Often, people can recover from injuries sustained in an accident after appropriate treatment and several weeks of rest. However, in some cases, injuries are so severe to the point of being catastrophic, causing permanent deficiencies in movement or brain function. Those who suffer from catastrophic injuries deserve just compensation more than any. They also are likely to face a long fight with insurance companies, because long-term and permanent injuries will cost the insurance company a lot of money—sometimes in the millions of dollars.
No one should go through a catastrophic injury claim alone. A victim of catastrophic injury should focus solely on their medical recovery as much as possible. If you’ve suffered catastrophic injuries in an accident in Morgantown that wasn’t your fault, contact the Morgantown catastrophic injury lawyers at Wagoner Desai, PLLC today to learn about your options for legal recourse.
Definition of a Catastrophic Injury
The United States Code defines a catastrophic injury as an injury that prevents you from “performing any gainful work.” The impediments of catastrophic injuries are usually permanent.
Catastrophic injuries could include spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, or other severe injuries that disable one from performing basic functions. Catastrophic injuries might include burns, tissue damages, amputation, certain fractures, back and spinal cord injuries, mild concussions, severe concussions, penetrating brain injuries, and other types of brain injuries.
These injuries affect not only the victim but their family members and friends, especially the family members who must take on caretaker roles for a loved one suffering from a catastrophic injury or pay someone to take care of their loved one. In-home or nursing home care is expensive, and most people cannot afford to pay for it, especially if the injured person was a primary income earner.
How Much Compensation Can You Receive in a Morgantown Catastrophic Injury Case?
The amount of compensation you can recover in a Morgantown catastrophic injury case, whether through settlement or a court award of damages, depends largely on the nature and severity of your injuries. The amount tends to be higher in catastrophic injury cases, generally speaking. Your amount of recovery will depend on the economic and non-economic damages you can prove, and possibly also punitive damages.
Economic damages are those that have a fixed monetary value and may include:
- Past medical expenses
- Future medical expenses
- Past lost wages
- Future lost wages
- Replacement or repair of destroyed or damaged personal property
- Funeral, burial, and/or cremation expenses
Non-economic damages are impacts without a price tag, which may include:
- Pain and suffering, including emotional distress
- Loss of quality of life
- Loss of companionship or consortium
- Loss of use of a body part, such as a foot or a hand
- Loss of use of a bodily function, such as your eyesight or bladder function
- Amputation, whether you lose a limb in the accident itself or after due to, for instance, an infection in an open wound caused by surgery for an accident injury
- Inconvenience, if you have to hire someone to do tasks you would normally do, including grocery shopping, home and lawn maintenance, and house cleaning
- Excessive scarring and/or disfigurement
A court awards punitive damages to punish a defendant’s especially condemnable actions or inactions. The court must find that the defendant’s actions or inactions were grossly negligent or intentional to award punitive damages. For example, a court might not find that a speeding driver’s actions were grossly negligent, but might find that someone texting or drinking while also speeding was.
Do You Need to Hire a Morgantown Catastrophic Injury Lawyer?
While you certainly do not have to hire an attorney for your Morgantown catastrophic injury case, it’s in your best interest to do so. Those who attempt to handle their catastrophic injury cases without the help of an attorney often end up leaving money on the table. Insurance companies are for-profit businesses, which means that they will take steps to deny or minimize your claim. Every claim an insurance company pays out hurts its bottom line, especially claims worth hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars. In a Morgantown catastrophic injury case, a claim’s value is likely higher, so the claimant may face more fierce opposition from an insurance company.
Morgantown Accidents that Cause Catastrophic Injuries
While any accident can cause catastrophic injuries, these injuries are common in vehicle accidents, and often those between:
- Any size vehicle and a pedestrian or a bicyclist.
- A tractor-trailer truck or other large truck and passenger vehicles.
- Any size vehicle and a motorcycle.
Those involved in multiple car pileups are also at a higher risk of suffering from catastrophic injuries, especially those near the front of the pileup.
Recovering Damages After a Morgantown Catastrophic Injury
After a catastrophic injury, you can recover compensation referred to as “damages,” which means expenses and impacts you have experienced as a result of your catastrophic injury. You may recover both past and future damages. Compensatory damages include economic and non-economic damages. You need to show that your injuries are catastrophic—or at least severe enough to be long-term—to collect some future damages.
Economic damages, also referred to as special damages, have a calculable monetary value and include:
- Past medical expenses, for those incurred because of the accident and before a settlement or a trial award
- Future medical expenses, for those incurred because of the accident and anticipated after a settlement or a trial award
- Past lost wages, for hours of work you lose from the time of the accident up until the settlement or trial award.
- Future lost wages, for those you expect to lose after a settlement or trial award
- Replacement or repair of destroyed or damaged personal property
Medical expenses may include cognitive therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and other psychological therapies, ambulatory aids, prosthetics, changes to your home and vehicle to accommodate disabilities caused by accident injuries, and any surgeries, doctor’s appointments, and other medical appointments related to accident injuries. They also include expenses for pre-existing conditions that accident injuries might have exacerbated and secondary injuries, such as infections, related to accident injuries. Future lost wages are particularly prevalent in catastrophic injury cases, due to the permanent losses these injuries involve. If you can go back to work, but your injuries and disabilities prevent you from making the same amount of income as you did before the accident, you could collect partial future lost wages.
If catastrophic injuries kill a loved one, the family can recover damages, such as funeral, burial, cremation expenses, and medical expenses your loved one incurred after the wreck.
Non-economic damages, also referred to as general damages, do not have a readily quantifiable monetary value and include:
- Pain and suffering, including emotional distress
- Loss of quality of life, such as the burden of having to take medications, use ambulatory aids, or making other life-long changes because of your catastrophic injuries
- Loss of companionship, if you can no longer enjoy and/or participate in certain family activities and events
- Loss of consortium, if you can no longer have a physical relationship with your spouse
- Loss of use of a body part, such as a limb or digit
- Loss of use of a bodily function, such as your bladder or eyesight
- Amputation, whether you lose a digit or limb in the accident or need it amputated later because of infection or another secondary injury
- Disfigurement and/or severe scars
Often, you can only collect non-economic damages if your medical provider expects you to suffer long-term or permanent injuries. You can also collect some non-economic damages if you lose a loved one in an accident.
Morgantown Catastrophic Injury FAQs
Catastrophic injuries cause long-term or permanent disabilities, keeping a victim from living life as they knew it and even rendering them unable to earn a living and perform basic daily tasks.
If you’ve been the victim of an accident in Morgantown that caused a catastrophic injury, you could be eligible for compensation to address the immense expenses and impact you’ve incurred. And Wagoner Desai, PLLC, is ready to help you do so. We understand that the money cannot undo a catastrophic injury; however, full and fair compensation does relieve burdens a catastrophic injury victim should not have to bear, and helps them move on with their lives as best as possible.
Below find answers to some of the most common questions Morgantown catastrophic injury victims have. For questions about your specific catastrophic injury case, call our office.
What is a catastrophic injury?
According to 34 U.S. Code §10284, a catastrophic injury prevents a person from performing any gainful work. In most cases, catastrophic injuries cause long-term or permanent disabilities. Catastrophic injuries result from severe accidents, like car crashes, construction site accidents, and other situations where safety hazards and life-threatening circumstances exist.
What injuries are catastrophic?
Injuries that professionals usually categorize as catastrophic include:
- Traumatic brain injuries;
- Spinal cord injuries;
- Back and neck injuries;
- Severe burns;
- Fractures that require multiple surgeries; and
- Some amputations.
What are the long-term and/or permanent effects of catastrophic injuries?
The long-term and permanent effects of a catastrophic injury vary widely and depend on the location of the injury. For example, traumatic brain injuries could cause mental, physical, and emotional disabilities. A crushed bone in your leg that requires several surgeries does not impede your cognitive abilities but disrupts your daily life by rendering you unable to move around without assistive equipment.
Do I have to sue to recover compensation for Morgantown catastrophic injuries?
No, not necessarily. You can attempt to settle with the insurance company before filing a lawsuit. However, if the insurance company refuses to pay reasonable compensation for your injuries, a lawsuit is typically our only way to recover a fair amount for catastrophic injuries.
Who is responsible for paying damages in my Morgantown catastrophic injury case?
The person or persons who caused the accident leading to your catastrophic injuries are responsible for paying damages.
In some cases, more than one person could share in the responsibility for paying damages. For example, if a trucker causes an accident because he drove while fatigued, you could sue the trucking company if you can show its negligence or recklessness caused the accident. For example, a negligent trucking company might give a deadline that would require speeding or exceeding the number of hours a trucker can drive without taking a rest break.
Determining all potentially liable parties is not easy, but it ensures you will receive the maximum amount of compensation possible. To determine all the potentially liable parties in your case, contact a catastrophic injury attorney today.
How much does a Morgantown catastrophic injury lawyer cost?
When you come to Wagoner Desai, PLLC, your initial case evaluation is free. Additionally, you do not pay for our services unless we win your case, either through a settlement or by obtaining a court award of damages. You may be responsible for paying certain filing and court fees down the road, but we can front such costs. When you come in for your case evaluation, we explain our fee structure and lay it out in our contract. We hide no fees or costs.
If you suffered catastrophic injuries in Morgantown because of another person’s negligence, contact Wagoner Desai, PLLC, for a free case evaluation.
Do I Need a Morgantown Catastrophic Injury Attorney?
Generally speaking, a victim of catastrophic injuries should hire a lawyer. There is a lot on the line when sustaining a catastrophic injury. You want the best legal representative you can find to make sure you recover every dollar you deserve. Not all personal injury attorneys have the experience to handle catastrophic injuries. As with other areas of personal injury, catastrophic injury accidents have unique aspects that require special expertise and experience.
On top of increasing your odds of recovering maximum compensation, hiring an experienced and skilled catastrophic injury lawyer can relieve an immense burden while victims focus on their medical recovery. Catastrophic injury victims do not need the stress of negotiating with an insurance company or figuring out how to file a lawsuit in court. Those who negotiate their own settlements often leave money on the table, and those who represent themselves in court often lose their cases, recovering nothing.
Settlement funds generally come from insurance. Insurance companies are in business to make a profit, and every claim they pay out loses them money. Thus, their incentive is to deny or minimize claims. With a catastrophic injury, they stand to lose a lot more money. They’re more likely to fight claims harder.
An attorney with experience in catastrophic injury cases can thus be an immense help in many ways. They can take on the burdens of the claim process while you focus on your health recovery. At Wagoner Desai, PLLC, we understand the pain and struggle our catastrophic injury victims are facing, and our priority is to ensure they receive all of the compensation they need to be able to adjust to their new lives.
If you or a loved one suffered catastrophic injuries in an accident, contact the Morgantown catastrophic injury lawyers at Wagoner Desai, PLLC, at (304) 470-2056 as soon as possible for your free case evaluation.
Wagoner Desai, PLLC
265 High Street, 3rd Floor
Citizens Bank Building
Morgantown, WV 26505
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