What Are Catastrophic Injuries? | Staver
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What Are Catastrophic Injuries?

Written by Jared Staver

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Jared Staver is a Personal Injury Lawyer based in Chicago, Illinois and has been practicing law for over 20 years.

Jared Staver

CATEGORY: Auto Accidents, Personal Injury

Any accident that injures you can cause an upheaval in your life, but some are more severe than others. Injuries that are life-changing or permanent are considered catastrophic. You need to be able to recognize when an injury is catastrophic because it will directly affect your claim for compensation. Read on to learn more about these injuries and what steps you should take to get the most out of your personal injury case.

What Are Catastrophic Injuries?

Personal injuries relate to all kinds of damages after an accident. Catastrophic injuries are personal injuries that result in serious and permanent harm to the victim. Injuries with lifelong consequences are handled in a slightly different manner than general personal injuries.

For instance, there can be a difference in the claim you’d file for a minor case of whiplash compared to a case where you’re required to use a wheelchair to maneuver. The procedure is the same for pursuing a catastrophic injury claim, but you can pursue more compensation. Catastrophic injuries often require more money, time, and resources for the victims to recover or adapt to their new circumstances. If someone else has caused your catastrophic injuries, their insurance should help you recover the expenses and damages they’ve created for you.

What Impact do Catastrophic Injuries Have on Everyday Life?

Catastrophic injuries have dire consequences for their victims: these injuries constitute a permanent change in their lives.

A permanent change could include:

  • Being unable to return to work or hold gainful employment
  • Being unable to care for yourself
  • Requiring ongoing medical care
  • Using a mobility or medical device
  • Having a part-time or full-time caregiver to help with everyday activities

Your injury could require a loved one to reduce their time at work to take care of you. Your dwelling may require modifications so you can move around. These considerations will affect your case: you’ll need to show how your injuries have changed your life.

Types of Catastrophic Injuries

There are several kinds of catastrophic injuries because their definition can be broad: unexpected injuries with lifelong consequences.

Examples of this injury type includes:

  • Tetraplegia or quadriplegia
  • Paraplegia
  • Amputation
  • Burns
  • Disfigurement
  • Loss of hearing or sight
  • Nerve damage
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries

What Causes Catastrophic Injuries?

These injuries can have a variety of causes, like other personal injury cases, except these have severe consequences. Car accidents, slip-and-fall accidents, work injuries, injuries at birth, or falls from heights are some common accidents that may result in catastrophic injuries.

What Types of Damages are Available in Catastrophic Injury Cases?

Like personal injury cases, you are entitled to compensation for your catastrophic injuries in Illinois. You can file a claim against the at-fault party’s insurance policy. Their insurer will be responsible for your economic and non-economic damages.

These losses describe how you’ve been burdened by the accident. Your economic losses are your out-of-pocket expenses. Things like your medical bills, your repair costs, and any money you’ve had to pay for treatments or prescriptions. These losses are usually easy to calculate because you receive invoices that list the cost.

Non-economic losses are less convenient to calculate, but they are just as important to your claim as economic losses. These are the damages you’ve experienced because of the economic losses caused by the crash. They are conceptual losses, but they have very real consequences. Catastrophic injuries can create pain and suffering or mental anguish: not only might you be paralyzed or permanently affected physically, but you may not be able to work like you used to and you have bills to pay. The emotional drain of losing your independence could severely affect you.

How Do I Secure Compensation for My Catastrophic Injury?

To make the strongest claim for your need of compensation, you’ll have to prove the at-fault party acted negligently or recklessly and caused your catastrophic injuries as a result. Proving the elements of negligence is critical. Under Illinois law, you’ll need to show the at-fault party had a duty of care, they breached the duty of care, they caused the accident in question, and that accident has impacted your life.

For instance, drivers are expected to operate their vehicles while sober. If someone gets on the road after they’ve been drinking, they’re breaching the duty of care to other drivers. They’ve neglected to keep other drivers safe. If they cause your injuries, you’ll need to show they acted recklessly.

Proving Negligence in Catastrophic Injury Cases

You will need evidence to show how the accident caused your catastrophic injuries and your permanent life changes. The insurance company will argue that they do not owe you for their client’s accident. They may say you share some of the blame for the accident so they can offer you a lower settlement. They might also argue your life hasn’t changed substantially after the accident. Evidence can show that without the at-fault party’s actions, you would have been living your life as normal.

Evidence in catastrophic injury cases can include evidence you would use in other personal injury cases. However, there is almost a greater necessity to have more evidence to erase any doubt that the accident caused your injuries. Catastrophic injuries will have created a substantial change in your life, so you need as much reliable material as you can gather.

To support your case, you can use things like:

  • Accident reports
  • Police reports
  • Medical reports
  • Doctor reports
  • Prescriptions
  • Bills and invoices
  • Witness testimony
  • Expert testimony

You can also rely on testimony from friends and family to show how your injury has changed your life, which is critical for those non-economic losses. Anything that shows you’ve undergone a “loss” in your quality of life could mean you stand a better chance.

You should find an experienced Chicago attorney who understands that the insurance companies will fight your claim and know that accidents with catastrophic outcomes can upend your life. An attorney can help you collect evidence and build a case that will stand up in court, if necessary. Find someone with a passion for you, not just for their record.

Call a Chicago Catastrophic Injury Lawyer

Catastrophic injuries in the Windy City can mean you have a whole new life to get used to, especially if you’ve suffered injuries that diminish your quality of life. You need a lawyer who has helped clients like you recover millions after an accident has upheaved their life. You can rely on the Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C., to fight for you.

We know how confusing and traumatic an accident is, and how difficult it can be to navigate the legal process while adapting to a catastrophic injury. We’re prepared to help you create a case strong enough to withstand the insurance company’s arguments and get you the support and compensation you deserve.

Call (312) 236-2900 for a free consultation or use our online contact form.

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(312) 236-2900
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