The state of California has reported many minor and significant personal injuries caused by accidents. The most severe forms of personal injuries are those that affect various aspects of a person’s life. These are what we call catastrophic injuries. Catastrophic injuries are types of personal injury cases we deal with at the Orange County Personal Injury Attorney. These injuries are the kind that affects your job, current life, and plans, including your marriage. People who have suffered severe injuries and believe that their injuries resulted from another person's negligence have a right to file a claim for compensation against the responsible party. We offer guidance, support, and advice to the injured in Orange County to ensure that our clients are getting the compensation that they deserve.
Legal Definition of Catastrophic Injuries
Catastrophic injuries are personal damages that permanently make it hard for the affected person to live their lives fully. Such a person may not be able to perform at any gainful employment. A catastrophic injury is also the type of damage that occurs suddenly, with no prior warning. It can leave the injured person suffering a permanent disability for the rest of their lives.
This means that a catastrophic injury could result in bodily harm that causes a severe and long-lasting effect on an injured person. Most people that have suffered a devastating injury, as well as their families, have also suffered stress. Stress comes with the injured person’s need for constant supervision and assistance for an extended period or the rest of their lives. Other people are also in the continuous necessity of rehabilitation or medical attention for an extended period or the rest of their lives. This also significantly affects the family’s finances.
The state of California has laws in place that ensure those with catastrophic injuries that resulted from another person’s negligence are compensated for all their injuries. These laws allow the injured to file a personal injury claim against the responsible parties. The compensation they get determines the quality of life the injured can enjoy for the length of time they will suffer. This is because the settlement will ensure that they get quality support and medical care for the rest of their lives.
Common Types of Catastrophic Injuries in California
As mentioned above, a catastrophic injury is the kind of damage that causes a person to suffer long-term or permanent pain or loss of the functioning of a body organ or limb. Some of the most common types of catastrophic injuries in Orange County and California in general are:
Spinal Cord Injuries
Car accidents and falls are the leading causes of most spinal cord injuries. A complete spinal cord injury can result in a total loss of sensory and motor function below the level of the damage. In such an injury, both parts of the body are affected.
If you suspect that you have suffered a spinal cord injury, it is advisable to seek medical help immediately. Some of the signs and symptoms you should be on the lookout for include:
- Extreme pressure or pain in the head, neck or back
- Loss of sensation or tingling in the feet, toes, hands or fingers
- Complete or partial loss of control over a particular part of the body
- Bowel or urinary urgency, retention or incontinence
- Abnormal pain or a pressure feeling in the thorax
- Impaired breathing immediately after an injury
- Unusual lumps on your spine or head
Recovering the functioning of the affected body organs or limbs will depend on the severity of the damage. It is worth noting that most people who suffer a complete spinal cord injury are unlikely to regain the full functioning of the area below the injury. Rehabilitation, including occupational and physical therapy as well as counseling, is needed to help the injured live a better life after getting injured.
Paralysis happens when one is unable to move specific parts of their body after their connection to the brain is affected. There are different forms of paralysis, the most common one being permanent and temporary paralysis. A sudden injury can, for instance, cause paralysis to the point that the injured is unable to move anything in the affected parts of their body.
Paralysis affects blood flow, how different body organs work, breathing, swallowing, speaking, controlling the urge to use the bathroom, and sexual responses, among others. All these depend on the part of the body that is affected.
A complete paralysis happens when one is unable to control or move their paralyzed muscles. The injured person may also not be able to move anything in the affected muscles. An incomplete or partial paralysis, on the other hand, happens when the wounded can still feel something or can move or control the paralyzed muscles.
Most cases of paralysis are those that come after a sports injury or car accident. There is no cure for paralysis, but with rehabilitation, you may be able to recover some or all muscle control. The most common rehabilitation treatment for paralysis includes physical therapy, mobility aids, occupational therapy, use of supportive devices, and assistive technology.
Injuries Causing Blindness or Deafness
Negligence is a primary cause of many cases of blindness and deafness in the world. When this happens to you, people around you must learn to cope with the immediate changes that will occur in your everyday life. This includes the high costs of care and medical care costs that come with it. If you suspect that your loss of hearing or sight resulted from another person's negligence, you should understand how you can file a lawsuit against the responsible party. This way, you can get compensated for all that you have gone through.
Some of the common causes of hearing loss include:
- A scarred or punctured eardrum, which could result from an accident
- Dislocation of the idle ear, which could also be caused by a crash
Common causes of blindness include:
- A traumatic injury to the brain. This could happen if you were involved in an accident work injury, a fall or have used a defective product
- Brain tumors
- Insufficient oxygen to the brain as a result of a heart attack or drowning
- Getting injured in an auto accident, falling or suffering a workplace injury
- Use of defective products
- Medical negligence
Amputations or other Loss of Use of a Limb
An amputation happens when a part of a body is severed. Statistics show that thousands of people in the U.S lose a limb every year. There are many causes of amputations in the state of California. Some people, for instance, lose a finger or a limb to a workplace accident. When they experience such a significant loss, the person can suffer great trauma, shock, blood loss, infection, and even death.
Traumatic injuries such as work-related accidents, motorcycle accidents, vehicle rollovers, and motor vehicle accidents have been named as the leading causes of amputations. The costs associated with amputations are very high if the injured person will enjoy a close-to-normal life. They may need an artificial limb or prosthesis, for instance, whose cost is determined by the level of the amputation. One installation is never enough, which means that the injured will have to pay more every few years to have a better-functioning prosthesis.
Other than the severe physical pain and the financial burden that comes with amputation, injuries that occur with amputation could trigger a severe emotional reaction in the injured. This means that the injured may suffer depression even after going through treatment and therapy to overcome the injury.
Traumatic Brain Injury
One thing that makes brain injuries dangerous is that they are not easy to diagnose, and their symptoms can be slowly manifested after an injury to the head. Most brain injury symptoms manifest after several hours, days, or even weeks after an injury. Once you get a traumatic brain injury, your life is never the same again as several aspects of your life are affected.
People who have suffered a traumatic brain injury manifest different symptoms. It is therefore difficult to diagnose a brain injury by looking at symptoms exhibited by another patient. Another thing is that a single injury can produce a wide range of behavioral and cognitive symptoms.
That is why it is crucial to recognize every possible symptom and sign. When in doubt, seek immediate medical help if you or your loved one was involved in an accident and suffered a blow or concussion to the head. Some of the symptoms you should watch out for include:
- Looking dazed, disoriented or confused
- Losing consciousness even for a few seconds or minutes
- Vomiting or just nausea
- Seizures or convulsions
- Fatigue or drowsiness
- Dizziness or lack of balance
- A dilation pupil or pupils
- Numbness or weakness in fingers or toes or both
- Difficulty in sleeping or waking up from sleep
- Sleeping longer than usual
- Loss of coordination
If a person has suffered a traumatic brain injury as a result of another’s negligence, it is advisable to get in touch with a competent personal injury attorney. They will help you seek your compensation.
Who is Responsible for a Catastrophic Injury in California?
California laws are apparent, that if a person suffers an injury due to another’s negligence, the negligent party will be held responsible for the injuries. This means that the court could order the responsible party to compensate the injured person for all the damages they have suffered. In a case involving a catastrophic injury, more than one party could be responsible for the injuries sustained, including the negligent party. Other liable parties could be the injured person’s employer or a manufacturer. In a case involving car accidents, the car insurer is the one that is mandated to compensate the injured for the damages incurred.
If, for instance, a person slipped and fell while at work in a construction site, their employer may be held responsible. The fault could also fall on the property owner if there is proof that they did not keep their property safe. One of the tools the victim was using could have been the leading cause of the accident. If there is proof that the device was defective, then the manufacturer will be held responsible for the damages incurred.
The expertise of an experienced personal injury attorney is essential in such a case. This is to help determine the exact party that should be held legally liable for the catastrophic injury suffered by the employee. The most common responsible parties we have seen in most catastrophic injury cases in California include:
- The negligent party’s employer- California law makes employers liable for employee's negligence, intentional wrongful acts, and recklessness. This happens if the employer knew or should have known that the negligent employee was a risk to other people.
- A manufacturer, seller or distributor of defective products
- Manager or owner of a property where a person was injured
- The owner of that dog which attacked or bit another person
- A negligent person’s parent if the victim suffered injuries in the hands of a minor below the age of 18
- Insurance companies
- Partners, corporations and any legal entity that could have been involved
Note that the victim could also be partially responsible for their injuries. In the state of California, such a victim will still get some compensation under the state’s Comparative Negligence Law, also called Shared Fault law. Under this law, an injured person is only entitled to the percentage of the damages for which the perpetrator is liable. If the claimant was 50% liable, the court would only mandate the other responsible pay to pay half the total amount of compensation.
The court usually determines the percentage of fault. If the plaintiff and the defendant agree to settle the matter out of court, they could also agree on the rate of responsibility if it is clear that the plaintiff was also partly responsible. This is effectively done with the help of a competent personal injury attorney.
Statute of Limitations
Statute of limitations is the time frame in which the plaintiff has to file a lawsuit against the person responsible for their catastrophic injury in court. Once that time runs out, your legal claim will not be acceptable in court. In the state of California, the courts allow a person who has suffered a personal injury two years to file a legal claim from the date of the injury. In a case where the injury is discovered long after the accident, the plaintiff has one year from the time of the discovery to complain about the negligent party.
Generally, the law allows two years from the date of the accident for any personal injury case. However, you only have six months to one year to file a personal injury claim against a California county, city, or government agency.
Why Do You Need a Personal Injury Attorney?
As mentioned earlier, a catastrophic injury will not allow the injured to do much in person. Again, they and the people in their lives may not be familiar with the legal processes to be able to file a lawsuit against the liable party successfully. For that reason, you need a competent personal injury attorney to help you with this. There is a lot that an attorney can do for you in such a situation.
Your attorney will work hand-in-hand with you to gather evidence that will help your case. They will work closely with your doctor to discover any evidence of wrongdoing on the part of the liable party. Your attorney will also work with your doctor to come up with a life care plan that will cater for all compensatory damages you might need in the future.
Your experienced attorney will help put together a strong case against the liable party, their lawyer, or insurer. They will do this with the help of the evidence collected at the scene of the accident and medical reports showing the likely causes of your catastrophic injury.
Once all the evidence has been gathered, and there is disputable proof that someone else was reckless, negligent, or had wrong intentions, your attorney will help you fight to get the punitive damages you deserve. They will file the necessary documents in court on time and legally represent you in the hearing.
If the liable party agrees to settle the matter out-of-court, your attorney will be there to ensure that your rights are respected. If the offer you get is not fair, your attorney will advise you on the way forward, which in most cases will be to proceed with the lawsuit.
How to File a California Catastrophic Injury Claim Successfully
The most crucial thing in this process is to get you an excellent personal injury attorney. You need an attorney that will be available for the length of time your court case is likely to take. You also need an experienced attorney that understands the legal process better. This way, nothing will get in the way of your getting the compensation you deserve. A competent attorney will not only advise you on the best approach to take but also offer you the emotional support you need in that difficult period.
With an excellent attorney by your side, you need to collect as much evidence as you can about the accident. The kind of evidence you collect will be determined by the type of accident you got into. If it is a workplace injury, for instance, you need to gather enough evidence to help you determine the person responsible for your misfortune. The amount of evidence you collect will determine the success of your claim. It will be challenging for the injured person to gather evidence in person. That is why a reasonable attorney is needed, who can engage different experts and witnesses to help with your case.
With the evidence at hand, it is time to establish the liable party. It is not enough to say that your employer is responsible if you suffered a workplace injury. You need to prove how your employer was reckless and how their recklessness directly caused you the injuries. If, for instance, you got involved in a car accident, the other driver who crashed on your car may not be liable for your catastrophic injury. It may be the car manufacturer or the county government that is mandated to take care of the roads. If you can get an expert account on how the accident happened, a competent attorney will be able to figure out who the guilty party is within the statute of limitations.
Once everything is in order, and all the documents have been prepared, it will be time to file a personal injury lawsuit in court. Again, your attorney will do much of this as they are in a better position to understand the legal processes. As mentioned earlier, the respondent may request to settle the matter out of court. If this is what you want, there will be no need to file a claim in court. However, if you do not come to a consensus about the amount of compensation you are going to receive, your attorney can proceed to file a claim in a court.
Find an Orange County Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
A catastrophic injury is bound to change your life for good. This could mean that you may be dependent on others for the rest of your life. You may also be unable to work again for the rest of your life. These reasons and the fact that you may need constant care and medical care for life are reasons enough for you to pursue compensation in court. If you are sure that another person was responsible for your injury, get in touch with the Orange County Personal Injury Attorney. We have excellent skills and experience in handling personal injury cases in Orange County. Call us at 714-876-1959 and let us improve the outcome of your case.