Catastrophic injuries happen in all sorts of situations, including car accidents, workplace accidents, and even accidents at home. The Department of Labor defines a catastrophic injury as one with life-threatening injuries that take an indefinite period of time to heal. Severe burns, amputations, traumatic brain injuries, multiple fractures, strokes, and spinal cord injuries are all examples of catastrophic injuries.
If you recently suffered a catastrophic injury, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer at Abels & Annes today to determine your eligibility to seek compensation for your injuries.
Why Catastrophic Injuries Occur
A catastrophic injury could be the result of negligent or intentional behavior. Sometimes, accidents happen even when people take all of the safety precautions.
Many times catastrophic injuries result from negligence. Consider the following hypothetical: A truck driver doesn’t see a pedestrian in a crosswalk and knocks the pedestrian down, causing a traumatic brain injury and several broken bones. The truck driver negligently caused the pedestrian’s injuries.
Grossly negligent behavior could also cause catastrophic injuries. Consider the following: A drunk driver with a blood alcohol level of 0.12 percent gets behind the wheel, knowing that he or she is intoxicated. In such an instance, the intoxicated person should have known that his or her facilities were impaired and should have known that individuals who drive under the influence have a much higher chance of causing an accident. Yet, the person drives anyway and does cause an accident that severely injures the person he hit.
Three types of damages are available to those who suffer catastrophic injuries: special, general, and punitive damages.
Economic damages, also known as special damages, have a specific dollar amount attached to them. They are payable to the plaintiff by the defendant or the defendant’s insurance company in an attempt to make the plaintiff whole. Special damages include:
- Past medical expenses to cover any expenses incurred due to injuries suffered in the accident
- Future medical expenses to cover followup appointments, additional surgery, and therapy. The injured individual may need physical therapy, cognitive therapy, or psychological therapy. Some people suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder if the accident was grisly, or might suffer depression and/or anxiety because of the length of time needed to recover from a catastrophic injury.
- Past lost wages for time lost from work because of the injuries.
- Future lost wages for time the injured person expects to lose from work because of the injuries. In some cases, the injured person may go back to work, but the injuries do not allow him or her to do the same job. If the injured person takes a job in a different field that pays less than his previous work, the injured individual might be entitled to partial future wages to make up for the difference.
- Replacement or repair of personal property damaged or destroyed in the accident.
- Burial and funeral expenses.
Non-economic damages, also known as general damages, are also intended to make a victim whole again. While money cannot make the injuries heal faster or go away, nor can it bring back a loved one killed in an accident, it does make it less stressful to work through the situation, since you will have money to pay bills. Non-economic damages are usually reserved for individuals suffering long-term or permanent injuries. General damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium if you can no longer have a physical relationship with your spouse
- Loss of companionship if you cannot take part in family activities and events
- Loss of use if you lose partial or total use of a body part or function, including an arm, leg, or your eyesight
- Loss of reputation
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Unlike general and special damages, which attempt to make you whole again, a court does not order punitive damages to make a plaintiff whole. Rather, it orders defendants to pay punitive damages as punishment for grossly negligent or intentional behavior.
Contact the Catastrophic Injury Attorneys at Abels and Annes
If you are suffering from catastrophic injuries from any kind of accident, contact Abels & Annes for a free consultation to discuss the accident, your injuries, and how long doctors expect your injuries to last or if the injuries are permanent.
If you settle with an insurance company by yourself, you may not get enough compensation to cover all of your injuries and losses. Additionally, if a commercial vehicle hit you, you might have the right to sue more than the person who caused the accident. In some cases, their employers, equipment manufacturers, vehicle manufacturers, dispatchers, and others might share liability for your injuries. Our experienced personal injury lawyers can review your case to determine who contributed to your accident and how much money you need to cover your costs and regain as much independence as possible.
Please call us at (312) 924-7575 or write to us online to schedule a free consultation. We look forward to helping you.