Richmond Catastrophic Injury Attorneys
Personal Injury Attorneys Aggressively Defending Catastrophic Injury Claims
Catastrophic injuries have life-changing consequences. A victim may be unable to pursue a chosen career, hold their children, drive a car, or enjoy other basic events of everyday life. These very real losses result in compensable losses. Unfortunately, catastrophic injuries cause so many losses that it can be difficult value all of them. These losses are also highly subjective, which can further complicate the task of valuing a catastrophic injury claim. An experienced Richmond catastrophic injury attorney can help guide injury victims through the legal process to ensure their claims are handled properly and fairly. Contact Emroch & Kilduff today to learn how our highly-skilled catastrophic injury attorneys can help you.
What is a Catastrophic Injury?
The United States Code defines a catastrophic injury as one in which the consequences of an injury permanently prevent an individual from performing any gainful work. (See 42 U.S.C. §3796b.) This definition is used by the federal government in the context of public health and welfare. While exact definitions and requirements vary between the medical, legal, and insurance industries, a catastrophic injury is defined by the severity of the loss. Catastrophic injuries often require multiple surgeries and a difficult recovery process. The victim may require a lifetime of medical treatment. Common examples of catastrophic injuries are spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, burns, or any injury which results in paralysis, loss of a limb, or a permanent disfigurement.Such injuries can occur in a wide variety of accidents. Auto accidents, workplace accidents, household accidents, sports injuries and many other types of accidents can all result in severe or permanent injuries.
These severe injuries also tend to have life-altering consequences. A catastrophic injury will generally result in paralysis, the inability to work, interference with personal relationships, the inability to partake in hobbies, and other serious impairments to a victim’s daily life. These impairments can have serious financial consequences for victims of catastrophic injuries. It may be months before a victim can return to work, if he or she is able to return to work at all. In some cases, the victim is able to return to work, but only with reduced responsibilities, or on a reduced schedule. Other victims must pursue a new position or an entirely new career which suits their new lifestyle. All of these accommodations can result in lost income.
The Problem of Calculating Legal Damages
Because the consequences of a catastrophic injury are so severe, the claims process can become complicated. In order to settle a personal injury claim, the victim and the defendant’s insurance carrier must agree upon the value of the losses that were incurred as a result of the defendant’s negligence. If they cannot agree, the victim may have to file a lawsuit in order to let a jury determine the value of his or her claim.
These losses (the victim’s “legal damages”) can be extensive. A catastrophic injury can impact every aspect of a victim’s life, and all of these effects are compensable losses. Future medical care, rehabilitation, lost future earning potential, and ongoing pain and suffering are all losses which are subject to compensation in a personal injury award. Unfortunately, many of these losses are speculative, or subjective. No one can know the exact amount income a victim will lose in the future as a result of his or her permanent injuries. Pain and suffering varies from patient to patient and can be greatly affected by many different factors. Unfortunately, because these losses tend to be speculative and subjective, insurance carriers train their claims adjusters to challenge their value and reduce the amount of compensation that is offered to a victim who suffers such losses.
How an Attorney Can Help Defend the Value of Your Claim
When a claims adjuster attempts to devalue the amount of a catastrophic injury claim, an experienced personal injury attorney can help the victim defend the value of his or her claim. There are many ways to accomplish this goal. Medical records or expert medical testimony may be required to establish the nature or extent of the victim’s injuries. An accounting or earnings expert may be hired to provide an opinion on the value of the victim’s lost wages and decreased future earning potential.
A personal injury attorney can also help catastrophic injury victims determine whether to settle their claim, file a lawsuit, or take the case to trial. The fair value of a claim is a complex combination of many different components: pain and suffering, lost wages, medical bills, and ay projected future medical expenses or decreased earning potential. These components are even more extensive and complicated when the injury will result in lifelong impairments in the victim’s life. In some cases, the parties are able to negotiate a settlement amount that both parties can agree to. In other cases, the case must be taken to trial, so that a jury may determine the fair value of the claim, or determine who was liable for the accident (and in what proportion). In still other cases, the mere act of filing a lawsuit triggers a satisfactory settlement offer from the defendant’s insurance company, and the case can be settled without the need for a trial.
Every case requires attention to detail and careful execution of a strategy that is best for the issues presented by that particular case. This is especially true for cases involving complex catastrophic injuries with lifetime consequences for the victim. It is important for injury victims to seek legal counsel that is personalized to their specific needs.
Richmond Catastrophic Injury FAQ
In the aftermath of an accident that causes a catastrophic injury, victims and their families need someone to turn to for answers to important questions concerning their legal and financial rights.
Below, we answer some commonly-asked questions about catastrophic injuries in Richmond. A skilled catastrophic injury attorney can answer questions specific to your situation.
What counts as a catastrophic injury?
In the legal world, a catastrophic injury is one that causes a permanent disability and substantially alters your life.
A wide range of injuries could qualify as catastrophic, but the most common ones include:
- Severe traumatic brain injuries that leave victims in a coma, semi-conscious state, or with a permanent cognitive, motor, or emotional impairments;
- Spinal cord injuries resulting in paralysis and loss of sensation;
- Amputation or loss of function of a limb;
- Loss of vision or hearing; and
- Severe burns that cause disfiguring scars.
Can I sue for a catastrophic injury?
It depends on where and how your injury happened, and who is to blame. Generally speaking, however, chances are you have the right to sue for damages if someone else’s careless, reckless, or intentionally-harmful actions caused your catastrophic injury.
It is not always obvious whose conduct caused your catastrophic injury. Talking to an experienced catastrophic injury lawyer is the most reliable way to find out if you have a case for damages.
What damages can I recover for a catastrophic injury?
Every catastrophic injury case has unique aspects that influence the types and amounts of damages you might have the right to receive.
However, in general, catastrophic injury victims can often seek damages to pay for:
- Medical expenses related to treating their catastrophic injury today and in the future, including costs of hospitalization, long-term care, in-home care, and medical equipment.
- Non-medical expenses a catastrophic injury forces you to incur, such as costs of modifying your home to accommodate the disabilities caused by your injury.
- Lost wages and income resulting from the impact a catastrophic injury has on your life, such as when an injury forces you to quit working.
- Pain and suffering your catastrophic injury causes in your life, including physical discomfort, emotional struggles, the strain on your personal relationships, and a diminished quality of life.
- Punitive damages, which courts sometimes award when someone else’s extreme or outrageous conduct causes your catastrophic injury.
A skilled catastrophic injury lawyer can work with you to determine the damages you may have the right to receive by taking legal action.
Can I get damages if I suffered a catastrophic injury at work?
Workers who suffer a catastrophic injury on the job typically have a right to receive workers’ compensation benefits that pay them for their medical costs and replace at least part of the income they lose because of a disability. A skilled catastrophic injury lawyer can help those victims seek maximum benefits from the workers’ compensation insurance company.
In addition, workers who suffer catastrophic injuries may also have the right to sue third parties (someone other than their employers or co-workers) for damages, if a third party’s wrongful actions led to their injuries. A catastrophic injury attorney can help victims evaluate whether they have this kind of legal claim to make.
Do I need an experienced catastrophic injury lawyer to get damages?
Yes, you do. Catastrophic injury victims and their families cannot hope to recover the full amount of compensation they need and deserve without the help of an experienced lawyer. These types of cases are simply too complex, and require too much legal knowledge and factual investigation, to leave in the hands of an inexperienced legal advisor. You should also never, ever attempt to handle a claim on your own.
The at-fault party’s insurance company offered me a settlement. Should I take it?
Not without first talking to an experienced lawyer at Emroch & Kilduff.
Liability insurance companies offer quick settlements to victims of catastrophic injuries when they know their policyholder faces legal liability. The offers they make virtually always fall well short of the amount of money victims have a legal right to receive for their injuries and losses.
Accepting a low-value settlement could put your valuable legal rights to compensation at risk. Instead, always let an experienced Richmond catastrophic injury lawyer negotiate a full and fair settlement from the liability insurance company on your behalf.
How long will it take for a catastrophic injury lawyer to get me a settlement?
It depends difficult to predict factors, such as:
- How many parties have a legal and financial stake in your case;
- Whether the at-fault parties dispute their liability or the damages you should receive;
- The complexity of your case and the difficulty, if any, of obtaining evidence; and
- Court schedules and other administrative considerations.
By and large, neither you nor your lawyer can do much to influence these factors. You can, however, consult an experienced catastrophic injury lawyer as soon as possible, which begins any claim you may pursue.
How much will a catastrophic injury lawyer cost?
Our experienced catastrophic injury lawyers will meet with you free-of-charge to discuss your injury and whether you may have a case to make for damages.
If you and the lawyer decide to work together on your case, then our firm will represent you on a contingent fee basis. That is an arrangement in which you pay no money to the lawyer up-front or as your case progresses. Instead, our fee consists entirely of a percentage of any money secured on your behalf.
In other words, the lawyer only gets paid if you get paid, which means you can afford to hire a skilled, experienced Richmond catastrophic injury lawyer no matter what your financial circumstances.
The Right Representation for Your Catastrophic Injury Claim
An experienced personal injury attorney can aggressively defend your right to be compensated for all financial losses resulting from a catastrophic injury. Emroch & Kilduff has decades of experience specializing in the rights of catastrophic injury victims in and around the Richmond area. Call (804) 358-1568 to schedule your free consultation with a personal injury attorney today. Our friendly staff, highly skilled attorneys, and personalized service will help you through this difficult time.
Emroch & Kilduff
3600 W Broad St #700
Richmond, VA 23230
Phone: (804) 358-1568