Most personal injury cases do not qualify as fitting the definition of “catastrophic”. In fact, there is no strict legal definition of a catastrophic injury. However, when using this term, most medical, legal, and insurance professionals that deal with catastrophic injury cases generally refer to those in which the patient will require significant recovery time involving years of treatment and / or multiple surgeries. For these, a return to normal life or work is not possible in the foreseeable future or at all for the remainder of a person’s life.
Often, catastrophic injuries also require long term care, in-home hospice, or live in care. Likewise, from a litigation standpoint, plaintiffs in these cases are typically unable to earn a living for themselves or their family on either a long term basis or permanently.
Call Litster Frost Injury Lawyers to discuss your case. We help catastrophic or serious injury victims by planning a strong litigation strategy where possible that is based on experience in such cases in Idaho. Our team knows how to prevent insurance carriers from forcing you out of an award or settlement that is commensurate with what you and your case deserve.
Catastrophic Injury Causes and Treatment
There are many actions and inactions that can cause catastrophic injuries including vehicle accidents, falls, industrial accidents, construction accidents, sporting accidents, an act of violence, medical malpractice, military incidents, unnecessary amputation, and negligent surgery.
Usually, the initial medical bills are not the only costs associated with catastrophic injuries. You may need follow up care, additional surgeries, physical therapy and even psychological therapy over the years. If you are suing for a catastrophic injury, you should keep copies of all appointments and costs associated with the injury.
Examples of Possible Catastrophic Injury Cases
Loss of Vision, Speech, or Hearing
Cases involving loss of vision, speech or hearing can result from any accident or injury situation. But a great deal of these cases are caused by occupational hazards. If that is the case, and if the loss resulted from exposure to a hazard over time, then your attorney will need to build a compelling case to that effect. Some cases involving loss of vision, speech or hearing can be attributed to a single event. Whether the loss occured over time or was caused by a single event, there can be no denying the fact that the loss of sense or speech will cripple an individual for life. However, care must be taken in developing the case so that maximum compensation can be awarded. There are no shortcuts to a well developed severe injury case even when something as obvious as the loss of hearing, vision, or speech occured.
Spinal Cord Injury (SCI)
Often, serious spinal cord injuries involve permanent damage, loss of motor function, significant and debilitating pain, weakness and nerve issues, and more.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Traumatic brain injury is the “silent epidemic” that causes more physical problems or death than almost any other cause for people in their early 40’s or younger. Traumatic brain injury related health issues can be difficult to diagnose and can exhibit long after the inciting incident.
Amputation or Loss of Limbs
Loss of a limb is still common despite countless advances in such things as workplace safety and automobile crash standards. In a case involving the loss of a limb, there is no doubt by any party that the plaintiff has suffered a true and permanently life altering loss. However, a serious injury case has countless nuances and success often depends on an attorney team that understands those nuances through experience.
Severe burns involve many multiple aspects of serious personal injury. For example, possible permanent disfigurement, psychological or post traumatic damage, life threatening infections, and some of the worst pain known to man. Severe burn cases that were caused by the acts or negligence of another party must be treated as the serious cases that they are and rarely if ever settled on the first offer from an insurance carrier.
Damage to Internal Organs
Internal organ damage can easily lead to a lifetime requiring medical support. Organ damage can come from traumatic impact in an accident as well as from medical malpractice and poor surgical procedure.
Bone breaks and fractures are the most common injury type in most accidents. However, as routine as bone breaks are to ER doctors, some cases prove to be more complex than setting and placing the bone in a cast. In serious cases, surgery may be required involving reconstruction. In these cases, the added potential for further associated complications exists such as nerve damage, bone infection, and organ damage due to bone fragment. Some bone breaks involving joints can also permanently and severely limit or eliminate some range of motion and cause loss of ability for the injury plaintiff to resume work.
The above case types by no means cover the extent of catastrophic injury cases. Many injury cases involve many other debilitating and painful situations as well as combinations of issues. Every case has a unique set of challenges which is why it is important to work with an attorney who understand them in detail.
Catastrophic Injury Compensation
It can sometimes be difficult to prove the extent of an injury. Filing a personal injury claim against a negligent party helps ensure that you have the best chance of getting financial help for medical costs, pain and suffering, lost wages and more. If the person who caused the injury is found to be negligent, you may be entitled to additional punitive damages. It is imperative that you document the expenses of your case well – from the time of the injury through all of the treatments you recieve, be they surgeries, counseling, follow-up appointments etc, as well as financial and emotional losses including time off work. Our team will help you with this.
Choosing the Appropriate Attorney
When you have a catastrophic injury, it is more important than ever to choose an attorney experienced in settlements and in trial work. In the event that you won’t be able to settle the case, you will have to go to trial. You and your attorney will have to prove that the injury you suffered significantly changed your life.
Often, a trial attorney will hire experts to help prove your case. Experts may be physicians, psychiatrists and accident recreation experts. Their testimony helps to explain to the court and the jury, if you have a jury trial, what type of medical and/or psychological issues you are having. An accident re-creation expert will attempt to prove that the accident was the fault of the person or company that injured you, and if negligence is suspected, may be able to help prove that the defendant’s negligence caused the catastrophic injury.
This is an important part of the trial because the defendant’s negligence could entitle you to claim non-economic damages including the loss of enjoyment of life, pain and suffering, permanent disability, mental anguish, loss of consortium and disfigurement. If the court finds that the injuries are catastrophic, the value of these damages may be higher.
Because a defense attorney will have a hard time limiting damages that may be awarded to you if you suffer a catastrophic injury, the defense attorney – the attorney representing the person or company you are suing – may try to show that you were at least partly at fault for the accident that caused your injuries. Thus, it is imperative to document the accident that caused the injury, plus any medical treatments, including surgeries, needed to attempt to repair the damage.
If the court finds that you are partially liable for your own injuries – that you are partially at fault for the cause of the accident – your trial award may be significantly smaller.