New York Catastrophic Injury Attorney
A serious injury can change your life in an instant. Things that were once normal become more difficult and things you took for granted now have greater significance. Every day, residents throughout New York suffer catastrophic injuries while they are out simply living their lives. If you or a loved one has suffered a catastrophic injury because of someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to financial compensation.
To learn more about your legal rights following an accident, call Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, at (877) 565-2993 or contact us online for a free consultation.
Jacoby & Meyers, LLP: Helping Our Clients Get What They Deserve
At Jacoby and Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, our goal is to help our clients achieve the best possible outcome in their case. We know money won’t take away an accident victim’s pain but is a vital component to getting the care they require and needing to focus on their recovery. With every action we take, we prioritize our clients’ needs.
Although our following case results do not guarantee an outcome in any future case, they are representative of some of the results we have achieved on behalf of our clients.
- Our client recovered a $5.2 million award after a motor vehicle accident.
- New York woman obtained more than $37 million after a pedestrian accident.
- Family awarded $1.2 million after a surgical mistake during their infant’s circumcision.
- New York family awarded $1.8 million in a wrongful death case.
Every case is different and there is no way to predict exactly how much a case is worth. However, an experienced New York catastrophic injury attorney can review the facts of your case and help you understand what an insurance company or jury may consider during your case.
Table of Contents
Types of Catastrophic Injuries
Every person responds to injuries differently. Everybody has its own unique physical and emotional response to pain and trauma. And the word “catastrophic” has a slightly different meaning to each person. In the legal context, a catastrophic injury has a life-changing, and often permanent, effect on the victim’s life. Determining whether an injury is catastrophic must be done on a case-to-case basis. The circumstances surrounding the injury, the victim’s lifestyle, and the actual injury all make a difference. Types of catastrophic injuries typically include:
The human brain is the command center of the central nervous system. It allows us to process, think, and communicate. Even the body’s most basic functions rely on the brain. Unfortunately, brain injuries are exceedingly common. According to the New York Department of Health, approximately 400 new traumatic brain injuries happen in the state every day. Countless additional residents suffer from non-traumatic brain injuries.
Traumatic brain injuries and non-traumatic brain injuries (or acquired brain injuries) often present with many of the same symptoms. The primary difference between the two types of injuries is the source of injury. Traumatic brain injuries happen as the result of an external force such as a blow to the head or a penetrating head wound. Non-traumatic brain injuries result from an internal factor such as an infection, stroke, or lack of oxygen. Symptoms of a brain injury may include headaches, confusion, difficulty concentrating, memory loss, or mood changes.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries are the second leading cause of paralysis in the United States. While the brain creates messages to tell the rest of the body what to do, the spinal cord sends these messages to the body.
Spinal cord injuries occur when an injury prevents the spinal cord from relaying messages. Unlike other parts of the body, the spinal cord can’t create new cells to heal itself. Because of this, a spinal cord injury typically results in permanent paralysis.
Burns happen every day. Minor burns can occur when you touch a stove or stay out in the sun too long. Victims who suffer first-degree burns and even second-degree burns can typically expect a full recovery. For persons who sustain third-degree burns or worse, the long-term effects are more serious. These burns can cause extreme pain, loss of sensation and mobility, and permanent scarring. Additionally, third-degree and more severe burns carry a high risk of secondary infection.
Loss of Limb
So much of what we do every day involves the use of our arms, hands, and legs. In addition to the mobility issues that result from loss of limb or amputations, victims who lose a limb are at a high risk of experiencing psychological issues such as anxiety and depression.
Persons who lose a limb may also experience phantom pain where the limb once was or increased strain on the remaining limb.
Severe Mental Health Injuries
When it comes to catastrophic injuries, many people disregard the seriousness of mental health. A traumatic accident can cause chronic psychological issues that can interfere with a person’s ability to maintain relationships or hold a job. Psychological distress can happen after any traumatic event and is extremely common after accidents or injuries where the person felt their life was at risk.
How should I handle my medical bills after a catastrophic injury in New York?
Catastrophic injuries can bring with them equally catastrophic medical bills. In the case of many types of catastrophic injuries, you may have immense, ongoing medical bills for the rest of your life. Amputees, for example, may need to replace prosthetic devices as often as every 3-5 years. Spinal cord injury victims may end up in and out of hospitals for various procedures, or in need of ongoing physical and occupational therapy or durable medical equipment to make their lives easier following their injuries.
Not only do you have to contend with the immediate cost of emergency medical treatment, those medical expenses will continue to come for the rest of your life. Who pays those bills?
Strictly speaking, in most cases your medical bills are your financial responsibility. That said, you may have several options that can make it easier to manage your medical expenses.
Personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. If you suffered catastrophic injuries in an accident involving a motor vehicle—whether as a driver, passenger, cyclist, or pedestrian—then you may pay for some of your immediate medical expenses through personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. The amount of coverage and seriousness of a New York catastrophic injury typically mean that you will need far more than what PIP will provide, but it’s a start.
All registered owners of vehicles in New York must carry PIP coverage as part of their basic auto insurance. PIP pays your medical expenses after you suffer an injury in a motor vehicle-involved accident, regardless of who was at-fault for the accident.
PIP typically acts as primary coverage, meaning it stands first in line to pay for your care and treatment. So if your catastrophic injury happened in any kind of accident involving a motor vehicle, speak with an experienced lawyer right away to find out if PIP coverage can help pay for your expenses.
Health insurance. Health insurance, if you have it, can also provide immediate coverage for many of the medical expenses associated with your catastrophic injury, subject to any applicable deductibles and copayments.
Keep in mind that if you change insurance providers at any time, you may need to contact your new insurance provider to discuss your existing conditions and what coverage the company will provide, since your injuries may later count as a pre-existing condition. If you change insurance providers and the new provider labels your injuries a pre-existing condition, then you may need to wait a while before your insurance will cover those conditions.
Contact your health insurance provider to learn what coverage you have for your medical needs following severe injuries.
For example, you may want to ask about:
- Coverage for long-term care or in-home care, especially if you need ongoing medical care related to your injuries
- Coverage for assistive devices and durable medical equipment, including items like wheelchairs, crutches and braces, or prosthetic devices
- Coverage for physical and occupational therapy, since some policies will limit coverage to a certain number of sessions per year.
Talk to your provider about how your accident claim will impact your medical insurance coverage. If you run into trouble getting the insurance company to pay for covered expenses, then speak with an experienced New York catastrophic injury lawyer right away.
Disability insurance (government or private). Government or private long-term disability assistance may help you pay for your long-term needs after suffering a catastrophic injury in New York.
You may want to talk to your doctor or work with an attorney to apply for any available government assistance, since they can make your medical costs more affordable. You may also want to find out if your employer provides private long-term disability insurance coverage (such as that offered by AFLAC) as an employment benefit (you may also have paid for this kind of coverage yourself).
A New York catastrophic injury lawsuit. A lawsuit against the party that caused your catastrophic accident does not automatically guarantee payment for your medical expenses. However, it could result in a substantial financial settlement, judgment, or jury award that enables you to pay for the medical care and treatment you need.
While you wait for funds from a New York catastrophic injury lawsuit, your attorney may have the ability to work out an arrangement with your medical providers to put their medical bill collection efforts against you on hold.
Common Causes of Catastrophic Injuries
Unintentional injuries account for over 29 million emergency room visits every year. Accidents happen. But some accidents are more severe than others. Common causes of catastrophic injuries include:
Motor Vehicle Accidents
The New York Department of Health reports that, on average, the state sees 292 motor vehicle fatalities every year. Additionally, there are an average of 6,207 hospitalizations and over 100,000 emergency room visits each year because of motor vehicle accidents. Even minor accidents can cause serious injuries. However, catastrophic injuries typically happen in the most severe motor vehicle accidents.
These accidents may include high speeds, risky behavior, or a collision between a motorcycle or passenger vehicle and a much larger vehicle. Pedestrians are also at very high risk for catastrophic injuries. Common catastrophic injuries after a motor vehicle accident include spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and emotional distress.
Falls are the number one cause of traumatic brain injuries and one of the top causes of spinal cord injuries. In addition, people who fall from a height are at a high risk for internal injuries, crush injuries, and death. If you experience any type of fall, it’s important to seek emergency medical attention right away. Symptoms of severe injuries are not always apparent at first and prompt medical care can help reduce the severity of an injury. Falls from heights while on the job could result in additional damages under New York’s scaffold law, which our catastrophic injury lawyers know when and how to apply.
When you go to work, you should have every expectation that your employer will maintain a safe workplace. Sadly, millions of workplace accidents happen every year. Thankfully, the majority of incidents result in non-catastrophic injuries. That said, catastrophic injuries do happen. Physically demanding jobs such as manufacturing and construction put workers at a higher risk for serious injuries because of the environment and requirements of the job. In addition to fall injuries, workers may experience crush injuries, burns, disfigurement, and chemical exposure.
According to a recent report, approximately 1 in 10 patients suffer some form of injury during their medical care. Of these injuries, half are the result of a preventable error. Twelve percent of these preventable errors lead to permanent disability or death.
Medical mistakes can happen when a doctor makes an error during a procedure, makes the wrong diagnosis, or does not provide appropriate follow-up care. While some complications are normal, if you suspect your doctor or care provider was negligent in any way, you should talk to an experienced medical malpractice attorney.
When the weather gets warm, kids and adults love to flock to pools. But pools can be dangerous. Even experienced swimmers can become hurt, tired, or caught on something in a pool. What’s scarier, according to the American Red Cross, 69 percent of young children found drowned or submerged in a pool were not expected to be in the pool.
It takes just minutes without oxygen for the brain to suffer permanent damage. The majority of all drowning cases are preventable. If your child suffers a catastrophic injury at a pool because the business or homeowner does not have proper safety protocols in place, they may be liable for damages.
Your Legal Rights After a Catastrophic Injury in New York
Catastrophic injuries often require lifelong care and can interfere with a person’s ability to go to work, take care of themselves, and maintain relationships. When injuries are the result of someone else’s negligence, the law allows the victim or their family to seek damages from the at-fault party.
Damages vary from case to case, but may include:
- Medical bills: These can include but are not limited to doctor’s visits, surgeries, medications, medical devices, in-home care, and rehabilitative services.
- Lost wages: Serious injuries can interfere with the victim’s ability to return to work or maintain a job. When this happens, the victim’s attorney will likely argue for past and future lost wages.
- Pain and suffering: Catastrophic injuries can cause severe physical and emotional pain. Money won’t take away that pain, but it can allow the victim to focus on their recovery and alternative treatments that may help.
- Loss of companionship: Injuries can interfere with personal, physical, and emotional relationships. This loss can cause significant distress to the victim and their loved ones. In such a case, the insurance company or jury may provide compensation for the negative effects the injury has on the victim’s close relationships.
- Wrongful death: Unfortunately, catastrophic injuries can result in the death of a loved one. The death may be an immediate result of the injury or may appear months or years down the line due to complications. When a loved one dies because of someone else’s negligence, the victim’s family can seek damages through a wrongful death claim.
New York’s Statute of Limitations
While the law allows you to seek damages from the at-fault party, you only have a limited amount of time to do so. That’s why it’s so important to talk to an experienced New York catastrophic injury attorney right away. The statute of limitations varies depending on how you sustained your injuries. In most cases, the clock starts ticking the day of your accident.
New York’s statute of limitations for the most common types of New York catastrophic injury cases are as follows:
- Medical malpractice: 2 years, 6 months
- Product liability: 3 years
- Wrongful death: 2 years
- Most other types of catastrophic injuries: 3 years
In some cases, the court may allow an extension or an exception to the statute of limitations. However, this is rare and is generally at the court’s discretion.
Examples of when the court may consider your case after the statute of limitations has expired include:
- The victim is a minor.
- You can’t locate the defendant.
Additionally, for medical malpractice cases, the statute of limitations generally begins when you discover the medical mistake. If you are uncertain if you can still file a New York catastrophic injury claim, contact our experienced legal team for a free consultation.
When will an attorney want to file a claim for my New York catastrophic injury?
It depends on the specific facts of your injury and how it happened.
For example, an attorney may advise waiting to pursue legal action until your doctors can give you a reliable idea of your prognosis and future medical needs. The attorney may also need time to investigate the circumstances surrounding your injury and to determine the amount of money you have a right to receive as compensation for your injuries.
For that reason, you can benefit by contacting an attorney as soon as possible after you suffer a catastrophic injury. An experienced catastrophic accident injury attorney can take full advantage of the days immediately after your accident by gathering critical evidence that can easily go missing as time passes, by speaking with witnesses before their memories begin to fade, and by interacting with your own and the other parties’ insurance companies to relieve you of that burden and stress.
I chose to focus on my recovery and did not get in touch with an attorney immediately after my injury. Do I still have the right to file a New York catastrophic injury lawsuit for damages?
It will depend on how much time has passed.
In New York, you have a fixed amount of time following your injury to file a New York catastrophic injury claim. Depending upon the circumstances of your accident and injury, that deadline—known as the statute of limitations—can last just a few months to a few years. If you do not take legal action within that deadline, you may lose your right to file a claim.
However, statutes of limitations rules can get complicated. They contain exceptions, and exceptions to exceptions, that can shrink or stretch the amount of time available. Rather than assume that you no longer have rights because you focused first on your injuries, contact the experienced catastrophic injury lawyers at Jacoby & Meyers LLP for a free case evaluation to discuss the status of your rights and your options for moving forward with legal action.
Who owes me damages for my catastrophic injuries?
That also depends on the facts and circumstances of your injuries and the accident that caused them. In general, attorneys for victims of catastrophic injuries ask the following questions to determine who might owe their clients compensation.
Who owed you a duty of care in the situation that led to your catastrophic injury? In life, we all have a basic obligation not to act in ways that put others at an unreasonable risk of harm. Lawyers call that obligation a “duty of care”. The duty of care we owe to one another varies depending on a given situation and our relationships to each other. For example, motorists owe duties of care to the public not to drive recklessly, because reckless driving puts other motorists, pedestrians, cyclists, and others in danger.
Identifying who may owe you damages starts with asking who had a duty of care not to put you in danger in the context of the accident or incident that caused your catastrophic injury. The list of individuals, businesses, organizations, or other entities who owed you a duty of care in that circumstance represents the universe of parties who may owe you damages.
Did someone violate a duty of care in that situation? Experienced lawyers next ask who, among the potentially-liable parties on that list, violated their duty of care to you in the situation that led to your catastrophic injury? For example, did a motorist speed or break a traffic law in connection with a motor vehicle accident that harmed you? Did a manufacturer of equipment you use in your job produce a defective product that played a role in an incident that hurt you?
Anyone on that list who violated a duty of care in connection with your injury could owe you damages.
Did the violation of the duty of care contribute to the cause of your catastrophic injury? Having narrowed the list, experienced catastrophic injury lawyers then ask whether evidence exists to show that a violation of a duty of care resulted in your catastrophic injury. If so, then the party who violated that duty, and anyone else who has a legal obligation to answer for that party’s actions, could owe you damages.
Speak with a skilled catastrophic accident injury attorney at Jacoby & Meyers LLP today to learn who might owe you damages, and what you can do about securing payment for the harm you have suffered.
What should I do if I get a settlement offer from the at-fault party’s insurance company after my New York catastrophic injury?
Do not take it. Instead, contact our experienced catastrophic injury attorneys right away.
Insurance companies whose policyholders cause catastrophic injuries might seem eager to settle with you. That’s usually because catastrophic injuries can lead to large financial liabilities. Insurance companies hope to escape that liability for as little money as possible, and they use a variety of tactics to accomplish their goal.
One tactic is to offer you a lowball settlement right off-the-bat, hoping you will jump at it before you receive advice from a skilled lawyer about how much money you deserve to receive. If they can convince you to take the money they dangle in front of you, the insurance companies can avoid paying you the far higher amount of money you could demand once you have a lawyer fighting on your behalf.
Do not give in to temptation, and do not fall for high-pressure tactics insurance adjusters may use to try to convince you to say “yes” to their inadequate offers. Contact Jacoby & Meyers LLP instead for a free consultation to learn about your rights.
Do I really need an attorney to help deal with a New York catastrophic injury claim?
Yes, you do.
While you focus on healing from your injuries, a skilled attorney can:
- Investigate the causes of the accident or incident that led to your catastrophic injuries;
- Identify the parties at fault who may owe you damages;
- Plan a legal strategy tailored to serving your needs and interests;
- Prepare and file insurance claims and lawsuits demanding full and fair compensation for your injuries;
- Negotiate with defense lawyers and insurance adjusters over a potential settlement of your claims;
- Advise you whether and when to accept a settlement offer;
- Fight for you in New York court when that’s what it takes to get you the money you deserve; and
- Collect the compensation owed to you from insurance companies and liable parties.
Stand up for Your Rights. Contact Jacoby & Meyers, LLP’s Catastrophic Injury Lawyers Today.
Catastrophic injuries are not something to take lightly. Immediately following an injury, it can be difficult to understand the full extent of your injuries and just how much they will affect your day-to-day life. At Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, our job is to help our clients understand their rights and guide them through the New York catastrophic injury process.
You don’t need to spend time worrying about money or how you are going to pay your bills. You should be focusing on your recovery instead. If you hire us, we may negotiate a payment arrangement with your care providers. We take every client’s care seriously and work hard to make sure their needs are met. Don’t wait to get the care you deserve. We have offices located throughout New York to best serve your needs. To learn more or for help with your New York catastrophic injury case, contact us at (877) 565-2993, open a live chat, or write to us for a free consultation.
Jacoby & Meyers, LLP
39 Broadway Suite 1910,
New York, NY 10006
“If it were not for the integral legal team of experts at Jacoby & Meyers I would not be where I am today with my recovery. I highly recommend hiring Jacoby & Meyers should you ever find yourself injured in an accident, and an individual or company needs to be held accountable for their negligence.” -C.J.
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