A catastrophic injury is a severe injury causing paralysis or disabilities from injuries sustained from the spinal cord, spine, or brain. Included in these injuries are spinal or skull fractures. Three factors determine if an injury is labeled catastrophic.
- If the injuries are permanent and cause severe functional disability
- Any severe injuries to the head or neck area with no permanent disability
Fatalities are when the person dies from the injuries they receive. They may not die immediately, but if they pass away at a later date and time, the catastrophic injury is still classified as the cause of the fatality. There are two types of fatalities, one is a direct and a violent impact, and the other one is indirect. Naturally, anything with a direct blow to the head, neck, or spine area is an immediate impact. Indirect fatalities would be considered a systemic failure such as cardiovascular condition, dehydration, exertional hyponatremia, or heat stroke. Any of these catastrophic injuries labeled under fatalities will cause some form of brain damage. It may not cause a total disability, but the injury will be made known to the party and by those who know the person. Something will never seem right with the person after the catastrophic injury.
Permanent Injuries and Disabilities
Catastrophic injuries, permanent injuries, and disabilities call for strong law accident & injury attorneys. Paralysis after an injury is considered catastrophic. For some, from the neck down, the loss of limbs is devastating for a person to deal with on a day-to-day basis. Some have only from the waist down while others from certain parts of the limbs. Either way, these are life-changing events for those living through the agonizing pain and those who have to take care of them. There are disability checks that come from SSDI but, the loss of a regular paying job may be too much. There is no way the government will compensate the entire loss of wages.
This is when attorneys can help. They can push for these losses of wages when a catastrophic injury occurs through negligence. The lawyers will calculate how long the worker will be out and how much income they will lose on average. Then they will total up the amount, which will add in with the medical expenses and everything else for the lawsuit. In the end, it is the victim who has the final say if a settlement can be agreed upon, but the lawyer is only there to advocate.
Non-Permanent Disability Injuries
These are the lesser side of catastrophic injuries. Yes, it is a horrible experience when anyone injures themselves from the head, neck, or spinal areas. The best thing to say about these injuries, they are not permanent. However, it will take extensive and painful rehabilitation to get the person back to 100 percent. How long the person is out of work also depends on the amount in the settlement.
If a settlement outside the courtroom is not met, the courts will award the highest payments from the insurance companies if they lose the case. This is why when the insurance companies find out the victim has a good lawyer, things move so much more smoothly. They are ready to settle outside of court. They will often go back and forth with negotiations with the lawyers and come up with a settlement the lawyer’s client is happy with in the end. Some of these cases can go into the millions of dollars due to the extensive damage and injuries. The more extensive the injuries are, the higher the settlement can be expected.
What Causes Catastrophic Injuries?
As mentioned earlier, anything with a great deal of impact or blow to the body can cause a person’s demise. A few examples are sports, car accidents, work-related injuries, and everyday injuries. Catastrophic injuries can happen anywhere, but in the most common places, it is not surprising. Amazingly, sports have been the leading cause of catastrophic injuries. Some of the roughest sports where these injuries occur without warning are football, hockey, wrestling, boxing, diving, gymnastics, baseball, track and field, and skiing. All of these sports can have devastating effects on the human body when accidents happen. Here are some tidbits of possibilities that cause catastrophic events in sports.
- Football: When players get hit head-on, head, spinal injuries can take place or brain damage. Many players have received concussions over the years as the helmets, and protective pads for the body gear have improved. Still, they lack the potential to take away the impact. Injuries will remain for high school players to the NFL.
- Hockey: Between the puck and the fists and fighting on the ice, hockey has grown to be a great sport in America. Permanent and non-permanent injuries have occurred on the ice, and many have had to retire from their professional careers due to the roughness.
- Wrestling and Boxing: Many people scoff at how fake wrestling is. What they do not realize is the moves are real and cannot be faked when accidents occur. Boxing is a sport, but many fighters come out with brain damage and risk the chances of coming out with broken jaws, noses, or even necks. Some fighters have been hit so hard they have had their neck broken and died in the ring or not long after the fight.
- Gymnastics or Cheerleading: Both fall in the same category of a catastrophic injury if one wrong move occurs. It can happen at any given moment. Many have become paralyzed for life from injuries.
- Racing: Racing is like automobile accidents. Yes, the driver has helmets, fireproof clothing and is strapped in very well. However, just like on the highway, race car drivers can get seriously injured or killed on the racetrack. One of the saddest losses was the Intimidator Dale Earnhart Sr. Just like accidents, a catastrophic injury turned into a fatality.
- Other Sports: Other sports can lead to catastrophic injuries. However, some are not as dangerous. One sport may receive bumps and bruises, while others may have broken bones or worse.
Car Accidents Can Cause Catastrophic Injuries
One of the most prominent cases is when a lawyer takes on a catastrophic injury case. If negligence and fault of the other driver are proven, especially if there is an eighteen-wheeler or company vehicle involved, any lawyer will jump at the opportunity. Car accidents have left thousands paralyzed when they survive a horrific accident. Some of these are due to spinal or neck injuries. Even though a person is wearing their seatbelt, the force of the impact can snap a person’s neck or spine instantly.
When the other driver is at fault, their insurance is supposed to cover the cost of the other driver. Sadly, they seldom do, and it is up to an excellent attorney to make the insurance companies pay. The lawyer has to prove the negligence and the fault of the other driver. Once this is done, the courts will automatically side with the plaintiff. Millions of dollars are usually the outcome paid in these kinds of cases because the victim has become paralyzed. Once they are labeled permanently disable, they can no longer work to support themselves or their families. So depending on the victim’s age, they will come out with a large sum of money.
Everyone knows when an accident happens at work, Worker’s Comp takes over the case. The good news is when the injury is proven at work, most of the time, the worker is accepted to receive Worker’s Comp benefits starting with the medical treatment. Then the worker’s pay is usually considered after the benefits of vacation and sick days are exhausted. Once the days are up, then the payment kicks in from Worker’s Comp kicks in. Here is the bad news. It is only 2/3 of the worker’s compensation.
If the worker struggled with pay before, they would have a difficult time with less pay than their usual salary. All of this is taken into account by the attorney from day one. When it comes to Worker’s Comp, the worker will never see a medical bill, so those payments are not factored into the settlement toward the plaintiff. However, the worker who is injured will get compensated for the amount lost in the difference of what Worker’s Comp has paid, plus any other damages such as pain and suffering and if anyone has to help take care of the victim.
The Life Care Plan for the Victim
In the end, the life care plan is the final amount figured within the settlement. This compensates for the injured party’s care for the duration of their paralysis, whether temporary or permanent. In order to get the client enough to last the rest of their life if needed, the lawyer will also figure his fees in the mix and go over the amount by 30 to 40 percent. Below is what the funds will pay for to help the victim manage.
- Renovations to the victim’s home for tubs, toilets, and other homes amenities
- Purchasing a new adaptive van
- Wheelchairs, adaptive equipment, and other assistive technology
- Case management
- Nursing and supervisory care
- Medical supplies, medication, and other medical equipment such as catheters, hospital beds, and other equipment
- Home, facility care and services
- Counseling, therapy, and other forms of rehabilitation, educational, and vocational services
Some ballpark figures have clients seen awarded up to $7.5 million, some more, some less. It depends on the injuries and the damages received. All cases are different, and there is a slight chance of not breaking even in a case.