Catastrophic injuries can wreak havoc on a victim’s life. The injuries are often disabling and sometimes even fatal, which can have a devastating effect on the individual’s life and their entire family. The inability to work and other mental and physical limitations could also cripple the victim emotionally and financially. If the catastrophic injury was caused by another person’s negligence, you might be able to pursue compensation for your injuries.
An experienced Fort Lauderdale catastrophic injury lawyer at Englander Peebles can help you pursue the compensation you need to care for you and your family as you recover from the injuries. At this point, you probably have many questions and concerns. Call our personal injury attorneys today or fill out our contact form to find out how we can help.
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What Is A Catastrophic Injury?
The legal definition of a catastrophic injury is an injury that causes direct and proximate consequences, which can permanently prevent the victim from performing meaningful work. In other words, a catastrophic injury is so serious that it often leaves the victim with significant permanent damage. Most catastrophic injuries are as a result of physical harm to the brain and/or the spinal cord, which can result in severe short-term or long-term impact on the victim’s functional capabilities.
Some common examples of catastrophic injuries include:
- Spinal cord injury
- Traumatic brain injury
- Paralysis, paraplegia, or quadriplegia
- Neurological disorders
- Severe burn injuries
- Shoulder, back, and neck injuries
- Electric shocks
- Accidental amputations
- Eye injuries
- Organ damage
- Multiple bone fractures
Catastrophic Injury Statistics In Florida
Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are some of the most common catastrophic injuries in the U.S., causing a substantial number of deaths and permanent disabilities every year. Data from the CDC shows that in Florida alone, there were 176,007 cases of TBI in 2014. Among them, 3,852 died as a result of TBI, or TBI combined with other conditions or injuries. Another 21,081 were hospitalized with TBI alone or in combination with other conditions or injuries, and an extra 151,058 underwent treatment and were released from Emergency Rooms with TBI alone or in combination with other conditions or injuries.
The CDC also approximates 11,000 Americans to suffer spinal cord injuries each year, with more than 200,000 people living with permanent disabilities related to spinal cord injury across the nation. The economic impact of spinal cord injury is estimated to be around $10 billion a year.
How Is Fault Proven In Catastrophic Injury Claims In Florida?
Since Florida is a no-fault insurance state, you always have to file a claim with your own insurance company following a car crash, no matter who was at fault. The only exception here is that if you suffer disfigurement, permanent injury, or permanent/significant scarring. For such cases, if you weren’t at fault for the accident, you can file a case against the driver at fault and their insurer to obtain additional compensation.
Florida also follows the rule of comparative negligence, meaning that the compensation award of an injured victim will be reduced based on their percentage of fault in causing the accident. For instance, if you were speeding when you were hit by a truck that ran a red light, the court may find you 10% responsible for the accident. This would mean that your total compensation will be reduced by 10%.
Proving fault entails demonstrating that the driver at fault failed to act as a reasonable person would. All motorists have a responsibility to ensure the safety of other road users by following the traffic laws, stopping at all red lights and stop signs, obeying the speed limit, not driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and not texting while driving. Failure to uphold this standard of care could be considered negligence, and the party at fault could be held liable for the resulting injuries.
Proving that the party at fault was negligent and failed to uphold their standard of care will require evidence such as:
One of the things you should do after a car accident is to collect the contact information of the accident witnesses. Witnesses can provide valuable information regarding moments leading up to the accident, and add details about what the negligent driver was doing before the crash. If you collected the contact information of any witnesses present during the crash, our lawyers can contact witnesses on your behalf.
Videos and Photos
While at the scene of the accident, you should take videos and photos of the scene, the injuries sustained, damage to vehicles, and any skid marks on the road. Visual evidence is critical when it comes to proving fault. You may also obtain visual evidence from nearby surveillance cameras and videos from onlookers.
Florida law requires that any driver involved in a crash that results in injury, death, or property damage worth $500 or more should report it to the local police within 10 days of the accident. But if a police officer responds to the accident and files a report, then there’s no need to report the accident on your own.
Either way, you should always obtain a copy of the police report. This will contain valuable information about the details of your accident, who caused the accident, and whether any party violated a traffic law.
Florida Traffic Laws
If the crash was caused by a motorist breaking a traffic law, then a lawyer can help you identify the laws that were broken. Our catastrophic injury lawyers are well versed with all these laws in Florida, and they will be able to help you figure out how they apply to your case.
Long Term Effects Of Catastrophic Injuries
Coming to terms with the reality of suffering a catastrophic injury means potentially dealing with a long recovery period, with the possibility of permanent effects. Understanding some of the common ways people who suffer these kinds of injuries are impacted can be helpful. To take the right action and plan for your future, you want to first understand what you may be facing.
One of the key things you want to consider after such an injury, no matter the magnitude, is the financial implications. Take into account the need for long term care, advanced medical treatments, ongoing physical therapy, and even extended hospital stays. These bills can add up quickly, not to mention that many people often find themselves unable to work after the injury, resulting in lost earnings and lost future earnings as well. This could create a stressful financial situation since people who are unprepared for an accident often find themselves with unexpected long-term expenses.
Catastrophic injuries can impact the movement capacity of their victims, as they often result in chronic pain, which prevents them from enjoying the range of activities they used to partake in as part of their daily life. This can be quite difficult to adapt to, and will often lead to feelings of hopelessness and depression.
Based on your line of work, some victims of catastrophic injuries find it difficult or impossible to continue their expected career path following the injury. This is especially true for people who need to partake in physical actions while on the job, and performing them as they used to before the injury is no longer possible.
Damages Available for a Catastrophic Injury Claim in Florida
If you suffer a catastrophic injury in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, you can receive compensation for the following damages:
People who suffer catastrophic injuries usually require extensive treatments to not only heal their wounds but also save their lives. Most catastrophic injuries will at the very least have the risk of developing life-threatening complications if the injury itself is not life-threatening to begin with. Due to this severity, treating catastrophic injuries will require more time, skill, and resources compared to normal injuries. This usually translates into higher costs.
For instance, if a person gets a penetrating spinal or brain injury in a truck collision, they will likely have an ambulance take them to the hospital. The person will then require emergency surgery to save their life, which requires expert physicians or surgeons, equipment, support staff, facilities, drugs, etc. Once the surgery is completed, the patient will then need to recover from their injury for a long time.
They will also need round-the-clock monitoring, a room and bed to stay in, more drugs, food, and regular checkups. Once the person gets out of the hospital, their injury may have been treated, but they will also have to contend with disability and symptoms caused by their injury, which will require rehabilitation and therapy, not to mention more drugs. This can add up to massive bills that could utterly drain the person’s finances.
Lost Earnings and Reduced Earning Potential
When people suffer catastrophic injuries, the time they spend getting treatment and making a recovery can be really long. This time is basically spent not earning money through their job, which can worsen the financial damages suffered by the victim. Besides this, catastrophic injuries usually affect a person’s ability to work due to the disabilities they could develop. In most cases, they will either have a reduced ability to perform their job as normal or be unable to work altogether. That’s why these damages make up a major part of the catastrophic injury claims.
Pain and Suffering
It’s no surprise that catastrophic injuries often cause excruciating pain. The victims can suffer greatly due to injuries like severe trauma, burns, and internal damage. While the damages suffered here are not tangible, you deserve compensation for them too. Pain and suffering also accounts for the mental anguish that the victim suffers, which is simply the mental pain that accompanies physical injuries. It’s possible for people who suffer catastrophic injuries to develop anxiety, PTSD, depression, and a host of other debilitating mental health problems because of the effect of their injury on their lives.
How Long Do These Claims Typically Take?
When it comes to cases involving catastrophic injuries, every case is unique. Every case has a unique issue, pattern, party, and injury. It’s therefore nearly impossible to predict how long a case will take until you receive compensation for your damages.
With this in mind, most accident and injury claims usually take about one to two years to get settled, at least from our experience. Of course, one of the best ways to get a good idea about how long your case will take is to consult with an experienced catastrophic injury lawyer for insights about your own case. Many law firms and lawyers offer free initial consultations.
How Much Will it Cost to Hire a Catastrophic Injury Lawyer?
At Englander Peebles, our team of catastrophic injury lawyers works cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that we will cover the cost of conducting investigations, building the case, negotiating with the defendant, and litigating your lawsuit. We won’t bill you for anything until we recover compensation for your damages. In case we don’t win the case, you won’t owe us anything.
We also provide all our clients with free case evaluations with no obligations, so that we can discuss the details of your claim and establish if you have a case. Schedule your free consultation with one of our top lawyers today.
Get Professional Help From An Fort Lauderdale Catastrophic Injury Lawyer
If you have been involved in an accident and you believe some else is negligible for the injuries you sustained, it can be quite daunting to understand the legal options available to you. Dealing with a catastrophic injury while it makes the situation even worse. Generally speaking, the severe the injuries are, the more the compensation amount tends to be. However, calculating the value of your losses can be quite difficult at such a time.
For this reason, it becomes necessary to have an experienced legal representative by your side, one who can handle the legal side of things on your behalf. At Englander Peebles, we know the frustration that you may be going through, and we promise to work diligently to ease your concerns. We offer all our clients a free initial consultation, so get in touch with our Fort Lauderdale personal injury firm today at (954) 231-1384 to schedule time to discuss the details of your case with one of our lawyers.