A catastrophic injury is a severe injury that results in long-term or permanent disfigurement, disability, or physical/mental impairment. Putting the pieces back after a catastrophic accident is never easy. Victims and families face some serious challenges. It is imperative that they are able to secure the maximum financial compensation. In this article, our Birmingham personal injury lawyer provides an overview of the key things to know about catastrophic injury claims in Alabama.
Catastrophic Injuries Cause Long-Term or Permanent Damage
Many different types of injuries involve excruciating pain and a long and complicated road to recovery. The term catastrophic injury is generally reserved for the more narrow set of extraordinarily severe injuries that cause long-term and/or permanent damage. Some examples of catastrophic injuries include;
- Severe Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs): Not all traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are classified as catastrophic injuries. However, a brain injury can be so severe that is likely or inevitably to cause permanent physical and mental impairments. Many people with severe brain injuries struggle to make a full recovery. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that only 25% of people diagnosed with a severe TBI see full improvement after five years.
- Spinal Cord Damage: There is effectively no such thing as a minor spinal cord injury. A seemingly tiny amount of spinal cord trauma can cause catastrophic harm to the victim, potentially including paralysis. According to data from the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC), more than 17,500 people suffer catastrophic spinal cord injuries in the United States each year.
- Amputations: Amputations (loss of limb) are another type of catastrophic injury that carries permanent consequence. According to data provided by the Amputee Coalition, there are approximately two million people who are currently living with limb loss nationwide.
How to Prove Liability for a Catastrophic Injury
To establish liability in a personal injury claim in Alabama, one must present comprehensive and compelling evidence that establishes the defendant(s) culpability. What exactly this entails depends on the nature and circumstances of the case. For example, the standard of liability in a motor vehicle collision is different from the standard of liability for a botched surgery. Indeed, catastrophic injury can occur in a wide range of different accidents, including:
- Car crashes;
- Commercial truck accidents;
- Motorcycle wrecks;
- Pedestrian collisions;
- Bicycle accidents;
- Fall accidents;
- Negligent security;
- Dangerous and defective products; and
- Medical malpractice.
Every severe and catastrophic accident requires a thorough investigation by an experienced attorney. To hold a defendant and its insurance carrier accountable, it is essential that you have access to all of the relevant evidence that proves what they did and what they failed to do that contributed to the accident. At Lewis & Feldman, LLC, our Birmingham, AL catastrophic injury lawyer will proactively and comprehensively investigate your case.
Special Considerations in Catastrophic Injury Claims in Alabama
In Alabama, injured victims have the right to seek compensation for economic and non-economic losses. Unfortunately, in reality, it can be hard for people to get the full and fair financial support that they are due—especially in a catastrophic injury claim where the damages are significant. Defendants and insurers fight hard to protect their bottom line—not the best interests of you and your family. A catastrophic injury claim should be a lawyer with the right experience. There are some special considerations to keep in mind when pursuing damages, including:
- Ongoing and Long-Term Medical Costs: One of the core challenges with a catastrophic injury is that the victim often has ongoing and long-term medical needs related to their accident. They may require rehabilitation related services, mental health counseling, or other types of ongoing medical care. A personal injury settlement or personal injury verdict in a catastrophic accident case must account for the full extent of the victim’s ongoing and future medical expenses. Otherwise, it will be insufficient to meet their needs. Justice requires full and fair financial compensation for victims of negligence.
- Diminished Earning Power: Lost wages are one of the core economic damages in a personal injury claim. The calculation is far more complicated in catastrophic injury claims because the victim often has to endure a long-term or permanent adverse impact on the ability to earn a living. You can seek compensation for diminished earning power as part of a catastrophic injury claim. It is not uncommon for victims of catastrophic accidents to be forced into early retirement due to their disability.
- Pain and Suffering: Catastrophic injuries often cause extreme physical and serious mental/emotional suffering. As part of a catastrophic injury settlement or verdict in Alabama, compensation for the non-economic damage of pain and suffering should be considered and fully accounted for.
- Permanent Disfigurement and Impairment: Catastrophic injuries invariably cause long-term or permanent disfigurement and/or impairments. In Alabama, injured victims have the right to seek financial compensation for this type of non-economic loss. Victims can seek financial relief for pain, suffering, and lost income, but also for their loss of lifestyle enjoyment.
- Punitive Damages: As a baseline, a personal injury settlement or verdict is designed to be compensatory in nature in Alabama. In other words, an injured victim’s compensation will match up with their actual economic and non-economic losses. However, punitive damages can be awarded in a limited number of cases. Punitive compensation should always be considered in a catastrophic injury claim. If the defendant’s conduct was extremely reckless—such as drunk driving—punitive damages may be awarded to the victim.
Get Help From Our Birmingham, AL Catastrophic Injury Attorney Today
At Lewis & Feldman, LLC, our Alabama catastrophic injury lawyer is a skilled, justice-driven advocate for victims and families. If you or your loved one suffered a catastrophic injury in an accident, we are here to help. Reach out to us by phone at 205-896-6410 or send us a direct message to set up a no fee, no obligation consultation. With a law office in Birmingham, we handle catastrophic injury claims in Jefferson County and throughout north central Alabama.