Catastrophic injuries are injuries that are so severe that they leave you with permanent damage. The damage from catastrophic injuries prevents people from working, enjoying hobbies and activities, and providing for their family.
People who suffer a catastrophic injury often bring lawsuits against those responsible because their life and their family’s well-being depends on the compensation awarded from a lawsuit.
If you’ve suffered a catastrophic injury, you should contact a catastrophic injury lawyer as soon as possible. An experienced catastrophic injury attorney can help you get the compensation you need to cover the long-lasting consequences catastrophic injuries have on you and your family.
What Qualifies as a Catastrophic Injury Under the Law?
Under federal law, a catastrophic injury is any injury that directly and proximately prevents you from performing any gainful work. The degree of seriousness of catastrophic injuries sets them apart from non-catastrophic injuries. For example, catastrophic injuries often are injuries that leave the victim with permanent damage that prevent him or her from enjoying life the way they did before the injury.
Some factors that courts use to determine whether an injury qualifies as a catastrophic injury include:
- Whether the victim has a need for live-in medical care;
- The victim’s ability to support themself or their family;
- Whether the injury has resulted in permanent disability;
- The victim’s ability to fully recover from the injury; and
- Whether the victim has suffered a permanent loss in their quality of life.
Additionally, catastrophic injuries involve damages figures that are higher than those in non-catastrophic injury cases because of persistent medical expenses, impaired earning capacity, and increased pain and suffering.
If you believe your injury qualifies as catastrophic, you should contact a catastrophic injury lawyer today to help you seek the compensation you deserve.
Examples of Catastrophic Injuries That Result in Lawsuits
There are three major classifications of catastrophic injuries: physical injuries, spinal injuries, and cognitive injuries.
Physical catastrophic injuries are injuries to a person’s body which are extremely severe. Some examples of physical catastrophic injuries include:
- Severe burns,
- Organ damage,
- Exposure to hazardous chemicals or substances, and
- Multiple bone fractures.
If you’ve suffered a catastrophic physical injury, you should contact a catastrophic injury lawyer as soon as possible.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Another common form of catastrophic injuries includes spinal cord injuries. Injuries to a person’s spinal cord are considered catastrophic because they can negatively affect your ability to move and walk.
Cognitive injuries are injuries to your brain. A severe concussion is a common form of a catastrophic cognitive injury.
Examples of the effects of catastrophic cognitive injuries include:
- Memory loss,
- Loss of the ability to think or speak like you previously could,
- Inability to work, and
- More difficulty with maintaining relationships.
It’s also important to understand that cognitive injuries are the most financially and emotionally costly of the different types of catastrophic injuries.
Lifelong Consequences of Catastrophic Injuries
The effects of catastrophic injuries last for long periods of time, often for the rest of the victim’s life. There are both economic and non-economic consequences of suffering a catastrophic injury.
A major consequence of catastrophic injuries is the victim’s inability to work. The inability to work not only results in the victim’s loss of wages but also a loss of his or her sense of purpose. Additionally, if the victim is able to return to work, they likely will face a diminished earning capacity due to the effects of their injury.
Inability to Care for Themselves
Another consequence of suffering a catastrophic injury is the victim’s inability to care for themself. This often results in the victim requiring continuing medical care, including visiting nursing care and physical or occupational therapy.
Increased and Constant Medical Expenses
Treatment for catastrophic injuries often results in the need for medications and home medical equipment, such as a hospital bed, lift, or wheelchair access.
Psychological and Emotional Counseling
People who suffer a catastrophic injury may need psychological and emotional counseling to treat emotional distress, depression, or anxiety.
Frequent Types of Accidents That Result in Catastrophic Injuries
Common accidents that result in catastrophic injuries include:
- Car accidents,
- Truck accidents,
- Bicycle accidents,
- Workplace accidents,
- Construction accidents,
- Medical mistakes,
- Defective medical devices or drugs,
- Defective consumer products,
- Swimming pool accidents, and
- Intentional acts of violence.
If you’re the victim of any of these types of catastrophic accidents, you should talk to a catastrophic injury lawyer today. A catastrophic injury lawyer can help you determine if you have a case and fight for the compensation you need.
Who Are Common Defendants in Catastrophic Injury Cases?
Common defendants in catastrophic injury cases include trucking companies, bars, and employers.
Victims in catastrophic injury cases can sue trucking companies in addition to truck drivers for injuries suffered in an accident with a truck where the truck driver was negligent.
Trucking companies are often defendants because of the damage large trucks can cause in accidents with cars. Trucking companies are also more likely to have the assets to pay your damages award than a truck driver.
The Texas Dram Shop Act allows victims of drunk driving accidents to sue bars who over-serve people that cause harm to others. Bars are liable to the victim for their catastrophic injuries when they serve alcohol to an obviously intoxicated adult.
Before the Dram Shop Act was passed, only the drunk driver who caused harm to the victim was at fault. While victims can sue the driver in their individual capacity in addition to the bar, the bar that sold the driver alcohol is more likely to have the ability to pay the victim’s damages award.
The key to holding the bar responsible is proving that the bar knew the customer was intoxicated but sold them alcohol anyway.
People who suffer catastrophic injuries while working in Texas can often seek workers’ compensation benefits. If their employer does not provide workers’ compensation insurance, they can sue the employer directly for negligence.
If you’ve suffered a catastrophic injury as the result of an accident, a catastrophic injury lawyer can help you sue whomever might be responsible for causing the accident.
What Types of Damages Are Available in Catastrophic Injury Cases?
In Texas catastrophic injury cases, plaintiffs can sue for both compensatory and punitive damages. There are two forms of compensatory damages: economic and non-economic. Unlike punitive damages, compensatory damages don’t have a limit. It is also important to be aware of the effect comparative fault can have on your damages award.
Economic damages are compensation for actual losses the victim suffered as a result of their injury. Examples of economic damages include:
- Lost wages,
- Medical expenses, and
- Lost earning capacity.
Economic damages awards are usually much higher in catastrophic injury cases because of the long-term effects catastrophic injuries have.
Non-economic damages are compensation for things like pain and suffering resulting from an injury. Other examples of non-economic damages include loss of companionship and loss of enjoyment of life. In catastrophic injury cases, the non-economic damages figures are usually much higher than those in non-catastrophic injury cases due to the nature of the injury.
Punitive damages are damages that are intended to punish the defendant for malicious or grossly negligent conduct. In Texas, punitive damages are capped at the larger of:
- $200,000, or
- Two times the amount of economic damages, plus
- An equal amount of non-economic damages up to $750,000.
A catastrophic injury lawyer can help you understand whether you might be eligible to receive punitive damages.
If you were partially at fault in causing your accident, comparative fault can reduce your compensation. Texas is a modified comparative negligence state. In Texas, if you were more than 50% at fault in causing the accident, you are barred from recovery. If you were 50% or less at fault, your recovery is reduced according to your percentage of fault.
A catastrophic injury lawyer can help you determine whether comparative fault applies to your case.
Why It’s Essential to Hire a Trial Attorney for a Catastrophic Injury Claim
It is essential to hire a trial attorney for a catastrophic injury claim because catastrophic injury cases demand a tougher fight than ordinary personal injury cases. Because damages for catastrophic injury cases are higher than non-catastrophic injury cases, it is harder to get insurance companies to pay out the full damages award.
Trial attorneys have more experience fighting with insurance companies than lawyers who settle most of their cases through negotiation. As a result, hiring a trial attorney gives you more leverage when fighting your insurance company in a catastrophic injury case.
Additionally, an experienced trial attorney knows how to work with experts to calculate the costs of your catastrophic injury accurately so that you receive enough compensation to cover the long-term effects of the injury.
The catastrophic injury attorneys at Grossman Law Offices have decades of combined trial experience. They will do everything they can to help you get enough compensation to cover the lifelong consequences of a catastrophic injury.
Contact us today to schedule your consultation.