Catastrophic Injury: When Your Life Changes Forever
The dictionary defines a catastrophe as “an event causing great and often sudden damage or suffering; a disaster.” In its adjective form, the dictionary defines “catastrophic” as “involving a sudden and large-scale alteration in state.” While no statute or court case has ever precisely defined “catastrophic injury,” it’s safe to say that it’s an extremely severe injury that leaves you with lasting consequences. In other words, if you suffer a catastrophic injury, you will never completely recover. Hire an attorney to help you receive the compensation you deserve for your catastrophic injury.
Catastrophic Injury Examples
Examples of catastrophic injuries include the following:
- A spinal cord injury that leaves you partially or completely paralyzed
- A crush injury that leaves you without one or more of your limbs
- A head or eye injury that leaves you with severely limited vision or completely blind
- A head or ear injury that leaves you with severely limited hearing or completely deaf
- A burn injury that leaves you permanently and extensively scarred
- A traumatic brain injury that leaves you with impaired cognitive or speech function or a personality change
Catastrophic Injury Causes
Car crashes and other motor vehicle accidents are by far the number one cause of catastrophic injuries. While drivers and passengers suffer numerous catastrophic injuries in these accidents each year, your chances of receiving such a life-changing injury increase dramatically if you’re a motorcyclist, bicyclist or pedestrian. Other causes include the following:
- On-the-job accidents
- Slips, falls and other accidents on someone else’s premises or property
- Medical malpractice events
- Defective product events
- Sports injuries
- Violence, such as assaults, batteries, domestic abuse, etc.
An experienced attorney can help you through a catastrophic injury you sustain in any of these circumstances.
Catastrophic Injury Costs
Your costs associated with a catastrophic injury can be nearly as catastrophic as the injury itself. For instance, experts estimate that if you suffer a serious traumatic brain injury, your medical and hospitalization costs in the first two months after your accident could easily run as high as $1 million, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
If you suffer your TBI while in your twenties, you can expect your lifetime costs, including additional hospitalizations, rehabilitation, medical equipment and long-term care to total $15-$20 million. Even this mind-numbing amount, however, does not represent the true costs of a catastrophic injury.
Once you reach the limits of whatever insurance you have, you and your family face a bleak financial future. In all likelihood, you will find it difficult at best to obtain and keep a well-paying job. You may not be able to work at all.
In addition, very few families have the resources to pay for the in-home care, either short-term or long-term, you may require. Consequently, your spouse, parent, sibling or even adult child faces the prospect of having to quit his or her job to stay home with you and give you the care you need. Not only does this deplete the family’s income even further, it also puts enormous pressure on your full-time caregiver.
Catastrophic Injury Lawsuit
Given both the nature of catastrophic injuries and their associated costs, you may well wish to consider filing a lawsuit against the person, company or organization whose negligence caused your injuries. This invariably requires the advice, counsel and representation of an experienced local catastrophic injury attorney. A local attorney is important because even though every state gives you the right to go to court and seek compensation for your injuries, each state has its own time limit(s), called statutes of limitation, within which you can do so.
For example, in California, you generally have two years from the date of your injury to file your lawsuit. However, if you did not discover the full extent of your injuries until sometime after the actual event that caused them, you have one year after discovery to file your lawsuit. If you’re suing a health care provider for medical malpractice, you have three years from the date of your injury in which to file your lawsuit, or one year from the date you knew or should have known about your injury, whichever date occurs first. In addition, you must notify the provider at least 90 days in advance of filing your lawsuit.
Your local attorney will know the various statutes of limitation in your state for your type of case. In addition, if you choose an attorney who has a history of achieving favorable results for catastrophic injury clients, he or she will have the necessary experience to take on big insurance companies, first at the negotiation table and later, if necessary, in court.
Catastrophic Injury Damages
Since all personal injury lawsuits are civil suits, you will be asking that the defendant pay you monetary damages. In other words, the defendant will not go to jail if you win your suit. Instead, he or she will be required to pay you money to compensate you for both your economic and noneconomic damages caused by your injuries.
Your economic damages include things such as these:
- Past, current and estimated future medical costs
- Past, current and estimated future rehabilitation costs
- Estimated lost business opportunities
- Past, current and estimated future loss of income
Your noneconomic damages include things such as these:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental and emotional anguish brought about by your injury
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of companionship with your spouse, children and other family members
- Loss of enjoyment of your life
Notice that your economic damages are easily calculable based on the total of your bills to date for your ambulance, hospital, medication, therapy and other expenses. These costs then get projected into the future. Conversely, your noneconomic damages represent your intangible losses for which you have no actual bills.
In addition to your economic and noneconomic damages, the court may award you punitive damages if it determines that the defendant’s disregard for your safety, health and welfare was especially egregious. Punitive damages are an amount above and beyond your economic and noneconomic damages that courts award to punish defendants for their actions and act as a deterrent to other potential defendants who might otherwise engage in the same types of actions.
Work With an Experienced Local Lawyer
Submit a request online today or call us at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an experienced catastrophic injury attorney in your area.