TOP PERSONAL INJURY FIRM IN LOS ANGELES

Catastrophic Injury Lawyer in Los Angeles

A catastrophic injury can have a devastating effect on a person’s life. Catastrophic injuries may lead to permanent impairment, serious disabilities, or even death. Those who survive sustaining a catastrophic injury are often left dealing with not only physical pain, but an incredible amount of emotional trauma, since their life may be permanently changed. A catastrophic injury can impair one’s ability to work, maintain relationships, and be independent. In addition to being physically painful and emotionally traumatic, a catastrophic injury can also be financially devastating. Even those with the best medical insurance can be left drowning in debt due to the exorbitant costs of long-term medical care for a severely injured person.

In California, victims who have sustained a catastrophic injury due to the malicious or harmful actions of another party are legally entitled to hold that party accountable for their actions. California’s personal injury laws allow catastrophic injury victims to pursue compensation for the losses they’ve suffered, including compensation for things like medical bills, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life. While monetary damages cannot reverse the effects of a catastrophic injury, they can help injury victims receive the type of care they need in order to live their life with as much dignity and independence as possible.

If you or a loved one has sustained a catastrophic injury, contact LA Lawyers Group to receive a free case evaluation. Our Los Angeles personal injury attorneys have extensive experience handling catastrophic injury cases and fight tirelessly for the rights of our clients. The personal injury lawyers at our law firm have helped injury victims recover damages for their hospital bills, physical therapy expenses, medical equipment, emotional distress, pain and suffering, and much more. Note that all of our personal injury attorney services are offered on a contingency fee basis. You will never pay a fee until we settle or win your case.
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What are Catastrophic Injuries?

What are Catastrophic Injuries?

The American Medical Association (AMA) defines a catastrophic injury as a severe injury to the spine, spinal cord, or brain, that may also include skull or spinal fractures. When used legally, the term “catastrophic injury” may refer to the injuries in the AMA definition, but may also refer to any severe injury that results in long-term or permanent pain or bodily damage. The law labels an injury as catastrophic by the injury’s expected outcome, rather than only by which parts of the body are severely injured. Per the U.S. Code § 3796b, a catastrophic injury is any injury that “permanently prevents an individual from performing any gainful work.”

Some examples of injuries that may be catastrophic injuries include: 

  • Acquired Brain Injuries
  • Amputations 
  • Chronic Lung Damage 
  • Head Injuries 
  • Injuries Causing Blindness
  • Injuries Causing Deafness 
  • Injuries Causing Disfigurement
  • Internal Injuries
  • Multiple Bone Fractures 
  • Neurological Injuries 
  • Paralysis 
  • Severe Burn Injuries
  • Spinal Cord Injuries
  • Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)

Common Causes of Catastrophic Injuries

Catastrophic injuries can be caused by a wide variety of circumstances. Some examples of common causes of catastrophic injuries include: 

  • Acts of Violence
  • Boating Accidents
  • Construction Accidents 
  • Defective Product Accidents 
  • Fires and Explosions 
  • Horseback Riding Accidents
  • Medical Malpractice 
  • Motor Vehicle Accidents, Including: 
    • Bus Accidents 
    • Car Accidents
    • Motorcycle Accidents 
    • Truck Accidents 
  • Pedestrian Accidents 
  • Slip and Fall Accidents 
  • Sports Accidents
  • Workplace Accidents

The most common cause of catastrophic injury is motor vehicle accidents. Car accidents, truck accidents, bus accidents, and motorcycle accidents can all cause an immense amount of damage, since these involve heavy machinery traveling at high speeds. Car accidents are frequently responsible for serious injuries and catastrophic injuries, including traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, internal bleeding, organ damage, burns, and disfigurement.

Common Causes of Catastrophic Injuries
Who is Liable in a Catastrophic Injury Case?

Who is Liable in a Catastrophic Injury Case?

California law allows more than one party to be held liable for an injury. Depending on the circumstances involved in a catastrophic injury case, one party may be liable for the injury or a combination of parties may be liable for the injury. 

Liability in a California injury case is typically determined based on negligence. If an injury occured due to someone’s negligence, an injury victim could show proof that this party’s negligent actions led to their injury in order to pursue damages. 

In some cases, liability in a California injury case may be governed by strict liability. Notably, strict liability can come into play in product defect cases and dog bite cases. In these types of circumstances, an accident victim could be entitled to hold an at-fault party responsible for their losses without having to prove negligence. 

Catastrophic injuries can be caused by a vast variety of circumstances, which means that many different types of individuals or entities could potentially be liable for a catastrophic injury, whether they are liable due to negligence or California’s strict liability laws. Some examples of the types of parties that could potentially be held liable for a catastrophic injury include: 

  • A Child Care Provider
  • A Distributor of a Defective Product
  • A Doctor
  • A Government Entity 
  • A Manufacturer of a Defective Product
  • A Motor Vehicle Driver
  • A Perpetrator of Violence
  • A Seller of a Defective Product
  • An Employer 
  • Legal Entities Such as Corporations 
  • Nursing Home Staff
  • The Owner of a Dog That Bit a Victim
  • The Owner or Manager of a Property
Damages Available in a Catastrophic Injury Case
The damages available in a catastrophic injury case will vary based on the unique losses a specific individual has suffered. Catastrophic injury victims can often be entitled to significant damages due to the severity of their physical injuries and emotional trauma. 

While the specific damages a catastrophic injury victim may be able to recover can vary, these damages can be sorted into general categories. California accident victims are generally able to recover compensatory damages, including economic and non-economic compensatory damages. In rare cases, an accident victim may also be able to recover punitive damages. In cases in which a catastrophic injury victim dies, their surviving family members may be able to recover damages related to their loved one’s wrongful death.
Economic Damages
Economic damages are meant to compensate a victim for their economic losses. Some examples of economic damages that could be available in a catastrophic injury case include:
  • Past and Future Medical Care, Including: 
    • Doctor’s Office Visits
    • Emergency Care
    • Home Modifications
    • In-Home Care 
    • Long-Term Hospital Care
    • Medical Equipment and Assistive Equipment
    • Occupational Therapy 
    • Physical Therapy 
    • Prescription Medications 
    • Surgeries 
  • Lost Wages
  • Loss of Earning Potential 
  • Property Damage
Non-Economic Damages
Non-economic compensatory damages compensate accident victims for intangible losses, which are more subjective and less measurable than economic losses. Some examples of non-economic compensatory damages that could be available in a trucking accident include compensation for:
  • Non-economic damages are meant to compensate a victim for their intangible, non-economic losses (such as their pain). Some examples of non-economic damages that could be available in a catastrophic injury case include:

    • Disability or Disfigurement
    • Emotional Distress
    • Inconvenience 
    • Loss of Companionship 
    • Loss of Consortium 
    • Loss of Enjoyment of Life 
    • Loss of Quality of Life
    • Pain and Suffering
Punitive Damages
In rare cases, a judge may choose to award punitive damages to an injury victim. Punitive damages are a type of compensation that is awarded as a form of punishment for particularly egregious actions. California law states that a judge may choose to award punitive damages when a plaintiff has proven with clear and convincing evidence that a defendant has acted with “oppression, fraud, or malice.” Punitive damages are awarded in addition to any other economic and non-economic damages awarded to the plaintiff.

An example of a case in which a judge could choose to award punitive damages would be an auto accident case involving a drunk driver. Another example would be in a case in which a person intentionally tried to harm the victim through a violent act (such as a shooting).
Damages Available in the Event of Wrongful Death

If a catastrophic injury caused by negligence or malice leads to a person’s death, the deceased person’s family may be able to recover damages by filing a wrongful death claim. Per California law, surviving family members may be able to recover any “just” damages. This vague wording can make determining damages in a wrongful death case complex, since what is “just” may vary on a case-by-case basis. However, there are some damages that may be commonly available in a California wrongful death claim, including: 

  • Funeral and Burial Costs
  • Loss of Affection
  • Loss of Care, Guidance, or Nurturing 
  • Loss of Consortium 
  • Loss of Decedent’s Reasonably Expected Income
  • Loss of Household Services the Decedent Would Have Provided

Establishing damages in a wrongful death case can be challenging. Often, successfully establishing damages in this type of case requires expert analysis. One of the more challenging damages to establish is the dollar amount that should be assigned to the loss of the decedent’s reasonably expected income. Accurately determining how much income a person would have made over the course of their life (this is also something that frequently must be calculated in non-fatal catastrophic injury cases) requires thoughtful consideration, research, and calculation. One must consider a person’s life expectancy, the normal course of advancement in the person’s career role, inflation, bonuses, education, and abilities. Due to the complex nature of calculating and proving these types of damages, the services of a personal injury lawyer that specializes in catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases can be invaluable.

How Long Do You Have to Sue After a Catastrophic Injury?

How Long Do You Have to Sue After a Catastrophic Injury?

The State of California’s statute of limitations for personal injury cases is generally two years from the time of injury. However, there are exceptions to this timeline in specific circumstances. Notably, the statute of limitations is shorter if an injury case involves malpractice or a government entity. California malpractice claims must generally be brought within a year from when a patient discovered (or should have discovered) the injury. Personal injury claims that involve government entities have an even shorter statute of limitations: six months from the time of the injury. 

The statute of limitations for a catastrophic injury case may also be longer than two years from the time of the injury in certain cases. For example, in cases of delayed discovery, the statute of limitations for filing a catastrophic injury claim or lawsuit may be extended to a year after the injury was (or should have been) discovered. Examples of catastrophic injuries that may not be discovered right away include a traumatic brain injury discovered months after a car accident or asbestosis that presents after years of asbestos exposure.

Get Help From a Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer

If you or a loved one has sustained a catastrophic injury due to the negligent or malicious actions of another party, contact LA Lawyers Group today to receive a free case evaluation. Our experienced, compassionate catastrophic injury attorneys fight tirelessly to recover justice for our clients. The personal injury lawyers at our Los Angeles law office have successfully settled and won cases for accident victims from across Southern California, including those from Glendale, Burbank, Beverly Hills, East LA, Pasadena, Riverside, and Ontario.

Call our personal injury law firm today at (213)LAWYERS (529-9377) to receive your free consultation with one of our Los Angeles catastrophic injury lawyers.

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