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When another party’s negligence permanently alters your life, you most likely won’t return to work or carry on with your normal daily activities. Catastrophic injuries can leave you with long-term chronic conditions or permanent disabilities preventing you from working. Catastrophic injuries also carry with them an extra layer of emotional distress above and beyond the physical pain because victims know their injury-causing accident could have been avoided if not for another party’s careless choices. Additionally, victims have to deal with the psychological trauma that often accompanies adjusting to the condition or disability that will stay with them for the rest of their life.
If you, your child, or another family member has sustained a catastrophic injury in San Diego, you are going through a difficult transition in your life. You don’t have to go through this time alone. An experienced personal injury lawyer who has dealt with catastrophic injuries will guide you through the legal process and advocate for you. If you live in the Greater San Diego area contact the skilled and compassionate personal injury lawyers at The Gomez Law Firm at (619) 237-3490 to learn how we can assist you in the wake of a catastrophic injury.
The award-winning legal team at The Gomez Law Firm has more than two decades of experience in the negotiation, settlement, and litigation of personal injury cases, including those involving catastrophic injuries. The firm’s dedication to client service, advocacy, and professional excellence has led to the recovery of more than $500 million in settlements and court-awarded damages for clients.
Recent cases involving catastrophic injuries include a $10.8 million settlement for a client who suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and a cervical fracture, and more than $16 million in a settlement for a client who suffered a brain injury in a slip and fall accident. These past examples do not guarantee results in your case, but the diligent attorneys at The Gomez Law Firm will build the best case they can to maximize your chance for a positive outcome.
Catastrophic injuries refer to a class of injury that causes severe harm to the victim, and results in a long-term chronic condition or permanent disability. From a legal standpoint, a catastrophic injury is any injury or condition that prevents an injured victim from returning to work, or in the case of a child, prevents them from ever seeking gainful employment. Common types of catastrophic injuries include:
A TBI occurs when a person has a direct or indirect trauma to their head. Mild TBIs, also called concussions, often heal on their own, but severe TBIs cause lifelong complications. Each TBI is different depending on the extent of the injury and the location of the brain where the injury occurred. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), severe TBIs cause short-term and long-term complications in four areas of brain function:
Spinal cord injuries are more often than not catastrophic. The location of the injury along the spinal cord plays a crucial part in determining the extent to which a victim loses function. Most spinal cord injuries result in paralysis in some or all of the body. Broadly speaking, spinal cord injuries that occur closer to the brain, which means higher up on the spinal column, paralyze more of the body.
While farming accidents and industrial accidents might lead to an amputation injury, many amputations are a result of crushed limbs from some sort of motor vehicle or construction accident. Doctors always try to save arms and legs, but sometimes amputation is necessary. Those who must have one or more of their limbs amputated, not only suffer from the physical pain of the injury and healing, but must also deal with stump pain and phantom limb pain.
The emotional trauma of losing a limb often impacts amputees who must learn new ways to get through their daily routine and struggle with learning how to use a prosthetic device. Amputation does not always mean a person cannot hold a job, but it does place challenges that might affect a person’s income.
The excruciating pain of recovering from a severe burn might be as painful, if not worse, than the burn itself. Depending on the severity, burn victims might have to spend months in a burn unit, possibly in a medically induced coma. Many times, severe burn victims must undergo one or more reconstructive surgeries involving skin grafts.
Even with surgery, those who suffer severe burns face permanent scarring and disfigurement. Additionally, severe burns can cause internal organ damage and impact other areas of the body. Severe burn victims potentially face lifelong struggles and may require indefinite medical treatment.
Not all back injuries are catastrophic, but when a person has a severe back injury, they often cannot sit, they cannot stand, and they cannot lie down. Any position causes pain.
Those with severe back injuries typically have to undergo one or more corrective surgeries. Although surgery might alleviate some pain, many back injury victims suffer from chronic pain for their entire lives. This also can lead to an unhealthy dependency on painkillers when other pain management techniques don’t help.
The financial aftermath of a severe injury is never cheap, but catastrophic injuries take the idea of economic loss from an injury to another level. The severity of catastrophic injuries contributes to an exponential increase in losses incurred because of the injury. Some of the most devastating financial impacts on a victim, and his or her family if applicable, include:
Catastrophic injuries are costly to treat and often include many different services from doctors and specialists, including:
Those who suffer catastrophic injuries typically need to spend years on rehabilitation, which translates into hundreds of thousands in rehab costs. Depending on the exact injury a victim might need to spend time with a physical therapist, who can help them repair and rebuild impacted areas as much as possible with their injury.
Those who suffer permanent disabilities also typically must work with an occupational therapist who can help them cope with their limitations and learn new ways to do things that used to be part of their daily routine. Suffering a catastrophic injury also involves emotional trauma for most, which means victims must spend regular time with a counselor or psychologist to learn how to mentally cope with their challenges, let go of injury-related anger, and work through the trauma of the event that led to the injury.
For many families and catastrophic injury victims, lost earning capacity is the most devastating economic loss to come from the injury, especially if the injured person contributed a fair amount to the household income. Not only does the victim lose wages and benefits initially after the injury, but some diagnoses or prognoses mean an injured person will never be able to seek gainful employment again. Disability does make up for some of the lost income, but never more than two-thirds of the injured person’s average income before the injury. Children who suffer catastrophic injuries will never be able to seek gainful employment, requiring them to depend on their family and others to care for them into adulthood.
When those with catastrophic injuries return home from the hospital they might have to make some minor and major changes to their home so they can function. In some cases, the victim or his or her family might have to construct an addition or extra room on the main level so their family member doesn’t have to go up or down the stairs. Other common changes that a home might need include the addition of a wheelchair ramp(s), construction of an easy pathway to and from the home, the purchase of a hospital-grade bed, and the installation of handrails in the bathroom and shower area. Other things in the home might also need customization for someone who suffered a catastrophic injury.
If a person suffers a catastrophic injury, they cannot do everything they need to do to maintain their household. It’s likely the family can chip in and help out, but in certain cases families might need to hire extra help to replace the labor the injured person provided. For example, if the injured used to stay home with young children, a family might have to send kids to daycare or hire a nanny to care for the children.
Similarly, older children need supervision and guidance after school. Other examples of replacement services a family might need include someone to help with maintaining the yard by mowing the lawn, trimming trees, weeding the garden, or taking care of swimming pool; someone to clean the home, do the dishes, do the laundry, and other daily chores; and, someone who can go grocery shopping and cook healthy meals for the injured and/or the family.
In some cases, family members cannot provide the necessary care for a catastrophic injury victim, requiring the injured person to live in a long-term nursing care facility. Unless the injured person has a separate insurance policy for a long-term stay at a nursing home, their insurance will not likely cover long-term healthcare, which can bankrupt a family. A qualified attorney can help catastrophic injury victims and their families get the funds they need so they can afford the care they deserve.
A skilled personal injury lawyer who is experienced with catastrophic injuries knows the tactics that the defense might use for your individual circumstances and will fight to hold those who are at fault accountable. In addition to harnessing the knowledge in their network of experts, your attorney will investigate your accident, talk to witnesses, and deal with the legal complexities involved with catastrophic injury cases. It will give you peace of mind to know that you have an advocate on your side who is seeking the best possible outcome for your situation, while you learn to cope with your permanent condition.
If you live in the Greater San Diego area, contact the experienced San Diego catastrophic injury lawyers at The Gomez Law Firm online or at (619) 237-3490 for a free consultation to determine the best course of action for you and your family. The Gomez Law Firm take personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis. If you choose us to represent you in your catastrophic injury case, we only collect attorney fees from any compensation we secure for you in the form of a settlement or verdict in your favor.
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