Accidents happen every day. While the majority of victims are able to recover from their injuries, a significant portion is forced to deal with immense changes. When an injury upends a person’s life, it’s considered catastrophic. Most catastrophic injury victims need financial and emotional support to recover as fully as possible and learn how to cope with their new way of life. If you believe you sustained this type of injury as a result of someone else’s negligence, our Philadelphia catastrophic injury lawyers are prepared to represent you and get you the compensation you deserve.
For an injury to be defined as catastrophic it has to occur without warning, seriously impact a person’s ability to work gainfully, and leave a person with a debilitating, life-long disability. At Schrager & Sachs, we’re dedicated to doing whatever it takes to help victims of these accidents. Claims and lawsuits involving serious injuries can be complicated. Let us handle the paperwork, so you can focus on getting your life back in order.
What Accidents Lead to Catastrophic Injuries?
While anyone could potentially sustain an injury in any accident, there are certain situations where catastrophic injuries are more common. Oftentimes, these accidents are entirely preventable. Let’s take a look at the most common accidents that can have debilitating results.
- Animal Attacks. While we like to think most family pets are kind, gentle animals, there are unfortunate events where individuals are harmed. When a dog attacks a person, the consequences can be severe. Infections can quickly set in if the wound isn’t cared for properly. Serious dog bites may require surgery and could result in permanent scarring, disfigurement, or amputations.
- Construction Accidents. There are certain jobs that are more dangerous than others. The construction industry happens to fit into that category. Construction accidents are fairly common and can lead to devastating injuries or death. These accidents often happen when safety protocols are disregarded, hazards are unaddressed, or policies are unclear.
- Defective Products. Manufacturers, distributors, and retailers have a responsibility to their consumers to provide safe and effective products. In the event of a defective product, the user could be seriously injured. Some of the most severe injuries occur when vehicle parts are defective or improperly installed.
- Motor Vehicle Accidents. Car wrecks, motorcycle collisions, and truck accidents can be devastating for all parties involved. Most vehicle accidents can be traced back to speeding, distracted driving, or excessive alcohol consumption.
- Slip and Fall Accidents. Property owners have a responsibility to those who step foot on their property legally. If you’ve been injured by a preventable hazard on someone’s property, you may have the grounds for a premises liability.
No matter the cause, our catastrophic injury attorneys will find out what caused the accident and how it hurt you. We’ll find the responsible party and hold them accountable for their actions.
What Are the Most Common Catastrophic Injuries?
As you may imagine, the injuries associated with catastrophic accidents are often life-altering. In general, there are three classifications of injuries. They include physical, cognitive, and spinal cord injuries. Physical injuries include those that impact or damage orthopedic function or tissue. Cognitive injuries involve brain damage. The afflicted person may be unable to work, speak, or form new memories. These types of injuries often cost the most, financially and emotionally. Lastly, spinal cord injuries create permanent mobility issues for the victim.
Depending on the injury, the recovery process can take weeks, months, or even years. Some victims never fully recover and are forced to change their way of life to adapt to their disability. The injuries below are the most common devastating injuries a person is likely to sustain based on the accidents we discussed above.
- Amputation. Amputations are considered a physical injury. Limb loss is common in serious car and workplace accidents. This most often happens when a part of a person’s body is crushed or severed in an accident.
- Burn Injuries. Depending on the accident, a person may be in direct contact with fire, electricity, or toxic chemicals. Burns, especially third and fourth-degree burns, can be incredibly difficult to recover from as permanent nerve damage is a concern. Oftentimes, multiple surgeries and skin grafts are necessary. Burns are also some of the most painful physical injuries a person can experience.
- Loss of Hearing or Sight. In the event of an explosion or contact with toxic chemicals, a person may sustain an injury that leads to the loss of their hearing or vision abilities. This is likely to completely change their way of life that will require a long adjustment period.
- Permanent Scarring or Disfigurement. Depending on the accident, permanent scarring or disfigurement can occur. This can lead to emotional and psychological trauma that can severely impact a person’s wellbeing.
- Organ Damage. High-impact accidents may cause injuries to your internal organs. These injuries may require surgery or other forms of intense medical care. Injuries that happen under the skin can include bleeding, swelling, and fractures.
- Head and Brain Injuries. Traumatic brain injuries range in severity; however, the more severe, the less likely a person is to recover. A TBI victim may suffer from cognition issues with attention, concentration, processing and understanding information, language and communication, remembering information, and problem-solving. In the worst cases, a brain injury can lead to total brain death. Recovery from a less severe brain injury can take a significant amount of time.
- Carbon Monoxide Poisoning. Carbon monoxide is a dangerous chemical that people can’t detect on their own. Exposure can occur from gas fumes, stoves, and furnaces. Poisoning can make people sick or even lead to death. Early symptoms include feeling confused, weak, dizzy, short of breath, having a headache, and being sick to your stomach. Unfortunately, people often mistake these symptoms as just being sick, and not getting out of the affected area.
- Spinal Cord Injuries. While some spinal cord injuries can be fixed with surgery or physical therapy, others can lead to life-long paralysis or chronic pain. The severity of the injury depends on the location and how much of the spinal cord was damaged.
If your catastrophic injury wasn’t listed, you can still speak with one of our attorneys about the nature of your injury and how it happened. The lawyers at Shrager & Sachs are always ready to answer your questions and discuss the validity of your claim.
The Emotional Effects of a Permanent Injury
A traumatic accident can have long-lasting effects on anyone, and they aren’t always physical. When you think of recovery you may envision going to the doctor’s office, getting medication, or going to physical therapy. You may not consider that your mental health may have been affected as well. When our attorneys build your case, we’ll make sure to include your emotional suffering as a compensation factor.
People can develop mental illnesses after an accident, especially if it has life-long consequences. It could be from the experience itself, a side effect of an injury, or how the person is reacting to the prospect of living with this injury. Depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are all common issues that a person may have to grapple with.
These issues often need professional help such as therapy or counseling. When someone requires these services, they don’t know how long they will need them because there isn’t a time limit on recovery. Treatment can also be expensive, so the person may not know how long they’ll need to afford this care.
Our lawyers will do everything possible to get you a settlement that will cover the costs of mental health care. Recovering physically but not mentally isn’t a recovery at all. You deserve better and you should be able to fully heal without sacrificing care for money.
Financial Consequences of Sustaining a Catastrophic Injury
After the shock of the injury has passed, you may now be dealing with some difficult changes. You may realize that you can’t return to work for a long time, or you’re no longer able to do your job. Your hobbies or activities may have to change. Your life at home may require some drastic transformations, such as requiring medical equipment for you to live safely and maintain a high quality of life.
When a person is unable to return to their previous position, financial problems can quickly arise. Your family may have trouble paying bills and affording necessities like food. Even if you can return to work, you may have to switch to a position with lower pay.
In addition to managing without your previous income, the necessary medical equipment you need can add up quickly. Devices like electric wheelchairs and prosthetic limbs are expensive. When those devices are required in order to complete everyday tasks or be as mobile as possible, there’s rarely room to skimp. As a result, the medical bills can pile up even when you’re out of the hospital.
Affording these changes isn’t easy and they all happened because of someone else’s negligence. You shouldn’t have to find a way to pay all of it on your own. The negligent party should have to take responsibility for their actions. You deserve compensation for being wrongfully injured, and you shouldn’t have to worry about how you’re going to live your new life.
Our catastrophic injury lawyers will fight so you have the space to adjust to these changes in peace. It may not be easy to find your new normal, but we’ll do everything we can to remove outside stressors that will slow it down even more.
Pennsylvania Laws That May Apply to Your Claim
Depending on how your injury occurred, Pennsylvania has a few state laws that could come into play at some point during your case. This is especially true in the event of a car accident, dog bite, or premises liability case. Our lawyers can determine which laws may affect you and how.
One of the most relevant laws to most personal injury cases is the lack of caps on injury damages. In Pennsylvania, the only limitation on how much compensation a person can receive is the state’s cap on punitive damages—which serve to punish the guilty party. As the victim, this law may benefit you.
It’s also important to keep in mind you only have a specific amount of time to file a lawsuit after suffering harm resulting from someone else’s negligence. In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations for most personal injury cases is two years. This can differ on a case by case basis, which is why it’s important to hire the right lawyer, so you can ensure you will walk away with the compensation you deserve.
How to Calculate Compensation for a Catastrophic Injury
Catastrophic injuries are more expensive than a typical personal injury. Because of this, it’s crucial to work with an experienced lawyer who knows what needs to be taken into consideration when determining how much money to seek from the negligent party. Attorneys use the following elements to figure out how much a victim is owed:
- Past Medical Care. From when you’re taken to the hospital to treat your injuries to the time you’re discharged, medical bills can pile up. If you need to stay in the hospital for an extended period of time, it’s likely your bill will be in the tens of thousands of dollars range, if not higher.
- Future Medical Care. After you leave the hospital, you may need to attend physical therapy or regular follow-up appointments. Depending on your injury, you could need surgeries down the line.
- Medical Equipment. Many catastrophic injuries require medical equipment like wheelchairs, special beds, shower additions, and more. These devices help injury victims be as independent as possible.
- Household Services. When someone’s been permanently injured, it’s probable that modifications will need to be made to their home. They may need automated lifts or ramps. They may also require a home health nurse.
- Lost Wages. Lost wages include the money you would have made in the time you had to take off because of your permanent injury.
- Future Earnings. If, based on your maximum medical improvement, you won’t be able to return to work, your lawyer can work with experts to calculate what your future earnings would have included. This accounts for wages, raises, benefits, and bonuses.
How Can Shrager & Sachs in Philadelphia Help?
You may feel hopeless after sustaining a serious, life-changing injury like a catastrophic injury. We’re here to help. If you’ve been injured at the fault of someone else and are ready to hold them accountable for their actions, our Philadelphia catastrophic injury lawyers can guide you through the legal process to the compensation that you’re owed.
Getting started can seem overwhelming, especially when you’re readjusting to life with your injury. Our lawyers will work to ensure you understand your rights and legal options every step of the way. We’ll investigate your claim and build the strongest case possible on your behalf, so you get the compensation you need to afford the changes you need to make because of the accident. Contact our office today for more information.