Serious And Catastrophic Injuries How Recovery And Compensation Works

Assessing How Hurt You Are After A Car Collision

After being involved in an automobile accident, it is important that you seek medical attention immediately – not only because it is the right thing to do for your health, but because you will need a formal evaluation of how likely it is you will make a full recovery and how long that will take. In order to assist you in getting the compensation you will need while you recover, an automobile accident attorney will need a formal diagnosis of the extent of your injuries, and whether they are considered short-term or long-term.

Legal definition of an injury

Beyond everyday usage, the word “injury” has a particular definition under civil law. It means you have sustained physical and/or emotional pain and suffering. It also encompasses damage or loss of your reputation, dignity, legal rights, real or personal property, or contracted agreement. We’re focusing first on physical injuries, which are typically divided into categories based on severity and how long they are likely to impede your daily life.

Short-term injuries following a car accident

Short-term injuries following an auto collision may include the following:

  • Cuts and bruises
  • Broken bone
  • Sprain
  • Dislocated shoulder

Note that categorizing an injury as short-term does not mean it is minor, but rather that you are expected to fully recover within a reasonable period. Even an injury from which you are expected to recover fairly quickly can cause extreme pain and require you to take time away from work and other responsibilities in order to heal. Additionally, an injury that might initially be categorized as short-term could develop into something long-term or even permanent (e.g., complications from a broken leg that leave you permanently impaired). This is why it is important to speak to an experienced auto accident injury lawyer as soon as possible, so they can follow your treatment and accurately evaluate ongoing losses and needs.

Long-term auto accident injuries

Any injury expected to affect your life for years or permanently can be considered long-term. These tend to be more severe from the start, and include the following:

  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Loss of a limb
  • Loss of a sense (e.g., sight)
  • Spine or spinal cord injury

Beyond the severe pain and suffering that typically accompany long-term injuries, you will likely lose significant time from work or might even be unable to work again in your chosen field. You may also lose the ability to enjoy hobbies and social activities like sports or require assistive equipment for the rest of your life, such as a cane or specially equipped bathroom. These and other concerns only compound the hardship of the injury itself, which is why a car accident lawyer will seek the maximum compensation for your long-term injuries and losses.

Many Injuries After An Auto Accident Are Not Catastrophic

Here’s some rare good news about auto accidents: most injuries don’t qualify as catastrophic.

You know what a catastrophic injury is – it’s an irreversible life-changing event, like paralysis, limb amputation, traumatic brain injury, or severe burns.

Painful injuries vs catastrophic

These kinds of injuries happen, and when they happen, they are saddening and tragic. We have had many of these cases at our firm. Our job as attorneys is to be professional while also empathetic.

But here’s the good news: most injuries aren’t like that. They are injuries of moderate seriousness: a fractured wrist, facial abrasions, burns to the hands, broken ankles, sprained neck, or other soft- tissue injury.

These injuries account for the lion’s share of personal injury claims. Catastrophic injuries, by comparison, are actually rare.

Moderately serious are quite serious, of course, when it is you who suffer them. They will cause you to lose work. They will require downtime, and perhaps rehabilitation or physical therapy before you can return to work. And they hurt and frustrate you and keep you up at night.

Most of the car accident cases we represent are like this. They aren’t the million dollar cases that make the headlines. But if you are injured at this level, and are compensated with $100,000 or $150,000 for your pains, to pay doctor bills and keep your family going until you are able to resume work, that’s a good thing for your chances of a successful health and wellness recovery.

Your case is naturally important to you. Just as these kinds of cases are very important to us at Scott J. Corwin. They are the kinds of cases that help people get back in the game, so a collision on Van Nuys Boulevard doesn’t ruin your life.

This is to let you know how much we value your trust and your case with our firm, and also to remind you, despite your injuries – things can and will get better.

Know the basics of a personal injury claim for compensation

So, you’ve been involved in a car, motorcycle, truck or bike accident injuring you or your loved ones. Where do you start?

Filing a claim for compensation in a personal injury case is something that you can do if you were injured in an accident that was someone else’s fault. If you are considering filing a claim for compensation, there are several points that you should be aware of. Each of these points can have an impact on your claim for compensation.

The first point that you should know is that your claim is filed in the civil court system. Filing this claim for compensation with the appropriate court is the start of your case. You should file your claim in a timely manner because there is a statute of limitations that sets time limits for all personal injury cases. If you don’t file your claim before that time limit runs out, you will probably be out of luck.

Most personal injury claims are resolved through a settlement. In these cases, you and your representation would meet with the defendant and their representation to see if a settlement can be worked out. This option is usually a faster way to resolve your case than going to trial. Generally, you would have to agree that you wouldn’t take any further action for the claim in order to get a settlement.

Understanding all of the points that pertain to your particular case can be difficult. However, it is crucial that you ensure all applicable points are covered in your claim so that you can get your case moving through the court system. This is why speaking with a reputable and experienced personal injury attorney is likely necessary. You might not receive the proper medical care and financial compensation you deserve otherwise.

Situations of Serious and Catastrophic Injuries: In Depth

Amputation Injuries

An amputation is not a death. Losing a hand, foot, arm or leg is not the same thing as losing a loved one — or is it? After all, the lost body part has been a part of us our entire lives. It was part of our identity. Besides the obvious disabling effects, an amputation can make induce grief the same way as a death, according to the Amputee Coalition of America.

In fact, an article on the organization’s website says that those who experience an amputation often go through the famous five stages of grief usually associated with mourning a loved one or dear friend. These stages are:

  1. Denial. This stage is more common among those who sustain a sudden amputation, such as in a workplace or auto accident.
  2. Anger. The victim may try to find someone to blame for the amputation, even those who are not responsible and may be trying to help.
  3. Bargaining. This can include trying to talk the doctor to postpone the operation, or praying for a miracle.
  4. Depression. Though this is different from clinical depression, the symptoms can be similar: sleeping problems, feelings of hopelessness and a negative view of the world around you.
  5. Acceptance. Eventually, most victims of amputation are able to accept what happened and move on with their lives.

Of course, as with those dealing with a death, many people benefit from professional help coming to terms with the loss of a hand, foot or limb. Beyond this, the physical recovery can be expensive, slow and painful.

In many ways, the road to recovery continues long beyond the jury verdict or settlement amount. Many amputation injury victims require physical as well as emotional therapy to overcome the loss. Learning to walk again with a prosthetic or rebuilding muscle tissue to strengthen auxiliary muscles is a long and arduous process. The emotional toll of the impact as well as coping with everyday difficulties can take a lifetime of therapy. With the high stakes of an amputation injury, it’s not wonder why people hire an experienced lawyer to organize a team of experts to fight on your behalf.

Wrong-way highway accidents are some of the deadliest type of crashes

Wrong-way highway accidents are rare, but they are perhaps the most dangerous form of auto crash. Some recent data from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety contains stats on wrong-way driving. There were 2,008 fatalities caused from wrong-way divided-highway driving between 2015 and 2018. That number is up 34% compared to the previous year period from 2010 to 2014.

In a report from 2012, the National Transportation Safety Board noted that wrong-way collisions make up about 3 percent of accidents on high-speed divided highways. However, they are by far the type of highway crash most likely to cause serious injury and death. Alcohol was the single most significant factor involved in wrong-way deaths in the 2012 NTSB report. This has not changed according to NTSB Director of the Office of Highway Safety, Dr. Rob Molloy. “Alcohol impairment is, by far, the single most significant factor in the majority of wrong-way driving crashes, which unfortunately has not changed since the NTSB issued its Wrong-Way Driving special investigation report in 2012.”

The 2012 report says, the California Department of Transportation found that wrong-way accidents caused 12 times the number of deaths compared with all other accidents on highways with controlled access. Wrong-way accidents were severely dangerous throughout the country. A Michigan study revealed that 0.3 percent of all highway accidents resulted in fatality, but 22 percent of wrong-way crashes during the same study period caused a death.

It should come as no surprise that this type of collision would be so deadly. Two vehicles crashing into each other head-on at highway speeds are going to be subject to terrible violence. The driver going the right way would have no time to avoid the crash or prepare for impact.

Serious Injuries Occur on Buses and Common Carriers

Common carriers, such as bus companies, have a duty to ensure that drivers are properly trained to drive in a safe manner. In fact, the responsibilities that are placed upon common carriers by California laws are much greater than those that are placed on drivers who are operating personal vehicles. When you are injured in an accident while traveling on a common carrier, you will probably look into the possibility of seeking compensation.

One important factor that distinguishes a common carrier from an ordinary driver is that common carriers charge a fee for transporting people or goods from one location to another. Often, these common carriers are operated by a municipality.

When people get onto a bus or another form of transportation provided by a common carrier, they are putting their safety in the hands of the driver. A driver who shirks his or her duties puts those passengers at risk.

If you have been in an accident while traveling on a bus or another vehicle considered a common carrier, you might be facing the prospect of having to take time off of work so that you can heal from the injuries you suffered. Seatbelts and other safety devices are not used as often in common carrier transportation, potentially leading to more significant injuries in the event of a crash. You might be facing medical care that can range from short-term for minor injuries to long-term for serious injuries.

Seeking compensation after you’re injured riding in a common carrier might be the answer you need for the puzzling questions of how to pay the bills when you have a reduced or nonexistent income because of the accident.

Recovery From Catastrophic Injuries

For families of people severely incapacitated by a traumatic brain injury or similar serious head injury, perhaps one of the worst parts is not knowing what the victim’s prognosis is. Is something of the victim’s personality and memory still “in there?” If so, will any piece of that person ever emerge again?

Researchers behind a 2016 study believe they may have found a way to better predict if a patient with a severe TBI will improve in the next several months. The study examined 102 patients in vegetative states, minimally conscious or “locked in” — that is, conscious but paralyzed and unable to communicate.

Patients in a vegetative state are described as having no consciousness, though an fMRI scanner has been able to detect brain activity in some patients when they are asked to remember or imagine certain things. Using PET scans on 41 patients diagnosed as vegetative, the researchers behind the new study found minimal consciousness existed in 13 of them.

Within a year, the condition of nine of the 13 had improved. Only one was still in a vegetative state, while three had died. Meanwhile, none of the 28 patients for whom the PET scan had found no consciousness had made significant improvement in that time.

Overall, the PET scans predicted increased consciousness 67 percent of the time, and no improvement 92 percent of the time. This would not be a perfect prognosis tool, but could give relatives of vegetative patients a clearer picture of what to expect as the months pass.

Many severe TBIs are the result of motor vehicle accidents caused by a negligent driver. An experienced and professional personal injury attorney can help hold these drivers responsible for the terrible injuries they cause.