Catastrophic Injury Lawyer
If you or a loved one suffered a catastrophic injury, receiving maximum compensation is of critical importance. Catastrophic injuries can be physically, emotionally and financially disabling. These injuries often change the trajectory of a victim’s life, permanently impacting his or her ability to work. The seriousness of these injuries raises the stakes for personal injury litigation and leaves no room for error.
Though your injuries are undisputable, the insurance company or at-fault party is unlikely to offer you a fair settlement right away. Hiring an experienced catastrophic injury lawyer is crucial to receiving a settlement that covers the true cost of your medical expenses, lost wages, and other losses.
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Why Hire the Personal Injury Lawyers at Ankin Law?
While many Chicago law firms would be happy to handle your catastrophic personal injury case, few have the knowledge, experience, and resources to ensure you receive full and fair compensation for your losses. When you hire the personal injury lawyers at Ankin Law, you aren’t just getting any run-of-the-mill law firm. Our Chicago personal injury attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience handling complex injury cases, and we know how to win.
As experienced trial attorneys, we aren’t afraid to take your case to court when the insurance company resists negotiation. We work with accident reconstructionists, medical experts, and other specialists to uncover the details of your accident, identify liable parties, and help you recover maximum compensation. In fact, we have helped our clients recover hundreds of millions of dollars in Illinois.
If another party’s negligence caused you to sustain life-altering injuries, call an experienced Chicago personal injury attorney at Ankin Law for a FREE consultation today. 312-600-0000.
What Are Catastrophic Injuries?
Catastrophic injuries are injuries that have a significant impact on a victim’s life. They often require extensive medical treatment. In some cases, victims need in-home nursing care. These injuries are typically disabling in some capacity, therefore impacting a victim’s ability to work and support himself or herself. Catastrophic injuries can take months, years, or a lifetime to heal.
Catastrophic injuries can occur under a variety of conditions. From birth injuries to serious accidents, these conditions often present themselves without warning, leaving injured victims vulnerable to shoulder the consequences. A variety of factors may give way to catastrophic injuries. In most cases, however, they are caused by the negligence of another party.
Accidents That Commonly Cause a Catastrophic Injury
Any type of accident has the potential to cause catastrophic personal injuries. However, catastrophic injuries are most commonly the result of the following accidents:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Workplace injury accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Slip and falls
- Construction accidents
Personal Injury Lawyers at Ankin Law:
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Proving Negligence in a Catastrophic Personal Injury Case
The presence of an injury is not enough to uphold a personal injury claim or lawsuit on its own. Additional criteria must be met for a case to qualify for financial recovery. First, plaintiffs are left with the burden of proof in a personal injury lawsuit. You, the injured party, must show by a preponderance of evidence that the defendant was more likely than not the cause of your injuries.
Tort law is the area of the law that establishes the right of an injured party to seek justice through financial compensation. A tort is an act that causes injury to another person. Torts can be intentional, or can occur through negligence or strict liability. Depending on the liable party, the law establishes protections in place for consumers and other individuals that are intended to prevent harm. When a defendant breaches these protective laws, he or she has committed a tort and can be held liable in the court of law.
What Are the Four Elements of Negligence in a Personal Injury Case?
The injured party in a personal injury lawsuit can demonstrate fault by proving through evidence that the four primary elements of negligence existed in his or her accident. The four elements of negligence in personal injury law are:
You Were Owed a Duty of Care
Generally, individuals owe a duty to refrain from causing harm to others. This is the basis of tort law. The duty typically applies in instances where a defendant should have reasonably foreseen the possibility of causing harm to the plaintiff. This covers a commercial property owner’s duty to warn consumers of hazards, as well as a driver’s duty to exercise reasonable caution. In some cases, such as in medical malpractice claims, the defendant’s duty of care extends further than in others.
The At-Fault Party Violated the Duty of Care
Any act that causes preventable, foreseeable harm to another party is a breach of the duty of care. There are a variety of actions that constitute a breach of duty of care, such as reckless or intoxicated driving, performing medical procedures without proper training or reasonable caution, and providing unreasonably unsafe products to consumers.
The Defendant's Behavior Caused You Harm
For a personal injury case to have merit, the negligence of the defendant needs to be the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. If the severe personal injury would have occurred regardless of the defendant’s actions, then the case does not show sufficient evidence that the defendant is at-fault.
You Suffered Harm
You must have suffered some sort of harm because of the defendant’s action or inaction. Without economic or pain and suffering damages, there are no grounds to seek financial recovery. This is true even if another party committed a tort against the plaintiff.
The purpose of filing a personal injury lawsuit is to make a victim financially whole. This is accomplished by reimbursing him or her for any tangible or intangible costs of the injury or accident. These costs are referred to as damages, and are summed up to yield a settlement award. Without damages, the plaintiff has nothing to be compensated for in an injury case.
Find out how much your claim may be worth. Call a catastrophic injury lawyer at Ankin Law for a FREE case evaluation.
How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit for Catastrophic Injuries in Illinois?
While your case may have exceptions that apply, the statute of limitations to file a personal injury lawsuit in Illinois is generally 2 years. Even in cases involving catastrophic injuries, this deadline applies. However, some types of injuries, actions of the defendant, and the demographic of the injured party may create cause for tolling the statute of limitations.
Tolling in a personal injury case is the pause of the statute of limitations. This means, rather than beginning on the date of the accident or discovery of the injury, the “clock” is paused until the circumstances are changed.
A personal injury case is tolled when the victim is a minor. This pauses the statute of limitations until the victim turns 18. A claim may also be tolled if a victim’s catastrophic injuries cause him or her to become temporarily or permanently incapacitated.
Do You Need a Catastrophic Injury Lawyer?
From sustaining a permanent disability, to having to adapt to a new way of life, catastrophic injuries have a significant impact on a victim’s life. Accident victims often expend more resources on recovery and medical treatment than personal injury victims of minor accidents. As such, the value of these claims may be much higher than a personal injury claim involving minor injuries. With such a substantial payout on the line, the insurance company has far more incentive to devalue and dispute your claim. Choosing the right personal injury attorney is essential for cases involving catastrophic injuries.
Often, the true cost of catastrophic injuries is not immediately apparent. A lawyer who is experienced in handling these types of cases can more accurately anticipate the needs of the victim and the victim’s family in the future. Additionally, an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you fight the insurance company’s tactics and negotiate a settlement that accurately represents the costs you have endured.
If you or a loved one sustained severe, life-altering injuries because of someone else’s negligence, the attorneys at Ankin Law can help. Our firm has a track record of success handling serious injury and wrongful death cases. Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your case.
If someone caused you harm, the catastrophic injury lawyers at Ankin Law will make sure they are held accountable.
How Much Is My Personal Injury Lawsuit Worth?
The value of a catastrophic personal injury claim will depend on various factors. In personal injury lawsuits, settlement awards are calculated based on the damages an injured person sustains. Damages refer to the costs associated with an accident, whether emotional or financial in nature. The amount of damages calculated in your case will be based on how much medical treatment your injuries required and the difficulty and length of your recovery. The policy limits of the defendant’s insurance company, and the assets of the at-fault party may limit your ability to recover damages.
Damages in catastrophic personal injury cases fall into two categories: compensatory damages and punitive damages. Compensatory damages are intended to compensate a victim for the costs he or she sustained. Punitive damages, on the other hand, are intended to punish the at-fault party for egregious negligence, intentional torts, or reckless behavior. They also server to deter future negligence.
- Compensatory Damages: Compensatory damages are broken down into two categories: economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages are awarded for the direct financial costs associated with an injury. These typically include medical bills, future medical expenses, lost wages, and other treatment expenses.
Non-economic damages, on the other hand, allow victims to recover for the intangible costs of an accident. Also known as pain and suffering damages, these include emotional injuries, such as anxiety, PTSD, and depression, or other costs, such as physical pain, disability, disfigurement, and loss of enjoyment of life.
- Punitive Damages: Punitive damages are rarely awarded. These damages are intended to punish excessively negligent behavior, or, in some cases, intentional torts. Examples of behaviors that could yield punitive damages include intoxicated driving that causes a truck accident, or excessive speeding that causes a car accident.
Illinois law prohibits the award of punitive damages in medical malpractice cases.
The at-fault party, or his or her insurance company, is unlikely to provide you with a fair initial settlement offer. An experienced personal injury attorney with Ankin Law can review your case to determine the true cost of your injuries, and help you negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance company.
Types of Catastrophic Injuries
Catastrophic injuries come on suddenly, changing the entirety of the victim’s life without warning. They have significant long-term or permanent effects on the injured person’s life. In many cases, victims never fully heal from these injuries. Instead, they must permanently adapt their life to fit their new normal. This often means changes to work ability and earning capacity, lifestyle, and even necessary renovations to the home or primary vehicle.
The nature of catastrophic injuries can range from amputations to paralysis, and many things in between. Though they can vary in nature, catastrophic injuries are consistent in having a debilitating impact on a victim’s life.
Common catastrophic injuries include:
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Traumatic brain injuries can be moderate or severe. The severity of the injury influences how much a victim’s life is impacted. A traumatic brain injury, or TBI, typically has one of three causes: a blow to the head, the penetration of brain tissue by a foreign object, or impact between the brain and the skull when the head is jolted around suddenly. A mild to moderate TBI may only yield temporary symptoms. However, severe traumatic brain injuries can have a permanent impact on the victim. Some brain injuries may even require a lifetime of treatment and care.
Victims of brain injuries often experience a variety of cognitive impairments, behavioral changes, sensory or motor impairments and symptoms, and other physical symptoms.
Burn injuries are categorized into three stages. First and second degree burns are less severe and relatively easy to treat. Third degree burns can have catastrophic consequences for victims.
Severe burns can require months of medical care, dozens of surgeries and years of rehabilitation to treat. They can permeate layers of skin and damage muscle, ligaments, and tissue. Often, third degree burns require skin grafts and advanced medical care to prevent severe infections or amputation. Children and elderly victims will likely require extensive surgeries to accommodate growth over the years.
Severe burns don’t just leave permanent scars on the exterior of a victim’s body. The internal damage done by third degree burns can render some body parts unusable. The likelihood of serious infections increases with severity, especially if the burn occurs in a vulnerable or difficult to treat spot. In some cases, the side effects of a burn injury can result in the wrongful death of the victim.
Spinal Cord Injuries and Paralysis
A spinal cord injury is damage to the spinal cord that disrupts the flow of information, or signals, from the body to the brain. These injuries can be caused by direct injury to the cord itself, or injuries to the surrounding bones and tissue. Spinal cord injuries can cause temporary or permanent changes in loss of movement, body function, or sensation.
Spinal cord injuries can take a variety of forms, and therefore cause a wide range of symptoms. Depending on the location of the injury to the spinal cord, the result could be partial or complete paralysis. In severe cases, breathing and other involuntary reflexes could be compromised. These injuries typically require months or years of medical and rehabilitation treatment.
Spinal cord injuries can be complete or incomplete. A complete spinal cord injury means there are no signals being transmitted below the injury site, causing complete sensory and functional loss. Incomplete spinal cord injuries allow for some sensation and function, as some signals are still transmitted to the brain and body. The level of disability sustained depends on the location and severity of the injury.
Other side effects of a spinal cord injury include:
- Loss or change in sensation in limbs or other body parts
- Pain or pressure in the head, neck, or spine
- Weakness or loss of movement
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Difficulty with speaking, walking, breathing, or other motor functions
When a body part, such as a limb or digit, is lost in an accident, it is referred to as traumatic amputation. The loss of one or more limbs can severely affect a person’s life and livelihood. Additionally, amputations generally cause exorbitant medical, rehabilitation and prosthetic expenses.
Amputation injuries inflict a significant amount of emotional distress onto victims. In some cases, significant tissue trauma occurs during a traumatic amputation, leading to further pain and distress. Amputations can leave victims facing serious infections, phantom limb pain, and nerve injury.
Loss of Sight & Loss of Hearing
Sensory loss, or the loss of hearing or vision, is a catastrophic injury that permanently changes the way a victim interacts with the world. These injuries can occur from auto accidents, as workplace injuries, or as the result of another injury or an illness. Sudden profound blindness or deafness is a staggering loss that can be accompanied by emotional trauma, reduced working capacity, and lifestyle disruption. Victims often have years of rehabilitation and occupational therapy to learn how to cope with these injuries.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Catastrophic Injury Lawsuits
What Are the Costs of Catastrophic Injuries?
The true cost of a catastrophic injury depends on the nature of the injury and the impact it has on the victim’s life. Catastrophic injuries are more severe than those typically represented in a personal injury case. As such, medical bills and recovery times are generally much higher. Though the lifelong financial costs of a catastrophic injury can be hard to anticipate, the emotional cost to the victim is often immediately apparent. A catastrophic injury can disrupt a victim’s lifestyle and change the way he or she interacts with the world entirely.
How Can a Personal Injury Attorney Help With a Catastrophic Injury Claim?
Personal injury claims involving catastrophic injuries tend to be accompanied by more significant damages, and therefore have a higher settlement value. The insurance company has a lot to lose by paying you a fair settlement for such significant losses, and will therefore take steps to devalue and demerit your claim. A Chicago personal injury lawyer who understands the true impact of these life-changing injuries can dispute the defense’s claims against your case.
What’s the Difference Between a Catastrophic Injury and a Personal Injury?
The injuries sustained in an accident can range in severity. When injuries are minor, or victims can recover within a reasonable amount of time, they are considered typical in a personal injury case. However, when an injury creates a sudden, permanent change in a victim’s life, such as the loss of a limb, paralysis, or disability, it is considered to be catastrophic.
Helpful Resources for Injured Chicago Victims
Construction and mining, rubber manufacturing, agriculture, and forestry have the highest workplace cancer risk in Chicago, Illinois. The same risk applies to building demolition, firefighting, brake repair, asbestos milling, and naval service jobs.
The symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease are similar to lung infections like pneumonia. You may experience a headache, fever, shortness of breath, diarrhea, or muscle aches.
When injured on the job as an employee, you will rely on workers’ compensation insurance to cover damages, such as your medical bills. However, the