What Should I Do After a Car Fire?


It is not unusual to be burned in a car accident. Collisions can expose victims to electricity, fire, high heat, and toxic chemicals. Burn injuries can range from mild to severe, or even deadly in some circumstances. They can also be life-changing for people who have to live with long-term medical care or disfigurement.

The impact of a car crash can set off a rapid chain of events, which can lead to an immediate or delayed fire. High temperatures can result from a crash, triggering a car fire. If engine fluids are leaking, they can burst into fire once they meet the high temperatures. Gasoline, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, and brake fluid are all very flammable.

Some other common causes of car fires include the following:

  • Damaged car batteries
  • Overheated engines
  • Overheated catalytic converters
  • Electrical systems in the car
  • Negligent vehicle owners

Drivers who neglect repairing leaky seals, faulty wiring, or broken car parks run a higher risk of starting car fires after collisions.

If one is burned in a car accident, it is important to seek medical attention immediately, even if the injuries do not seem severe.

What are the Different Types of Burn Injuries?

After a car fire, a victim can become burned when hot oil, gas, or other liquids or chemicals make contact with the skin. It is also possible that someone trapped inside the vehicle could be seriously burned.

To understand burn injuries, it is important to learn about skin. The skin is the largest organ, and protects the human body from trauma, infections, and injuries. It also prevents dehydration and regulates body temperature.

The skin has three layers. The epidermis is the outermost layer. The dermis is the middle layer, which has blood vessels, nerve fibers, connective tissue, and hair follicles. The deepest layer is the subcutaneous, which mostly consists of fat.

Medical professionals categorize burns by the size and depth of the damage:

  • First-Degree Burn: Affects the epidermis and presents with pain and redness. Most of these heal on their own.
  • Second-Degree Burn: Affects the epidermis and dermis. Symptoms include pain, blisters, red and white splotches, and swelling.
  • Third-Degree Burn: These go down to the skin’s innermost layer and may look black or charred.
  • Fourth-Degree Burn: This can affect muscles and bones.

It is not always possible to determine how serious a burn is, especially at a car accident scene. This is why it is so important to get a medical evaluation as soon as possible.

Car Fire Safety Protocols

After a crash happens, it is essential to be alert for any signs of a car fire. Anyone who smells burning rubber or plastic, or sees flames or smoke, should follow these recommendations from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA):

  • Turn on the hazard lights, and immediately pull over into a safe location. If this is not possible, put the vehicle in park with the hazard lights on.
  • Shut the engine off.
  • Help any other passengers who cannot get out on their own. Exit the vehicle, and get as far away as possible. The minimum distance should be 100 feet.
  • Call for emergency services.

Some victims may need assistance while waiting for help to arrive. If someone is on fire, they should be carefully rolled on the ground. Other than that, it is best to wait for professionals since moving a victim can worsen their injuries.

If the victim is nauseous or vomiting, has a faint pulse, is dizzy, cannot stand, is losing consciousness or alertness, or has shallow breathing, they may be in shock from their burns. In these cases, they may be able to take small sips of water, and they should be kept still and quiet until help arrives.

Burn victims should never have any lotions or ointments placed on the burns. Spray-on pain relief products and water should not be used on the affected areas. Removing stuck clothing can also cause further damage to the skin.

Once the injuries are attended to, those involved can take photographs of all the vehicles, the surrounding areas, and any skid marks. It is also helpful to get a copy of the police report, seek out any witnesses, and keep accurate records of all medical expenses.

Treatment and Aftercare

Minor burns do not take long to heal, and they are treated with topical creams and sterile bandages. More serious ones can involve pain medications, IV fluids, and surgeries.

When burns affect major joints, hands, feet, other body parts, or cover over 10 percent of the body, specialized treatment may be needed. Treatment can include skin grafts and long-term physical therapy.

Burns often lead to complications as well, like permanent scars, pain, respiratory problems, dehydration, and even amputations. Bacterial infections are not uncommon and can cause a host of other medical issues, including sepsis. Survivors can also be impacted by permanent disfigurement and psychological distress, like anxiety, depression, anger, and sleep problems.

Since burn victims often have severe injuries, it is important to seek legal counsel after medical attention is sought. A knowledgeable lawyer will be able to help the victim collect compensation.

Wilmington Car Accident Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Help Car Accident Victims with Severe Burn Injuries

If another person’s negligence caused your car accident, one of our knowledgeable Wilmington car accident lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow can help. We assist clients with recovering the costs of medical bills, rehabilitation, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Call us at (302) 427-9500 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Wilmington, Bear, and Milford, Delaware, we serve clients throughout Middletown, Dover, Milford, Hillsborough, Lewes, Rehoboth, Elsmere, and Seaford.


Delaware Injury Lawyers

R & M Lawyers
Rhoades & Morrow

Our attorneys provide exceptional legal service with a personal touch. Since our founding in 1990, we have helped thousands of Delaware citizens obtain full and just compensation for personal injury claims. We have gained an excellent reputation as the “go to” law firm. Let us put our decades of experience to work for you.

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