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If you or your loved one were the victims of a serious injury or catastrophic injury, you may be able to collect compensation for your injuries, as well as pain and suffering and lost wages.
Serious injuries can include amputations, spinal cord injuries, birth injuries, concussions, brain injuries, knee injuries, serious burns, back and neck injuries, or injuries that result in wrongful death.
Understanding Serious Injuries in Pittsburgh
Serious injuries are often called catastrophic injuries, and they can significantly alter a person’s way of life. In general, a catastrophic injury is one that creates a temporary or permanent disability for a victim or one that causes permanent scarring or disfigurement.
Spinal Cord Injury
Unfortunately, spinal cord injuries are not uncommon in the Pittsburgh area. The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center shows that there are approximately 18,000 new spinal cord injury cases each year in the country. Researchers say that the first year of medical costs to treat a spinal cord injury can reach more than one million dollars.
A spinal cord injury (SCI) means that part of the spinal cord or the nerves at the end of the spinal canal has been damaged, resulting in a change in the spinal cord’s normal motor, sensory or autonomic function.
The spinal cord and brain make up the central nervous system. The spinal cord acts as the pathway, sending information to the brain from all the other nervous systems: peripheral (limbs, organs, skin), somatic (muscle movements/touch) and autonomic (breath, heartbeat, digestion). Because it plays such a vital role in how the body communicates with the brain, any injury to the spinal cord can cause serious problems.
The place along the spinal cord or backbone where the injury occurs and the severity of the injury will determine whether the victim will have control over their limbs. Wherever the injury occurs on the spinal cord will affect everything below that area – the higher up the spine the injury occurs, the more dysfunction and severity of the consequences.
Traumatic Brain Injury
Millions of people suffer from traumatic brain injuries each year, according to the CDC. These injuries can significantly alter a person’s physical and cognitive abilities.
Losing a limb is a life-altering event that can significantly impact a person’s ability to work or enjoy the activities they are accustomed to. Amputation injuries range from losing fingers, hands, and feet to a partial or total loss of arms and legs.
When someone is unexpectedly amputated, it is devastating – physically and emotionally. You may no longer feel like the person you were before the injury and will have to learn to live life in a whole new way. Accidental injuries can happen in car accidents, construction sites, or even at the hands of medical professionals. No amount of money can make up for the damage. However, receiving the compensation owed to you from your injuries is essential for your future: you will need compensation for the best possible medical treatment and to make up for future lost wages.
A catastrophe like an amputation also takes a toll on the victim’s family. If you are a family member of a victim of an amputation injury your family will need all the help it can get.
Long-term care and chronic pain, as well as depression and a loss of quality of life are too much to deal with. You should not also have to worry about how you will cover costs, especially if someone else was at fault for the injury.
If your injury resulted in amputation and someone negligent is at fault for your injuries, you have a right to be compensated.
At SMT Legal, we will give your case the personal attention you deserve and do everything possible to get money and compensation for your amputation and its aftermath.Our goal is to get the maximum compensation you deserve.We handle all personal injury cases on a contingency basis, which means we don’t get paid unless you get paid. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.
Amputations and their Long-Term Effects
An amputation means surgical removal of all or part of a limb (arm/leg) or removal of a foot, hand, finger or toe.
A minor amputation usually means the loss of fingers or toes. While it does not necessarily mean the amputee is “disabled” or cannot work, it can still be a burden on everyday activities and affect a person throughout their life.
A more serious amputation could mean the removal of hands, feet or several fingers/toes or other body parts. While these types of amputations generally do not lead to other future medical problems, they can greatly impact a person’s ability to work or function in everyday life. A person may require a prosthetic that may need to be changed or upgraded every so often.Serious amputations, such as partial or full limb removal, can obviously greatly impact a person for the rest of their life. In addition, a serious amputation may lead to other medical complications as a person ages. They may require a lot of physical therapy and suffer a great deal of pain, physically and emotionally.
A full limb amputee will need a prosthetic limb for the rest of their life and other medical equipment to assist them in daily activities and tasks. An amputee may not be able to continue their line of work and may need additional job training and education in order to pursue a different career.
The repercussions of limb removal are catastrophic. They can include:
- Loss of employment and wages
- Restricted mobility
- Chronic and severe pain
- Extensive physical therapy
- Long-term medical care
- Multiple surgeries
- Need for a prosthetic limb and other mobility equipment/vehicle
- Complications From Accidental Amputations
When calculating the maximum compensation you or your family may need throughout the rest of your life, you should take these unexpected complications into consideration. They may have long-term effects on your well-being and quality of life.
Complications can include:
- Blood clots and cardiovascular issues
- Chronic and severe phantom limb pain
- Emotional trauma
- Needing multiple surgeries
Types of Compensation for Amputation Injuries
Amputation injury victims suffer from the physical strain of the loss of a body part but there is often significant emotional distress as well. An amputee has to learn to live and function without a body part, and that can take years of multiple therapies with various clinicians and doctors.
At SMT Legal, our Pittsburgh personal injury lawyers represent people and children who have unfortunately been victims of traumatic accidents resulting in an amputation injury.
We are compassionate people who want to help answer your questions and find a solution in order for you to collect the maximum compensation you are entitled to.
The following is a list of types of compensation one can expect in an amputation injury case:
- Medical Expenses – both present and future
- Rehabilitation Expenses
- Prosthetic Expenses
- Lost Wages and Future Lost Wages
- Loss of Enjoyment of Life
- Pain and Suffering
- Job Training / Education
- Psychiatric Counseling
These types of cases often involve a lot of investigation and evidence gathering – not to mention enlisting experts to help build a strong case. Help get the compensation you deserve by hiring aggressive and compassionate attorneys who are willing to fight for the money you deserve.
Liability in Amputation Cases
The fault of the injury or accident will determine who is liable to pay for damages in an amputation case.A thorough investigation will need to be completed in order to build a strong case against the guilty party. This may include investigating all police reports, speaking to witnesses of the accident or with medical personal who may have been involved in the case of medical malpractice.
Experienced and aggressive attorneys can conduct a full investigation and gather evidence to determine the cause of the injury.
After a case has been built, the attorneys can seek compensation from all parties involved or their insurance companies. They can start negotiations with the insurance companies or prepare your case for litigation or trial.
Burn injuries occur in a variety of ways, including fires, explosions, hazardous chemicals, and more. Severe burns can be incredibly painful and often lead to a victim needing excessive rehabilitation in order to make a full recovery. Burn injury victims are also prone to significant infections while they recover.
Significant Scarring and Disfigurement
There are various types of injuries that can lead to disfigurement and scarring for a victim. When a person’s appearance has changed due to an injury caused by another person, the injury victim is much more likely to suffer from long term emotional and psychological harm.
At SMT Legal, our attorneys also help families who have lost loved ones due to catastrophic injuries. Our Pittsburgh wrongful death attorneys will provide compassionate and skilled assistance to ensure you receive closure and compensation for what happened.
Filing a Catastrophic Injury Claim Against a Negligent Party
Each state is responsible for setting time limits for how long victims have to file a serious injury lawsuit against the person that caused them harm.
Catastrophic Injury Claim Statute of Limitations
The Pennsylvania statute of limitations is two years. This means that an injury victim generally has a two-year window with which to file a lawsuit against an alleged negligent party, or they will lose the ability to recover any compensation for their losses. There are some exceptions to this statute of limitations, so please speak to your Pittsburgh personal injury attorney immediately.
What Kind of Compensation is Available for a Serious Injury Case?
When someone suffers from a serious injury, his or her entire family is affected. Long-term care and chronic pain, as well as depression and a loss of quality of life also impact the the victim and family. At SMT Legal, we will give your case the personal attention you deserve and do everything possible to get money and compensation for your injury and its aftermath. Compensation that may be available includes:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Current and future lost wages
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of quality of life
The goal of our experienced and aggressive Pittsburgh catastrophic injury lawyers is to get the maximum compensation you deserve.
Frequently Asked Questions About Catastrophic Personal Injury
Experiencing a catastrophic personal injury can change a person’s life in a moment and destroy all their plans. Catastrophic injuries often create permanent disabilities that are challenging to adjust to and expensive to support. Some of the more frequently asked questions about catastrophic personal injuries are answered below.
What Makes an Injury ‘Catastrophic’?
A personal injury is considered catastrophic when it will have a long-term impact on the victim’s life. Catastrophic injuries are often permanent or can take years to resolve. Catastrophic injuries are serious enough that even if they heal, there will likely be some significant residual disability resulting from the injury.
Are Catastrophic Injuries Worse than Other Personal Injuries?
Catastrophic injuries cause more damage than other kinds of personal injuries, but they don’t necessarily have to result from more serious accidents. The nature of a personal injury is affected by the part of the body that is injured. Injuries to certain parts of the body – like the head or spinal column – can result in damage to the brain or spinal cord with severe and permanent consequences.
What Types of Injuries are Considered Catastrophic?
The damage caused by the injury will usually determine if it is catastrophic. Injuries that result in significant and permanent damage, such as the following, are considered to be catastrophic:
- Severe brain injury
- Spinal cord injury
- Injury resulting in amputation
- Severe burns
- Significant disfigurement
Is a Traumatic Brain Injury a Catastrophic Injury?
A traumatic brain injury is an injury caused by some external source of trauma to the head. Traumatic brain injuries can be catastrophic but they don’t have to be. A mild brain injury – commonly known as a concussion – will typically heal without lasting impairment. A severe brain injury, however, may impair a person’s ability to function independently for the rest of their life.
What are the Main Causes of Catastrophic Personal Injuries?
Most catastrophic personal injuries are caused by accidents where someone did not act with the care required of the situation. Common causes of catastrophic injuries include:
Motor Vehicle Accidents
Motor vehicle accidents can and do result in every type of catastrophic injury. Catastrophic injuries are more likely to occur when a larger vehicle crashes with a smaller one or any vehicle collides with a motorcycle, bicycle, or pedestrian.
When healthcare providers make mistakes in the diagnosis or treatment of patients, the results can be catastrophic. Serious injury and permanent damage can result from mistakes made during surgery and the birthing process as well as from prescription medication errors, among other causes.
Workers in certain industries have a much higher likelihood of experiencing a catastrophic injury because of increased exposure to risk while on the job. Construction workers, transportation and warehousing workers, and workers in agriculture pursuits have a high incidence of catastrophic injuries.
Slip and Fall Accidents
Falls are a leading cause of catastrophic personal injuries. Falls from significant heights can cause several catastrophic injuries. But falls from a standing position or down stairs can also result in severe damage to the head and spine. Falling is a significant cause of brain injuries.
Why are Catastrophic Injury Damages Harder to Prove?
Catastrophic injuries often impact a person for the rest of their life. A lifetime is an extended time horizon with a lot of variables. The damages to compensate for catastrophic injuries can therefore be quite a bit higher than for other types of personal injury. The higher a potential damage claim, the more scrutiny that will be given to the proof supporting it.
Losses need to be identified and valued and the evidence to support them must be detailed and specific. Understanding the impact of a catastrophic injury can be medically complicated and require the assistance of experts to determine the full extent of the damage.
Is There More Compensation for a Catastrophic Injury?
The compensation awarded for a personal injury claim should be commensurate to the damage done. Because catastrophic injuries cause more severe damage they are often entitled to greater compensation.
When Will I be Compensated for a Catastrophic Injury Claim?
How quickly a catastrophic injury claim is paid depends on the circumstances of the accident and the extent of the injuries. It can also depend on the sources of compensation available and the willingness of the parties to reach an agreement.
Resolving catastrophic injury claims can take longer due to the time necessary to fully understand the extent of the injuries and the impact they will have on a person’s life. Settling a claim and avoiding a lengthy trial can help injured claimants get compensated more quickly.
What Happens When a Catastrophic Injury Causes Death?
Catastrophic injuries may not be survivable. If a person dies from their injuries, Pennsylvania law gives the surviving spouse, children, and parents of the deceased the right to recover compensation for the wrongful death of a loved one.
If the decedent survived with the injury for a time before dying, the personal representative of the decedent may have the right to bring a survival action for the personal injury claim the decedent would have had the right to make.
Between wrongful death and survival actions, there can be only one total recovery, so a wrongful death claim will be consolidated with a survival claim if both causes of action arise.
How Much Time do You Have to Bring a Catastrophic Injury Claim?
In most instances, a catastrophic injury claim must be made within two years of the injury-causing event. If the injury is not known at the time it occurs, Pennsylvania law tolls the statute of limitations until such time as the injury is discovered and it is realized the injury may have been caused by another person or entity. There are other circumstances in which the time limit withinn which a victim has to file a claim for damages can be shortened or extended, and meeting with an experienced personal injury lawyer can provide you with the insight needed to ensure your claim is timely brought so you do not lose your opportunity to hold the responsible parties accountable or to recover the financial compensation you deserve.
Do you Need A Pittsburgh Personal Injury Attorney for a Catastrophic Injury?
Catastrophic injuries can involve complex medical issues and tend to warrant higher damages awards. When potential damages are high, there is more resistance to a claim and a greater need for specialized knowledge and experience to obtain an adequate recovery. In severe injury cases, the stakes are too high to proceed without the advocacy of a skilled catastrophic injury lawyer.
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Schedule a free consultation with us to see how we can help you. We handle all serious injury cases on a contingency basis, which means we don’t get paid unless you get paid.