So what exactly is a catastrophic injury? One of the most generally accepted definitions is an injury in which someone suffers permanent or debilitating damage that prevents them from working. Some places define a catastrophic injury as a severe spinal, spinal cord, or cerebral injury. It can include amputation as well.
The ramifications of a catastrophic injury go well beyond the actual injury. Permanent disabilities like paralysis or brain damage like CTE can alter a person and the way they interact with others. Not only are they no longer able to perform any gainful work but they may no longer be able to enjoy life. Daily activities like using the bathroom or eating can become chores that put a burden on the victim and their loved ones.
In a legal sense, catastrophic injury falls under personal injury law. Handling this kind of case requires understanding the immediate and long-term injuries at issue. These cases often involve substantial future medical expenses. The attorneys at KBA often work with specialists, experts in the area of life care planning, vocational rehabilitation and assessment, and doctors who understand how life will be forever changed.
Outcomes of Catastrophic Injuries
The outcome of a catastrophic injury is typically broken down into three categories.
Catastrophic injuries can lead to death. Sometimes the injury can be fatal immediately. For example, if a person is in a car crash and suffers untreatable damage to the brain after being ejected from the vehicle. It can also be fatal due to complications that happen down the line. For example, a person may suffer from devastating burns that later become infected, leading to sepsis and ultimately death.
Nonfatal with Permanent Disability
In some cases of catastrophic injury, a person may suffer irreversible damage to the brain or spine injuries that leaves them permanently disabled. One example would be a teenager who was playing football and suffered an injury to his neck that resulted in paralysis. Cognitive disabilities can also be permanent.
Serious with No Permanent Disability
Depending on the location, a serious but nonpermanent injury may not be considered catastrophic. However, some cases may qualify as a catastrophic injury. For example, if someone suffered temporary paralysis from an injury but went through countless hours of physical therapy to return to normal function, they may be able to show how they lost wages and have exorbitant medical bills.
Catastrophic Injury Causes & Conditions
A catastrophic injury in Maryland can be sudden and unexpected. Here are some of the situations a person may experience a catastrophic injury:
- Playing Sports Like Football
- Car Accidents
- Medical Malpractice
- Defective Products
- Premise Liability
- Workplace Accidents
- Plane Crashes
- Train Derailments
- Violent Acts
- Attacks From Animals
From any of these situations, a person may suffer from paralysis, traumatic brain injury, quadriplegia, blindness, cognitive problems, deafness, amputations, disfigurement, severe burns, changes in mood and behavior, and more.
Examples of Catastrophic Injury Cases
Just because a person suffers a catastrophic injury does not automatically give them the right to sue for compensation. They must first be able to show that the injury was caused by the negligence, product, acts or omissions of another person. If they are able to prove that, they may be eligible for large awards of damages.
For example, more than a thousand people filed catastrophic personal injury lawsuits against Ford and Firestone in the early 2000s after tires failures led to hundreds of deaths and even more severe injuries. The two companies settled hundreds of cases out of court for millions of dollars. The companies reportedly paid out $12 million to $16 million for cases involving paralysis.
Cases dealing with catastrophic injuries don’t have to come from high-profile incidents. In fact, many cases deal with car crashes between two parties. For example, one plaintiff was involved in a head-on collision with another person who was not paying attention to the road. The plaintiff ended up suffering a traumatic brain injury that left her with permanent physical and cognitive problems. She was able to settle for more than a million dollars.
The attorneys at KBA have handled brain injury cases, paralysis cases, and amputation cases. They have recovered millions of dollars for their clients. Each case is different and requires a client centered approach, working with experts, and fighting defendants through discovery and trial as needed.
Aviation & Transportation Accident Litigation
Although all injuries have an effect on people, catastrophic injuries can change the course of someone’s life forever. These types of injuries have lifelong consequences, whether it’s a permanent disability that requires 24-hour care at a facility or an amputation of the arm.
Catastrophic injuries don’t just affect the person that suffered the injury either. Parents, spouses, children, and other family members are often left stressing over medical bills or figuring out how to help victims manage their new circumstances.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. When someone suffers a catastrophic injury due to the recklessness, negligence, or willful misconduct of another person, there may be some recourse. Learn how a personal injury case can help victims of catastrophic injuries cope with their disabilities and provide compensation.
Learn How a Maryland Catastrophic Injury Lawyer Can Help
Although most cases settle out of court before going to a trial, lawyers are instrumental in securing the highest payout possible. Catastrophic injury cases deal with high awards, which make them more complex and contentious. Sometimes trial is necessary, and the attorneys at KBA have secured significant verdicts, including a $30,000,000+ verdict in one such case. Each case is different, so working closely with a lawyer to evaluate the specifics is critical.
Insurance companies and defense attorneys may shift all or part of the blame on the plaintiff to get out of paying the full amount of damages. Fighting to overcome that defense is crucial, and something the attorneys at KBA have done many times. An experienced attorney will be able to negotiate with the other side and present evidence to prove the plaintiff’s case in court.
The types of damages an attorney may be able to secure include economic damages like lost wages and medical expenses. It includes noneconomic damages like pain and suffering. Those who have been permanently injured in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence are encouraged to reach out to a qualified lawyer.