Some San Antonio accidents lead to accidents so severe that they affect you for the rest of your life. These catastrophic injuries cause long-term or permanent disabilities, and often include traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries.
After sustaining catastrophic injuries because of the negligence of another person or business in San Antonio, you could recover compensatory damages in the form of economic and non-economic damages.
If you sustained catastrophic injuries in an accident, a San Antonio catastrophic injury attorney could help you recover the compensation you deserve. Contact Sibley Dolman Gipe, P.A. in San Antonio for a free case evaluation.
The Definition of a Catastrophic Injury
While there is no legal definition of a catastrophic injury, lawyers use this term to define injuries that affect you for the rest of your life. A catastrophic injury creates a high risk of death from the injuries, a permanent disability or disfigurement, and loss of use or the impairment of body parts and/or organs.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Some injuries are more serious than you would think. A mild concussion—something some people shrug off—is considered a traumatic brain injury. Depending on your health and other factors, even one mild concussion could lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) later in life.
However, doctors usually find this disease in those who suffered at least two mild concussions. Doctors can only guess that you have CTE during your lifetime. The only way to diagnose it is during an autopsy. CTE affects you throughout your life. It has symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s disease.
CTE is just one of the diseases and permanent disabilities that you could suffer after sustaining a traumatic brain injury. Penetrating brain injuries, caused by something that penetrates the skull, such as a bullet, knife, or even a piece of your skull after a crushing blow, injures the brain.
Spinal Cord Injuries
The other type of injury that is likely to be catastrophic is a spinal cord injury. You could injure or damage your back or neck, causing a spinal cord injury. The vertebrae and discs in your back protect the spinal cord—the part of your body that carries nerve signals to and from the brain.
Neck and back injuries could affect the spinal cord and cause temporary or permanent loss of feeling or paralysis from the location of the injury down.
While broken bones do not usually cause catastrophic injuries, crushed bones could result in disfigurement or amputation, thus becoming a catastrophic injury.
Recovering Damages After a San Antonio Catastrophic Injury
After sustaining catastrophic injuries in an accident, you should always contact an accident attorney with experience settling and litigating cases like yours. Cases involving catastrophic injuries are different in that you are not just fighting for your current medical expenses, but you are fighting for fair compensation to cover future medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.
Texas law allows you to recover compensatory damages and punitive damages. Compensatory damages include economic damages and non-economic damages.
Sometimes referred to as special damages, economic damages have a monetary value. The court orders the defendant to pay economic damages in an attempt to make you whole again.
- Past medical expenses for those you incurred in the accident and before a settlement or a trial award.
- Future medical expenses for those you will incur after a settlement or a trial award.
- Past lost wages for the time you can’t work from the date of the accident until you settle or win a trial award.
- Future lost wages for the time your injuries and/or disabilities will prevent you from working after a settlement or a trial award. Future lost wages also include partial lost wages if you can work but not at the salary or hourly rate you received before the wreck.
- Replacement of damaged personal property.
If a catastrophic injury resulted in a loved one’s death, you could also recover funeral, burial, and/or cremation expenses.
Sometimes referred to as general damages, non-economic damages do not have a specific monetary value attached. The court also orders the defendant to pay non-economic damages in an attempt to make you whole again.
Although the money does not cure injuries and disabilities, nor does it bring a loved one back, it does help to reduce the financial stress of losing income because of your injuries and/or disabilities caused by accident injuries. Non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering, including emotional distress. You could also recover emotional distress if you lost a loved one because of catastrophic injuries.
- Loss of use of a body part or a bodily function such as a hand or your eyesight.
- Amputation, disfigurement, and/or excessive scarring.
- Loss of quality of life if you have to take medications, use ambulatory aids or make other life-altering changes because of accident injuries.
- Loss of companionship if you can no longer enjoy or take part in activities and events with your family.
- Loss of consortium if you can no longer have a physical relationship with your spouse.
- Inconvenience if you have to hire someone to do the chores you normally do, including lawn maintenance, grocery shopping, home maintenance and repair, and house cleaning.
While punitive damages are difficult to recover, the hassle is sometimes worth it. The court orders the defendant to pay punitive damages as a punishment for his or her actions or inactions. However, you must prove that the defendant’s actions or inactions that caused your catastrophic injuries were grossly negligent or intentional.
How San Antonio Catastrophic Injury Attorneys Help Your Case
Insurance companies do not care about you or your injuries. They only care about their profit margins—and paying out even a small claim cuts into their profits. San Antonio catastrophic injury lawyers know the tricks that insurance companies use to assign blame for the accident on the victim in an attempt to deny your claim—or at least, justify offering you a pittance.
Our attorneys help by investigating the accident, obtaining evidence, questioning witnesses, helping you address your medical expenses, hiring expert witnesses, communicating with the insurance company on your behalf—including settlement negotiations, filing a lawsuit on your behalf, and representing your interests at trial if the insurance company refuses to settle.
Finding an Experienced San Antonio Catastrophic Injury Attorney
When you need an attorney for severe injuries, the first thing you should look for in a lawyer is whether the firm has experience settling and litigating catastrophic injuries. Because these injuries will most likely affect you for the rest of your life, you definitely do not want to leave money on the table.
Most attorneys have a website—look through the website and blogs to find out if the firm handles catastrophic injuries.
If the attorney does, then you should look for additional information before adding the attorney to your shortlist of three or four to choose from.
- Check the firm’s reviews on the firm’s page, Google, and attorney review sites.
- Most attorneys post a results page. See what kind of results they obtain in cases like yours.
- Check to see how the attorney communicates. Most have avenues of communication other than the phone, including email.
- You can also tell if the attorney is knowledgeable about the type of accident you had by looking for articles about practice areas on the firm’s web pages and blogs.
Once you have a shortlist of three or four attorneys, it’s time to schedule a free case evaluation. Not only will the attorney evaluate your case, but this allows you to evaluate the attorney and his or her firm.
You should choose an attorney that you feel comfortable with. If you have a personality clash with the attorney representing you, it could affect the outcome of your case. If you have your choices narrowed down to two attorneys, you can always request a second case evaluation or give the firm a call to discuss your concerns.
Sibley Dolman Gipe’s Results
While some clients prefer to keep the details of their cases private, others give our firm permission to post non-identifying information.
While these are only past results and no guarantee of future outcomes, some of our case results include:
- $3.2 million in a truck accident that caused a brain injury. This case was resolved in pre-trial mediation.
- $1.4 million in a motorcycle wreck that caused multiple serious injuries. This case was settled in pre-trial mediation.
- $1.75 million for a truck accident that caused shoulder and traumatic brain injuries. In this case, the client had a partially torn rotator cuff and a mild traumatic brain injury. The client had another law firm before retaining us. The highest offer that firm obtained was $265,000. We investigated the accident and found that the truck was not maintained properly. We obtained a fairer amount for our client.
- $1.58 million in an auto accident that caused two herniated discs that impinged on the spinal cord. The insurance company offered $62,000 and stated that our client’s injuries were preexisting. We proved that the injuries were not preexisting as she had not had surgery for a prior injury for 14 months before this wreck. We argued that if the accident did not cause the injury, she would have had the surgery long before. Using a life care planner, we estimated that future medical expenses would be about $435,000. Our client would also lose income because lifting restrictions prevented her from returning to her job—to the tune of $350,000.
- $1 million for a shoulder injury sustained in a car accident. This case was resolved after 14 months of litigation during mediation.
- $1 million for a wrongful death in a fatal rideshare wreck.
- $939,000 for shoulder, neck, and lower back pain sustained in a rideshare accident. While our client was released the same day, injuries from the wreck, including severe headaches, manifested later. We helped our client recover damages, even though his injuries showed up later. Additionally, the drunk driver that hit the rideshare vehicle had a mere $100,000 in insurance. The rideshare company carried $1 million in underinsured motorist insurance.
We have several more case results on our website. If you do not see a case that is like yours, feel free to ask us about more results during your free case evaluation.
Why Choose Sibley Dolman Gipe
One of the main factors you need to look at before choosing a catastrophic injury attorney, especially if a commercial entity caused your injuries, is whether the firm has the resources to take on these corporate giants. Our attorneys have successfully litigated claims against many corporate defendants, including Winn Dixie, Walt Disney World, Walmart, Marriott, Target, and Hyatt.
We went up against large insurance firms, including Progressive, Geico, Allstate, State Farm, and more. We have had other firms refer difficult cases to us because we have the resources to go after the big guys.
But I Can’t Afford High-Dollar Lawyers…
Your initial case evaluation is free, and you don’t pay us an attorney fee unless we secure compensation for you. You already have enough to worry about with recovering the best you can from catastrophic injuries or mourning the loss of a loved one. We would rather see you concentrate on recovering than worrying about paying us to obtain the compensation you deserve.
Contact Sibley Dolman Gipe, PA
Choosing an attorney that has extensive experience in representing those who suffered catastrophic injuries in San Antonio is vital to recovering the compensation you deserve. As you can see in our case results, some clients retained others who could not get them the compensation they deserved.
When they retained our firm, we further investigated their case and worked harder to obtain a fair and reasonable settlement or trial award. If you suffered catastrophic injuries or a loved one passed because of catastrophic injuries in a San Antonio accident, contact Sibley Dolman Gipe, PA for a free case evaluation.
San Antonio Catastrophic Injury Lawyer FAQs
During the many years we have practiced law, including catastrophic injury law, we have come across several questions that our clients frequently ask. We hope to answer many of those questions here.
If you do not see your question answered here, feel free to contact Sibley Dolman Gipe, PA, at our San Antonio office to schedule a free case evaluation.
Hiring a San Antonio Catastrophic Injury Lawyer
Does a San Antonio Catastrophic Injury lawyer have to have experience in catastrophic injuries?
No. In fact, many do not. However, it is in your best interest to retain an attorney with experience handling catastrophic injury cases. These cases are different from other cases in that your injuries will most likely cause long-term or permanent disabilities.
A firm with catastrophic injury experience knows that these injuries require lifelong care. They also have experience with estimating long-term medical expenses and lost wages. You are less likely to leave money on the table if you have an experienced catastrophic injury attorney handling your case.
How do I know if an attorney settled or litigated catastrophic injury cases?
Many firms, including our San Antonio catastrophic injury law firm, post case results on their web pages. If you do not see results on an attorney’s page, you can ask about case results during your case evaluation.
You can separate the type of case by looking at the types of injuries. Catastrophic injuries include traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and the types of injuries that could cause excessive scarring, disfigurement, or even amputation.
Why should I retain a San Antonio catastrophic injury lawyer?
People often try to represent themselves instead of retaining an attorney. However, they almost always leave money on the table—and in many cases, the money they leave on the table is more than what you would pay an attorney out of your settlement.
Catastrophic injuries affect you for the rest of your life. Depending on your injuries and the disabilities they cause, your medical expenses and lost wages could add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. You should not allow someone’s negligence to deprive you of that money.
The catastrophic injury attorneys at Sibley Dolman Gipe, PA, are here to ensure that you get the compensation that you deserve—and that it is enough to cover your medical expenses for issues related to the accident.
How many lawyers will work on my case?
This depends on your case circumstances. In cases that require more than one attorney because of the workload, you have a lead attorney and could have one or more additional attorneys to help with the workload, including reviewing evidence, obtaining discovery, participating in settlement negotiations, and getting ready for litigation.
Always make sure you are comfortable with each attorney working on your case. If you have a personality conflict with one of the attorneys, always let the lead attorney know.
I’ve always heard the bigger the firm, the better. You are smaller than some of those firms. Why should I retain your firm?
Having a bigger firm is not always better. Firms like ours have the resources to fight the corporate giants, while still offering the personalized attention of a boutique law firm. Having resources is the main reason the big firms use to say that it is better to hire them. We have the resources and experience to go up against big companies and their big law firms to get you the compensation you deserve.
Settlements and Lawsuits
Do I have to settle?
Absolutely not. If the insurance company does not offer you a fair and reasonable settlement, you can opt to move to litigation. You can go back and forth with the insurance company as many times as you want. Sometimes, you will know with the first offer if it will be a waste of time to continue settlement negotiations. Other times, you might go back and forth a couple of times before you decide to move to litigation.
What if the insurance company refuses a fair and reasonable settlement?
You can opt to accept the unfair settlement, or, you can move to litigation. In some cases, once the insurance company realizes that you mean business and will not accept an unfair settlement, it will settle for a more reasonable amount at some point between the time you file your case and the trial date.
How long do I have to file a San Antonio catastrophic injury lawsuit?
You have two years to file a lawsuit for catastrophic injuries in Texas. However, never wait that long to contact a catastrophic injury attorney.
First, you are more likely to remember pertinent accident facts closer to the accident. Secondly, that time goes by quickly when you are investigating a case and trying to settle it.
In cases where the catastrophic injuries caused the death of a loved one, you might have to wait on the probate court to appoint a personal representative, which also takes time.
What if the defendant does not have enough insurance or does not have any insurance at all?
In some cases, you could recover damages from third parties. This is most common when a commercial driver caused an accident, but could also happen if a private driver caused the wreck.
You could potentially recover damages from:
- The company that the driver worked for.
- A dispatcher.
- Truck and/or vehicle inspectors.
- Vehicle manufacturers.
- After-market part manufacturers and dealers.
- Auto technicians and vehicle maintenance workers.
- Another driver who caused the person that hit you to wreck.
- The owner/operator of a trucking company or independent trucker who leases his truck.
- A municipality if road conditions caused the accident.
- A rideshare company.
- A taxi company.
What happens if a loved one dies of catastrophic injuries in the middle of the lawsuit?
Your loved one’s estate can continue the lawsuit. If your loved one died from his or her catastrophic injuries before you start your lawsuit, certain relatives or the decedent’s estate can file a wrongful death lawsuit and still collect medical expenses for those that your loved one incurred before his or her death.
What injuries are considered catastrophic?
Most catastrophic injuries cause long-term or permanent disabilities. These usually include traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord and back injuries, and those injuries that cause disfigurement, excessive scarring, and/or amputation.
In some cases, you might suffer from a mild traumatic brain injury, but that seemingly mild injury could cause you issues for the rest of your life. If you are unsure as to whether your injuries classify as catastrophic, you can contact our office for a case evaluation. We will review your medical records and get started on getting you the compensation you deserve.
What are the long-term effects of San Antonio catastrophic injuries?
Catastrophic injuries almost always lead to long-term or permanent disabilities. You might have to take medication or use ambulatory aids for the rest of your life. You could require therapy, including physical, occupational, or cognitive and other psychological therapies.
If your injuries affect your ability to move, you could require modifications made to your home and/or vehicle, or you could require part-time or full-time care. That care could be someone who has to quit work to stay home and take care of you, or it could be part-time or full-time professional care.
What kind of medical treatments might I have to endure?
In addition to one or more surgeries and follow-up appointments, you could require:
- Medical appointments to monitor your condition.
- Medical appointments to continue treating your condition.
- Physical therapy.
- Occupational therapy.
- Cognitive and other psychological therapies.
Accidents that cause catastrophic injuries are often traumatic and could cause anxiety, depression, and/or post-traumatic stress disorder. The amount of therapy you might need depends on your injuries and how you perceived the accident.
It is often difficult to tell how long someone might need physical or occupational therapies and more difficult to determine how long anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder last.
As for the psychological issues, some people might recover in a year or less, and others might never recover. It depends on how they perceived the accident. For example, in an accident that caused minor injuries to the adults, a parent’s first thought was his or her child dying. He or she might overcome the anxiety of putting the child into a vehicle rather quickly, or it could take years.
The same applies to catastrophic injuries. You might suffer anxiety every time you have to drive for a few years, or that anxiety might stick with you for many years.
Additionally, some people suffer from depression because they cannot see themselves recovering, especially if the accident took away the ability to walk or use a part of their body. They not only worry about becoming a burden on their loved ones, but they also worry about not bringing money in to support their families.
How much is my San Antonio catastrophic injury case worth?
The value of your catastrophic injury case depends on the severity of your injuries and whether they cause long-term or permanent disabilities. While most catastrophic injuries cause long-term or permanent disabilities, in some cases, you might suffer short-term injuries. However, some short-term injuries, such as mild concussions, could cause issues later in life.
Doctors have learned that one or more concussions—even mild concussions—could cause chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) years down the road. The symptoms of CTE are similar to Alzheimer’s symptoms, but doctors cannot definitively diagnose you until after your death.
It also depends on whether the defendant’s actions or inactions were grossly negligent or intentional. You could recover compensatory damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering for your injuries. However, if the court agrees that the defendant’s actions warrant it, the court could order the defendant to pay punitive damages as a punishment for his or her actions or inactions.
Who pays my medical expenses until I get a settlement or win a trial award?
If you have personal injury protection on your vehicle insurance policy, you can start with that policy.
Your health insurance will also cover your medical expenses. As with your vehicle insurance, you might have to pay the insurance company back once you receive your settlement or trial award.
An attorney can make sure you receive healthcare while you pursue a settlement or judgment.
I cannot come to you because I am still in the hospital. How do I schedule a free case evaluation?
You, your spouse, or an adult child can call our office to set up a free case evaluation. We can come to you if you are still in the hospital, we can set up a videoconference, or we can even do a free case evaluation over the phone.
Contact a San Antonio Catastrophic Injury Attorney at Sibley Dolman Gipe, PA
After an accident, the last thing you want to do is worry about making sure an insurance company does not violate your rights. You’d rather concentrate on recovering as best you can, including working with therapists. We have the resources to resolve your case, so that you can concentrate on your recovery.