Victims who suffer catastrophic injuries from auto accidents, defective products, medical malpractice, or other types of negligence are legally entitled to monetary compensation in a catastrophic injury lawsuit. In this post, we will explain what is considered a catastrophic injury and look at how victims can obtain settlement compensation by bringing a successful catastrophic injury lawsuit.
What is a Catastrophic Injury or Illness?
The term “catastrophic injury” is a phase frequently used in the field of personal injury and workers comp law to refer to the most serious types of physical injuries and diseases. A catastrophic injury is generally defined as any physical injury, disease or illness that can reasonably be expected to leave someone incapacitated and unable to work for a prolonged time period or permanently.
Catastrophic injuries always result in major financial hardships because they leave the victim unable to work and earn a living for long periods. They also can involve serious medical expenses.
Common Types of Catastrophic Injuries
Any type of injury can potentially be catastrophic depending on the circumstances. However, there are certain types of categories of physical injuries that most commonly fall in the catastrophic classification. The injuries, listed below, are those that are most likely to result in the type of long-term or permanent incapacity and lost earnings that characterize catastrophic injuries.
Brain Injuries: The brain is the most important organ in the human body. It controls everything from thinking to movement. Any type of physical damage to the brain can potentially result in a catastrophic injury because it can result in impaired movements and cognitive abilities.
Burn Injuries: Some burns can be minor, but serious burn injuries (2nd degree and higher) can be some of the worst injuries. Serious burns can result in permanent physical impairments.
Leg Fractures: All bone fracture injuries are very serious and can potentially be classified as catastrophic, but broken leg bones are particularly hard because they result in mobility impairment.
Organ Damage: damage to internal organs can cause major long-term problems.
Catastrophic Injuries and Wrongful Death
Wrongful death is a legal claim that can be brought when someone dies as a direct result of negligence. For obvious reasons, death is considered a catastrophic injury. When fatal catastrophic injuries occur, surviving family members of the victim can bring a wrongful death lawsuit and get monetary compensation.
Common Causes of Catastrophic Injuries
Listed below are the most common types of categories of negligent actions (or inactions) that frequently result in catastrophic injuries. These categories are ranked according to the frequency with which they tend to cause serious, catastrophic injuries, with the most dangerous types listed first.
Medical Malpractice: When doctors make mistakes they tend to have very serious consequences. Of all the various categories, medical negligence has the highest potential for causing catastrophic injuries. When a doctor fails to diagnose cancer or removes the wrong organ during surgery, it tends to result in very serious physical injuries. There are certain subtypes of medical malpractice that have the highest rate of catastrophic injury. These are birth injury malpractice, surgical errors, and hospital malpractice.
Dangerous or Defective Products: Dangerous or defective products can range from medical devices, to consumer goods. When products have design or manufacturing flaws they often result in very serious physical injuries. For example, products with carcinogenic ingredients cause cancer. Medical devices with design flaws can cause serious internal damage and health issues.
Motorcycle Accidents: Of all the different sub-categories of auto accidents, motorcycle accidents present the highest likelihood of catastrophic injury. The combination of high speeds, rapid acceleration, and a total lack of external protection make motorcycles the most dangerous vehicle on the road.
Truck Accidents: Collisions on the roadway involving big-rig commercial trucks (tractor-trailers) can be very serious. The size and weight of 18-wheeler trucks mean that they bring a tremendous amount of force to any impact which can cause serious injuries to occupants in passenger vehicles. The rate of catastrophic injury in a truck vs. car accident is roughly double.
Pedestrian Accidents: This category involves cases where a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle. For very obvious reasons, pedestrians are extremely vulnerable when struck by any type of vehicle and even a moderate speed collision can be life threatening. Fortunately, most pedestrian accidents occur at low speeds.
Filing a Catastrophic Injury Lawsuit
Anyone who has suffered a catastrophic injury as a result of someone else’s negligence has the option of filing a personal injury lawsuit to get financial compensation. Plaintiffs in catastrophic injury lawsuits can get damages for medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering and more.
The process for bringing a catastrophic injury lawsuit varies depending on what state you are in and what type of negligence is involved (e.g., medical malpractice, auto accident, etc.). Generally, however, the first step in the process is to consult with and retain a personal injury lawyer. The best option is to go with a lawyer that has a history of dealing with catastrophic injury cases.
Damages in Catastrophic Injury Cases
When a plaintiff brings a personal injury lawsuit, the court can award money damages for certain losses. Tort law only permits money damages to be awarded for the following:
Medical Expenses: Damages can be awarded for all medical expenses that the victim incurred as a direct result of the catastrophic injury. This includes not only expenses for past medical treatment, but also the estimated cost of future medical expenses that will be necessary.
Lost Income: Catastrophic injuries usually involve lost wages or lost income because the victim is not able to work for a certain time as a result of the injury. Damages for both past and future lost earnings can be awarded.
Pain & Suffering: The court can award money damages to compensation a victim for the physical and mental pain and suffering that was caused by the catastrophic injury. These are referred to as “non-economic” damages.
Contact Miller & Zois About a Catastrophic Injury Lawsuit
Miller & Zois has an experienced team of catastrophic injury lawyers that regularly handle catastrophic injury cases. We offer free, zero-obligation case consultations. Call today at 800-553-8082.