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Chemical Burns Caused by Car Accidents

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Chemical Burns Caused by Car Accidents


One may not immediately think of a chemical burn as a common car accident injury. Still, vehicles house several caustic fluids that can leak after a collision, and those substances can cause harm to the vehicle’s occupants. One major culprit concerning automobile accident chemical burns is deployed airbags. When an airbag deploys, it releases an aerosol of sodium hydroxide, which can burn the skin. 

Any time you are in a car accident that results in contact with a foreign substance, try to remove it from your skin as quickly as possible. Of course, this may be challenging in the moments after a crash, especially if you have sustained significant injuries. Additionally, some irritating or corrosive substances may be viscous and difficult to remove. First responders should have tools to address chemical burns, but the sooner the substance can be removed, the better. Letting a caustic substance sit on your skin can result in a deeper, more severe burn.  

If you have been in an automobile accident and sustained injuries that include chemical burns, contact a skilled attorney who has experience with such cases. The negligent party who caused the accident may be financially responsible for your damages.

Types of Caustic Chemicals 

Some examples of chemicals that may burn human tissue are:

  • Battery acid and other types of acid
  • Alkaline substances
  • Hydrocarbons
  • Pesticides
  • Household cleaning supplies
Chemical Burn Severity

The most common parts of the body that are affected by chemical burns are the face and extremities. While chemical burns account for only about four percent of burn injuries, they cause around 30 percent of burn fatalities – most of those deaths are related to ingesting the corrosive substance. Overall, chemical burns result in longer hospital stays and greater complications than thermal/fire burns. 

The following factors may affect the severity of the chemical burn:

  • The concentration and quantity of the chemical agent
  • The duration of time it is in contact with the skin
  • The depth of penetration of the chemicals
  • Whether the agent is in solid, liquid, or gaseous form
Treatment of Chemical Burns

The first step in treating chemical burns is to remove as much of the caustic substance as possible. Solid chemicals should be brushed off before flushing the affected area with water. All contaminated clothing should be removed, and the wounded area should be irrigated with copious amounts of room temperature water. Do not treat a burn with other chemicals or by soaking in a tub, which may only spread the burn to other areas of the body. Proper water irrigation of the wound may take 30 minutes or up to two hours. If you have access to a pH strip, you can measure the pH of fluid coming off the irrigated area. If the pH is around 7, the irrigation is probably adequate.

It is not good to use neutralizing agents on acid/alkali burns. These cause heat to be produced, resulting in a worsened burn. There are few specific antidotes to chemical burns, so pure water is usually recommended.

If you happen to have access to the MSDS sheet for the specific chemical (not likely in the case of a car accident), review the information for how to treat a burn from that specific chemical.

Similar to thermal burns, attention must be paid to ensure the victim has a proper airway, adequate respiration, sustained hydration, and good circulation. As with fire and scald-related burns, the burn may be treated with excision of dead tissue and grafting of the burned area.

A severe burn is a terrible injury. If a large percentage of the body is burned, the injury will be life-changing, if not fatal. Anyone who has a severe burn caused by the negligence of another person or entity should contact an attorney who has experience in getting the full value for catastrophic injuries.

Watch the YouTube video. Below is a short clip from eHow with basic first aid for a chemical burn.

Contact an Attorney With Car Accident Chemical Burn Experience

Severe burns can result in life-long pain, disfigurement, and disability. If your injury resulted from negligence, you must find an attorney who has experience with serious burns and understands the destructive nature of such an injury. 

Call our experienced Sacramento Burn Injury Lawyers today to discuss the details of your potential case at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400. We are always happy to provide free and friendly advice.

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Editor’s Note: This page has been updated for accuracy and relevancy [cha 5.23.22]

Image by Marcel Langthim from Pixabay 

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