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The Oxford English Dictionary defines a catastrophe as “an event causing great and often sudden damage or suffering.”
If you or someone you love has suffered catastrophic injuries in San Bernardino, this definition might understate the adjustments and changes you had to make as a result of an injury.
From a legal perspective, a catastrophic injury refers to any permanent injury, illness, or disease that prevents an individual from working. Sometimes catastrophic injuries refer to adults who cannot return to work after sustaining a life-altering injury. In other cases, children who sustain catastrophic injuries lose the opportunity to pursue a career.
People who lose the ability to contribute to society, their household, and pursue their aspirations in life sometimes suffer from anxiety, depression, and other mental health struggles on top of the physical pain and economic challenges that come with a catastrophic injury. Family members who move into a care-taking role after a loved one suffers a catastrophic injury also face emotional struggles in accepting the way the injury has impacted their loved one.
If you, your partner, or your child have suffered a catastrophic injury, you might feel overwhelmed because of the changes and adjustments you’ve had to make in the wake of a catastrophic injury. You should not have to suffer the financial consequences too when the injury happened because of someone else’s careless actions or failures.
Fortunately, California law permits you to take legal action, and we are here to guide our San Bernardino neighbors through the claims process, advocate for you and your family, and help you seek the justice you deserve.
If you live in or near San Bernardino, contact our San Bernardino Catastrophic Injury Lawyers at the Gomez Trial Attorneys today online or at (619) 237-3490 for a free case evaluation, and to learn more about how we can help you move forward after a catastrophic injury.
The skilled catastrophic injury lawyers at Gomez Trial Attorneys have more than 20 years of experience negotiating, settling, and litigating personal injury claims for their clients, including those who have suffered life-altering, catastrophic injuries. The firm’s commitment to seeking justice, case preparation, and client service has led to the recovery of over $500 million in damages from settlements and jury verdicts for their clients.
Recent case examples involving catastrophic injuries include a $16 million settlement for a client who sustained a catastrophic brain injury during a slip and fall accident, and a $10.8 million settlement for a client who suffered a catastrophic cervical fracture and brain injury. These are only past examples and do not guarantee a specific financial outcome for your case, but the resourceful legal team at Gomez Trial Attorneys has the knowledge and experience to build a strong case against those who caused you harm, giving you the best chances to receive the maximum compensation commensurate with your injuries.
A catastrophic injury is a specific category that encompasses any injury that causes severe damage to the victim, leading to lifelong chronic issues or permanent disability. A catastrophic injury refers to any condition or injury that prevents an individual from returning to their job or seeking employment in the future.
Examples of the most common catastrophic injuries include:
Not all brain injuries are catastrophic. In fact, even some that result in permanent damages still allow victims to function in their daily lives. Yet, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) range in severity and functional loss, often depending on the location of the brain damage. Moderate to severe TBIs in certain locations in the brain can cause lifelong struggles for victims, some of which might prevent them from performing duties at a job.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warn that severe TBIs impact brain function in four different areas:
In many cases, spinal cord injuries fall under the umbrella of catastrophic injuries. Spinal cord cells are different from other cells in the body in the way that they do not regenerate. Bruises and minor nicks often heal, giving many a chance for full recovery once the swelling subsides. In more severe situations, spinal cord injury victims face functional loss.
Spinal cord injuries that occur closer to the brain cause more loss because they block more signals from the brain to the rest of the body’s nervous system. Neck injuries typically result in tetraplegia, full-body paralysis from the neck down. Injuries that occur further down on the spinal cord may or may not be catastrophic depending on the amount of function loss someone experiences.
Traffic accidents and construction or farming accidents involving heavy machinery are most likely to result in amputation. Losing a limb, or another body part typically occurs when someone’s arms, hands, legs, or feet get crushed in an accident. Crushed body parts lose blood flow and begin to die. In some cases, emergency room doctors can prevent amputations; other times, too much time has passed and doctors must make the difficult choice to amputate to save a person’s life.
Amputees must cope with physical pain as well as the mental trauma of losing a limb or another body part. Additionally, learning to use a prosthetic device and learning how to do common daily tasks differently also create frustration for amputees. Amputations are not always catastrophic, but depending on the loss, a person’s ability to work or do specific things might be impacted.
Not all back injuries are catastrophic, but the excruciating pain and discomfort that many back injury patients must suffer sometimes prevent them from working. Those who suffer severe back injuries typically experience pain, regardless of whether they are sitting, standing, or lying down.
Surgery is an option for treatment but typically does not eliminate all pain and discomfort. It’s not uncommon for back injury patients to have strict pain management regimens that might include cortisone shots, prescription painkillers, or a surgical pain management device implant. Although pain management can help, these tools and techniques are not always helpful enough for a person to return to work or seek future employment.
The economic loss that accompanies a catastrophic injury is massive compared to other injuries. Other injured victims suffer some of the same injuries listed above, but not to the same extent. Even severe injuries that lead to permanent damage do not always prevent a victim from working. Examples of the losses that catastrophic injury victims and their families often face include:
Those who suffer catastrophic injuries face high medical expenses that include a variety of services related to their treatment.
Examples of medical treatment costs that many victims face include:
Catastrophic injuries require specialized treatment and therapy for recovery and rehabilitation. Depending on the injury and the requirements, some specialized treatments might be for life. These treatments when spread out over decades can amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Examples of treatments associated with rehabilitation include:
The most severe catastrophic injuries require families to seek out costly long-term nursing care in San Bernardino for their loved ones when they cannot provide the care themselves. Sometimes long-term nursing care involves hiring nurses and aides to come into the home and care for a patient.
In many cases, injured victims must live in a long-term nursing care facility. Nursing homes in San Bernardino are expensive, and they are not covered under the vast majority of health insurance policies. The cost of long-term nursing care can financially devastate a family if their loved one does not hold a separate policy for nursing homes.
By definition, a catastrophic injury means a victim cannot work, making lost future wages the most costly aspect of injury for most victims and their families. For some families, the injured person was the primary breadwinner, meaning they have lost all or most of their monthly household income.
This can result in massive credit card debt, bankruptcy, foreclosure, and vehicle repossession. Some families struggle to buy necessities such as food and personal hygiene products. Someone who suffers a catastrophic disability might receive disability payments. Yet disability has a maximum limit and it only pays for a portion of lost income.
Some catastrophic injury patients are fortunate enough to return home. They might receive outside care or their family members provide the care and assistance they need. In either case, catastrophic injuries can include physical and psychological injuries that require changes to their home to make it more accessible.
The costs for modifying a home can range from hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars depending on the situation. For example, some families might install grab bars and handrails or build a wheelchair ramp. Other times, families might need to create a main floor living space, requiring the addition of a room or bathroom, because their loved one cannot use steps.
Each adult member of a household contributes to maintaining a home in many ways. A catastrophic injury often prevents an individual from performing most or all the household tasks they did before. In some cases, families can pitch in to pick up the slack. In other cases, families need to hire outside help to replace the labor their loved one provided.
For example, some families need to hire a lawn care and landscaping service, a cleaning service, a pool maintenance company, or a nanny or childcare service to help with young children. Victims might also need a personal assistant who can run errands, help with daily tasks, cook, grocery shop, and more.
A catastrophic injury causes massive physical, emotional, and financial pain for San Bernardino victims and their families. Fortunately, California law entitles them to recover compensation from anyone whose unreasonably dangerous decisions or actions contributed to the harm they have suffered. To obtain that compensation, however, they virtually always need the help of an experienced San Bernardino catastrophic injury lawyer.
Below, we answer some of the most pressing questions San Bernardino-area victims of catastrophic injuries have about their legal and financial rights. For answers to specific questions about your rights after suffering a catastrophic injury, contact an experienced San Bernardino catastrophic injury lawyer at Gomez Trial Attorneys.
Ordinarily, San Bernardino residents, workers, and visitors do not think about how to define and label their bad injury. Any injury that causes them pain, difficulty, and financial hardship is incapacitating.
For lawyers, however, the words used to describe an injury have meaning. In the legal world, catastrophic injuries permanently prevent a person from working or (in the case of child victims) obtaining employment in the future.
Any type of injury, if severe enough, can qualify as catastrophic. However, the bulk of catastrophic injuries our lawyers handle fall into one of the following categories:
Burn injuries. A burn injury can occur froma traffic accident, industrial explosion, house fire, ora variety of other scenarios. Severe burns that cover a large portion of the body often require skin grafts and cosmetic surgeries. In the worst cases, burn victims need to spend months in a burn recovery unit and mayeven have to remain in a medically induced coma. Severe burns cause a host of long-lasting symptoms and difficulties that make it impossible for a victim to return to work, including damage to the nervous system, impaired mobility or fine motor skills, and disfiguring scars.
Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Brain injuries vary in their severity and effects on the victim, but can often make a return to work impossible.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warn that individuals who suffer a severe TBI potentially face lifelong effects that impact:
Some people find ways to deal with their challenges in the aftermath of a brain injury and may manage to hold down a job. However, many of the complications above make it impossible for a person to stay employed.
Spinal cord injuries (SCIs). Acute spinal cord injuries are one of the leading causes of permanent disabilities in children and adults throughout the United States. Many incidents can cause an SCI, including car accidents, falls, and acts of violence. When trauma to the spinal column causes a partial or complete injury in the spinal cord, victims typically face some type of functional loss of feeling, motion, or sensation in their bodies.
An injury blocks the transmission of signals from the brain to the rest of the nervous system, so spinal cord injuries in the upper back and neck typically result in the most severe loss of function. These injuries often lead to tetraplegia, which is paralysis from the neck down. As injuries move further down the spinal cord, victims lose less motion and sensation.
Spinal cord injuries can be categorized as: complete or incomplete. A complete injury is one in which a victim has no feeling below the location of their injury. On the other hand, those who suffer from incomplete spinal cord injuries might experience some feeling, pain, or numbness.
In both both complete and incomplete injuries, full functional loss in some or all of the body often makes it difficult, if not impossible, for SCI patients to work in their former capacities.
Orthopedic injuries. Broken bones can constitute a catastrophic injury when the break is so severe that it permanently affects the victim’s use of a body part. Severe orthopedic injuries often require multiple reconstructive surgeries that involve the implantation of screws, plates, and other hardware to reconstruct crushed bones. These surgical devices are not always permanent, forcing victims to undergo another surgery in the future to remove or replace them.
Reconstructive surgery does not necessarily translate to complete recovery, however. Nor does it always restore the victim’s physical function. Even after one or more corrective surgeries, people who have suffered severe orthopedic injuries often face lifelong limitations in their mobility and range of motion. They also suffer from chronic pain and discomfort caused, for example, by scar tissue buildup and arthritis, especially when breaks occur in and around joints. Depending on a person’s occupation, severe orthopedic injuries can prevent them from seeking future employment.
Amputation. Amputees suffer the most devastating catastrophic injury. Losing one or more limbs from an accident is not only painful, but it also carries a heavy emotional burden. Car accidents or industrial accidents can lead to traumatic amputations, however, doctors perform most amputations, typically as a last resort to save the life of a victim whose crushed limb has stopped receiving adequate blood flow.
Amputees not only endure physical pain from their injury, but also emotional trauma from losing a limb and struggling to learn how to live without it. Some may receive a prosthetic device, but that comes with potentially significant costs. Additionally, many amputees suffer phantom limb pain in the area where their limb used to be. Although some amputees can find gainful employment with their disability, many cannot return to work.
Vision/hearing loss. Whether in a car accident, birth injury, or other scenario, head trauma usually results in vision and/or hearing loss. The inability to see and/or hear automatically falls under the umbrella of a catastrophic injury, because it causes a massive disruption in a person’s ability to communicate. Though victims of these injuries may eventually learn new ways to communicate and interact with the world around them, the extreme difficulties that come from this type of injury make it very difficult to work.
Lawyers cannot guarantee a specific financial outcome for any San Bernardino catastrophic injury claim. The value of a claim depends on a variety of factors, including the severity of the injury, its impact on the victim’s life, the strength of the evidence for liability and damages, and the financial resources available to pay the claim.
Generally speaking, the amount of money representing the damages a victim of a catastrophic injury suffers is higher than for most other types of personal injuries. That is because medical costs for catastrophic injuries tend to run high, and—as we’ve explained—a catastrophic injury causes major, permanent disruptions in the victim’s life and ability to hold down a job
However, the amount a victim should receive, and the amount the victim can realistically expect to receive, often differ. For one thing, to succeed in a claim, catastrophic injury victims and their lawyers need evidence that proves who should pay them damages and how much they should receive. The better and more available the evidence, in most cases, the higher the value of the claim.
For another thing, even the strongest claim might be limited by the financial limitations of the party at-fault. An individual who carries only the minimum auto accident liability insurance typically has far lesser ability to pay full damages than, say, a gigantic company that manufactured defective auto parts that caused a crash.
Victims of catastrophic injuries cannot control who owes them money. They can, however, give themselves the best possible chance to recover the most money available from as many parties as possible by hiring a skilled, experienced, resourceful San Bernardino catastrophic injury attorney to handle their claim.
As we said, there are no guarantees.
However, if you have a successful legal claim for damages arising from your catastrophic injury, then in general you may have the ability to take legal action seeking compensation for:
Experienced San Bernardino catastrophic injury lawyers work closely with their clients to evaluate the full scope of harm a catastrophic injury has caused. Through those efforts, the lawyer and client develop a tally of damages that helps ensure any amount the lawyer seeks on the client’s behalf in a legal action will provide the client with appropriate financial support and reimbursement.
It all depends on the facts of your case. We have represented clients in catastrophic injury cases that reach a favorable resolution in a month or two. We have also had cases that lasted a year or more.
Neither we nor you can control most of the factors that affect the timeline of a San Bernardino catastrophic injury case, which include considerations like:
You do, however, control one crucial aspect of the timeline of your case: when you get started. The sooner you have a free consultation with an experienced San Bernardino catastrophic injury lawyer, the sooner the rest of the process of seeking compensation can begin, and end.
Yes, you can. Our personal injury attorneys in San Bernardino will meet with you for an initial consultation at no charge to you, and will have that meeting wherever and whenever is most convenient for you.
If we agree to represent you in your catastrophic injury claim, then we will get to work on your behalf without asking you to pay a penny upfront, and without charging you as the case progresses. Instead, the lawyer will work on contingency, which means the only fee the lawyer gets consists of a percentage of any money the lawyer secures on your behalf. If you don’t get paid, then the lawyer doesn’t get paid.
Immediately. There is no time to lose. Waiting to speak with a lawyer could cost you valuable legal and financial rights.
Do not put your rights at risk. Contact an experienced San Bernardino catastrophic injury attorney today for a free, confidential, no-obligation case consultation.
Catastrophic injuries devastate victims and their families throughout San Bernardino, creating unfair burdens for everyone involved. You and your loved ones should not have to suffer from the financial aftermath of a catastrophic injury when another party caused harm through their negligence. Instead, let an experienced catastrophic injury attorney help guide you through the claims process and get the compensation you deserve for your catastrophic injury.
If you live in or near San Bernardino, contact the experienced catastrophic injury lawyers at Gomez Trial Attorneys online, or call at (619) 237-3490 for a free case evaluation to determine the best path forward for you and your family.
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