Some injuries are so severe that they can change a person’s life forever. Victims of catastrophic injuries are forced to adjust to a new reality of physical pain, financial uncertainty, and emotional suffering. At Lucas, Macyszyn & Dyer Law Firm, we understand the toll these devastating injuries can take on victims and their families. That’s why we’ve spent more than two decades fighting relentlessly for catastrophically injured clients in New Port Richey and throughout the Tampa Bay area.
If you have become temporarily or permanently disabled because of someone else’s negligence, you have the right to hold that person or business responsible. While no amount of money can undo the harm of a permanent disability, getting fair compensation will help you cover medical bills and create a more stable future.
Catastrophic cases are very complex, especially since the stakes are so high. Victims will need a legal team with the skills, experience, and resources to fight vigorously on your behalf. The catastrophic injury attorneys at Lucas, Macyszyn & Dyer Law Firm have a proven track record for helping clients pursue as much compensation as possible, whether at the negotiation table or in a court trial.
Why Some Injuries Are Catastrophic
Whether injuries can be considered catastrophic will depend on how much they affect the victim’s life and how long this impact will last. Under Florida’s personal injury laws, the rule of thumb is that any injury that has a poor prognosis for making a complete recovery would be classified as catastrophic. The court recognizes that severe injuries will disrupt the victim’s life in profound ways that may potentially be permanent.
Some of the characteristics of a catastrophic injury are:
- Makes it much harder to earn a living: Severe injuries that affect the victim’s ability to work are considered the most catastrophic, especially if the victim is completely disabled and has to leave the workforce. Some catastrophic injuries will allow the individual to eventually return to work, but not in the same field as before and possibly not full-time. This kind of disability is referred to as a permanently diminished earning capacity.
- Causes the person to lose their independence: Many catastrophic injuries will cause the victim to become dependent on others for some or all of their daily activities. This is why severe injuries affect their loved ones, since family members often must act as caregivers.
- Requires ongoing medical care: Many catastrophic injuries will begin with a long period of hospitalization, but the medical challenges will persist long after the individual is out of the hospital. Victims are likely to need medication, medical devices, in-home nursing care, physical therapy, and other long-term treatments, possibly for the rest of their lives. The medical costs of navigating a severe injury are astronomical and likely to bankrupt most people, which is why getting fair compensation is so important.
- Have devastating emotional costs: People that suffer a catastrophic injury because of someone else’s negligence will often go through the most difficult and stressful experiences of their lives. Their lives have been blown off-course, and they may suffer depression, anxiety, and mental anguish. There will also be ongoing difficulties in navigating daily life with a serious disability.
Examples of Catastrophic Injuries
The term “catastrophic” encompasses a wide range of conditions that will irrevocably impact an individual’s life, but they all include a serious loss of either bodily or cognitive function. Some examples are
Traumatic Brain Injury
A person who sustains this kind of injury will face significant challenges in just about everything they try to do, whether focusing on tasks, expressing themselves, or regulating emotions. Victims with traumatic brain injuries will struggle to work in most jobs because of their severe concentration and problem-solving deficits.
They may also have mobility issues, like being able to coordinate their arms or legs. Even mild cases of a traumatic brain injury can be debilitating. The individual may seem normal on the surface but may still be dealing with major challenges like chronic headaches, memory loss, and emotional problems that make it hard to maintain relationships.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Injuries of the spinal cord are among the most expensive medical problems a person can have, with hospital bills that reach several hundreds of thousands of dollars in just the first year of the injury. These injuries require highly specialized treatments and surgeries that are not available at every hospital.
Spinal cord damage can result in an extreme loss of independence, with most victims suffering partial or complete paralysis. Some spinal cord injuries will improve over time, allowing the victim to regain some function after years of physical therapy, but they never heal completely. Beyond the mobility issues, spinal cord injuries also cause loss of bowel and bladder control, chronic pain, and serious respiratory problems.
Accidents that cause extreme damage to a limb may result in an amputation, one of the most traumatic injuries anyone can experience. Amputees will face severe physical and emotional challenges as they learn to function without missing limbs. Modern prosthetics can make this process easier, but losing a limb is still a devastating injury with lifelong consequences.
Loss of Hearing or Sight
The permanent loss of these senses can happen from severe trauma to the eyes or ears. A significant reduction of these abilities can lead to life-altering disabilities that will impact the victim’s ability to work, drive a car, engage in certain activities, and generally enjoy a normal life.
Proving Liability in a Catastrophic Injury Case
If you have sustained a catastrophic injury because of someone else’s negligence, you deserve fair compensation to cover medical bills and live with dignity. Unfortunately, the burden of proof for establishing liability falls squarely on you and your legal team. According to Florida’s personal injury laws, you have to show that the responsible party not only caused your injuries but that they did so because they were being negligent.
The legal process for proving liability can be very complicated. Hire a skilled attorney with experience litigating catastrophic injury claims at the Lucas, Macyszyn & Dyer Law Firm. Florida’s legal doctrine for proving negligence and establishing liability has three crucial elements.
1. The at-fault party owes you a duty of care
Negligence begins with the responsibility to act reasonably to avoid causing any harm to others. For example, employers must put in the proper safety measures to protect their employees from getting hurt on the job.
Similarly, medical professionals have a duty to their patients, property owners have a duty to their tenants, and drivers have a duty to everyone else out on the road. Depending on the circumstances that caused your catastrophic injury, the at-fault party can be an individual or an organization.
2. The at-fault party violated their duty of care
Establishing this element is essential for having a successful catastrophic injury claim. Your catastrophic injury lawyer has to use all available evidence to demonstrate that the liable party did not use reasonable care, especially if they broke the law. If you suffered a traumatic head injury because of a loose handrail that caused you to fall, the premises owner could be held responsible. The same goes for a driver that breaks the speed limit and triggers the multi-car pileup that led to your injuries.
In many cases, your attorney will need to work with industry experts that can help establish any regulations or guidelines that the at-fault party failed to meet. For example, a surgeon could be liable for botching a surgery if it can be shown they deviated from the standard protocol for that procedure.
3. The at-fault party’s violation caused your damages
Your catastrophic injury lawyer will evaluate your claim and prepare a comprehensive account of all the ways you have suffered because of these injuries. This includes the cost of emergency treatments, ongoing medical expenses, and the wages lost from not being able to work. Beyond these direct economic costs, a skilled lawyer will also be able to illustrate all the far-reaching and extreme ways that having a disability has affected your life.
The Compensation Available in a Catastrophic Injury Case
Catastrophic injuries are distinct because of the immense, almost incalculable losses that victims will suffer. These severe injuries will usually include lengthy hospitalizations, a painful recovery process, and the need for ongoing medical care. Securing a fair monetary award is critical for helping victims have the resources they need to improve their lives and have more peace of mind going forward.
The role of your catastrophic injury attorney will be to demonstrate all the losses you have already suffered, as well as the projected future losses over the years to come. The damages for catastrophic injury cases often include:
Past and Future Medical Expenses
After a catastrophic injury, victims will require emergency medical services like surgery and in-patient hospitalization. Once the initial crisis is over, catastrophic injury victims will face a very long road ahead of them as they try to recover. They will need ongoing treatment to help them adjust to their new normal and manage the serious challenges of having a disability.
Some of these medical expenses will include:
- Physical and Occupational therapy
- At-home nursing care
- Medical devices and equipment
- Home modifications to accommodate the disability
- Prescription medications
- Adaptive or prosthetic devices
Past and Future Lost Wages
Most catastrophic injuries will cause victims to stop working for a substantial amount of time while they get treatment and then recover. It is also very likely that the physical or cognitive deficits created by this disability will either stop them from returning to the same job or take them out of the workforce altogether. In some cases, a family member will have to stop working as well to become the main caregiver. Your attorney’s job will be to demonstrate the incredible financial burdens caused by your catastrophic injury and help you pursue the maximum compensation.
Florida courts recognize that having a catastrophic injury will cause damages that go way beyond the financial costs of losing income or paying medical bills. These life-altering conditions will cause immense physical suffering, both in the immediate aftermath of getting the injury and over the years to come. Victims will also suffer a diminished quality of life and intense emotional pain as they adapt to a difficult new reality.
Some of the non-economic damages in a catastrophic injury lawsuit are:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Mental anguish
- Loss of consortium
- The inconvenience of living with a disability
- Loss of enjoyment
Hiring a Catastrophic Injury Lawyer In New Port Richey
Catastrophic injury claims are potentially very high value, simply due to the nature of all the damages that victims suffer, especially medical costs. Insurance companies are known for using every possible strategy to limit their liability in these kinds of cases, either by denying that the at-fault party was negligent or by disputing the extent of the victim’s injuries. Another strategy is to offer a low-ball settlement award that does not provide enough compensation for the situation.
Families dealing with this stressful situation will need an experienced and capable attorney to build the strongest possible case and negotiate fair compensation. Your attorney also needs to be prepared to take the case to trial if it becomes necessary.
If you have been subjected to a life-altering injury because of someone else’s negligence, we know the stakes are incredibly high for you and your family. The team at the Lucas, Macyszyn & Dyer Law Firm offers unwavering commitment and personal attention during every step of the legal process. We have more than 20 years of experience helping our clients navigate complex catastrophic injury cases and come out on the other side in a stronger position.
Call us at any time at (727) 849-5353 or contact us online to find out how we can help you.