In the state of California, accidents happen all the time. Some are minor accidents, while others are severe, and could permanently change the lives of the injured. There are different types of accident injuries that many people suffer. While some people will only deal with the physical pain, other people's injuries go beyond the pain.
Catastrophic injuries are quite common, and they affect several aspects of the injured person's life, including their marriage, job, and plans for the future. If you or your loved one has suffered a catastrophic injury, you deserve proper compensation to get the best medical treatment and personal care you could get. At The LA Personal Injury Law Firm, we have a team of competent attorneys who are willing and able to fight for the rights of the injured.
Understanding Catastrophic Injuries
Catastrophic injuries are defined as the result of an injury that permanently inhibits a person from living their lives fully or performing at any gainful employment. A catastrophic injury occurs suddenly with no warning and could leave the injured person suffering from permanent disabilities for the rest of their lives. They entail all types of damages that have severe and long-lasting effects on the injured.
In most cases, people who suffer from catastrophic injuries suffer stress as well as their families because of their need for constant assistance and supervision for an extended period in their lives. Some will require medical attention and rehabilitation for the rest of their lives, putting a significant strain on their family's finances.
Catastrophic injuries are more often than not caused by accidents such as car accidents, accidents at construction sites, medical malpractice, intentional acts of violence, and falls, among others. They could occur in any place or situation and happen when they are least expected. Immediate medical care is needed no matter what the cause of the injuries is, and the injured may require follow-up care from time to time for several years.
Such injuries are considered catastrophic because of the enormous impact they have on the lives of the injured. An injury may, for instance, disrupt the functioning of the central nervous system, affects the spinal cord or result from severe burns, thereby affecting many other systems of the body. Settlements for catastrophic injuries are necessary, especially in cases where someone was liable for the accident that resulted in damages. The settlements, in this case, will seek to compensate the injured for their lifelong disabilities.
Catastrophic Injury laws are there to ensure that people who have suffered life-changing injuries as a result of intentional acts or negligence by others or through a defective product are getting compensated for the enduring injuries they suffer. The law enables the injured party to file a personal injury claim, which will determine the quality of their future life, including the support and quality of medical care they will receive. Catastrophic injuries come with substantial financial implications, and so, the central aspect of the personal injury claim the victim will file will be to determine the value of the claim.
In the US, catastrophic injuries are defined under Section 42 of the US Code and cover any injury that will prevent a person from working and living their lives fully. The injuries derail the affected person's life, relationships, and career and also affect their families. Some of the common catastrophic injuries in California include:
Traumatic brain injuries
Spinal cord injuries
Multiple bone fractures
Internal organ damage
Laws throughout the country have tried hard to impose non-monetary damages on personal injury claims, but the processes are quite slow. However, a personal injury attorney can help you recover the damages you have experienced, including loss of enjoyment of life, lost wages, mental anguish, suffering and pain, loss of future wages, medical bills and permanent disabilities.
Common Types of Catastrophic Injuries
There are many types of catastrophic injuries, all resulting from different causes. Contrary to what many people think, quadriplegia and paraplegia are not the only common catastrophic injuries around. There are others like loss of hearing and sight, which may not seem so significant, but will alter your life for good. Here are different types of catastrophic injuries that result from personal injuries:
Spinal cord injuries
Statistics estimate that about 11,000 cases of spinal cord injuries occur in the US every year. Most of them result from trauma to the vertebral column, which affects the ability of the spinal cord to send and receive messages from the brain. This means that the functioning of other body systems are affected as well since signals from the brain cannot reach the systems that control motor, sensory, and autonomic functioning of the body.
The severity of a spinal cord injury depends mainly on the part of the spinal cord that has been affected. Injuries that affect the upper part of the spinal cord, the one closest to the brain, could change the way the body moves and how the person feels. Injuries on the lower level of the spinal cord will affect more movement, feeling, and voluntary control.
There are two main types of spinal cord injuries:
Tetraplegia, also known as quadriplegia- this is the kind of spinal cord injury that results from injuries in the cervical region or the neck of the spinal cord. The injuries are associated with loss of muscle strength in all four extremities.
Paraplegia, on the other hand, is an injury to the spinal cord that results from injuries on the lumbar or thoracic area of the spinal cord. These types of injuries lead to paralysis of the legs and could also affect the lower part of the body.
A complete injury to the spinal code will yield total loss of sensory and motor functioning below the level of the injury. At least 50% of all spinal cord injuries are complete. In these kinds of injuries, both sides of the body are affected in equal measure.
An incomplete injury to the spinal cord will only affect some parts of the body while others remain functional. A person who has suffered an incomplete injury should be able to move at least one of their legs or arms more than the others. They could also have some functioning on one side of the body.
Spinal cord injuries always result in extended stays in hospitals and will require long rehabilitation. Sometimes they lead to brain injuries and other complications. That is why it is important to seek compensation immediately after the accident occurs to be able to pay for high medical care. For this, you need the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer to fight your case and ensure that you get the compensation you deserve.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Traumatic brain injuries are caused by many things, but over half of the reported cases are those that have resulted from car accidents. Trauma in the brain will occur when any amount of force penetrates or fractures the skull, something that happens mostly when a person is involved in an auto accident.
In a car accident, the skull may strike an object like the windshield of the steering wheel. As a result, there could be an open wound to the skull or none at all. Note that in a car accident, it is not a must for the skull to have been fractured or penetrated for a traumatic brain injury to occur. The sheer force of the crash itself is enough to cause the brain to collide against the internal hard bone of the skull.
When a moving head suddenly comes to a stop, as it happens in accidents, the brain continues to move, and it could strike the interior of the skull. This bruises the brain; a condition referred to as contusion, and could also cause bleeding in the brain, called brain hemorrhage. These two conditions will not be physically visible at the time of injury but will have a devastating impact on the life of the injured.
Blunt trauma could also occur and is a more severe form of head injury. Blunt trauma occurs when a moving head strikes a stationary object like a steering wheel or a windshield. This could cause an open wound. At that impact, the brain on the other side of the impact is pulled away from the skull, causing an injury to the brain there.
A traumatic brain injury will affect your way of life, which is why you need to pursue compensation if you believe that another person or entity was responsible for the accident. When seeking compensation, several factors must be put into consideration, such as the extent of the injury. Note that when it comes to the brain, the scope of injuries sustained could be more severe on the inside than on the outside.
No one wants to get injured, especially if the injuries will affect their brain and the entire functioning of their body. However, in an inevitable event that you or your loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury in a car accident, you need proper legal representation from an attorney that will stand up for you. This attorney will ensure that your rights are protected and that you are getting only fair compensation.
Paralysis occurs when a person is unable to move specific parts of their body after an injury that affected their brain. Paralysis takes many forms; it could be temporary, permanent, or one that comes and goes. There are many causes of paralysis. Some people become paralyzed as a result of a congenital disability while others get paralyzed after a sudden injury. When any of this happens, the affected person is unable to move or feel anything at all on the affected body parts.
Paralysis will affect your breathing, blood flow, speaking, how well your organs work, swallowing, sexual responses, and how well you can control the urge to go to the bathroom. This, however, depends on the part of the body that has been affected and how bad the paralysis is.
A complete paralysis will make it impossible for you to move or control your paralyzed muscles. You may be unable to feel anything in those muscles too.
Incomplete or partial paralysis is one that leaves you with some feeling and control on your paralyzed muscles. This is a condition called paresis.
A localized paralysis is one that affects just one area, like your feet, hands, feet, or vocal cords.
A generalized paralysis, on the other hand, will be more widespread in your body and is treated depending on how much of the body is affected. Generalized paralysis is named depending on where the spinal cord or brain is injured.
Monoplegia is a type of generalized paralysis that has affected only one limb.
Diplegia is the one that has affected the same area on both sides, for instance, both legs, both arms, or both sides of the face.
Hemiplegia is the one that affects only one side of your body. This is usually caused by a stroke, which causes damage to one side of your brain.
Quadriplegia/tetraplegia happens when all the four limbs are affected and sometimes come with some effects on specific organs.
Paraplegia occurs when paralysis affects a person from the waist down.
Locked-in syndrome is sporadic but is the most severe form of paralysis. This is the type of paralysis where the injured lose control of all their muscles except for the ones that control their eye movements.
Partial or complete paralysis will not just affect the part of the body that is paralyzed; paralysis is a condition that brings about other conditions that could significantly affect your life. These are, for instance:
Bowel and bladder problems
Other types of catastrophic injuries include:
Loss of hearing or sight
Filing an Injury Lawsuit for Catastrophic Injury
Catastrophic injuries can occur anytime, anywhere but the most common ones result from car crashes, bus or truck accidents, motorcycle crashes, ATV accidents, boating accidents, workplace accidents, and construction site accidents. When such injuries occur, and a person believes that they were caused by another person's reckless behavior, negligence, or intentional conduct, they could have significant financial implications. The injured may want to bring a lawsuit against the person or entity responsible because their entire life and the wellbeing of their family will depend on the compensation they will receive from the claim.
This is the point where choosing a personal injury attorney becomes a vital decision to make for the injured. If you were residing in the no-fault states, you could only bring a lawsuit if the injuries sustained are catastrophic. California is, however, a fault state and so, any personal injury matter can be brought before a court for the responsible individuals to pay compensation to the affected.
When a driver is issued out with a driver's license in California, they agree to exercise reasonable caution every time they are on the roads for the safety of everyone else using the way. If the driver violates the set laws and puts the lives of others at risk, they are held legally and financially responsible in the event they cause an accident. Employers, on the other hand, are required to maintain safe workplaces for all their employees. There are safety standards that should be adhered to, in all industries. If an employer fails to keep their employees safe, they will be held legally and financially responsible if their employees are injured in the workplace.
For the reasons above, injured persons have a few options after an accident if they want to recover compensation:
Claim the insurance policy of the liable party
File a personal injury claim in court against the responsible party
File a claim under their insurance policy, depending on the coverage they have
Your injury attorney will discuss these options with you and help you make an informed decision. If you make a successful claim, you may recover enough compensation to help you cater for several damages including:
Present and future medical expenses
Property damage if any property such as a car was damaged in the accident
Lost wages and lost ability to earn a living
Pain and suffering
Note that evaluating the overall cost and impact of a catastrophic injury will not be an easy task. You may require the help of many professionals to help you come up with a figure that will be enough to cater to your current and future needs, both medical and personal. A smart personal injury attorney can work closely with physical therapists, doctors, accountants, vocational counselors and other professionals that may be involved, to help determine the extent of your injuries, both physical and financial.
How to Successfully File a Catastrophic Injury Claim
Remember that a catastrophic injury will leave you dependent on members of your family for a long time and sometimes for the rest of your life. The last thing you need after such an accident is to forget about it and start the recovery journey on your own. The financial burden and the fact that you may need care and attention for a very long time are enough to push you to seek compensation as soon as you get involved in an accident. How then do you ensure that your claim will be successful?
Hire a good lawyer
Some people prefer to handle their claims alone, especially in cases where sustained injuries are not severe. However, in a case involving catastrophic injuries, the help of a personal injury attorney is paramount. It is not wise to deal directly with the insurance company because all along, they will be giving you a deal less than you deserve and will make you sign papers that give away your rights. An attorney will advise you, handle the claim on your behalf, and take you through the legal process if the case goes to court. Your attorney will also be with you at a time when you need the most support.
Gather enough evidence about the accident
Whether you were injured at work, through a car crash or a bicycle accident, the amount of evidence you have against the responsible party will determine the success of your claim. To start with, you need to document the scene of the accident as best as you can. Your attorney will help a lot with this since it will be challenging to gather evidence alone after sustaining severe injuries. Evidence could be gathered in the form of photographs taken at the crime scene, personal recollection, and statements from witnesses.
Figure out who is liable for the accident
This is a significant step in a California personal injury lawsuit. The plaintiff should always be able to prove that another person or entity was negligent in their actions, which resulted in the accident that caused catastrophic injuries. Again, your attorney will be working day in and day out to figure out how the accident happened and what could have caused the accident. This way, they will help you unravel the misery behind the person responsible and the assets that person/entity has at that point. Your attorney will be able to do all this within the statute of limitations provided by the law for your claim to be accepted.
Find a Personal Injury Lawyer Near Me
There is so much that a person can do to be safe on the roads, in their workplaces, and also as they live their lives in public and private places. However, accidents are bound to happen, and some of these accidents result from negligence, intentional conduct of other people, or recklessness. The worst thing that could happen to you is sustaining a catastrophic injury because of another person’s carelessness or negligence. This would mean medical care and dependency for a very long time. What you need to do is work with a personal injury attorney, to ensure that your rights are respected and that you are getting your rightful compensation for the sustained damages. The LA Personal Injury Law Firm has a team of attorneys you can trust with your case. Call our Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer at 310-935-0089 today!