Catastrophic injuries alter the course of a life. When sustained in an accident involving negligence, they raise many questions that often require legal action. Liability issues and compensation concerns are particularly dire for those whose lives may depend on expensive medical care, rehabilitative treatment, and lost income for years to come.
For those in Vero Beach, the catastrophic injury attorneys of Kogan & DiSalvo have an established presence, a strong network of experts and investigators, and a depth of experience that set our firm apart from the rest. If you have suffered life-changing serious injuries, we are here to help. Please call today for a free consultation from one of our Vero Beach personal injury lawyers regarding your accident.
What is a Catastrophic Injury?
An injury is typically referred to as “catastrophic” if it:
- Falls within the American Medical Association’s Permanent Impairment evaluation
- Results in disabilities which have a significant impact on the injured individual, including their ability to work or live their pre-injury lifestyle
- Requires a long period of recovery or rehabilitation
- Necessitates ongoing medical treatment with no end date
- Impacts cognitive ability
- Causes the loss of a limb
- Requires surgery
Common Catastrophic Injuries
There are many types of injuries that meet the classification of “catastrophic,” though some are more common than others. Traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, burns, and amputations are among the worst.
- Traumatic Brain Injury (“TBI”): A wide range of injuries can seriously affect brain function, including:
- Concussions: where the brain strikes the skull
- Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE): a degenerative cognitive condition likely caused by repeated head traumaContusion: Bruises on the brainSecond impact syndrome: A head trauma sustained subsequent to a previous injurySkull fracture
- Coup-contrecoup: When the brain strikes one side of the skull, rebounds, and then strikes the other.
- Spinal Cord Injury: Refers to a spectrum of conditions that may cause excruciating back and neck pain that radiates throughout the body. These injuries often requiring surgery and may grow worse over time.
- Paralysis: The loss of your ability to move or control a part of the body in the context of catastrophic injury is most often related to the level at which your spinal cord was damaged or severed.
- Amputations: The loss of limbs either in the accident itself or removed surgically thereafter as a result.
- Burns: Burns are common in vehicular accidents and industrial accidents, often causing severe pain, disfigurement, and requiring further surgery.
- Wrongful Death: No injury is more catastrophic than the loss of an innocent life.
What To Do After a Catastrophic Injury in Vero Beach
Immediately after a serious accident, your first priority must be safety and emergency medical care. Those who sustain serious injuries in the immediate aftermath of the accident will have to rely on the police reports , investigation notes, and witness statements taken at the scene.
If you retain legal counsel soon after the accident, your legal team can commence their own investigation. With the help of accident reconstruction experts, others who study motor vehicle accidents, and outsourced medical opinions we can help build our version of the events surrounding your accident.
They will also begin to gather other documents such as your medical bills, other expense reports, information from your place of employment, etc.
It’s important to remember that your case is under investigation. Do not give any statements to any insurance adjustors before speaking to your attorney. Stay off social media! Opposing counsel is no doubt monitoring your social media presence for evidence of behavior that contradicts your injuries. These records are often requested during discovery, so it is important that they not see a depiction of an active lifestyle that would weaken your case.
Liability in Catastrophic Injury Cases
Liability for an accident or incident will depend upon the circumstances of the events – a car accident will have a different analysis than a slip and fall. However, most of these analyses will revolve around negligence.
Negligence is the application of a legal formula of duty, breach, causation, and injury.
- The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty;
- The defendant failed to perform their duty (breach);
- The plaintiff was injured; and
- The injury was a direct result of the breach of duty of the defendant.
For a slip and fall accident, Florida has premises liability laws. This places the duty to maintain the property in a safe condition for visitors on the owner. Should the owner breach this duty, then they will likely be found negligent and liable for the damages.
Automobile or pedestrian accidents also have specific nuances. Cars and trucks that are being driven as part of a job, such as moving freight or escorting VIPs in a limousine, may have an employer that is liable for work-related accidents that occur.
Additionally, a plaintiff may be partially liable. Florida is a modified comparative negligence jurisdiction. This means that a plaintiff’s award of damages for negligence (the most likely cause of action for accidents) can only be awarded if they were 50% or less at fault for their injuries.
Because this can be such a nuanced topic, it is highly recommended to speak with a knowledgeable catastrophic injury lawyer before taking any action.
Compensation for Catastrophic Injuries in Vero Beach
Catastrophic injuries can require extended or lifelong care, resulting in significant medical bills. Injured individuals will typically be unable to work during their recovery and may never be able to return to their previous employment. This represents massive expenses at the same time the injured party will typically be out of work.
Settlements for catastrophic injuries may fall within a broad range depending on several factors, including:
- Liability concerns
- Insurance and limits and other defendant resources
- Health of the injured individual pre-injury
- The amount of time it will take for the injured to recover
Economic damages, such as the following, may be recovered:
- Medical and rehabilitation bills (both past and future)
- Lost wages (both past and future)
- Costs associated with changing careers and salary adjustments if the injured individual cannot return to their previous employment
- Repairing or replacing damaged or destroyed property
- Loss of earning capacity
- Additional adjustments due to disability, i.e. a ramp for one’s home if a wheelchair is needed
- Funeral expenses
Finally, non-economic damages that are based on more subjective standards:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
For particularly negligent or wrongful acts, punitive damages may also be awarded. As the name implies, these are not to compensate a plaintiff, but rather, to punish a defendant.
How Kogan & DiSalvo Can Help Vero Beach Injury Victims
Catastrophic injuries affect not only those injured, but also their families and others who depend upon them. These cases require particular experience and a network of experts to identify liability, estimate several types of significant damages, and aggressively push for the maximum settlement possible.
At Kogan & DiSalvo, we are a catastrophic injury law firm, and we have the resources to take these cases on. If we can’t settle them prior to trial, then we will see defense counsel in court. Our team of legal professionals, together with a network of medical, automotive, and other forensic experts to consult, will treat your case with the time, attention, and seriousness that it demands.
If you or a loved one have suffered a catastrophic injury, contact us today to schedule a free consultation and take your first step toward justice.