What Is a Blast Injury?

What Is a Blast Injury?

Blast injuries are commonly – and understandably – associated with combat zones and military operations. However, they can also occur a little closer to home; in fact, victims can suffer the physical and cognitive side effects of a blast injury after surviving construction incidents, workplace accidents, and explosive recreational events.  

Blast injuries are caused by a direct or indirect pressure wave, or “blast wave,” that is generated during an explosion. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these explosions “produce unique patterns of injury seldom seen outside combat. When they do occur, they have the potential to inflict multi-system life-threatening injuries on many persons simultaneously. The injury pattern following such events are a product of the composition and amount of the materials involved, the surrounding environment, delivery method (if a bomb), the distance between the victim and the blast, and any intervening protective barriers or environmental hazards. Because explosions are relatively infrequent, blast-related injuries can present unique triage, diagnostic, and management challenges to providers of emergency care.”

Blast injuries lead to the following side-effects and conditions:

  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Amputations
  • Burns
  • Cochlear damage
  • Ossicular disruption
  • Fractures
  • Air embolism
  • Airway epithelial damage
  • Sepsis
  • Bowel perforation
  • Hemorrhaging
  • Ruptured organs
  • Cardiac contusion
  • Myocardial infraction
  • Vasovagal hypotension

A blast injury can be sustained from a variety of causes and situations. For example, fireworks were reportedly responsible for over 10,000 blast injuries in 2014 alone – and that’s just in the United States. Likewise, in 2013, there was an explosion at a fertilizer plant in Texas that resulted in 15 fatalities and countless injuries. Unfortunately, and regardless of the cause and circumstances, health professionals in the United States have limited experience when it comes to treating explosive-related injuries.

There are 4 types of blast injuries:

  • A primary blast injury is caused when the pressurized wave moves through a victim’s body. These injuries are unique to high order explosions and often cause damage to air-filled organs. The resulting barotrauma can result in: blast ear, blast lung, blast brain, blast eye, and blast belly. It’s important to note that symptoms may not appear immediately, so it’s important to seek treatment as soon as possible. 
  • A secondary blast injury is caused by debris that is displaced during an explosion. The debris is forcefully projected during the initial pressure wave and damages a victim’s body upon impact. These injuries are considered the most common during an explosion event because blast waves are capable of carrying debris for a considerable distance, causing significant injuries to anyone in the vicinity. Secondary blast injuries are often compared to bullet wounds, and include: soft tissue injuries, fractures, and deadly lacerations.
  • A tertiary blast injury is caused when a person is displaced by a blast wave and makes contact with another object or structure. It also occurs when a structure collapses and causes direct or indirect injury to a victim.
  • Quaternary blast injuries encompass the small injuries that can’t be classified as primary, secondary, or tertiary blast injuries. For example, these injuries -both major and minor – can be caused by exposure to radiation, smoke, toxins, or fire. A common side effect of quaternary blast injuries is the exacerbation of lung and heart diseases.  

Explore Your Legal Options Today

A single explosion can result in catastrophic injuries, tragic fatalities, and serious property damage. If your world has been turned upside down by a blast injury, contact the Charleston personal injury attorneys at Pierce, Sloan, Wilson, Kennedy & Early, LLC. Depending on your unique circumstances, our legal team can help you file for workers’ compensation benefits or pursue a lawsuit that yields significant compensatory damages.

Call Pierce, Sloan, Wilson, Kennedy & Early, LLC at (843) 968-0886  to schedule a consultation.

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