilet bowl cleaners, metal cleaners, soldering fluxes, dye manufacturing, metal refining, plumbing applications, swimming pool cleaners, and laboratory chemicals. Hydrochloric acid is also known as muriatic acid.

People who are at the highest risk for chemical burns are infants, the elderly, and the disabled since they may not be able to handle chemicals properly. Chemical burns may be the result of an accident or not following proper safety procedures when using chemicals at work or school. Those who have decreased mobility may have a higher risk for chemical burns if they are handling acids, or other chemicals without assistance or guidance.

Symptoms of Chemical Burns

Symptoms of chemical burns may vary depending on how the burn was received. Burns caused by a swallowed chemical will be treated differently than burns that occur on the skin. The symptoms from a chemical burn may depend on some of the following factors:

  • length of contact with chemical
  • if the chemical was inhaled or swallowed
  • if skin was intact during contact (no open cuts or wounds)
  • location of the contact
  • the amount of chemical used
  • concentration of the chemical
  • strength of the chemical
  • if the chemical was gas, liquid, or solid

For example if the chemical was alkaline and was swallowed, it will cause burns on the inside of the stomach, which may produce different symptoms than other chemical burns. In general, the common symptoms associated with chemical burns include:

  • blackened or dead skin (mainly seen in chemical burns from acid)
  • irritation, redness, or burning at the affected area
  • numbness or pain at the affected area
  • loss of vision or changes in vision if chemicals have come into contact with eyes

If the chemical has been swallowed, some of the following symptoms may also occur:

  • irregular heartbeat
  • headache
  • low blood pressure
  • cardiac arrest (heart attack)
  • shortness of breath or coughing
  • seizures
  • weak or dizzy sensation
  • muscle twitches

Hire a California Chemical Burn Injury Attorney

If you or a loved one has suffered a chemical burn injury in California, caused by another’s negligence, the attorneys at the Liljegren Law Group can help. Contact us today to arrange a free case evaluation and learn about your legal options from our highly experienced California burn injury attorneys. Call today at 866.613.9906.

If you have more general questions about chemical burns, other burn types and there symptoms and treatment options, visit our burn injury facts and stats page.

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