News stories report that an unidentified toddler died from complications associated from burns over 70% of his body after being submersed in scalding water while in the care of Mr. Christian Perez. The little boy died at Shriners Hospital in Sacramento two months after his injuries were sustained. Allegedly, Christian Perez was caring for the toddler and submersed him in scalding bathwater on April 24, 2008. The investigation revealed that after the submersion, Mr. Perez made contact with his sister and her husband, as well as the mother of the toddler. None of the adults notified authorities or activated the emergency medical system upon hearing of the injury sustained by the toddler. Allegedly within two hours, Patricia Perez and Jose Gamez were in contact with the injured toddler. The couple and Mr. Perez failed to seek medical attention for the injured child. Instead the trio went to a local store and bought skin ointment for the toddler’s injuries. When the toddler began having seizures Mr. Perez sought assistance from EMS. Presently, Mr. Perez is in the Santa Rita jail and is currently being held without bail. Perez’s sister, Patricia, and her husband, Jose, will face felony charges of child endangerment. The defense attorney, LaRue Grim, made a statement to the press implying that the police version of events is not accurate.  

Nearly 75 percent of all scalding burns in children are preventable. Bathtub scalds are often associated with lack of supervision or child abuse. Though a burn injury may be thought to be non-intentional, burn injuries are often preventable. Death related to fire and burns is the third leading cause of injury-related deaths in children between the ages of one and nine years of age. Approximately 3,000 children die a year from burn injuries.  

In the infant and toddler age groups, scalding burns from hot liquid is the most common type of burn. A young child’s skin burns at a lower temperature and a greater depth than that of an older child or an adult’s skin. If a child is scalded by submersion in a hot tub, the injury is life threatening due to the large surface area of injury. Also, younger victims are less likely to survive due to the inability of their young bodies to endure the significant physical stress of injury and healing. The higher burn injury rate in young children can be attributed to the higher likelihood of sustaining injury from non-accidental burns in an abusive domestic setting. 

There are many different types of burn injuries including scalding burns, flash-burns, direct-flame burns, grease burns, flammable liquids, combustible gas, electrical and chemical burns. And there are different degrees of burns, such as first, second and third degree burns. First degree burns involve redness and sensitivity at the sight the burn was sustained immediately after contact with a burn agent. Second degree burns generally involve redness, blisters and pain. Second degree burns may cause scarring and infection to occur. Third degree burns are evident when the burn injury is deeper than the skin, muscle and bone may be involved. Third degree burns will leave scars. The skin of a toddler is thin and prone to injuries such as burns from hot liquids or flames.      

Christopher Keane
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California Child Abuse and Child Injury Lawyer
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