Catastrophic accidents can happen to anyone. However, negligence or wrongful actions that cause a serious accident that puts you or a loved one at risk should not be tolerated. If you experience a catastrophic injury from an accident in the Rocklin area, Kreeger Law Firm can help you seek the compensation you deserve. Our Rocklin catastrophic injury lawyers have over 30 years of experience in personal injury law with an extensive litigation and negotiation background to ensure the best possible outcome for your case.
After a catastrophic injury, you should not have to navigate the legal process alone. If you or a loved one recently experienced a catastrophic injury, contact Kreeger Law Firm for a consultation.
What Are Catastrophic Injuries?
In general terms, catastrophic injuries are permanent injuries that involve sensitive, crucial parts of your body or cause long-lasting issues. For example, brain, spine, spinal cord, and skull injuries are all catastrophic injuries that permanently disable or cause lasting damage. United States Code 3796 has a similar definition, signifying catastrophic injuries as injuries with consequences that permanently prevent the injured person from gaining work.
Catastrophic injuries result in a vital loss for the individual experiencing them. These injuries affect day-to-day life in a way that makes it difficult—if not impossible—to function normally. Common types of catastrophic injuries include:
- Severe burns. Third and fourth degree burns on sizable portions of the body can damage the skin, fat, organs, bones, and muscles. These burns are often accompanied by severe pain, even years after the incident.
- Spinal cord injuries. These injuries can impair movement, inhibit function, or paralyze a person permanently, resulting in partial or total loss of control of associated parts of the body.
- Brain injuries. Severe blunt force trauma can lead to internal bleeding of the brain, mental conditions such as amnesia, coma, anxiety, and other serious personality changes.
- Orthopedic injuries. These injuries can cause the loss of limbs through amputation or reduce the function of your limbs by causing pain, stiffness, limited range of motion, and nerve damage.
Catastrophic injuries can result in a need for constant care and lengthy—or even a lifetime of—rehabilitation and medical bills. Ongoing care becomes costly very quickly, so it is important to contact a Rocklin catastrophic injury lawyer to seek compensation for your damages as soon as possible.
Are Catastrophic Injuries Personal Injuries?
Catastrophic injuries fall under personal injury law, and any claims or litigation take place in civil court. If necessary, criminal charges may apply separately, but civil catastrophic injury cases focus on alleviating the financial damages the victim experiences because of the accident. Personal injury lawyers help the victim pursue compensation for these damages in civil court.
Catastrophic injury cases, like other personal injury claims, must involve some level of negligence by the defendant. In other words, the personal injury attorney must prove that the defendant had a duty to protect others against reasonable risk and breached that duty, causing a catastrophic injury. Negligence can take the form of defective products, distracted driving, or other harmful behavior that results in a serious injury. After the incident, an attorney must prove that the injured party’s quality of life has been severely impacted, directly leading to financial damages.
Compensation for Catastrophic Injuries
Catastrophic injuries result in long-lasting or permanent damage. For this reason, the compensation for the injured is often more significant compared to normal personal injury cases. As with other personal injury cases, however, there are two types of damages you can include with a catastrophic injury claim—economic and non-economic.
Compensation for economic damages correlates to the direct financial costs of your injuries. Common types of economic damages include:
- Past and future medical bills. You can claim damages for any type of medical bill directly caused by the incident, whether for past or ongoing and future care.
- Lost wages. Lost wages cover the financial losses you experienced while you were not able to work after an injury.
- Future lost earning capacity. After a catastrophic injury that prevents you from working as you normally would, or from working at all, you can claim damages for your future lost wages.
- Property damages. If you were operating a vehicle, bicycle, or motorcycle, or your property was damaged in some way during the incident, you can seek compensation for its value.
- Household services. Economic damages can include the cost of services like at-home nursing services or maid services if you can no longer accomplish them on your own.
- Physical therapy or long-term care.
Conversely, non-economic damages include damages with no concrete financial cost, for which the courts will provide monetary compensation. Common non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional anguish
- Damage of your reputation
- Loss of enjoyment of your normal activities
- Worsening of previous injuries
Since non-economic damages do not come with an exact price tag, your Rocklin catastrophic injury lawyer will consider adding multipliers to establish a cost for the above damages. Multipliers add an amount equivalent to between 1.5 and 5 times your economic damages. The level of multiplier chosen depends on various factors, primarily the quality of life you and your family will retain after the accident and the strength of your case. For example, if the incident caused severe damage that impacts your quality of life, and the perpetrator accepts 100% liability for the accident, a higher multiplier is appropriate. Your attorney will calculate your economic damages and advise you regarding the non-economic multiplier you should apply.
What Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Do for You?
Your Rocklin catastrophic injury lawyer will help you seek compensation for the damages caused by your injury. To ensure you receive the best possible settlement for your case, your lawyer will begin by gathering information relevant to the incident and your injuries, including police reports, video footage, photographic evidence, witness interviews, medical bills, treatment history, and more. They may even arrange for expert witness testimony to further explain your injuries or their cause.
After filing your claim directly with the defendant’s insurer, your attorney will review the claim and identify any bad-faith tactics that attempt to reduce your compensation. They will help you negotiate a satisfactory settlement with the insurance company. If negotiations prove unsuccessful, your lawyer will file a complaint for litigation in court. If the case proceeds to court, your lawyer will handle the litigation process and update you regarding your case and its compensation.
Alternatives to Litigation
Most catastrophic injury cases are settled outside of court through negotiations with the insurance company. After gathering information regarding the extent of your injuries and the negligence that led to the incident that caused them, your attorney will present a demand letter to the defendant’s insurance company. The letter outlines your expected compensation and should lead to a satisfactory settlement between your attorney and the adjuster.
If the settlement is unsatisfactory, your attorney can pursue mediation or arbitration. The mediation process involves a third, neutral party (usually another attorney), acting as a mediator to oversee negotiations and give advice to both sides regarding how to settle the case. Arbitration also brings in a third party—usually a government or public official—to give a ruling based on the evidence available to them. While mediation simply gives both parties a means to arrive at a mutual, nonbinding, settlement agreement, arbitrations can be nonbinding or binding. If both parties disagree with the arbiter’s ruling, then the arbitration becomes nonbinding, forcing those involved to seek another method to settle their case.
Are Catastrophic Injury Lawyers Worth It?
Recovering from a catastrophic injury is often much more expensive and all-encompassing, requiring surgery, months of hospital time, extensive wage loss, and more. A personal injury lawyer can help you assess your damages and build your case so you can focus on your recovery. In addition, California dictates a statute of limitations of two years from the date of the injury for most personal injuries, with the ‘discovery’ action in wrongful death cases serving as the main exception. Your personal injury lawyer can ensure you submit all documents and begin your case before the statute of limitations expires.
Partial liability can be another concern for those seeking compensation for personal injuries. In California, a pure comparative negligence state, if you hold any degree of fault in the incident, you may be partially liable for your damages. Insurance companies may try to sway you to admit fault to reduce your compensation. Your Rocklin catastrophic injury lawyer will have extensive experience navigating the negotiations tactics used by insurance companies, often ensuring you a settlement well worth any legal fees.
Find a Rocklin Catastrophic Injury Attorney
Catastrophic injury claims require an experienced personal injury lawyer to navigate the challenging insurance, negotiation, and litigation processes involved. Kreeger Law Firm is proud to have a team of skilled Rocklin catastrophic injury lawyers with over 30 years of experience negotiating and litigating these serious claims. Our attorneys know how the insurance industry works and are prepared to negotiate or litigate the maximum possible compensation for your injuries. Don’t suffer from a catastrophic injury alone—contact Kreeger Law Firm to request a personal consultation and begin receiving legal support today.