Catastrophic Injuries in Bradenton
Every injury is personal. No matter how an injury happens, every broken bone, burn, or spinal cord injury leaves its own unique mark on a victim. How one person deals with an injury can be substantially different from how someone else responds to that same injury. But catastrophic injuries are not typical injuries. These injuries are catastrophic because of the severe effect they have on a person’s life. They can take away a person’s ability to move, walk, or carry on a conversation. They are, by definition, life-changing. If you or a loved one has suffered a catastrophic injury as the result of someone else’s negligence, you may be eligible for financial compensation.
To learn more about your legal rights, contact the Bradenton Catastrophic Injury Lawyers at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers or Sibley Dolman Accident Injury Lawyers to schedule a free consultation.
What Is a Catastrophic Injury?
There is no universal definition of catastrophic injury. The Oxford dictionary defines the word catastrophic as something “involving or causing sudden great damage or suffering.” These injuries are usually permanent and have a severe impact on the victim’s quality of life, usually resulting in substantial loss of function in some form. Several injuries may fall under this classification, including:
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) happen every day. According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, approximately 1.7 million new TBIs take place every year. A TBI is the result of a hard blow to the head or a penetrating wound. While the term covers any brain injury caused by an external force, beyond that, there is extreme variance in how TBIs occur and how they present. Each case is different. No two people will respond to a TBI the same way.
Doctors generally classify TBIs as minor, moderate, or severe—but this only refers to the initial presentation of the injury. Symptoms can get better or worse as time goes on regardless of how doctors classify an injury. While some TBIs may only present minor symptoms, catastrophic brain injuries cause serious, long-term symptoms.
These may include:
- Personality changes;
- Loss of speech;
- Memory loss; and
- Severe loss of function.
Spinal Cord Injuries
In almost all cases, a spinal cord injury is a catastrophic injury. Like TBIs, spinal cord injuries are the result of a significant blow or penetrating wound. These injuries often lead to permanent paralysis. There are two main types of spinal cord injuries: an incomplete injury and a complete injury. With an incomplete injury, the victim may retain some function on one side of their body. For complete spinal cord injuries, the victim experiences a complete loss of sensation and movement from the point of injury, down. According to the Mayo Clinic, motor vehicle accidents and falls are the leading causes of spinal cord injuries.
Disfigurement is an extreme change in the appearance of a body part due to an accident, injury, or illness. In addition to a change in physical appearance, the disfigurement often causes a loss of function. For example, a facial disfigurement may cause difficulties breathing, seeing, or talking. Similarly, a hand disfigurement may interfere with a person’s ability to feel or grasp an object. In addition to appearance and function, researchers have found that disfigurement can cause severe psychological distress.
Loss of Sight
As humans, we rely on our vision for a lot of things. Sight can give us clues about what someone is feeling, help navigate us from place to place and can help keep us safe. Loss of vision is a tremendous loss.
Vision loss can happen as the result of an eye injury, chemical exposure, or traumatic brain injury. In many cases the loss of vision is permanent. A person who suffers a loss of vision will likely require outside help and assistive devices to adjust to their new normal.
Loss of Hearing
Like vision, humans rely on hearing for everyday tasks. A traumatic injury can leave a person with full or partial hearing loss.
Common causes of hearing loss include:
- Traumatic brain injury;
- Loud noises;
- A sudden change in air pressure; and
Loss of Limb
The loss of a limb can be a traumatic experience that not only affects a person’s physical function but can have a psychological effect, as well. According to the Mayo Clinic, most people who have lost a limb report that there are times when it feels like the limb is still there. The brain can have a hard time processing that the limb is indeed gone. In many cases, people who are missing a limb will still report feeling pain where the limb once was.
A person who has lost a limb may need help from assistive devices. This may include:
- Braces; and/or
Burns can happen as the result of contact with a hot surface, chemical exposure, or extreme heat. There are three classifications of burns: first-degree burns, second-degree burns, and third-degree burns. Third-degree burns are the most severe and typically involve all layers of skin, as well as underlying tissue, including bone or muscle. This type of burn can lead to loss of sensation, loss of movement, and severe disfigurement. In addition, burn victims are at risk of infection and psychological issues.
Common Causes of Catastrophic Injuries
Catastrophic injuries can happen anywhere. They can happen when you least expect them and can completely change the course of your life. If you have suffered a catastrophic injury, a personal injury attorney can help. Common causes of catastrophic injuries include:
Motor Vehicle Accidents
Florida reported 403,626 motor vehicle accidents in just one year—about 6,000 in the Bradenton area alone, about 4,000 of which produced injuries. Of these, nearly 38 percent involved some sort of injury. According to the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Department, 19,196 incapacitating injuries took place that year.
car accidents are the leading cause or one of the leading causes of several types of catastrophic injuries, including:
- Traumatic brain injuries;
- Spinal cord injuries; and
- Broken bones.
If you or a loved one has already faced catastrophic injuries behind the wheel speak to a Bradenton car accident lawyer to discuss your recovery options.
Employers have a duty to protect their employees from injury. Unfortunately, statistics show far too many accidents continue to happen at the workplace.
Some statistics of note include the occurrence of the following workplace injuries in just one year:
- 5,920 amputations;
- 77,660 head injuries;
- 1,480 fires or explosions; and
- 2.8 million non-fatal injuries.
Medical mistakes happen more often than you think. According to recent reports, between 250,000 and 440,000 people die every year because of medical mistakes. Thousands more live with the consequences of mistakes, missed diagnoses, or flat out negligence. These mistakes can lead to loss of function, loss of brain activity, or severe infection. When a doctor or care facility makes a mistake, they need to be held accountable. A medical malpractice suit can help you recover damages related to your injuries.
In Florida, 9,356 pedestrian accidents took place in just one year, about 120 in the Bradenton area. Pedestrians are at high risk during a motor vehicle accident. The force of even a minor collision can cause substantial, long-term or permanent damage.
Common injuries after a pedestrian accident include:
- Traumatic brain injuries;
- Spinal cord injuries;
- Severe abrasions and lacerations;
- Disfigurement; and
- Broken bones.
Premises Liability Accidents
Property owners have a legal obligation to make sure their property or business is safe for visitors. This includes invited guests, lessees, and even trespassers. When a person is injured on someone else’s property, the property owner typically holds financial responsibility. Premises liability accidents cover accidents that happen on someone else’s property.
- Slip and fall accidents: Slip and fall accidents are common. Falls are the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries and one of the leading causes of spinal cord injuries. Property owners are responsible for making sure surfaces are dry and free of any obstacles that could cause a slip and fall accident.
- Dog bites: According to the ASPCA, over 4.5 million people suffer from dog bites every year. Of these, 800,000 require medical attention. At least half of these people are children. Dog bites can cause serious damage including disfigurement, scarring, infection, and PTSD.
- Swimming pool accidents: Florida has more swimming pools than practically any other state. But while swimming can be a fun way to cool off, swimming pools pose many dangers. Drownings, spinal cord injuries, and poisoning can all happen at a pool. Property owners, including homeowners, apartment complexes, CDDs, and recreational facilities all have a responsibility to follow local and state safety laws and take steps to ensure all guests are safe.
- Fire, assault, or chemical exposure: A property owner doesn’t have to know about a problem beforehand to bear liability. However, you must prove that the property owner’s negligence or actions directly caused the events leading up to your injury. For example, in the event of a fire, a property owner may be liable if they were not in compliance with state or local code. For criminal activity, if an apartment complex or business did not have proper lighting or security, they may hold some financial responsibility.
Your Rights After a Catastrophic Injury
There is no way to underscore just how devastating a catastrophic injury can be. These injuries don’t just affect the victim, they can affect the victim’s entire family. If you have suffered a catastrophic injury as the result of an accident or someone else’s negligence, you have rights. A personal injury suit can help you recover costs related to your injury.
These may include:
- Medical bills: Catastrophic injuries often come with substantial medical bills. This could mean hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars in medical costs. This is not an expense that most people can cover on their own (nor should you have to). Additionally, these types of injuries often require medical care long after the conclusion of a personal injury suit. An experienced personal injury attorney will fight to include future medical costs as part of your settlement.
- Lost wages: A catastrophic injury most certainly will cause you to miss time at work and may even make it so you cannot return to work at all. If you can eventually return to work, your case should include past lost wages. If you cannot return to work, it may include future wages.
- Pain and suffering: A catastrophic injury can completely change your life. It can cause tremendous physical and emotional pain. Pain and suffering typically includes physical pain, depression, anxiety, PTSD, and emotional distress.
- Loss of enjoyment: Everyone has something they do simply because they enjoy it. This may be a recreational activity, spending time with your kids, or even going for a walk. When an injury prevents you from doing things you love, a personal injury lawyer can help you get the compensation you deserve.
- Loss of companionship: Severe injuries can interfere with your relationships. They can interfere with your ability to communicate or express affection. The increased stress of the injury can also cause issues within a relationship. This loss of a relationship can cause significant mental distress and is not something to dismiss.
Bradenton Catastrophic Injury FAQ
Catastrophic injuries are not like any other type of injury. These injuries affect every part of your life and interfere with some of your most basic functions. Unlike typical injuries, there is no estimated recovery period or date when everything will get back to normal. For most victims, a catastrophic injury involves a new normal, a world where you have to adapt to a new way of doing things and living your life.
If this does not seem fair, it’s because it is not. Catastrophic injuries are life-changing. If you have suffered a catastrophic injury, you are likely dealing with a list of questions. Below, we discuss some of the most frequently asked questions surrounding catastrophic injuries.
What is a catastrophic injury?
The term catastrophic injury differs from case-to-case. There is no legal definition for a catastrophic injury. But, there is one common thread that these injuries share; catastrophic injuries can substantially change the victim’s way of life. Generally, these injuries involve a loss of function, loss of capacity, or the inability to return to a job or relationship as the result of the injury.
Common examples of catastrophic injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injuries: Traumatic brain injuries can range from a concussion to a total loss of function. These types of injuries often occur when the head sustains a serious blow or penetrating wound. According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, there are approximately 1.7 million new cases of traumatic brain injuries every year.
- Spinal cord injuries: Spinal cord injuries do not necessarily mean the spinal cord was severed. In many cases, permanent paralysis can result from a hard fall or hit.
- Crush injuries/disfiguration: In addition to disfiguration, these injuries can often lead to significant loss of function.
- Serious burns: Burn injuries can occur as the result of fire, chemical exposure, or contact with a hot surface. Long-term consequences of burns include pain, infection, emotional distress, and scarring.
- Loss of hearing/vision: Humans rely on their senses for everyday tasks. The loss of any sense is significant and could require substantial rehabilitative services. These injuries can occur as the result of a direct injury to the eyes or ears or a traumatic brain injury.
Catastrophic injury does not equate to any particular outcome, as every case is different and the effect of an injury can vary widely from person-to-person.
How do catastrophic injuries happen?
Unfortunately, catastrophic injuries can occur at any time. They are often unpredictable and unpreventable. That said, it is important to be aware of hazards around you and take action to protect yourself.
Common causes of catastrophic injuries include:
Motor vehicle accidents. The number of car accidents in Florida is on the rise. In a recent year, there were 403,626 crashes in the state. In Florida, there are more fatal accidents than almost any other state. Motor vehicle accidents are one of the leading causes of both spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries. In addition, they carry a high risk of broken bones, neck and back injuries, and severe burns. While not all injuries can be prevented, you can take action to protect yourself. Always buckle up and obey the law. If you see a dangerous driver, move over and allow them to pass. Do not engage with an aggressive driver or participate in road rage.
Falls. Falls can cause catastrophic injuries. They are the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries and one of the leading causes of spinal cord injuries. Children and older adults are especially at risk for falls and serious injuries.
Workplace accidents. Unfortunately, workplace accidents are far too common. While many accidents are minor strains or repetitive stress injuries, serious accidents happen all the time. These may result from involvement in a caught-between or crush incident, or from slipping and falling. Employers are responsible for helping to ensure the safety of their employees. When an injury happens on the job, the employee will need to file a workers’ compensation claim.
Medical Malpractice. Medical malpractice can take place when a healthcare professional makes a mistake or fails to take action to remedy a patient’s injury or illness. The healthcare provider may be a doctor, nurse, chiropractor, or dentist. Florida has very strict and restrictive medical malpractice laws. If you suspect that your healthcare provider has made a mistake, contact an experienced attorney right away.
Examples of medical malpractice include:
- Missed or delayed diagnosis
- Improper medication or dosage
- Object left in the body
- Misread scans or lab results
- Surgical errors
- Failure to recognize the patient’s available medical history
Premises liability accidents. Premises liability accidents are accidents that happen on someone else’s property. This may be a public business or a private residence. Premises liability laws cover a wide range of accidents, including:
- Slip and fall accidents: Slip and fall accidents happen when a person slips, trips, or falls because of a hazard or wet surface. Property owners have a responsibility to make sure their floors are clear and to repair dangerous, damaged, or uneven surfaces on the inside or exterior of their home or business.
- Dog bites: Millions of dog bites happen every year. While little nips may not cause any damage, bites from large or aggressive dogs can tear the skin and cause significant damage. In serious cases, a dog bite can cause nerve and muscle damage, broken bones, scarring, infection, and PTSD.
- Fire or chemical exposure: Not all fires or chemical accidents can be prevented. However, property owners must take steps to ensure that their property is up to date with current codes and standards. If a property owner fails to meet these regulations, they may hold financial responsibility for injuries that have taken place on their property.
- Assault: A property owner may hold liability for an assault under certain circumstances. If the property owner is aware they are located in an unsafe area or that there has been a history of crime, they must take appropriate action to help ensure the safety of all guests. This may include security lights, video surveillance, alarm systems, or security guards.
Recreational activities. In some cases, a coach or organization may hold financial responsibility for an accident if they were responsible for the care of others. This typically applies to minors. However, in most of these cases, you will have to prove negligence. For example, if a coach forced athletes to participate in unsafe practices or did not allow appropriate breaks, they may be responsible.
What are my rights after a catastrophic injury?
The law allows victims to file a claim for damages after an accident that is the result of someone else’s negligence. This claim could help you obtain financial compensation for your actual and presumed loss. To successfully prove a claim, you may need to file a lawsuit against the individual. They will act as the named party despite coverage by their auto insurance, home insurance, or workers’ compensation insurance.
In addition to the right to file a catastrophic injury claim, you also have access to your personal injury protection insurance (PIP) in the event of a motor vehicle accident. This policy covers 80 percent of medical treatment, up to $10,000. To access the maximum policy benefits, you must visit a qualified medical professional within 14 days of the accident and be diagnosed with a medical emergency condition.
Will a catastrophic injury settlement pay for my future medical costs?
The term catastrophic means that your injuries have a significant impact on your day-to-day life. These are not injuries that just go away easily. Often, victims deal with the effects of a catastrophic injury years after the initial injury or for the rest of their life. One of the biggest costs after an injury is medical care. Injuries like traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars over a person’s lifetime. An experienced catastrophic injury attorney can typically negotiate future medical costs, payable in your final personal injury settlement or judgment.
What is my case worth?
This is probably one of the most common questions accident victims ask when they visit an attorney, and fairly so. Catastrophic injuries can cause significant financial harm to the victim and their family. A catastrophic injury claim could help you recover costs related to your care and ease some of the financial burdens. While there is no way to guess exactly how much a case is worth, you can often look at some of the basic costs to get a general idea of how much your case may be worth.
Common costs include:
- Medical costs, including doctor visits, psychological counseling, medication, rehabilitation, surgeries, and hospital stays.
- Lost wages, beginning the first day you miss work and ending the day you return to work. If you cannot return to work, you may receive future lost wages. This would be a lump sum payment after considering your current age, wage, and the number of years you would have continued to work.
- Pain and suffering, for the physical and mental pain and suffering caused by your injuries. This may include depression, anxiety, PTSD, chronic pain, or recurrent pain.
- Loss of enjoyment, when you cannot participate in activities you enjoyed before your injuries.
- Loss of companionship, when a serious injury interferes with your physical or emotional relationships.
- Wrongful death, to cover the cost of a loved one’s funeral and burial as well as pain and suffering and medical costs.
- Punitive damages, in the event the court determines the defendant’s actions were so egregious that a monetary fine is necessary to deter others from committing the same action. This may include intentional assault, drunk driving, reckless driving, or road rage.
How long do I have to file a claim after an injury?
Florida has a significantly longer statute of limitations than many other states. In most cases, accident victims have four years to file a catastrophic injury claim. For medical malpractice cases, this timeline decreases to two years. While victims in Florida have longer to file a claim, this does not mean you should wait. Your attorney still needs time to build your case. Plus, the longer you wait, the more likely it is that the insurance company will question the validity of your claim.
Do I need a lawyer?
Perhaps. Though the law does not require you to have a lawyer, it is especially important to talk to an attorney after a catastrophic injury. These cases are complex, and they can also be expensive. Unfortunately, this means the insurance company may fight to pay as little as they can. An experienced attorney can evaluate your case and help you pursue the compensation you deserve.
After a catastrophic injury, the last thing you want to think about is spending more money. The good news is most catastrophic injury attorneys charge on a contingency basis. Generally, you and your attorney will come to an agreement before the beginning of your case as to how much of your settlement or award your attorney will receive as payment for their services. This is generally a percentage of the final payout as well as any necessary costs such as postage, record fees, and travel expenses. Additionally, many lawyers offer a free initial consultation to discuss your case and determine which attorney is the right fit for you.
Protect Your Rights
Catastrophic injuries can be difficult to understand and hard to process. At a time like this, it is important to surround yourself with people who will be there to support you. A qualified catastrophic injury attorney can help you make sure you get the care you need and process your catastrophic injury case. If you have questions or need help with your case, contact a catastrophic injury attorney.
You’re Not Alone: Contact Dolman Law Group and Sibley Dolman
At Dolman Law Group and Sibley Dolman, we understand how life-changing any injury is. Our job is to help our clients process their injuries and get the compensation they deserve. We don’t just handle the legal elements, we make sure our clients can connect with qualified care providers and get the financial assistance they need.
After a catastrophic Bradenton accident, you may not know what comes next. It’s even harder to adjust to a new sense of normal. If you have suffered a catastrophic injury in Bradenton, you deserve fair and just compensation. While money won’t take away your pain, it can help ensure you get the treatment and services you need.
Your rights matter. To learn more about your legal rights or for help with your Bradenton catastrophic injury case, you can easily reach Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, and Sibley Dolman Accident Injury Lawyers, LLP, at any of our offices, located along both Florida coasts—including in Bradenton. Call us at(941) 961-8841, or you can write to us using our online contact page for a free case evaluation.
6703 14th Street West Suite 207
Bradenton, FL 34207
Phone: (941) 961-8841
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