In the context of personal injury law, a catastrophic injury is one that prevents the victim from engaging in any type of gainful work.
Generally speaking, when an injury is so debilitating that the individual can no longer provide for his or her family, it will usually be considered catastrophic in nature.
Catastrophic injuries carry particularly devastating physical, emotional, and financial consequences.
In many cases, the injury results in a lifetime of medical treatments and associated bills, lost wages, and a reduction in the victim’s overall enjoyment of life.
The consequences can ripple through the entire family, affecting everything from travel and hobbies to the victim’s ability to perform basic daily tasks. As a result, the individual may also suffer from emotional issues, such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
If you have suffered a catastrophic injury, a Houston personal injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed.
At DeHoyos Law Firm, PLLC, we will review the details of your case and decide on the most appropriate legal strategy for moving forward. Contact us today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.
Types and Causes of Catastrophic Injuries
Catastrophic injuries can occur for myriad reasons, but the most common causes include:
- Motor vehicle accidents (especially those involving commercial trucks and motorcycles)
- Construction accidents
- Sports accidents
- Swimming pool accidents
- Defective medications and medical devices
- Defective consumer products
- Acts of violence
The most common catastrophic injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs): More than 144,000 people suffer a TBI annually in Texas.
- Organ damage: Abdominal organs (abdominal wall, spleen, liver, kidneys, pancreas, colon, small intestine, stomach, and bladder) are commonly affected by blunt trauma to the body, often resulting in catastrophic injuries.
- Spinal cord injuries: Every year in the United States, there are about 12,000 new cases of spinal cord injuries.
- Amputations: Approximately 185,000 amputations occur in the U.S. annually, and 45 percent of those are caused by trauma.
- Severe burns: On average, a person is injured in a fire every 30 minutes. Hazardous chemical or substance exposure: Chemical and toxic substance hazards can cause long-term health issues, such as cancer and respiratory problems, but they can also cause trauma due to their flammability and explosibility.
How a Catastrophic Injury Lawyer Can Help
If you have suffered a catastrophic injury due to the negligence of another, you may be able to obtain compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other associated costs. Recovering these damages, however, can be a complex and lengthy process. An experienced Houston catastrophic injury attorney can help you gather evidence to substantiate your claim, deal with the insurance companies and other involved parties, and position you for the best possible outcome so that you can focus on healing.
At DeHoyos Law Firm, PLLC, we have extensive experience with catastrophic injury claims. Our compassionate, knowledgeable attorneys understand how the insurance companies think, and we will work tirelessly to get you the settlement you deserve. We also have a team of experts and investigators who will work together to calculate a reasonable settlement for your injury. Although the goal is to reach a settlement out of court, we are prepared to take your case to trial if necessary.
One of the primary reasons to work with an attorney in any type of injury case is the value of your settlement. Statistically, settlements are much higher for injury victims who work with a lawyer. At DeHoyos Law Firm, PLLC, we are professional negotiators. We understand the tactics used by the insurance companies to pay out as little as possible, and we will not let them bully us. You’ve been through enough. Let us do the heavy lifting while you concentrate on healing.
Filing a Claim After a Catastrophic Injury in Houston
It is in your best interest to work with an injury lawyer if you have sustained a catastrophic injury. An experienced attorney will know how to calculate damages, what type of evidence to gather, and effective methods for negotiating with insurance companies. Fortunately, most personal injury cases are settled out of court, meaning the at-fault party’s insurance company offers a settlement amount and the claimant accepts the money without ever having to file a lawsuit or go to court.
The first step in the claims process is to obtain the at-fault party’s insurance information and file a “third-party claim” against the insurer. Your lawyer will send a notice of claim to the insurer and wait for their response. If the settlement offer is not reasonable or the insurer stalls, your attorney may file a complaint with the court, thus beginning the lawsuit process. In some cases, this will be enough to motivate the insurance company to increase its settlement offer. At DeHoyos Law Firm, PLLC, our goal is to avoid trial if possible, but we are prepared to take your case to court if necessary.
Damages You Can Receive in a Houston Catastrophic Injury Claim
Because the implications of a catastrophic injury are so devastating, damages tend to be much higher than for most personal injury cases. Most victims of catastrophic injuries have lost the ability to earn an income for the rest of their lives. As if that isn’t bad enough, total damages often include medical treatments and rehabilitation, which may also continue for a lifetime.
The costs above are fairly straightforward to calculate, but the value attached to the emotional pain and suffering that often accompanies a catastrophic injury is more subjective. Your Houston personal injury lawyer will thoroughly analyze the details of your case to ensure that damages sought are adequate to compensate you for the full value of your pain and suffering. Following a catastrophic injury, you may be able to obtain compensation for the following damages:
- Medical bills: Ambulance costs, emergency treatment, hospitalization, surgery, rehabilitation and physical therapy, doctor visits, prescription medications, durable medical equipment
- Lost wages: Based on current and future loss of earning potential
- Pain and suffering: Physical and emotional suffering
- Permanent disability: Disability benefits if you are unable to return to work
- Wrongful death: Loved ones may bring a wrongful death lawsuit if the victim succumbs to his/her injuries
Texas Catastrophic Injury Laws
Whether you have been injured due to medical malpractice, a defective product, a slip and fall accident, or a motor vehicle crash, if negligence played a role, you may have a successful personal injury claim. In Texas, catastrophic injury cases fall under the broader category of personal injury law. Even so, these cases are nearly always more complicated due to the severity of the injuries involved.
When negligence is a factor in an injury accident, you may be able to recover damages from the at-fault party or parties. In order to prove negligence, you must be able to show that:
- The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care
- The defendant breached that duty of care
- The breach of duty caused the injury
- The plaintiff suffered damages as a result of the injury
Texas Statute of Limitations on Catastrophic Injury Claims
As with all personal injury claims in Texas, the statute of limitations on catastrophic injury claims is two years from the date of the injury. Although this may seem to be more than enough time, do not make the mistake of waiting until the last minute to file your claim. For starters, courts are likely to question the severity of your injuries if you wait until the last minute. Secondly, by waiting too long, you seriously limit your attorney’s ability to build a strong case against the at-fault party. Finally, memories fade with each passing day; the sooner you file a claim, the better able you will be to recall details from the day of the incident.
Contact DeHoyos Law Firm, PLLC Today
If you have suffered a catastrophic injury, the skilled legal team at DeHoyos Law Firm, PLLC can help. Our compassionate lawyers have decades of experience with these types of claims, and we will work tirelessly to get you the compensation you deserve.
Do not assume that any personal injury attorney can handle a catastrophic injury case. These cases are highly complex and typically involve much higher damages.
If you have been injured due to another’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other costs. Contact DeHoyos Law Firm, PLLC today at (832) 745-4878 for a free and confidential consultation about your case.