A catastrophic injury can change your life and the lives of your family, particularly if you are unable to work in the foreseeable future. You will need the help of a catastrophic injury lawyer in Houston, TX to help you file your personal injury lawsuit so you can secure compensation for all of your injuries and damages. A catastrophic lawyer will walk you through what you can expect from your settlement, the injuries that qualify for catastrophic lawsuits, and much more.
What Kind of Settlement Can You Get for a Catastrophic Injury?
In general, the settlement amount you can expect from a catastrophic injury will be greater than the settlement amount you can expect from an ordinary personal injury case. Catastrophic injuries are life-altering and can be permanent, which means that your compensation should be higher to make up for your continued financial burdens.
Economic damages are a type of compensatory damage that addresses the financial burdens you experience because of your injuries. In particular, economic damages are meant to make up for the money you will no longer earn and the money you owe for medical debt.
Medical debt can be applied to many things. For example, hospital bills from your initial treatment, ongoing bills for physical therapy and rehab, debt related to medical aids you may need daily, medications, surgery, and many other bills can all be considered medical debt.
Importantly, Texas recognizes that there is a reasonable cost for medical services. An audit of your medical debt may only pay for part of the debt you owe, based on whether the facility or physician is charging you a fair amount for your treatments.
Lost wages are also a core component of the economic damages you can claim after a catastrophic injury. Lost wages will apply to the earnings you lost due to the initial injury, as well as the lost earning ability for the foreseeable future if your injury rendered you permanently disabled. The court will calculate your lost future earnings based on an estimate of what your income would have been if you were able to work.
Damages for catastrophic injuries can also include non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. Pain and suffering are common forms of compensation for catastrophic injuries, particularly if the injury resulted in pain, scarring, disfigurement, or loss of limb. Suffering can also count for loss of consortium, emotional trauma, and much more.
What Can Limit Your Damages?
There may be limits on the damages you can claim. For example, when you file a personal injury lawsuit, you are generally trying to gain compensation from the individual who caused your accident. If this individual does not have personal assets, this could limit the compensation you can receive.
Furthermore, there is generally a limitation on the compensation you can receive from the at-fault person’s insurance policy. If their policy is not very large, it’s unlikely that your compensation will cover the full costs of your economic damages. In this case, your lawyer may encourage you to file a secondary lawsuit against the at-fault person’s assets to see if you can receive more compensation.
Caps on Punitive Damages
Although Texas does not place a cap on compensatory damages, there is a damage cap on punitive damages. Punitive damages are meant to punish any person or entity who is liable for your accident. In general, punitive damages will be limited to two times the amount of your economic damages.
Who Can File a Lawsuit for a Catastrophic Injury?
Catastrophic injury lawsuits can be filed by the person who was injured in the accident. If that person is not medically able to file a lawsuit, then their family members may file a lawsuit on their behalf. If a person becomes blind or suffers a traumatic brain injury that prevents them from acting on their own behalf, family members may be able to file a catastrophic injury lawsuit for them.
People who are excluded from filing catastrophic injury lawsuits are people who are not legally related to the injured individual. For example, it may be difficult for stepparents or stepchildren to file a catastrophic injury case without adoption records to prove a legal relationship. Furthermore, siblings and cousins are also typically not able to file a lawsuit for catastrophic injury.
Ask a Catastrophic Injury Lawyer: What Is Considered a Catastrophic Injury?
A catastrophic injury is generally considered any long-term injury that results in a permanent alteration in the quality of life. In general, this could include permanent disabilities, severe burns, loss of limb, paralysis, organ damage, traumatic brain injury, blindness, and more. A catastrophic injury can be qualified by the need to have at-home care or continued assistance to perform daily tasks.
How Is a Severe Injury Different From a Personal Injury?
A catastrophic injury is different from a personal injury based on the severity of the accident and damages. For example, if two people were in the same car accident, but one person only suffered from muscle injuries and another person suffered from paralysis, the catastrophic injury would be paralysis.
If you aren’t sure whether your injury qualifies for a catastrophic injury lawsuit, you can always speak with a catastrophic injury lawyer in Houston, TX who will be able to assess your case. Furthermore, a consultation with an independent medical professional may also determine whether your injury is considered catastrophic or not.
When Does a Catastrophic Injury Case Become a Wrongful Death Case?
Sometimes a catastrophic injury case can become a wrongful death case. In general, this happens when an individual opens a catastrophic injury case but passes away before the lawsuit is finalized. When this happens, the surviving family or legal spouse of the deceased individual may speak with a catastrophic injury lawyer about filing a wrongful death case instead.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
Just like only certain people can file a catastrophic injury case on behalf of an injured individual, only certain people can file a wrongful death suit on behalf of a deceased individual. People who can file wrongful death cases in Texas include biological parents, biological children, and legally wedded spouses. People who are not able to file a wrongful death lawsuit may include non-adopted children, grandparents, siblings, and cousins.
Are There Settlement Caps for Wrongful Death?
The same settlement caps that apply to a personal injury lawsuit will apply to a wrongful death lawsuit. The difference is that the unlimited caps for economic damages may be much higher for a wrongful death case than for personal injury or even catastrophic injury.
How Are Wrongful Death Settlements Divided?
The settlement from a wrongful death lawsuit will usually be divided among the immediate family first, with the greatest portion going to the surviving spouse and children. The remaining proceeds from the wrongful death suit may be divided among additional people who are involved in the lawsuit, such as the parents of the deceased.
A catastrophic injury can be life-altering, often resulting in a permanent disability and an inability to work in the future. You will need the help of a catastrophic injury lawyer to file a claim so that you can receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries or on behalf of your loved one. Get in touch with Houston Injury Lawyers, PLLC in Houston, TX today.