A recent profile in The Oregonian details the struggles, and mutual support, of Portland burn victims, offering a reminder of how devastating this kind of injury can be. The article focuses on Portland Burn Survivors, Inc. and a related group, Burn Concern. The latter is organized by Legacy Emanuel Medical Center, Oregon’s only hospital with a full-scale burn unit.
The paper notes that the prospects for Oregon burn victims have changed substantially over the last generation. “Until about 30 years ago, survival of a bad burn meant constant pain and medical complications that usually led to swift death,” the article states. Advances in medical technology have increased survival rates, and made life after a burn more tolerable for many in physical terms, but have done little to alter the stigma society often attaches to those dealing with a disfiguring injury.
Burns, of course, can happen for any number of reasons. The survivors profiled by The Oregonian received their injuries in vastly different ways – ranging from a camping accident to a car crash. One was severely injured as a 13 year old by an outdoor garbage fire.
The very variety of their experience, however, attests to the need to consider the long-term consequences of life after a severe burn. A fact box accompanying the article notes that of the 138 people who died in fires here in Oregon between 2004 and 2008 half “were in single-family homes or duplexes, 31 percent in mobile homes or trailers and 17 percent in multifamily housing.” In roughly half of those cases “there was no smoke alarm” in the dwelling, or the alarm did not go off. Such statistics, by their very nature, raise questions of responsibility and accountability.
When embarking on the long and difficult road to recovery from an Oregon burn accident survivors and their loved ones need to give serious thought to both the cause of the fire and its long-term consequences. A Portland personal injury attorney can advise burn survivors of their options and on the remedies the legal system may offer those seeking justice in the wake of a personal and family tragedy – particular one whose consequences are likely to be felt every day for years to come.