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People often imagine the most severe cases when considering personal injury claims. Visions of young victims sitting before juries in wheelchairs or evidentiary videos of bedridden quadriplegics hooked to ventilators sometimes come to mind. The legal profession refers to these extreme traumas as catastrophic injuries.
What Is Considered a Catastrophic Injury?
Catastrophic injuries cause severe impacts on victims’ lives. They often lead to long-term or permanent disabilities, chronic pain, and lifelong limitations. In addition, any accident can result in a catastrophic injury.
Familiar catastrophic injuries include paralysis, traumatic brain injuries (TBI), amputations, burns, permanent scarring or disfigurement, deafness, blindness, and neck and back trauma. The catastrophic nature of these injuries results in victims being unable to work or care for family and needing long-term or lifelong medical treatment and personal assistance.
Do I Need a Lawyer for a Catastrophic Injury Claim?
Hiring a tenacious, expert, and aggressive legal catastrophic injury lawyer is essential because large damages are at stake. Most non-catastrophic injuries heal over time, allowing victims to return to normal lives.
Catastrophic injuries have life-altering impacts that result in unusual medical- and living costs while depriving the victim of the ability to make a living.
With so much at stake, receiving a settlement that covers all the related expenses is paramount. If settlements are too low, the victim risks running out of money and being denied the care they need. Even worse, if the defense defeats the claim, victims receive nothing, leaving them dependent on family or public aid that may be inadequate.
Experienced catastrophic injury attorneys understand how to establish liability, prove current damages, and demonstrate future damages.
Proving the defendant had a duty of care, neglected that duty, and that the neglect caused the catastrophic injury provides the basis for a lawsuit. Without the ability to demonstrate these key factors, the case may fail.
Your catastrophic personal injury lawyer investigates claims by interviewing witnesses, examining physical evidence, and analyzing official reports, such as police- and medical records. Based on the findings, they build a legal case against the defendant(s), demonstrating a neglected duty of care resulting in catastrophic injuries.
For instance, all motorists have a duty of care towards pedestrians. An investigation may demonstrate that a driver was texting and not looking when he struck a pedestrian, paralyzing the victim. In this case, the driver drove negligently and caused the injury, and that person’s insurer is responsible for damages.
However, insurance companies mount defenses intended to reduce claims. For example, under California’s pure comparative negligence rules, any amount of blame the defense can transfer to the plaintiff reduces their liability. For instance, if the defense can convince a jury the pedestrian was 25% responsible for their injury, the court reduces the damages by that percentage.
For catastrophic injury victims, a reduction in damages can be devastating because it may leave them without the means for ongoing care and assistance.
Our catastrophic injury lawyer uses the evidence gathered to convince the defense that it must settle for all the damages or face the additional expense of a trial. Most cases settle out of court, but your litigation team calls them before a jury if the defense continues to battle fair compensation.
Proving Current Damages
As litigation progresses, catastrophic accident victims have a running tab of damages, including medical costs and lost income. In addition, most suffer substantial pain and disability.
In addition, our attorney builds a case for economic and non-economic damages that justifies total compensation.
Proving Future Damages
Current damages are woefully inadequate for catastrophic injury victims. Many spend the rest of their lives in medical facilities where around-the-clock care is available. Insurance companies attempt to minimize these damages to save money. If they succeed, the victims may suffer years of deprivation.
Catastrophic injury attorneys collect the evidence they need to prove future damages and that the defense is responsible for them, so their clients have peace of mind and the care they need.
Common Types of Catastrophic Injuries
Any injury that results in long-term pain, disability, and reduced life quality is considered catastrophic. These are some of the most common:
Traumatic Brain Injury
TBI results from many accidents, such as auto crashes and falls. The brain is tightly packed in the skull, and severe blows to the head cause it to bounce against the bone, resulting in life-threatening inflammation.
Once the acute phase passes, TBIs often leave permanent damage. In addition, TBI victims may have impaired memory and other cognitive disabilities. However, brain injuries can also lead to speech difficulties and physical disabilities.
Many people with catastrophic injuries require wheelchairs for life, and some suffer neck-down paralysis requiring them to live in a long-term care facility.
Severe burns may require patients to remain in the hospital long-term and endure a painful recovery process. Often, permanent physical limitations materialize.
Burns, lacerations, and other injuries can cause permanent disfigurement, such as facial scarring from an auto accident. Often, multiple surgeries are needed, and they are only partially successful.
Losing a limb is a nightmare. Restoring your old life after an amputation is a long-term and expensive process. Prosthetics continue to advance, providing the gift of restored mobility and physical function, but they are costly, and many victims need a legal settlement to afford this treatment.
Common Causes of Catastrophic Injuries
Virtually any type of accident can lead to a catastrophic injury. Human bodies can withstand only a limited amount of force. However, accidents that exceed these tolerances cause long-term and permanent damage.
Possible causes of catastrophic injuries include the following:
- Vehicle accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Slip and fall accidents
- Natural disasters
- Workplace injuries
- Violent crime
- Sports injuries
What Should I Do Immediately Following a Catastrophic Injury?
A catastrophic injury will land you in the emergency room, possibly fighting for your life. Get medical attention right away. Contact an attorney or have a family member schedule a consultation when ready.
How Much Is My Catastrophic Injury Case Worth?
Catastrophic injury cases result in high-dollar settlements and awards. Because permanent disability may require long-term medical care and assisted living, catastrophic injury claims often reach hundreds of thousands or millions.
Contact a Top-Rated Irvine Catastrophic Injury Lawyer Today
Alpine Law Group consistently obtains the top settlements in catastrophic injury cases in California.
Let us help you fight for the maximum compensation you are owed for a catastrophic injury case; call (866) 773-0222 or submit an online contact form to request a free, confidential consultation.