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What Does “Catastrophic Injury” Mean?

The devastating effects of a catastrophic injury cannot be understated. The time and care it takes to recover, the astronomical medical expenses, and the loss of income are only some of the stressors that come with severe damage to your health. Getting adequate compensation is essential, and a catastrophic injury attorney in Houston, TX can help.

What Does “Catastrophic Injury” Mean?

“Catastrophic injury” is a term that is used in both legal and medical contexts. In the field of medicine, it refers to a severe injury to the brain, spine, or spinal cord. In a legal context, it refers to any injury that causes long-term, life-altering damage. Catastrophic injuries often affect a person’s cognition, mobility, or sense of self.

The severity of the impact catastrophic injuries can have on a person’s life sets them apart from other types of personal injury. Catastrophic injuries typically involve significant disability and disfigurement. Experiencing a catastrophic injury could mean:

  • Being forced to quit your job
  • Losing the ability to walk
  • Giving up activities you once enjoyed
  • Losing the capacity to think clearly or form new memories
  • Facing drastic changes to your appearance

What Damages Are You Entitled to After a Catastrophic Injury?

In any personal injury case, you are entitled to claim medical expenses, lost wages, emotional damages, and pain and suffering. The main difference between a catastrophic injury case and a less severe personal injury case is the fact that the payout must be higher in the case of a catastrophic injury to account for the high degree of loss.

Unfortunately, insurance companies are more likely to push back on highly valuable claims, despite the fact that victims need compensation to cover expenses. Due to the costly nature of severe physical damage, winning a catastrophic injury case usually requires the input of a talented lawyer who can go up against the insurance company.

Immediate and Future Medical Expenses

After you have been injured, the liable party is required to compensate all of your medical expenses, including trips to the emergency room, surgeries, hospital stays, visits with specialists, and medication. In some cases, the total cost of your injury becomes clear after the condition has been diagnosed and the treatment is completed. However, in the case of catastrophic injuries, you will need to account for a long period of ongoing medical expenses.

Lost Wages and Reduced or Lost Earning Capacity

Catastrophic injuries can take a heavy toll on a person’s ability to earn a living. Physical disabilities are especially devastating to individuals who work with their bodies, such as construction workers. Cognitive disabilities can negatively alter the career path of anyone, regardless of their profession.

The term “lost wages” refers to the time a person needs to take off from work in order to recover. Any personal injury claimant can collect compensation for their lost wages with sufficient proof. Victims of catastrophic injury can also claim reduced or lost earning capacity. “Reduced earning capacity” indicates that the victim’s injuries will limit his or her lifelong earning potential, while “lost earning capacity” is a term applied to people who will never be able to go back to work.

Pain and Suffering

Texas law recognizes that the cost of an injury is more than just a combination of medical expenses and lost wages. Fair compensation for an injury must account for pain and suffering in addition to the monetary losses. Accordingly, victims of catastrophic injuries are entitled to receive compensation for the physical discomfort they experience as a result of the liable party’s negligence.

Emotional Damages

Emotional damages can be claimed in any personal injury case. However, catastrophic injuries tend to have a more severe psychological impact because the victim can never look forward to a full recovery. Among many other losses, your catastrophic injury claim can include compensation for any hobbies you cannot continue as a result of your accident. In the case of disfigurement, you can also list the loss of your self-esteem or your spouse’s attention.

How to Maximize Compensation for a Catastrophic Injury

Catastrophic injuries are devastating to families as well as individuals. It goes unsaid that the pain of seeing a loved one suffer is difficult to endure. Many victims of catastrophic injuries are required to stop working after a severe accident, depriving their dependents of financial support. Additionally, it is common for a spouse or another family member to become a full-time caretaker.

For all of these reasons, maximizing the payout of a personal injury claim is especially important when you or your loved one is dealing with a catastrophic injury. While nothing can ever undo the injury, having a qualified attorney handle your case is the best way to leverage every aspect of the law that will benefit your case.

Choose a Lawyer With a Strong Track Record

Severe injury cases are serious matters involving heavy losses and the potential for a large payout. It will not pay to work with a lawyer who is fresh out of law school or someone who does not specialize in personal injury, and it is not a good idea to try to represent yourself. You don’t want to risk making procedural mistakes that could result in your case being thrown out. When choosing a lawyer, you should look for:

  • Someone who practices in the state where the accident occurred
  • Someone who specializes in personal injury
  • Someone with experience in catastrophic injury cases
  • Someone who has successfully won settlement offers and court battles

Submit a Wealth of Evidence

When you are arguing for large amounts of money, such as compensation for lost earning capacity or future medical expenses, you need to back your claims with evidence. Your lawyer can help you collect witness statements, medical bills, employment records, and other types of proof.

Don’t Accept a Low Settlement Offer

The insurance company will do anything it legally can to avoid a costly payout, and catastrophic injury cases can be worth millions. One tactic insurance companies use is offering a low settlement before the victim has had a chance to speak with a lawyer. Once you sign a settlement offer, you cannot reopen the case to try to get more money. Never sign any documents until you have reviewed them with your attorney.
 

Don’t Let the Insurance Company Downplay Your Claim

Another way the insurance company might try to lowball your claim is by offering less money than the damages are worth. For example, pain and suffering is a subjective category. If your case went to trial, the court would be instructed to use their best judgment when assigning a monetary value to your discomfort. In settlements, insurance companies use a software program that consistently gives pain and suffering a low value when compared to court verdicts on similar cases.

An experienced personal injury attorney should be aware of how a court would likely value each of your damages. He or she will use that knowledge to press the insurance company to settle for an appropriate amount.

Work With a Catastrophic Injury Attorney in Houston, TX

Catastrophic injuries create more hardship than anyone should have to handle on their own. Having a compassionate attorney on your side can remove the pressure of navigating the legal system so that you can focus on yourself and your family. To speak with a catastrophic injury attorney in Houston, TX, contact Houston Injury Lawyers PLLC.

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