What are the most common ways burn injuries happen?

When people have burn injuries, they suffer from tissue damage. Severe burns may be categorized as third or fourth-degree burns involving damaged bones, muscles, and tissue. Although 1st-degree burns are minor and often do not require medical attention, approximately half a million people in the U.S. need medical attention for burns annually. 

Identifying the most common burn injuries and their causes can help you take steps to avoid burn injuries. However, suppose you do suffer a burn injury. In that case, a burn injury attorney can explain if you could qualify to receive compensation for your injury.

A man with his hand wrapped in gauze after suffering a burn work injury.

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In addition to the degree of severity, medical professionals categorize burns by burn type. People can suffer the following types of burn injuries:

  • Chemical burns: Coming in contact with anything from paint thinner to gasoline or detergents can cause chemical burns. 
  • Electrical burns: Contact with electrical sources can cause electrical burns. You could suffer electrical burns if you’re hit by a stun gun or lightning or by coming in contact with an electrical current. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) lists four types of electrical burns:
    • Flame
    • Flash
    • Lightning
    • True
  • Radiation burns: A sunburn is a typical example of a radiation burn. People can also receive radiation burns from X-ray and radiation therapy.
  • Thermal burns: Unlike chemical, electrical, and radiation burns, thermal burns have to do with the effect a substance has on the skin rather than the type of substance damaging the tissue. Anything that increases the skin’s temperature can cause a thermal burn. Examples include stove burners, hot beverages, or fire.

Thermal burns are responsible for 86% of the burns requiring medical attention. However, the source of the thermal burns differs for adults and children.


Adults are more likely to suffer thermal burns from steam and other hot objects. The NIH reports men are more likely to be burned by flames, particularly during the summer.


Children are most likely to suffer thermal burns from exposure to hot liquids, such as beverages or bath water.

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The most common ways burn injuries happen include exposure to hot substances, including food, beverages, and cooking oil. How people come in contact with hot substances varies.

Workplace injuries 

Common work injuries include burns. Workers may come in contact with electrical wires, flames, or hot materials. Some occupations carry higher risks than others. Chefs and food service workers may come in contact with open flames or hot oil from deep fryers. Construction workers may spend hours outside each day, exposed to UV rays that can cause radiation burns.


One out of every four serious burn injuries stems from injuries received at home. There were more than 339,000 house fires in the U.S. in 2019, resulting in 12,200 burn victims.

Burn injuries can be fatal, mainly if a burn victim doesn’t receive prompt and appropriate medical attention. The NIH reports that one 20-year review found sepsis was responsible for almost half (47%) of burn patient deaths. Infections cause sepsis, and a patient’s outcome depends on their response to antibiotics used to treat the infections. The second-highest cause of death was respiratory failure, claiming 29% of the lives lost. People also died from anoxic brain injury and shock.

The potential compensation for an injury depends on several factors and the types of compensation sought.

Economic damages

These damages compensate injury victims for calculable costs stemming from their injuries. Suppose you were riding a motorcycle when a drunk driver hit you. The accident knocked you into a chemical spill on the roadway, resulting in chemical burns and other injuries. The following are examples of expenses you could seek compensation for after your accident:

  • Loss of income: Your injuries could keep you from working after your accident. In this case, you can seek financial compensation for lost wages.
  • Medical bills: Medical bills add up quickly, and the parties responsible for your injuries may have to reimburse you for all medical expenses.
  • Repairs: Personal property may be damaged or destroyed in an accident. When this happens, the responsible party’s insurance company should cover the costs of replacing or repairing the property. 
  • Services: You may have to pay for childcare costs, house cleaning services, transportation, and other services while you recover from your injuries.

Non-economic damages

Calculating non-economic damages can be more challenging because they offer compensation for the personal toll from your injuries. This includes compensation for pain, grief, and trauma. A Colorado injury attorney can help you determine how much compensation to seek.

Punitive damages 

Colorado allows you to seek punitive damages if you can prove the party responsible for your injuries acted with disregard for the safety and well-being of others.

Contact catastrophic injury attorneys to discover the compensation you could receive from a burn injury lawsuit.

Lady Justice statue next to a book and a gavel on a burn injury attorney's desk.

How can a catastrophic injury attorney help you after a burn injury?

A catastrophic injury attorney can prepare your case while you recover from your burn injuries. Your legal team will collect evidence, talk to witnesses, and build a compelling case to get you fair compensation after a burn injury.

Get Justice Now. Contact us To Schedule A FREE Consultation With Our Burn Injury Lawyers.


Classification of Burns. (2022). 

Duffin, E. (2022). Number of civilian injuries caused by home structure fires in the United States from 1977 to 2019.

Schaeffer, T. et al. (2022). Thermal Burns

U.S. Burn Care Centers Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report By Facility Type (In-hospital, Standalone), By Treatment Type, By Burn Severity, By Service Type, And Segment Forecasts, 2022 – 2030. (2023). 

Williams, F. et al. (2009). The leading causes of death after burn injury in a single pediatric burn center.

Zemaitis, M. (2022). Electrical Injuries