Chemical burns resulting from car accidents are fairly common. Although people may not expect these injuries to happen as frequently as fractures, back injuries, and bruises, chemical burns are a real danger in motor vehicle accidents. It can happen when drivers and passengers are exposed to toxic chemicals, like battery acid, gasoline, and other fluids, that are released into the air.
Many car accident chemical burns result from problems with airbag deployment. This can occur when airbags malfunction and leak out corrosive chemicals and gases. When these or other chemicals come into contact with a person’s eyes or skin, the burns can be just as bad as ones from a fire. People sitting in the front of a vehicle are more at risk for chemical burns since this is where the front airbags are located. They are also closer to the hood, and this is where the hazardous fluids are stored.
What are the Symptoms of Chemical Burns?
Not all chemical burns are severe, but others can cause disfigurement or long-term medical care. A chemical burn may not become apparent until hours after a crash. Even if there are no immediate symptoms, it is imperative to seek medical care if a chemical burn is suspected. Victims may experience itchiness, blisters, blurry vision, rashes, hives, and redness of the eyes and skins. Other symptoms include watery eyes and burning sensations.
If the burns are more serious, victims may be unable to see, have blackened skin, problems breathing, dizziness and weakness, or low blood pressure. They might also experience headache, faintness, an irregular heartbeat, or cardiac arrest. Like other kinds of burns, chemical burn symptoms can be unpredictable and can even lead to death.
If the chemical burn covers the victim’s face, buttocks, hands, feet, groin, major joint, or covers an area more than three inches in diameter, 911 should be called right away. These burns should be treated with the utmost care since handling them the wrong way could make the damage much worse. Blisters should never be punctured, and dead skin should not be removed; applying medicine to the burn should also be avoided. All of these measures could increase the possibility for infection.
When 911 is contacted, the caller should immediately inform the dispatcher about the chemical burn. While waiting for the paramedics, the dispatcher might advise rinsing the area with cool, clean water, but this is not always the case. It may be possible to put a wet cloth on the area, but this should not be done without asking first. Some chemicals react in certain ways when they come into contact with water.
How Do People Recover From Chemical Burns?
Recovering from any type of serious burn injury can be quite challenging. Fortunately, the majority of chemical burns are not life-altering, but when they are, individuals may experience permanent scars, amputations, and be unable to achieve the same quality of life they had before the crash. Some victims cannot return to work temporarily or ever again.
Chemical burn victims may end up requiring several surgeries, and complications from surgeries plus infections are common. There may be skin grafts needed, as well as physical rehabilitation and long-term assistance. All of this treatment can lead to costly medical bills as well.
Although auto insurance providers might take the victim’s medical and property damage expenses into account when working out a settlement, they may not factor the individual’s pain and suffering into the equation. The amount initially offered is often less than a fair and just compensation, which is why it is important to have a lawyer.
How Do Virginia Laws Apply?
Every state has car insurance requirements. Virginia applies a fault-based system regarding car accident losses, including injuries, property damage, and lost income. Therefore, the at-fault party’s insurance provider will cover these costs up to the policy limits. Victims can file claims with their insurance companies, who usually pursue subrogation claims against the at-fault party’s provider. Another option is to file a third-party claim directly with that liable driver’s auto insurance provider. It may also be possible to file a personal injury lawsuit in a civil court.
It is important to understand what kind of car insurance Virginia drivers must carry. Those who pay a $500 uninsured motor vehicle fee are permitted to drive within the state without auto insurance. However, that is not the same as having car insurance. Those who do this are personally liable for damages. Drivers who do not choose this option have to carry these minimum amounts for liability coverage:
- $25,000 for bodily injury and death of one person
- $50,000 for total bodily injury and death liability
- $20,000 for property damage for each accident
This coverage provides for medical expenses, property damage, and other related costs incurred by the victims up to the specified coverage limits. Once those limits are exhausted, there may still be significant bills that need to be paid. Some people carry more coverage, while others have none. Drivers who do not carry insurance can be subject to serious penalties, like having their license and registration suspended and significant fees.
Contributory negligence laws also apply in Virginia car accident cases. Car accident victims are unable to receive damages if they are found to be partially responsible for causing the crash. In some states, the rules specify that victims can get compensation if courts determine that both parties involved in an accident contributed to it as long as the claimant was not more than 50 percent responsible. Virginia’s contributory negligence rule is more stringent, however.
How can I Pursue a Car Accident Claim in Virginia?
Even though that rule can be challenging, a qualified lawyer can provide helpful advice for car accident chemical burn victims. Proving liability will be an important hurdle, but it can be done with careful investigation and documentation. It is also essential to be aware of the statute of limitations.
Virginia has three statutes of limitations that may apply to car accident cases:
- For property damage related to a car accident, the claimant has five years to file a lawsuit.
- If anyone suffered injuries and wishes to file a lawsuit against another party, the case has to be filed within two years of the accident.
- If the crash resulted in a death, the victim’s representative or family has up to two years to file a wrongful death
Since there are time limits, it is also important to know that drivers involved in an auto accident are required by law to report the events if anyone has been hurt or killed or if there is property damage. This should be reported to a local law enforcement agency or the state police. Failing to do so can lead to criminal charges.
Virginia Beach Car Accident Lawyers Help Clients Suffering From Car-Related Chemical Burn Injuries
Chemical burns are among the most devastating types of car accident injuries, and you should not have to suffer through it alone. To learn more about your options, contact a Virginia Beach car accident lawyer. At East Coast Trial Lawyers, we advocate on behalf of injured car accident victims. Call us at 757-352-2237 or complete our online form for a free consultation. Located in Virginia Beach, we serve clients throughout Chesapeake, Eastern Shore, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Suffolk, Virginia, as well as North Carolina and nationwide.