The Bronx is a busy place, filled with people working living their lives. However, if you have suffered a catastrophic injury, life as you had once known it is altered—potentially forever. Perhaps you cannot work, complete personal tasks without assistance, or enjoy activities that you previously looked forward to. Catastrophic injuries can have almost unimaginable consequences, including heavy financial and emotional impacts.
Read on for more information about catastrophic injuries and the kind of compensation that may be available if your injury was the result of someone else’s careless or reckless actions. For questions about your specific case, contact a Bronx catastrophic injury lawyer. Contact Jacoby & Meyers, LLP for more information today.
What You Can Get From Jacoby & Meyers LLP
Jacoby & Meyers LLP has strong roots in the Bronx. For nearly 50 years, we have represented victims of catastrophic injuries in all five New York City boroughs. In every case we take, we fight to make sure our clients receive the compensation they deserve from anyone whose actions caused them harm.
Our clients praise us for our clear communication, compassion, hard work, and commitment to serving their interests above all others. Hiring a Jacoby & Meyers LLP lawyer for your Bronx catastrophic injury case gives you peace of mind knowing someone will always answer your questions and stay by your side throughout the process of seeking compensation for your injuries.
We Have Recovered Millions for Our Clients
We are proud to have a long track record of achieving top-dollar case results for our Bronx clients. In one recent matter, we secured a $3,250,000 settlement for the family of a 25-year old student who died from catastrophic burn injuries she suffered in a Bronx apartment building fire.
Our past results do not guarantee future financial recoveries for our clients. They do, however, give our Bronx clients confidence that their lawyers have the skill and resources to achieve substantial payments in the most challenging catastrophic injury matters.
What Is a Catastrophic Injury?
A catastrophic injury involves:
- A permanent loss of a body part or body function.
- The inability to work full time because of the injury.
- The need for living assistance, care, or accommodations.
- The necessity of the use of prosthetics or assistive devices such as a wheelchair to get from place to place.
Often the type of injury that is considered to be catastrophic involves the two organs that make up the central nervous system: the brain and the spinal cord. This is because all of the body’s functions, movements, and involuntary responses involve the use of these two organs. But, despite their importance, neither the brain nor the spinal cord is very efficient at healing from injury. Instead, permanent disabilities often result.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Sudden or violent bumps, jolts, or blows to the head or body cause traumatic brain injuries. The injury can be open, meaning that an object has penetrated the bony protection of the skull, or it can be closed with damage occurring simply due to the impact of the brain striking the inside of the skull.
The most common ways for traumatic brain injuries to occur include:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Sports and recreation activities
- Explosive blasts and other combat-related activities
The brain is divided into several functional segments, known as lobes. Each lobe is responsible for different functions of the body. The deficits acquired from the injury depend not only on the injury’s severity, but also the damaged part of the brain.
The lobes, their functions, and the type of deficits normally seen with an injury in that location include:
- The frontal lobe: The frontal lobe controls such functions as memory, attention, concentration, emotions, and the ability to speak. Those who suffer injuries to this part of the brain often have difficulty controlling behavior and impulses, speaking, or recalling events.
- The temporal lobe: The temporal lobe’s responsibilities include understanding spoken language, memory, sequencing, hearing, and organization. Injuries to this part of the brain often result in difficulties with communication or memory.
- The occipital lobe: The primary function of the occipital lobe is to control vision. Damage to this part of the brain can result in trouble seeing or perceiving the size and shape of objects.
- The parietal lobe: The parietal lobe controls the body’s ability to feel touch, gauge distances, and identify sizes, shapes, and colors. An injury to this part of the brain can lead to difficulty with the primary senses, including touch, sight, sound, taste, and smell.
- The cerebellum: The cerebellum is responsible for functions such as balanced and coordinated movement and skilled motor activity. An injury to this part of the brain results in the individual having difficulty with balance, movement, and coordination.
- The brain stem: The brain stem controls the body’s involuntary responses, such as heart rate, temperature, pulse, and the body’s sleep and wake cycle. Injuries to the brain stem are generally catastrophic due to the body’s inability to survive without assistance if it has lost its involuntary responses.
Complications of traumatic brain injuries include:
- Consciousness disorders, such as a coma or a persistent vegetative state.
- Seizures, which often occur shortly after the onset of the injury but can be repeated, resulting in post-traumatic epilepsy.
- Fluid build-up on the brain, known as hydrocephalus. This fluid can result in an increase in pressure and further damage to the brain. The condition is often treated by the surgical placement of a shunt to drain the fluid away from the brain.
- Blood vessel damage that increases the risk of blood clots or stroke.
Spinal Cord Injuries
The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves extending from the base of the skull to the waist that is protected by the bony vertebrae of the spine. The spinal cord’s main function is to relay messages from the brain to other parts of the body. Contrary to popular belief, spinal cord injuries generally do not feature a severed cord but rather one that has been damaged and has only a limited ability to heal.
The most understood aspect of a spinal cord injury is the loss of sensation and function below the injury site, which is known as paralysis. This type of injury is often referred to as complete (meaning there is no remaining sensation or function below the part of the cord that was damaged) or incomplete (meaning the individual has retained some sensation and function below the site of the injury).
Injuries high up on the neck can produce a loss of function in all of the limbs, as well as the diaphragm, torso, and pelvis. This level of paralysis is known as tetraplegia or quadriplegia. Injuries lower on the spinal cord—in the upper to mid-back area—produce a level of paralysis known as paraplegia, which is the loss of sensation and function in the lower extremities, including the hips, pelvis, legs, and feet. In addition to the difficulties caused by the initial injury, those with spinal cord injuries often experience a high number of extreme, potentially deadly complications from the injury.
Those complications, which often last through the duration of the injured person’s life, can include:
- Loss of bladder and bowel control, which can result in medical complications, including irritation to the skin as well as urinary tract infections, kidney stones, and bowel obstruction.
- Respiratory issues, if the injury has caused paralysis to the chest muscles needed to breathe. Individuals with spinal cord injuries cannot even cough or clear their throats productively, leading to respiratory issues such as pneumonia. Pneumonia is the most common cause of death for individuals who have incurred a spinal cord injury and have survived the acute phase of the injury.
- Circulatory issues, including low blood pressure when standing or blood clots that develop deep in the veins. Circulatory problems can have potentially fatal consequences, including a pulmonary embolism, which occurs when a piece of a blood clot in the deep veins of the legs or arms breaks free and travels to the lung. Another common and potentially lethal complication of a spinal cord injury is a condition known as autonomic hyperreflexia, which produces extremely high blood pressure.
- Muscle tone issues, including muscles that are involuntarily stiff and rigid (which is known as spasticity), as well as abnormally limp muscles (which is known as flaccidity).
- Sexual problems, for both men and women, including fertility loss, difficulty in maintaining an erection or with ejaculation, or changes in lubrication for women.
Other Catastrophic Injuries
Other injuries that can be considered catastrophic due to the high impact they have on the individual’s ability to work and live independently include:
- The amputation of a limb.
- Loss of sight or hearing because of injury, which is known as acquired blindness/deafness.
- Severe burn injuries that result in scarring or disfigurement.
- Injuries to the back or the neck such as slipped or ruptured discs and fractured vertebrae that can result in permanent disability.
The Worst Injuries Have the Most Impact
Injuries to the brain and spinal cord are among the worst that can be experienced not only because they are most likely to result in death, but because the damage is generally permanent and the injury can continue producing complications years or even decades after it occurred. Suffering a catastrophic injury creates changes to every facet of the individual’s life, as well as the lives of his or her loved ones, as follows.
The home life of the injured person often takes the brunt of the impacts. The individual cannot care for himself or herself, meaning that his or her loved ones will often experience a change in the relationship they had with the injured person as they are expected to provide caregiving responsibilities. The household is often financially stressed by the injury, with the cost of a lengthy hospital stay, modifications needed at the home to accommodate the injury, and the expense of continued treatment adding to the fact that the injured person is no longer bringing in an income that can help deal with the expenses of life.
Many individuals cannot work at all after suffering a catastrophic injury, which can result in the loss of healthcare benefits that were being used to help treat the injury. Brain injuries, for example, cost an estimated $85,000 to $3 million for medical expenses alone through the course of the injured person’s life. However, many adults suffering a brain injury cannot return to work or must obtain a different job because of the injury.
It is often believed that children cannot recover easier from injury than adults. Sometimes this is true, but it is not necessarily the case with catastrophic injuries. Children with brain and spinal cord injuries encounter the same complications and deficits as adults do. However, depending on the age of the child at the time of the injury, the full picture of the deficits caused by the injury may not be clear until after the child is done growing and developing.
In the Community
Individuals who suffer a catastrophic injury often miss being an active part of the community. Brain injuries can cause emotional outbursts and both spinal cord and brain injuries can result in a loss of mobility. These issues can become difficult emotionally as the person finds he or she can no longer enjoy activities or spend time with friends in the same way as he or she could before the accident.
The Many Complications of a Catastrophic Injury
As shown, not all of the complications of a catastrophic injury involve the need for medical treatment. Many of the impacts of this type of injury are emotional, resulting from the inability to perform self-care tasks independently, to continue to work or to earn in the same capacity as before, or to live what many would consider a “normal” life.
Injured individuals may seek compensation both for the physical damage resulting from their injury and their emotional damage. A Bronx catastrophic injury lawsuit can prove who was legally responsible for the accident that caused your injury and the expenses and the quality-of-life impacts you have incurred because of the accident.
Common items included in a damage claim after an accident resulting in a catastrophic injury include:
- Medical expenses, including emergency treatment, diagnostic testing, hospitalization, physician and surgical services, prescription medication, physical therapy, and rehabilitation. Assistive devices such as wheelchairs, crutches, or prosthetic limbs can also be included in your expenses.
- Modifications made to the home to accommodate the disability, such as lowered counters, roll-in showers, wheelchair ramps, and automatic door openers.
- Wage loss due to the work you missed because of your injury.
- Loss of future earning capacity due to your inability to return to work or to earn in the same capacity as you did before the accident.
- Physical pain and suffering resulting not only from the injury but from the interventions required to treat it.
- Emotional distress.
- Loss of the enjoyment of life.
- Permanent disability.
- Scarring and disfigurement.
“Great experience, best car accident law firm. I was rear ended in a car accident and needed car accident lawyer to represent me, One of my friend suggested to contact Jacoby & Meyers. Jacoby & Meyers helped me through this difficult time and I got compensated.” -Lucy M.
Frequently Asked Questions About Bronx Catastrophic Injuries
Catastrophic injuries are among the most severe and impactful types of injuries one can suffer. If you have suffered a catastrophic injury because of someone else’s careless or reckless actions, you could pursue compensation for your injuries through a lawsuit. Here are the answers to some of the questions about that process that our Bronx personal injury lawyer is most frequently asked.
How do I prove that my Bronx catastrophic injury is preventing me from working?
Usually, it is obvious from the severity of the injury that an individual cannot return to work. Whether the condition is permanent, however, requires further proof. Often, expert medical professionals are used in catastrophic injury cases to provide an understanding of the limitations that a type of injury would create. Your medical records and statements from your doctor describing your injury are also strong evidence of a catastrophic injury that has resulted in a permanent disability, within a reasonable degree of medical certainty.
Is the value of a Bronx catastrophic injury case higher than other types of cases?
Generally, yes. This kind of injury often results in longer hospitalization and more treatment. The individual likely will spend some time in the intensive care unit, require surgery, and deal with an extensive amount of physical therapy and rehabilitation. The severity of the injury generally results in a higher amount of compensation for the quality-of-life impacts as well.
Claimants who have suffered a catastrophic injury can often see higher amounts of damages due for categories including:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Pain and suffering or emotional distress
However, just as certain factors can cause the value of a case to increase, other factors can cause the value to decrease.
The following factors can reduce the amount of money you may recover, though a skilled lawyer might mitigate their effects:
- The at-fault party was uninsured. Insurance pays most Bronx catastrophic injury settlements and awards. While you can file a claim against an uninsured person, and you can even obtain a judgment on your behalf, the likelihood of collecting the amount you were awarded is not very high, as most uninsured people cannot afford to pay the expenses of a catastrophic injury out of pocket.
- You were partially liable for the accident that caused your injury. An individual can be partially responsible for causing their own injury and still file a Bronx catastrophic injury claim against other at-fault parties. However, the amount that the individual is eligible to receive would be reduced by the percentage of responsibility they bear.
- Your patience. It does not usually take long to get a settlement offer in a catastrophic injury case. However, getting a settlement offer that fairly reflects the amount of financial and emotional damage that has been incurred because of the injury is an entirely different story. Insurance companies often have tactics that they use to avoid large payouts for injuries caused by their insured. They may offer a low settlement, attempt to frame the circumstances in a way that makes you appear liable for your own injuries, and may bank on the notion that you are desperate for a resolution. Often, the one thing that can change the insurance company’s tune about offering a fair settlement is the realization that they will be affording the expense of litigation if they do not. It is not unusual for the best settlement offer to come just before the trial begins or just before a decision is reached.
My injury occurred in a Bronx car accident. Do I need to seek compensation from my PIP policy?
For an individual to register his or her car in New York, he or she must provide the required amount of insurance, which includes:
- $25,000 bodily injury liability per person/$50,000 bodily injury liability per accident.
- A personal injury protection (PIP) policy providing $50,000 in coverage.
Your PIP policy is intended to help pay for medical expenses and wage loss resulting from a motor vehicle accident causing injury. State lawmakers approved the requirement of personal injury protection to alleviate the burden on the court of lawsuits filed over minor accidents. This policy can be particularly helpful in getting the early costs associated with your injury covered. However, a catastrophic injury almost always meets New York’s serious injury threshold, meaning that you can bypass the PIP requirement and file your claim.
New York’s serious injury threshold includes injuries that result in:
- Serious disfigurement
- Bone fracture
- Loss of a fetus
- Permanent loss of use of a body organ, member, function, or system
- Permanent consequential limitation of a body organ or member
- Significant limitation of the use of a bodily function or system
- A medically determined injury or impairment that is not permanent but that results in preventing the injured person from completing substantially all of the material acts that constitute the person’s usual and customary daily activities for at least 90 of the 180 days immediately following the onset of the injury
If a person dies from a Bronx catastrophic injury, can the family file a claim?
If the injured person resolved a claim between the time of the injury and the time of death, the family cannot go back and ask for more money from a case where there has already been a resolution. However, if the injured person has not already been compensated for their injuries before death, the family members likely have a way to recover damages.
The family members could benefit from filing a wrongful death lawsuit. Similar to a personal injury claim, a wrongful death lawsuit is a legal claim filed in civil court. The claim must be filed within two years of the date of the death. New York does not allow family members to directly file a wrongful death claim unless they are named personal representatives of the deceased’s estate or the court appoints them to that position.
However, the spouse, parents, or surviving children of the deceased can recover damages through the claim, including:
- Funeral and burial or cremation expenses.
- Reasonable medical, nursing, and other expenses related to the medical treatment of the deceased’s final injury.
- Wages and benefits lost between the time of the deceased’s final injury and death.
- The value of support and services that the deceased provided to his or her family members.
- The value of nurturing and care that the deceased provided to his or her surviving children.
- Loss of inheritance suffered by surviving children.
- Conscious pain and suffering that the deceased endured due to his or her final illness.
- 9 percent interest on the damage award from the date of the injury to the decision on the award.
Do Bronx catastrophic injury cases often settle out-of-court?
The vast majority of all Bronx catastrophic injury cases settle out-of-court. Litigation is expensive for everyone concerned, so there is often a willingness to negotiate a settlement to avoid even higher and unpredictable costs. However, some cases do go to trial, and claimants are best represented by an attorney who is comfortable fighting for their right to compensation for their injuries in the courtroom as well as at the negotiation table. Contact Jacoby & Meyers, LLP today.
If I receive compensation for future medical expenses and a cure for my injury is created, do I have to pay back the compensation?
Once you have obtained compensation through either a settlement or a judgment, the defendant in your case can file an appeal, which means you and your attorney will have to go back to court. However, even in cases of appeal, you are not going to be asked to repay your compensation. Damages for future medical expenses are dependent on the testimony of medical professionals who have seen your records and, in their view, have determined that your injuries will likely result in the need for further treatment.
This conclusion is reached based on the experience that the medical professional has with treatments and outcomes of treatments commonly used for injuries like yours. They cannot, however, be expected to provide testimony based on the notion that a cure will be developed in the future that will make the additional medical treatment no longer necessary. They cannot be expected to account for an unexpected recovery that renders you no longer disabled either.
Will I have to pay income tax on my Bronx catastrophic injury settlement?
For the most part, no. According to the Internal Revenue Service, proceeds received from Bronx catastrophic injury claims are not considered income and are not taxable.
There are a couple of exceptions, however, including:
- Any amount you deducted as a medical expense will need to be repaid if you later receive damages that include medical expenses.
- If you were awarded punitive damages due to the extremely reckless behavior of the defendant, you will likely have to pay taxes on that portion of the award as it was not given to you as compensation for your injury.
Why do you need to call Jacoby & Meyers LLP’s Bronx catastrophic injury lawyers?
You do not have to file the lawsuit on your own, and you probably should not. Many people are afraid to speak to an attorney after experiencing serious injuries because they do not feel like they can afford the attorney’s services.
Unfortunately, though, the legal process of proving liability often confuses those without the education and training of a Bronx catastrophic injury lawyer.
The Bronx catastrophic injury attorneys at Jacoby & Meyers LLP offer two special services to ensure that anyone who needs an attorney gets one regardless of financial status.
Those services include:
- A free, no-obligation case review. This is an opportunity for you to speak with a Bronx catastrophic injury lawyer about your legal options and obtain answers to the questions you have about your specific case.
- A contingent-fee payment plan. What this means is that you do not owe your attorney’s fees until there is a successful outcome to your case.
Let’s explore your legal options today. For your free case review, contact a Bronx catastrophic injury lawyer from Jacoby & Meyers LLP by filling out this form, calling us at (718) 294-0813, or entering a webchat with one of our representatives.