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Although California has not statutorily defined what makes an injury “catastrophic,” some factors have been specified. These include long-term or permanent pain that is severe in nature, as well as the loss of a limb or organ. When an individual suffers a catastrophic injury, living life as normal is typically out of the question as their injury prevents them from working and having normal, healthy relationships.

If you’ve been injured, the personal injury attorneys at Pathway Law Firm, PC, can determine if your injury is catastrophic in nature and the amount of compensation you are entitled to receive.

Common Catastrophic Injuries We See in Clients

  • Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs): A traumatic brain injury, or TBI, is an injury that disrupts normal brain function and is usually caused by a violent blow, jolt, or bump to the head. TBIs are most commonly seen following a severe sports injury or car accident and can cause permanent disability.
  • Severe Burns: Severe third-degree, or full-thickness, burns to penetrate through tissue and muscle. They can appear waxy, white, or dark brown in color. They may even be raised and have a leathery texture. Treatment generally includes surgery to prevent severe scarring and contracture.
  • Paralysis: Paralysis is defined as the loss of control over, or strength in, a muscle or group of muscles. It causes a person to have a loss of feeling and movement in the affected area(s). Paralysis occurs when nerve signals to the brain, nerves, or spinal cord are interrupted due to some type of damage.
  • Accidental Amputations: Simply put, an accidental amputation is when a body part is accidentally cut off. It can refer to a whole body part, such as a leg, or a digit, such as a toe. Accidental amputations can result in a lifetime of disability and disfigurement.
  • Spinal Cord Injuries: Spinal cord injuries are generally caused by a traumatic blow to the spine. Symptoms depend on the amount of damage caused to the spine and can vary from paralysis from the neck down (tetraplegia), to weakness in the extremities.

Common Causes of Catastrophic Injuries in Clients

There are many ways in which a catastrophic injury can occur. Some of the most common include:

The Unique Needs of Catastrophic Injury Victims

In some cases, victims of catastrophic injuries require Life Care Planning and Vocational Rehabilitation to make the best possible recovery.

Life Care Planning 

A life care plan is a road map that details the victim’s current and future needs. It takes into account all of the victim’s medical needs, from treatments and therapies to home modifications and equipment. It also includes an estimate of the costs associated with meeting those needs. A life care plan is an important tool in personal injury cases as it can be used to help prove the victim’s damages.

Vocational Rehabilitation 

Vocational rehabilitation is a process that helps injured individuals return to work. It can involve training, retraining, and job placement services. For some victims of catastrophic injuries, vocational rehabilitation is the only way they will be able to return to work.

Other special needs that may be required following a catastrophic injury include:

  • Home health care services
  • In-home nursing care
  • Live-in assistance
  • Adaptive equipment
  • Vehicle modifications

A common thing among all of these needs is that they are expensive. A victim might even have to spend the rest of their life incurring medical expenses and other costs related to their injuries.

Determining the Value of Catastrophic Injury Cases

The value of a catastrophic injury case will depend on a number of factors, including the severity of the injuries, the victim’s life expectancy, and the cost of future care. In some cases, the value of a case can be in the millions of dollars.

Our catastrophic injury attorneys work hard to get our clients the full and fair compensation they deserve for their economic and non-economic losses, including:

  • Medical expenses
  • Hospitalization
  • Rehabilitation
  • Therapy
  • Medications 
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Wrongful death damages (if applicable)

While no amount of money can undo the damage caused by a catastrophic injury, it can help ease the financial burden and provide some measure of justice.

Proving Fault for Catastrophic Injuries

In order to recover compensation after a catastrophic injury, you will need to prove that someone else was at fault. This can be done by showing that the other party acted negligently or recklessly and that their actions led to your injuries.

There are many ways in which someone can act negligently and cause an accident. Some common examples include:

  • Speeding
  • Failing to yield the right of way
  • Running a red light or stop sign
  • Making an illegal turn
  • Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Texting while driving
  • Failing to maintain a safe distance between vehicles

Different Forms of Evidence in Catastrophic Injury Cases

Many different types of evidence can be used to prove fault in a catastrophic injury case. Some common examples include:

  • Witness testimony
  • Photographic evidence
  • Surveillance footage
  • The police report
  • Expert witness testimony
  • Medical records
  • Bills and receipts

If you have been involved in a catastrophic accident, it’s important to save any evidence that could be used to prove fault. This might include taking pictures of the scene of the accident, getting the contact information of any witnesses, and saving your medical records.

How Can a Catastrophic Injury Attorney Help?

If you or a loved one has been involved in a catastrophic accident, it’s important to speak with an experienced attorney as soon as possible. The sooner you contact an attorney, the sooner they can begin working on your case and gathering evidence to prove fault.

An attorney can also help you negotiate with the insurance company and fight for a fair settlement. Many insurance companies will try to lowball accident victims, especially if they are not represented by an attorney. An experienced attorney will know how to negotiate with the insurance company and fight for the compensation you deserve.

If you’re not able to reach a settlement with the insurance company, your attorney can file a lawsuit on your behalf. Your attorney will handle all aspects of the lawsuit, including investigating the accident, deposing witnesses, and arguing your case in court.

If one sustains a life-altering injury, can one be awarded punitive damages?

In some cases, an injured person can be awarded punitive damages. Punitive damages are designed to punish the wrongdoer and deter future misconduct. To recover punitive damages, the plaintiff must show that the defendant’s actions were particularly egregious and that they acted with reckless disregard for the safety of others.

Punitive damages can be awarded in addition to compensatory damages, which are designed to reimburse the plaintiff for their economic and non-economic losses. In some cases, punitive damages can be awarded even if the plaintiff does not recover any compensatory damages. Our California, catastrophic injury lawyers can help you determine if you are eligible for punitive damages.

How long does it take to settle a Catastrophic Injury Case?

The amount of time it takes to settle a catastrophic injury case depends on many factors, including the severity of the injuries, the insurance company’s willingness to negotiate, and whether the case goes to trial. In some cases, a settlement can be reached within a few months. In other cases, it may take years to reach a settlement.

The sooner you commence the claim process, the sooner your attorney can begin investigating the accident and collecting evidence to support your claim.

How much does a Catastrophic Injury Lawyer cost?

Most personal injury lawyers, including our firm, work on a contingency fee basis. This means that you will not owe any attorney’s fees unless we are able to recover compensation for you.

If we do recover compensation for you, our fees will be a percentage of the settlement or verdict. The exact percentage will be determined in advance and based on your case’s complexity.

You will not be responsible for any upfront costs and will never be charged an hourly rate. If we do not win your case, you will owe nothing.

Contact Our Catastrophic Injury Firm Today

If you or your loved one has suffered a catastrophic injury, contact Pathway Law Firm, PC, today. We understand the pain and suffering associated with these types of injuries and provide the assertive representation you need to recover the compensation you deserve. Our clients are our priority, and we are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. And, as always, we don’t collect any money from you until your case successfully concludes in either a settlement or verdict through the courts.

Some Areas we Serve for Catastrophic Injury in California