Unfortunately, accidents involving bodily injury are a way of life. No matter how careful you are, at some point, you’ll most likely sustain some type of accident that is not your fault. If you are lucky, your accident will be minor and you will be able to carry on with your normal way of life. However, for some of us who aren’t so lucky, our injury may be permanent in nature, whether it is in the form of a physical injury, or it could be mental trauma. Whatever is the case, you are entitled to compensation for the pain and suffering you’ve endured.
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When it comes to injuries that are severe and catastrophic in nature, you should be aware of what to expect, the obstacles you may face, and how best to obtain the highest and maximum settlement or award. In this article, we shall be addressing:
- What is Considered a Catastrophic Injury?
- Types of Catastrophic Injuries
- Damages in a Catastrophic Injury Case
- What is Negligence in Catastrophic Injury Cases?
- Insurance Company Negotiations and the Role of a Catastrophic Injury Lawyer
- Filing Catastrophic Personal Injury Cases
- Compensation in Catastrophic Injury Lawsuits
- Importance of Representation by a Catastrophic Injury Lawyer
What is Considered a Catastrophic Injury?
So what is considered a catastrophic injury anyway? How does one define catastrophic injury? A catastrophic injury is one that has serious, long-term life-altering consequences. According to the American Medical Association, it is a severe injury to the spine, spinal cord, or brain, and may also include skull or spinal fractures. However, as far as legal injuries are concerned, when it comes to recovery and the catastrophic injury definition, catastrophic injuries aren’t just physical in nature.
They can be mental as well. Accordingly, when it comes to the meaning of catastrophic injury, you’re taking about an injury that generally involves some type of permanent disability. Usually, catastrophic injuries require surgical treatment. These are common after truck crashes, severe motor vehicle crashes, and in cases of traumatic brain injuries, amputations, and paralysis.
Types of Catastrophic Injuries
There are many types of catastrophic injuries. They may include:
- Permanent disability or loss of function
- Inability to work full-time
- The need for lifelong assistance, care or accommodations
- The need for medications for life
- The need for prosthetics or assistive devices (like walkers, canes, and wheelchairs)
- Severe scarring or disfigurement
- Catastrophic head injury
- Catastrophic spinal cord injury
- Loss of sight (acquired blindness)
- Loss of hearing (acquired deafness)
- Severe burn injuries
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
The catastrophic brain injury definition must be marked positive by the Glasgow Coma Scale (GSC). The GSC is the most common measure of catastrophic impairment as a result of a brain injury. The GCS is a test designed to measure states of consciousness. The person administering the test (usually an ambulance attendant or emergency room doctor) asks the patient to open and close his or her eyes and make a sound. The person also measures the patient’s response to pain. The scale is out of 15 – any score of 9 or lower taken within a reasonable time after the incident by a person trained to administer the test means the person is catastrophically impaired.
Damages in a Catastrophic Injury
Unlike most bodily injuries, catastrophic injuries are so severe that they often involve permanent disability or impairment. Just what is considered a catastrophic injury? This type of injury often involves some sort of physiological permanent change in your body, whether it involves a permanent change in your muscle tissue or a permanent change in your body chemistry. The two most severe types of catastrophic injuries include a catastrophic head injury and a catastrophic spinal cord injury.
A person with a brain injury will also be catastrophically impaired if they suffered from a class four marked impairment or class five extreme impairment as that term is defined in the 4th Edition of the American Medical Association’s Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment. People with catastrophic brain injuries often require very expensive care and supervision. Determining early if the person is catastrophically impaired can provide access to much needed benefits to aid in their recovery. It is important that you talk to someone that can help.
Similarly, a person with a spinal cord injury will also require intensive care and supervision. Oftentimes, a spinal cord injury will cause paralysis to their upper and lower extremities, may require some sort of spinal surgery, such as a fusion involving a metal rod placed in your spine, or may involve the loss of movement to one’s extremities, thereby requiring the need for a wheelchair.
What is Negligence in Catastrophic Injuries?
The most common reason for one sustaining catastrophic injuries to oneself is due to another person’s negligence. These types of injuries are often due to a motor vehicle accident or a storeowner not removing a dangerous condition on their property. In these types of scenarios, the injuries sustained and the facts surrounding the injuries involve a personal injury lawsuit and are considered catastrophic personal injury cases. In these types of catastrophic injury cases, the injured party has to establish that the party that caused the injury was negligent. In order to prove negligence, the injured party must prove that the negligent party had a duty to the injured party, that they breached that duty, and that as a result of that breach, injuries were sustained causing the injured party damages.
In motor vehicle accidents, proving negligence is most easily proven if the negligent party was ticketed. In slip and fall cases on other people’s property, proving negligence is generally shown by establishing that the property owner knew or should have known about the dangerous condition, but failed to remove it. This is most commonly demonstrated by showing that the condition was present on the property for an extended period of time and the property owner failed to inspect or discover the dangerous condition.
Sometimes, the negligent party may not be 100% entirely at fault, and you may be partially to blame as well. In these types of cases, how much you can recover for your damages will be based upon how negligent you were. This is called comparative negligence. Accordingly, when it comes to catastrophic injuries where you are partially to blame, comparative negligence laws by state is very important. Fortunately, New York is also a comparative negligence state, which means that even if you are partially to blame, you can still recover from your injuries, depending upon the degree to which you were at fault.
Insurance Company Negotiations and the Role of a Catastrophic Injury Lawyer
Since catastrophic injuries can be so severe and decapitating, insurance companies will do everything they can to try to defend against such cases and limit the amount they have to pay out as much as possible. That’s why when it comes to catastrophic personal injury cases, having the right injury lawyers for you, which would be an attorney to fight the insurance company, is not only vital, but is as necessary as drinking water. Not only will such an attorney be able to define catastrophic injury and recognize the damages and liability involved, but they will also have to have the experience and knowledge to be able to handle such a claim, from negotiations to proceeding and winning the case at trial.
You are going to want to have an attorney well-versed in litigation, and knowledgeable enough to know how to handle the different insurance companies.
Filing Catastrophic Personal Injury Cases
Although most personal injury lawsuits are resolved outside of court, including catastrophic personal injury cases, that does not necessarily mean that yours will. Accordingly, you’ll need the right catastrophic injury lawyer, who not only is familiar with the catastrophic claims definition, but also is familiar with the tasks and mechanics involved in filing a catastrophic personal injury lawsuit. This includes drafting the complaint, amending the complaint if need be, drafting interrogatories, responding to interrogatories, conducting depositions, responding to motion to dismiss, and eventually taking it to trial if need be.
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The right catastrophic personal injury lawyer will know how to best present your case, from proving liability to proving damages, even if your liability and damages are lacking or are weak.
Compensation in Catastrophic Injury Lawsuits
Compensation for personal injury claims vary on a case by case basis, but since we’re dealing with an injury that is catastrophic in nature, when it comes to catastrophic injury settlements, the damages generally will be quite high. Damages often involve what’s commonly referred to as pain and suffering. The more damage you have sustained, the higher your settlement will be. The chief factor in determining damages is most commonly the amount of your medical bills. The higher your bills, the higher your pain and suffering. Some other factors that determine damages include the amount, duration, and type of your medical treatment you’ve endured, lost wages, and any permanent disability.
Q: What Is A Catastrophic Personal Injury?
A: A catastrophic personal injury is an injury that is so severe that it entails serious, long-term life-altering consequences. It may include not only a bodily injury, but also mental trauma, such as depression, post traumatic stress disorder, or chronic anxiety. Often it involves some sort of permanent impairment.
Q: What Is A Catastrophic Workers Compensation Claim?
A: A catastrophic workers’ compensation claim, like a catastrophic personal injury, also involves some sort of permanent impairment, except that whereas a personal injury involves some sort of liability case in which you have to prove that the at-fault party is negligent, in a worker’s compensation claim, proving liability is not necessary. In a workers compensation claim, as long as you sustained an on the job injury, no matter who is at fault or what caused the accident, you have an accepted and compensable claim via workers compensation.
Q: Do I Really Need a Personal Injury Attorney?
A: Proceeding with your personal injury claim without a personal injury attorney is like driving a motor vehicle on the public highway without insurance. It’s very risky and in the end, if you do get in an accident or pulled over, the consequences are quite severe. A personal injury attorney knows the ins and outs of navigating through the judicial process in case you have to file your case in court. Moreover, an experienced personal injury attorney will know how to best present your case and prove damages and liability. Having a personal injury attorney at your side is the best way to maximize your settlement. Otherwise, you run the risk of jeopardizing your case if you say the wrong thing or don’t do something properly.
Q: Who Is Responsible For A Catastrophic Injury?
A: When it comes to catastrophic injuries, the party that caused the accident will be responsible for compensating you for your injuries as long as you can prove that they were negligent. Proving negligence means that you have to show that the party had a duty to you, breached that duty, and that as a result of that breach, you’ve sustained the catastrophic injuries that you’re claiming.
However, if you yourself were partly to blame for your catastrophic injury, you are still entitled to compensation depending upon the degree to which you yourself were negligent. This is called comparative negligence and New York is a comparative negligence state.
Importance of Representation by a Catastrophic Injury Lawyer
The insurance company will do everything they can to try to attack your claim and decrease the amount of money you’re entitled to. You’ll want to have the best personal injury attorney at your disposal to increase your odds. Having a catastrophic injury lawyer who is familiar with personal injury lawsuits not only will increase your chances of a better settlement, but will make the lawsuit process much easier on you and your mind. Knowing that you have the right catastrophic injury lawyer by your side will help you ease your mind knowing that they are fighting for you and have your best interests.
At Law Office of Yuriy Moshes, we are experienced, knowledgeable, and advocates for victims of catastrophic injuries. We represent all types of injured parties in the greater New York City area including all its boroughs, including Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island) as well as Northern New Jersey, Long Island, and Upstate New York. If you’ve been and have sustained a catastrophic injury and are seeking money damages, you need to consult with the best personal injury attorney who is experienced and knowledgeable with these matters. We provide a free consultation.