Catastrophic Injury Attorney Serving Sacramento & Oakland
Accidents happen every day, and most people walk away from them relatively unscathed. But a catastrophic injury can affect you and your family, financially and emotionally, for a lifetime. A catastrophic injury is a life-altering one, causing long-term or permanent pain or loss of the use of a limb or organ. It can include impairments such as paralysis and spinal cord injuries, disfiguring burns, amputations, the loss of the use of a limb, traumatic or other brain injuries that result in permanent cognitive impairment, chronic lung damage, and blindness or deafness.
Are You Facing Long-Term or Permanent Physical Impairment?
If you or a loved one is facing chronic physical or mental impairment as the result of a catastrophic injury, you may have medical bills stacking up. You may be unable to currently work now or in the future. You may be in a great deal of pain with no end in sight. If your injuries were caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages and future earning capacity, short or long-term care, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, pain and suffering, or psychological treatment.
In California, more than one person can be held liable for your catastrophic injury. In addition to the negligent person, there may be an employer, company, manufacturer, or insurance company to help compensate you for your damages. Even if you believe you may have been partly at fault, another negligent party can also be held partially responsible under California’s “comparative negligence” law.
What Constitutes a Catastrophic Injury in the State of California?
California legislation defines a catastrophic injury as one that inflicts permanent or long-term pain upon an individual or causes the loss of function or use of an organ or limb. 42 U.S. Code § 3796b states that such an injury prevents an individual from being able to perform gainful work in the long term. Some of the most common catastrophic injuries are as follows:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Brain injuries that cause permanent mood imbalance, physical disability, or cognitive impairment
- Chronic lung damage (this may be a result of exposure to asbestos or another material)
- Severe burns that cause disfigurement
- Loss of the use or function of a limb, or amputation
- Injuries that cause deafness
- Injuries that cause blindness
- Spinal cord injuries
What Are Some of the Common Causes of Catastrophic Injuries?
A devastating injury that changes your life forever can happen in what seems like a split second. Sacramento catastrophic injury lawyers handle cases that are caused by various types of events, including extreme sports, acts of violence, and fires, among other occurrences. Many of the everyday activities that lead to catastrophic injuries include the following:
- Construction accidents
- Workplace accidents
- Boating accidents
- ATV accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Truck accidents
- Bus accidents
- Auto collisions
Sadly, individuals who have suffered catastrophic injuries typically face extensive medical procedures and often spend vast periods of time in rehabilitation facilities or under the care of a doctor.
Such injuries can devastate an individual and affect their life in many ways. It is important to note, however, that if you have suffered a catastrophic injury, you may be able to seek compensation for your damages. Personal injury lawyers specialize in helping those who suffer these terrible injuries get the settlements they deserve for their pain and suffering.
How Do Catastrophic Injury Accidents Impact the Individual?
When tragedy strikes, whether it is in an auto accident or some other unfortunate means, catastrophic injuries have a lasting effect on the individual involved, as well as their entire family. Many times, there are multiple surgeries necessary for the individual to recover, and the follow-up medical visits can sometimes continue for the rest of a person’s life. On top of the physical pain that the person endures, they often suffer a great deal of anxiety and stress as a result of the medical bills that pile up as they try to heal.
The constant medical treatment is a tough road to navigate, as it takes time to complete and places a financial strain on the individual and their household. When the individual who suffers the injury is a parent or the head of the house, their pain and suffering can be multiplied by their responsibilities to their family.
When someone experiences a catastrophic injury, they nearly always face loss of enjoyment in their life and emotional trauma that is difficult to place a price on. Many times, the stress of the situation places such a strain on the family dynamic that relationships become difficult to maintain, and marriages fall apart. The difficulties that arise due to this level of stress can be one of the biggest factors in personal injury claims, and the individual needs the help of a competent Sacramento catastrophic injury lawyer to properly evaluate the situation and place a monetary value on these damages.
If you have been injured and have lost your mobility, you may need to have structural changes made to your home, or you may even need to move in order to have the necessary wheelchair access or other accommodations. Every catastrophic injury case has its own unique details, and each scenario involves very specific damages for the injured person and their family members.
The important thing to recognize as you face these difficult times is that your family should not have to suffer financially for your injuries. You deserve compensation if your injury was the result of another party’s negligence, and the settlement you are awarded should adequately cover your expenses. A skilled personal injury lawyer can help you to get the financial compensation you are entitled to.
What If Catastrophic Injuries Result in Death?
Many types of accidental injuries can result in an individual’s death. When a person dies due to another party’s misconduct or negligence, it is considered to be a wrongful death. Some of the common causes of wrongful death that families experience in California include fire, unsafe premises, defective products, motor vehicle accidents, and medical malpractice, among others.
It is crucial to have an experienced Sacramento personal injury lawyer representing you if you have lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence. A respected legal professional will be able to build a case based on the specifics of the accident that results in a suitable settlement, either out of court or by means of litigation.
The compassionate attorneys at The Ward Firm understand the pain that individuals face when they have lost a loved one and offer the utmost in compassionate representation that yields results. It is unfortunate that you have already had to grieve for a loved one who was taken too soon, and we offer a gentle approach to your emotions that achieves results without garnering even more unnecessary pain.
Who Can Be Held Liable for Catastrophic Injuries?
In the state of California, more than one party may be held liable for a catastrophic injury. The first party that holds liability is the negligent party, but there may also be an insurer, a parent company, or an employer that is also responsible for compensating the victim of a catastrophic injury for their damages.
A common example of this would be an individual who is at work and experiences a slip-and-fall accident. The employer is likely to be liable in this scenario. However, if they don’t own the premises, the owner of the property may also be responsible because they did not keep the property in good condition. It is also possible that a piece of equipment or tool that the individual had to use at work was defective, which could be the responsibility of its manufacturer.
To best determine all parties who are legally responsible for catastrophic injuries, it is wise to seek the counsel of a Sacramento catastrophic injury lawyer. Some of the liable parties that individuals often fail to consider may include the following:
- Partners, parent companies, and other legal entities
- The parent of a negligent individual who is under the age of 18
- A pet owner (in circumstances in which the catastrophic injury involves a bite from a dog or another animal)
- The manager or owner of a property on which an individual was injured
- The seller, distributor, or manufacturer of a defective product that caused an injury
- The employer of a negligent individual
What Are Some Examples of Parties Who Are Partially at Fault?
There are circumstances in which an individual may be partially responsible for their injury or accident under California’s “comparative fault” law. This is sometimes referred to as “shared fault” or “comparative negligence.”
California’s comparative negligence doctrine states that a plaintiff may be up to 50% at fault for their injury but still be entitled to recover a percentage of the damages that a defendant is responsible for. In this scenario, a jury will determine the percentage of fault unless the percentage is negotiated out of court for a suitable settlement. An example of this situation is as follows:
Mark is driving a bit hastily because he is running late. He crosses an intersection just after his traffic light turns red and is hit by John, who speeds through the intersection from the other direction. When Mark’s car is hit, he careens off the road and hits a pole. The impact of the collision causes Mark to suffer a severe brain injury. The other driver, John, walks away unscathed.
In court, a jury may decide that Mark’s damages total $100,000, but due to his own erratic driving, he was 70% responsible for the accident. That means John is left with 30% of the responsibility, and Mark may recover $30,000 from John or the company that carries his auto insurance.
Since the allocation of fault is at the jury’s discretion in these situations, however, the scenario may be reversed, and they may determine that John was 70% responsible. In this case, Mark would be entitled to $70,000. For this reason, it is vital to have a knowledgeable Sacramento personal injury lawyer on your side when pursuing catastrophic injury claims.
Is There a Statute of Limitations on Personal Injury Claims in California?
The statute of limitations on personal injury claims in California may vary, which is another reason it is crucial to seek the counsel of a skilled attorney when seeking compensation for a catastrophic injury in California. The statute of limitations on such claims is typically two years. However, there are both longer and shorter limitations, depending upon the cause of the injuries and other specifics of the case.
For example, in a scenario in which the injury occurred some time ago and wasn’t discovered until later, the plaintiff may have the option to sue for damages many years after the negligence occurred. This is common in cases of asbestos exposure and some traumatic brain injury cases.
Most malpractice claims in California, however, must be filed within a year from the time that the individual discovered or reasonably should have discovered their injury. Due to these subtle differences and legal technicalities, most plaintiffs fare better by hiring personal injury lawyers to handle their cases.
Factors to Consider When You Search for a “Personal Injury Lawyer Near Me”
- Does the lawyer have time for you? When you select a Sacramento personal injury attorney to represent you in a catastrophic injury case, you want to be sure that they are going to give you personalized attention. Many firms use their name recognition to attract clients but hand off a majority of cases to junior lawyers who work for them. You want a lawyer that can get the results of a large firm, with the personal attention you would receive at a small firm.
- How much experience does the lawyer have with personal injury cases? When you are seeking compensation for injuries that have affected your entire way of life, you want to be sure you are working with an attorney who has the experience to back up their words. An attorney who specializes in personal injury claims can effectively achieve the results you are looking for.
- Has the attorney been recognized by their peers through evaluations and other recognition? Look into peer evaluations of the attorney you are considering hiring before making a decision. When the lawyers at the firm have received consistent recognition from colleagues in their field, you can be sure they have the skills to handle your case. Attorneys who are referred by other legal professionals are often a wise choice, as it typically indicates that they have worked together with others in their field to get results for their clients.
- Does the law firm receive positive reviews? Word of mouth and client testimonials are some of the best methods to evaluate the likelihood of choosing an attorney you will be satisfied with. Former clients often offer details in their reviews that attest to the qualifications and level of personal attention they received from personal injury attorneys.
- Does the lawyer only represent plaintiffs? This is a very important factor to consider, as you don’t want an attorney who plays both sides of the field. When you choose a lawyer who focuses on personal injury claims and doesn’t defend insurance companies, you can feel confident that they have your best interests at heart. It is easy to just look at the large settlements some lawyers brag about earning for their clients without considering the full amount that could potentially have been gained. An attorney, for example, may advertise half-million-dollar settlements, but when you look at the fact that the case may have been worth a great deal more through the available insurance coverage, that huge figure may pale in comparison. Sacramento personal injury lawyers who work for both sides are sometimes guilty of this practice.
9 Crucial Questions to Ask Your Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer
- What Do I Need to Provide You With?
Although your attorney will handle all of the legal nuances of your personal injury claim, you will also play a vital role in building a strong case. Part of this involves providing everything they need from you. Some of the items your lawyer may need you to provide include the following:
- Documentation of the money you have paid towards medical bills
- Documentation of lost wages due to your injury
- Proof of doctor appointments and requirements for future treatment
- Police reports
- Medical records
- Pertinent documents you have filed with your city and state
- How Long Will the Process Take?
You must first understand that your attorney will not be able to tell you exactly how long your claim will take to be resolved. Knowledgeable lawyers, however, will be able to give you some idea of a typical time frame based on the details of your case. Asking this question can also give you an idea of your attorney’s level of experience with cases like yours. Always remember, though, that your timeline is always subject to change for any number of reasons.
- Who Will Be Handling My Case?
When you speak with a law firm for your initial consultation, the individual you meet with may not be the person who handles your case and brings it to court. This may indicate that the firm is large enough to have a full team working on your case. It is wise to ask this question, however, as you will need to know who your contact person is and what role they play at the law firm.
- What Is Your Experience Level With Personal Injury Law?
The number of years an attorney has been practicing is not always an accurate indicator of their experience in catastrophic injury cases. Always ask for your lawyer’s background information or bio to get a feel for their area of concentration, cases they have done well with, and their education.
- Is My Case Going to Go to Trial?
While your lawyer should always be ready to take a case to trial, it may be beneficial in some circumstances to settle out of court. A skilled catastrophic injury attorney should be able to give you a general idea of whether your case will likely be going to trial and how long that process may take.
- Are There Any Advance Costs I Must Pay If We Don’t Win?
Although lawyers for personal injury cases typically advertise that they only get paid if you win, some require you to pay costs like expert witness fees, medical record retrieval costs, and filing fees if you lose. You will also want to ask what their contingency fee is. This is the percentage of your settlement that they take if they win your case for you. Be sure that you completely understand what your financial obligations are before you choose your attorney.
- What Is Your Objective Opinion of My Case?
Since every accident and every case is unique, the details that make up your situation should give your lawyer a fairly clear idea of your chances of winning. Although you may not see how you could possibly lose, your attorney should have insight into the specifics of the law regarding your case that may make it more difficult to win. If your lawyer is truly unbiased, they will give you their best assessment on whether your case is worth pursuing and how much it may be worth.
- Have You Handled Any Cases Similar to Mine Before?
This is an important question because even attorneys who handle personal injury cases may not have any experience with cases similar to your unique claim. If the lawyer handles cases like yours frequently and has a strong success rate, they are more likely to be a good choice than a lawyer with a different area of expertise.
- Are You Able to Take on My Case?
A good personal injury lawyer will not take a case if they know they don’t have time to give it the proper attention. They also know their limits and do not take on more than they can handle at one time. Larger firms are more likely to have the necessary staff to handle more cases, but even they must set limits.
Our Experienced Personal Injury Lawyers Can Protect Your Rights
At The Ward Firm, we provide aggressive, knowledgeable personal injury representation. An insurance company may offer you compensation after your accident in a quick attempt to mitigate their damages. But we have the experience necessary to evaluate the true value of your claim, ensuring that you are fully compensated for your injuries. Our founding attorney, Justin L. Ward, is a skilled Sacramento litigator who works hard for his clients. Let him fight for your family as well. Call us at 916-496-3899 or send us an email using our contact form to schedule a consultation.