East Meadow Catastrophic Injury Attorney
“Catastrophic injury” describes an injury that permanently prevents a victim from performing any work. Sometimes the term is used if the victim can no longer perform the activities of daily life (ADLs), such as bathing and dressing. Catastrophic injuries often occur suddenly, so that the victim’s life is changed overnight.
Catastrophic injuries often result in the need for long-term or permanent care. Catastrophic injuries may result in paralysis or the victim’s inability to communicate.
If you or a loved one has suffered a catastrophic injury in East Meadow or surrounding areas, contact the experienced East Meadow catastrophic injury lawyers at Jacoby & Meyers LLP for a free consultation. Insurance companies can show reluctance to settle fairly because frankly, catastrophic injuries represent a large payout they feel affects their bottom line. Our attorneys can fight for you.
Our past settlements show in our results, from $3.5 million for a vehicle accident victim whose work-fueled exhaustion resulted in catastrophic head injuries rendering him unable to work, to $4.2 million for a baby catastrophically burned due to a building owner’s negligence.
As noted above, a catastrophic injury causes long-term or permanent impairment that renders the sufferer unable to work and/or perform ADLs.
But the effects are limited to these defining characteristics. People who have suffered catastrophic injuries will likely experience long-term or permanent symptoms that are debilitating, such as chronic pain or chronic impairment of limbs or other bodily organs, such as the eyes. They may never recover or recover only after a long-term period of recovery marked by numerous medical interventions such as surgery and physical therapy.
They may need long-term care, live-in care, and around-the-clock care just to maintain life. They may suffer permanent disability, permanent decrements in loss of the quality of life, and permanent stresses on their family and emotional life.
Any injury that results in permanent loss of ability to work or perform ADLS can receive the term catastrophic injury.
A brief overview of the most common catastrophic injuries follows.
- Spinal cord injuries (SCIs). Injuries to the spinal cord affect roughly 291,000 Americans, with 17,730 new cases occurring annually.
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Over 2.50 million people are taken to emergency rooms every year with TBIs. Roughly 288,000 people are hospitalized every year, and nearly 57,000 TBI victims die annually.
- Severe burns. Approximately 486,000 individuals are treated for severe burns in hospitals and emergency departments annually.
- Amputations. Roughly 185,000 amputations of limbs occur every year for various reasons, including accidents and disease. Approximately 2 million people live with amputated limbs.
- Internal organ damage. Damage to internal organs can stem from vehicle accidents, construction accidents, surgical errors, reactions to medication, and other medical malpractice incidences.
While these are the most common, other types of injuries can be deemed catastrophic as well, including skull fractures, multiple fractures, blindness, disfigurement, and more.
Catastrophic injuries can stem from multiple sources. Vehicle accidents, such as car, truck, bicycle, motorcycle, bus, and pedestrian accidents are, unfortunately, a major cause of catastrophic accidents.
Workplace accidents, including falls, electrocutions, and explosions, are another possible cause of catastrophic accidents.
Sports-related injuries are a leading cause of some catastrophic injuries, such as TBIs and skull fractures.
Other catastrophic injuries can stem from medical malpractice, such as prescription of the wrong medication or errors in surgery or the delivery of a baby.
Allergic reactions can cause catastrophic injuries.
Accidents in the home can result in catastrophic injuries, such as burns or scalding or dangerous products, such as unsafe clothing or toys.
Accidents in public places, such as slipping and falling, can cause catastrophic injuries.
If someone other than the victim causes a catastrophic accident, financial responsibility comes with it. Negligent parties become liable for injuries and other damages caused by their negligence.
As a result, victims of catastrophic injuries and their loved ones must understand negligence and liability.
Legally, negligence is a violation of the duty of care owed to an individual. This may seem slightly puzzling at first, because most people don’t think of themselves as recipients of duty of care.
But in fact, we all are owed duties of care, every day. The simplest example may stem from the world of car accidents. All drivers, by becoming licensed to operate a vehicle, owe a duty of care. It is to drive safely and prudently!
Safe and prudent driving includes obeying all traffic laws, operating a vehicle according to existing weather, traffic, and other conditions (for example, not trying to speed in a traffic jam), and maintaining a vehicle in safe working order.
Violation of any of these responsibilities can cause an accident. If a driver floors the gas pedal and breaks the speed limit, or runs through a red light, or drives without headlights, it can precipitate an accident that harms people, causing catastrophic and other injuries.
If a driver is negligent in discharging the duty of care, the driver is financially liable for injuries and harm the accident caused.
These principles of negligence and financial responsibility apply to every person or organization who owes a duty of care to you.
- Employers, for example, owe a duty of care to make their workplaces safe and to provide proper required safety equipment.
- Schools, athletic organizations, and the people they employ owe a duty of care to make sports, other activities, and the premises themselves safe.
- Medical professionals owe a duty of care to their patients to follow accepted practices and do no harm. The institutions that provide medical care, such as hospitals and clinics, owe a duty of care to hire qualified professionals and oversee them.
- Manufacturers of products owe a duty of care to provide safe products for use in workplaces, schools, and homes. If they are unsafe, as some makes and models of vehicles are, the manufacturers need to alert the public and the registered owners about how to return, replace, or repair them.
- Property owners owe a duty of care to make their premises safe for the public if the property is open to the public. Private property owners must warn people invited in of any known dangers on the property.
- Business owners owe a duty of care to make their premises safe to the public.
- Landlords owe a duty of care to make their rental properties safe for tenants and visitors, including exteriors and interiors.
What Compensation Can You Get For a East Meadow Catastrophic Injury?
Again, it depends on how the injury happened.
For catastrophic injuries that happened in situations other than in connection with the victim’s employment, victims can generally seek compensation that includes:
- Economic damages, consisting of all current and future financial costs of the catastrophic injury, including medical expenses, costs of adapting to and living with a catastrophic injury, lost wages and income, and any other monetary consequence the victim suffers from a catastrophic injury.
- Non-economic damages, also referred to as pain and suffering damages, which compensate a victim for the full range of life challenges and difficulties that accompany a catastrophic injury, but not with a price tag attached. These damages include, for example, living with chronic pain; suffering from anxiety, depression, or other mental health challenges; interference with personal relationships; and an overall loss of enjoyment of life.
- Punitive damages, which courts may award when a catastrophic injury results from someone’s extreme or intentionally harmful conduct.
For catastrophic injuries that happened in connection with the victim’s work, workers’ compensation insurance will often serve as the principal source of compensation.
Workers’ compensation pays benefits that covers:
- Medical care for the catastrophic injury; and
- The impact on the victim’s income of any disability resulting from the catastrophic injury.
Workers’ compensation generally does not pay non-economic damages. However, catastrophically injured workers in East Meadow may have the option of seeking those additional damages through a lawsuit. An experienced lawyer can help them evaluate their options.
How Much Money Can You Receive?
Every case differs.
The amount of money that a victim of a catastrophic injury in East Meadow can hope to receive will usually depend on three broad factors:
- The severity and life-impact of the injury, which affects the size of economic and non-economic damages potentially available;
- The strength of the evidence and skill of the lawyer in using it to secure compensation for the victim; and
- The financial resources available from insurance and/or assets to pay damages to the catastrophically injured victim.
Experienced lawyers in East Meadow work hard to identify as many potential sources of payment as possible for a client’s catastrophic injury damages, to give the client the best possible shot at securing maximum payment.
Negligent parties are financially liable for economic and emotional injuries and other harm suffered by victims of the negligence. Legally, restitution for the harm is known as “damage compensation.”
People catastrophically injured can seek damage compensation via the negligent party’s insurance company or via an East Meadow catastrophic injury lawsuit in civil court.
They can seek damages in the following areas.
- Medical expenses for emergency room treatment, ambulance transportation, diagnostic tests, hospitalization, surgery, doctor’s appointments, prescription medication, and more.
- Long-term medical and related care for physical therapy, retrofitting a home for needed care and ongoing disability (such as wheelchair ramps), assistive devices, home care, and more
- Wages lost from work for time needed from work due to the precipitating event, medical care, and recuperation
- The lifetime value of earnings for earnings the injured person could have earned if not for the injury, if the catastrophic injuries render them unable to work again
- Personal property damage for the injured party’s personal property lost or damaged as a result of the negligence, such as a car in a vehicle accident
- Pain and suffering for physical, mental, and emotional pain and suffering, including loss of enjoyment of life, mental anguish, and more
Estimating Future Damages
The amount of damage compensation sought in catastrophic injury cases is often quite high. In part, the high level of damage compensation is due to the nature and extent of the injuries. But it is also in part to the need for ongoing medical care, the potential permanent need for earnings replacement, and the corresponding level of pain and suffering, all of which will last long term or throughout the victim’s life.
Thus all damages sought must include compensation not only for harm already incurred, but for the ongoing nature of the harm. The insurance claim or lawsuit must include an estimate for future damages.
Medical expenses. Expert testimony often helps estimate the medical expenses the victim’s condition is likely to incur in the future. Doctors and other medical professionals first evaluate the medical interventions standard for care. Healthcare professionals then forecast the likely costs for these interventions.
For medical-related expenses, such as retrofitting a home with special equipment or disability-related renovations, your lawyer may seek a contractor’s estimate.
Wages lost from work/value of lifetime earnings. Your lawyer may seek medical opinions to determine whether the victim can return to work at some point. If they are disabled from returning, information regarding the degree of disability may also come into play.
Then, your catastrophic injury lawyer will multiply your income by your time off work to arrive at earnings lost from work.
Your lawyer will determine the lifetime value of earnings by multiplying your income at the time of injury by the estimated worklife you had left before retirement.
Pain and suffering. Pain and suffering damages are more subjective. One can’t estimate pain and suffering the same way they calculate a medical bill or remaining years of work. That won’t stop an insurance company from trying to downplay your pain and suffering with a low settlement offer. Make sure you call Jacoby & Meyers LLP. Our East Meadow catastrophic injury lawyers can evaluate your case and protect you from an insurance company that wants to protect itself, rather than do the right thing and pay you what you deserve.
In short, catastrophic injury compensation should reflect the long-term and severe nature of the injury.
Tragically, many catastrophic injuries prove fatal, either immediately or shortly after the injury.
New York state allows the personal representatives of the deceased to bring a wrongful death suit against the negligent parties if the injured person could have brought a personal injury suit had they lived.
Such a suit may seek damage compensation for losses suffered by family members, beneficiaries, or the estate (although, unlike many states, there is no provision for family members to bring a suit themselves).
The suit can seek damage compensation for economic losses such as funeral and burial expenses and medical expenses incurred before the death. It can also seek damage compensation for non-economic losses, such as the value of parental guidance and nurture.
Preventable accidents and incidents cause catastrophic injuries in East Meadow all-too-regularly. From crashes on Merrick Avenue to falls from ladders at homes along Newbridge Road, East Meadow residents and workers can suffer traumas that alter their lives, careers, relationships, and finances by leaving them permanently impaired.
In the aftermath of a catastrophic injury, victims and their loved ones tend to have a lot of questions about their legal rights and options. We answer some of the most frequently asked questions below. For answers to questions specific to your circumstances, contact an experienced East Meadow catastrophic injury lawyer today.
What makes an injury catastrophic?
Lawyers refer to an injury as catastrophic when it inflicts permanent, life-changing harm on a victim and (often) the victim’s family. Just about any injury you can imagine can qualify as catastrophic, depending on a person’s circumstances and needs.
However, a relatively small group of injuries accounts for the bulk of catastrophic trauma that patients suffer:
- Spinal cord injuries (SCIs) are perhaps the most reliably catastrophic of all injuries. By interrupting the transmission of messages between the brain and the body, an SCI commonly results in partial or total paralysis, and loss of sensation and function, in the affected parts of the body. Spinal cord injuries are also, by and large, permanent, because the spinal cord has limited capacity to heal itself. Most SCI victims will live with physical impairments for the rest of their days, and many will need to rely on wheelchairs and other mobility technology to live independently.
- Amputations and crushed limbs also usually qualify as catastrophic injuries, because they permanently deprive a victim of the use of a limb or appendage. Like SCI victims, people who have suffered amputations or crushed limbs commonly must turn to assistive technology—such as prosthetics—to regain their independence.
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) frequently have the characteristics of catastrophic injuries. At their worst, they leave victims in a permanent state of unconsciousness or semi-consciousness. Even less “severe” TBIs, however, may cause permanent alterations and impairments in a victim’s ability to think, move, communicate, interact with others, or control their emotions.
- Loss of a bodily function can also commonly qualify as catastrophic in its large impact on a victim’s life. Losing one’s eyesight, hearing, or functioning of a vital organ can disrupt every aspect of an individual’s life, from schooling to jobs to personal relationships.
- Burns can also meet the threshold for a catastrophic injury when they cause physical disabilities and, even more, when they inflict disfiguring scars that harm an individual’s emotional wellbeing and inhibit the victim’s social opportunities.
What is the legal significance of an injury qualifying as catastrophic?
It depends on the circumstances of the injury. Sometimes, a catastrophic injury triggers rights under a New York state law or regulation. For example, the types and amounts of workers’ compensation someone can receive often depend on the severity of an injury.
In other cases, even if no law specifically addresses the compensation a person deserves to receive for a catastrophic injury, it is typically the case that in the hands of a skilled attorney, a catastrophic injury claim tends to seek the most damages possible.
Who might owe me damages for a catastrophic injury in East Meadow?
Catastrophic injuries happen in a wide variety of circumstances, which means just about anyone could owe damages to a catastrophic injury victim. As a general rule, anyone whose unreasonably dangerous decisions or actions caused someone to suffer a catastrophic injury may owe damages to the victim under New York law.
Here are some examples.
- A careless driver who causes a car accident that inflicts a catastrophic injury may owe damages. So might that driver’s employer if the accident happened in the course of the driver’s work.
- A manufacturer of defective products or equipment could have liability for a catastrophic injury if those defects caused a dangerous condition that led to the injury.
- A medical professional might owe damages for a catastrophic injury if it resulted from malpractice in the delivery of medical services.
- A property owner can face liability for a catastrophic injury if the victim got hurt because of an unreasonably dangerous, preventable condition on the owner’s premises.
These are just a few examples. The surest way to find out who might owe you damages for a catastrophic injury is to speak with our experienced East Meadow attorneys right away.
Can I still seek compensation if I did not suffer a catastrophic injury?
Anyone who suffers an injury because of someone else’s wrongful actions may have the right to seek compensation through legal action. Your right to demand payment of damages generally does not depend on a catastrophic injury.
Everyone thinks of my injury as minor, but it has ruined my life. Does it qualify as catastrophic?
It is possible. As discussed above, lawyers designate injuries as catastrophic when they inflict life-altering, negative impacts on a victim’s life. Any injury that takes that kind of toll—even one that most people would consider minor—might qualify as catastrophic for a particular individual in a particular situation, and may merit payment of significant financial damages.
In the legal profession, we refer to this as the eggshell skull principle: a person with a fragile skull might suffer a catastrophic injury from a bump on the head that would barely cause a bruise for most people. If wrongful decisions or conduct led to that bump, then the at-fault party could owe damages for the full scope of the injury, even if those damages are far higher for the victim than for anyone else.
How long will it take to receive compensation for a catastrophic injury in East Meadow?
It is hard to predict at the beginning of a case how long it might take to secure compensation for a catastrophic injury in East Meadow. For one thing, there is no guarantee of a favorable financial result in a lawsuit or insurance claim. That is why it is important to hire an attorney who has years of experience fighting on behalf of catastrophically injured individuals like you.
Assuming your case does reach a favorable outcome, the timeline for getting there depends on numerous factors, most of which are more or less beyond your control.
- The timeline for getting a clear diagnosis and prognosis from your medical team, which is often important in calculating the damages you deserve to receive.
- The timeline for obtaining the evidence needed to prove your claim for compensation against any given party or parties.
- The amount of dispute or disagreement over who owes you damages and how much they should pay you.
- The number of parties who have a legal and financial stake in the outcome of your claim.
You can, however, control one crucial aspect of the timing of your claim: when you speak with a skilled catastrophic injury attorney for the first time. The sooner you take that step, the sooner you can make progress toward the ultimate resolution and, hopefully, a substantial payment for your injuries and losses.
Will I have to testify in court about my East Meadow catastrophic injury?
It is difficult to predict in advance.
The vast majority of catastrophic injury cases settle out-of-court before going to trial. A settlement is an agreement to resolve a catastrophic injury claim. Most often, the injured individual receives money, and in exchange, agrees to release the paying party from future liability for the injury.
If your East Meadow claim settles, then chances are you will not have to testify in court. (You may, however, have to give sworn testimony in an interview with a defense lawyer, called a deposition. A skilled attorney knows how to prepare you for this kind of interview.)
However, not all claims settle, and it is often difficult to predict which ones will go the distance to trial. That is why you should always try to hire a lawyer who can demonstrate a track record of success in-and-out of the courtroom, and who can give you the best shot at a favorable outcome no matter what course your case takes.
What can I do to help my East Meadow catastrophic injury claim succeed?
First and foremost, you can focus your energies on healing. Do what your doctors tell you, keep your appointments and therapy sessions, and try your best at every turn. No one expects you to rebound immediately, but it is always in your best interest to give your all to physical and emotional recovery from a catastrophic injury. As human beings, we want you in the best health and frame of mind possible. As lawyers, we also want you to show that you did your best to take care of yourself so that no defense lawyer or insurance company can fight your claim because you made your condition worse.
Next, you can make an effort to hold on to any documentation or physical evidence relevant to your claim for damages. Keep bills, receipts, statements from insurance companies, and correspondence from your employer. Hold on to the clothing you wore when you suffered your injuries. Hold off on getting a vehicle repaired or towed to the scrapyard until your attorney has had a chance to examine it. You never know what item of evidence might make your case unbeatable.
Finally, you can contact an experienced catastrophic injury attorney in East Meadow as soon as possible. Remember, time is not on your side in the aftermath of a catastrophic injury. The longer you wait to speak with a skilled attorney, the more difficult it may become to gather evidence to prove your claim. If you wait too long, you might lose your rights altogether.
If You Need a Catastrophic Injury Lawyer in East Meadow
If you or a loved one suffers a catastrophic injury in East Meadow or the surrounding area, the most prudent thing to do is consult a lawyer. The experienced attorneys at Jacoby & Meyers LLP offer a free consultation to discuss your case.
Catastrophic injury cases are often complex and lengthy. We can investigate the causes, compile evidence, negotiate, and fight to do justice on your behalf. Contact Jacoby & Meyers LLP through our confidential contact page, open a chat session with one of our live representatives, or give us a call at (877) 565-2993.
East Meadow Office
90 Merrick Avenue, Suite 601
East Meadow, NY 11554
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