If you or a loved one has unfortunately suffered a catastrophic injury as a result of another person’s negligence, you are likely entitled to receive compensation for your damages, both physical and emotional. As such, your best bet for obtaining these damages is to work with an experienced catastrophic injury attorney.
By retaining an experienced attorney, you can ensure your claim is handled correctly by someone who understands the legal landscape while you focus on recovering from your injuries. You’ll be surprised how much easier your already difficult recovery will be if a seasoned personal injury lawyer works diligently on your behalf.
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What is a catastrophic injury?
Catastrophic injuries are typically permanent injuries that have a lifelong impact on the victim. Common types of catastrophic injuries that are present in personal injury lawsuits include the following:
- Loss of sight or hearing
- Spinal cord injuries (SCIs)
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
It’s important to understand that catastrophic injuries are not easily definable and that plenty of injuries fall within this category. Other types of catastrophic injuries can include severe damage to your nerves or organs. Catastrophic injuries typically involve permanent damage, leaving injury victims with scars or physical limitations that will continue to impact them for the rest of their lives.
How does a catastrophic injury case differ from a personal injury case?
While both catastrophic injury cases and personal injury cases fall under the same umbrella of legal claims, there are significant differences between these types of cases that are important to understand should you wish to bring a claim for your own injuries.
When to file a catastrophic injury claim
Although it is safe to say that incidents that result in catastrophic injuries may place the victim’s life in turmoil, filled with uncertainty and stress, it’s essential to prioritize filing a catastrophic injury claim as soon as you are capable of doing so. The sooner a catastrophic injury claim is filed, the better off you will be in terms of your likely success on the merits of the claim, speeding up the overall process (which may not always be much), and guaranteeing that your claim is heard within the appropriate statute of limitations.
Failing to file the claim within the statute of limitations can be detrimental to the catastrophic injury victim as it will bar them from bringing the claim altogether, thus preventing them from obtaining any of the damages they deserve. Colorado gives personal injury victims two years to file a lawsuit, so the moment you feel comfortable doing so, you must contact an experienced catastrophic injury attorney right away.
How can an injury lawyer help after a catastrophic injury?
An injury attorney can help after a catastrophic injury in more ways than you may realize. Not only will you have an experienced legal professional handling your case and ensuring you obtain maximum compensation for your injuries, but you will also be able to focus on your road to recovery, as your attorney will take all the legal stress off your plate.
Building a strong injury case
A good catastrophic injury attorney knows how to build a strong case and will put an endless amount of time and effort into making sure your legal argument is essentially impenetrable by the opposing party. A strong legal argument for most personal injury cases appears as follows:
Establish the extent of the injury
First, your attorney will establish the extent of the injury. Demonstrating that the injury is catastrophic is essential to the basis of your claim, as catastrophic injury cases are typically compensated at a much higher rate than the standard personal injury claim. Once the extent of your injury is established, your attorney will continue to build their argument on your behalf.
Showing long-term effects of the injury
Another essential element of a catastrophic injury case is demonstrating that the injury will have long-term effects. Your attorney will establish these effects through medical records, employment records, depositions, and more, as it is necessary to demonstrate the long-term impact a catastrophic injury has on the victims to obtain maximum compensation.
Demonstrating the cause of the injury
Unsurprisingly, demonstrating the cause of the injury is imperative to building a strong legal argument against the defendant. As any good attorney knows, in order to establish the cause of injury, they must be able to establish the elements of negligence that resulted in the victim’s injury. These elements of negligence include:
- There was a duty owed to the plaintiff by the defendant
- The defendant breached that duty
- The plaintiff was injured
- The plaintiff’s injuries were the result of the defendant’s breach
Once your catastrophic injury attorney establishes these four elements of negligence, you are likely to be successful in your injury claims against the defendant.
Proving the financial costs of the injury
Proving the financial costs of the injury can be difficult, so it’s essential to provide your attorney with all the relevant evidence required to determine these costs. Often referred to as economic damages, the costs of your injury can be determined through medical bills, invoices for durable medical equipment, and demonstration of lost wages and future income, just to name a few. Since the elements of everyone’s personal injury claims are different, it’s essential to discuss with your attorney what they will need in order to prove the financial costs of your injury to obtain maximum compensation for your injuries.
What damages can be recovered for a catastrophic injury?
Victims of catastrophic injuries can seek both economic and non-economic damages through a civil lawsuit.
Economic damages, also referred to as monetary damages, compensate you for any expenses incurred as a result of the accident. These damages are calculated by adding up your accident-related expenses and can include compensation for the following:
- Childcare costs
- House cleaning bills
- Lost wages
- Medical expenses
- Personal care expenses
- Property damage
- Transportation costs
On the contrary, non-economic damages, also referred to as non-monetary damages, focus on areas that are not easily determined with a price tag. Common types of non-economic damages awarded in catastrophic injury lawsuits include:
- Loss of intimacy
- Pain and suffering
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
How long do you have to file a catastrophic injury claim?
Like any other type of lawsuit in the United States, catastrophic injury suits must be filed before the statute of limitations expires. Each state has its own statute of limitations for every type of case, making it important to look into the statute of limitations for your potential claims as soon as possible to ensure you are not barred from filing your case.
As previously mentioned, Colorado gives personal injury victims two years to file. The 24-month time limit applies to most catastrophic injury victims.
Bachus & Shanker are here to help if you or a loved one has been injured
If you’re still wondering whether you need a catastrophic injury lawyer, the short answer to this is “yes,” you likely will need a catastrophic injury lawyer. Given the complexities of catastrophic injury cases, as well as the complexities that come along with handling a lawsuit, it is in your best interest to retain a catastrophic injury attorney to represent you during this stressful and often difficult time in your life.
Our experienced attorneys understand the difficulties of being involved in a catastrophic injury case, whether you’re the victim or the victim’s family. We are eager to help you obtain maximum compensation for your damages while seeking justice against any parties who may have caused your injuries. We will handle the stressful legal work while you focus on what matters most: your recovery.
If you’re looking for more personal guidance, our very own Kyle Bachus has written a book to assist families with navigating catastrophic injury claims. Check out Unthinkable to learn how to cope with this difficult experience.
Contact our catastrophic injury lawyers today to schedule a free consultation.
Bieber, C. What is a Catastrophic Injury? (2023).
Goguen, D. Personal Injury Damages and Compensation.
Majaski, C. Statute of Limitations: Definition, Types, and Example. (2024).