Catastrophic Personal Injury
Any type of injury can be difficult for individuals and their families. The resulting medical treatments, therapies, medications, and more can put a strain on finances. Missed work, or difficulty in getting back to work, can cause a lot of worry and hardship. Recovery may be slow, and the overall disruption to everyday life may create lasting damages.
There is a certain category of injuries, however, that makes it all much worse. Called “catastrophic injuries,” these are injuries that prevent an individual from performing any gainful work at all. Severe, long-term, and often permanent, catastrophic injuries completely change a person’s life, and leave them at the mercy of the system for assistance. They might include for example a traumatic brain injury or spinal fracture.
If the injury was caused or partially caused by a negligent person or company, a catastrophic injury attorney can help. Because these injuries have huge financial implications, often a successful catastrophic injury lawsuit is the only hope a family has for obtaining the compensation they need to survive.
If you or someone you loved was injured in a catastrophic accident, call us. We may be able to help.
What is a Catastrophic Personal Injury?
As mentioned above, a catastrophic injury is one that typically prevents the individual from being able to work and support him or herself and/or family. The injury typically requires significant medical treatment, which may consist of numerous surgeries and ongoing therapy and medication. Even with treatment, the result is often long-term or lifetime. It is typically a permanent disfigurement and/or disability, and potentially may reduce the person’s lifespan.
The victim also may be unable to perform everyday tasks or normal life functions and may require live-in care. Returning to work is usually out of the question, either in the field the victim was in before, or in any field at all. The individual and his or her family suffer a severe decline in well being and quality of life.
Catastrophic injuries may include, for example:
- Amputation or dismemberment
- Brain injury/trauma
- Spinal injury
- Paralysis, quadriplegia
- Severe burn injuries
- Multiple bone fractures
- Neurological injuries
- Internal organ damage
Complications of the injuries may include:
- Loss of movement and sensation
- Inability to communicate
- Respiration and circulation problems
- Gastrointestinal repercussions
- Reduced cognitive abilities
- Emotional disorders
- Permanent nerve damage
- Permanent scarring
- Blindness or hearing loss
What Causes Catastrophic Injuries?
Though there are a number of possible causes of catastrophic injuries, some of the most common include:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Boating accidents
- Industrial and construction accidents
- Workplace accidents
- Defective products
- Sporting accidents
- Recreational activities (diving, climbing)
- Military accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Unsafe premises
- Acts of violence
- Oil and gas field accidents
- Toxic exposure
- Defective pharmaceutical drugs
- Defective medical devices
- Trucking accidents
What are the Costs Associated with a Catastrophic Injury?
The costs associated with a catastrophic injury can run families into the ground. Some examples include:
- Initial medical care and flight care
- Follow-up surgeries, sometimes for years
- Ongoing medical care
- At-home medical care
- Prescription medications
- Physical therapy and other types of ongoing therapy (speech, nutrition)
- Counseling and vocational therapy
- Medical equipment (such as wheelchairs, lifting beds, and chairs, etc.)
- Construction costs (to make a home wheelchair friendly)
- Lost wages and benefits
Who May be Liable in a Catastrophic Injury?
Often accidents are caused by the negligent act of a person or entity. Sometimes the responsibility is obvious. Though the victim may have been the one who acted carelessly, there are many other possibilities:
- Employer: If an employer failed to provide safe working conditions and an employee suffered a catastrophic injury, that employer may be liable for damages, either under workers compensation laws of your state or in court under tort theories. Every state has different laws so it is important to confer with an attorney.
- Driver: If the injury occurred in a motor vehicle crash, another driver or drivers may be negligent.
- Place of business or residence: If the injury occurred because of an unsafe location in a place of business, that business may be to blame. If at a residence, a landowner or tenant may be liable.
- Manufacturer of a product: Perhaps the product was defectively designed, or had inadequate safety warnings or safety guards.
- Educational organization: Should a student suffer a catastrophic injury while involved in a school function, it could be the school or school officials are held liable.
- Transportation company: In trucking accidents, freight claims, airline, or cargo issues, the transportation company may be to blame for the accident or in a bus crash, the bus company or bus driver.
- Doctors and hospitals: If the injury occurred during an operation or hospital stay, or as a result of a misdiagnosis or lack of proper medical care, doctors and hospitals could be held liable.
These are only some examples of potentially responsible parties. Depending on the nature of the injury, where it occurred, who was involved, and what the circumstances were, other parties may also be negligent.
How a Catastrophic Injury Lawyer Can Help
Though an individual’s insurance may provide some compensation for a catastrophic injury, often the amount isn’t enough to cover long-term costs, and it becomes necessary to look for alternative sources of compensation.
There can be other issues limiting the amount that a victim can recover from insurance. If another driver was at fault, for example, but that driver has a low amount of coverage, the victim may be forced to accept the limits of that insurance, and of his own insurance, which can prove completely inadequate.
The type of injury can also hinder recovery efforts. Victims who are severely burned in an automobile accident, for example, may be limited to collecting only the automobile insurance coverage limits, which can be as low as $20,000 to $100,000.
Victims injured on the job may find similar frustrating roadblocks. Most workers’ compensation claims limit the victim’s recovery, and the victim may be unable to file suit against the employer because of the strict laws protecting businesses. An attorney familiar with these types of cases can navigate these issues for you, and they are often very complex legal questions.
Also, generally, experienced catastrophic injury attorneys know to look for additional avenues of compensation. They will conduct a thorough investigation to unearth other potentially liable parties, such as the construction company performing road work in a car accident, or the transportation company in a trucking accident. They may discover vehicle defects, additional insurance, or product defects that could lead to manufacturer liability. Contractors responsible for workplace safety can also be held liable in a workplace accident, and a bar or restaurant may share liability in a drunk-driving accident.
There are many other possibilities as well. Some states, for example, maintain a catastrophic claim fund that experienced attorneys will be aware of that can help fill in the gaps left by insurance or workers’ compensation benefits.
Call for Help Today
When you hire a catastrophic injury attorney from Chaffin Luhana, we go to work for you. We conduct our own investigations to explore all possible avenues of compensation. We also help you look to the future, to see how the accident is likely to affect you five, ten, and twenty years down the road, to be sure that we seek the best possible outcome for you and your family. And, once we obtain a recovery for you, we will advise you to get sound financial advice to properly invest the settlement funds to make them last for you and your family.
If you or a loved one suffered a catastrophic injury, contact the personal injury lawyers at Chaffin Luhana for help. We have the experience necessary to increase your odds of receiving the compensation you need to survive this tragedy.
To find out how we can help you, contact us today.