If you suffered catastrophic injuries in an accident in California, you could pursue compensation from the negligent party or parties who caused your injuries. Your catastrophic injury attorney can help maximize compensation in your claim. Learn more about catastrophic injuries and how a lawyer can help you seek the maximum compensation below.
What Is a Catastrophic Injury in California?
A catastrophic injury leaves permanent or lasting damage that affects your quality of life, reduces your earning capacity, and could leave you with permanent chronic pain or disability. Examples of common catastrophic injuries include:
- Third-degree burns
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Loss of an organ or the function of an organ
- Permanent vision or hearing loss, partial or total
- Limb amputation
Who Might Be Liable for Your Injuries?
In a personal injury lawsuit based on negligence, the plaintiff (the injured party) must be able to prove that the defendant was negligent based on a “preponderance of the evidence.” To prove negligence, the plaintiff must demonstrate that:
- The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care
- The defendant breached their duty of care
- The plaintiff suffered injuries in the accident
- The defendant’s actions caused the accident that led to the plaintiff’s losses
In car accident cases, another driver (or multiple drivers) could be responsible for your injuries. However, if a defective part in another driver’s vehicle caused the accident, you may also be able to sue the part manufacturer or distributor.
If you suffered an injury in a construction site accident, you might face certain legal challenges to holding your employer liable for your injuries. Workers’ compensation covers most worker injuries, barring employees from suing their employers except under certain circumstances. However, the property owner, subcontractors, equipment manufacturers, or other parties may be partly liable.
Medical malpractice cases are often extremely complex, and multiple parties may have contributed to your injuries. If you suffered a catastrophic injury through medical malpractice, you might need to pursue a claim against the physician, hospital, nursing staff, pharmaceutical companies, or other liable parties.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Your catastrophic injury attorney can help you determine which parties are most likely liable for your injuries to file a personal injury lawsuit. If you don’t get a fair settlement offer from the insurance companies, you must file a personal injury suit to bring the issue to court.
You also need to understand the statute of limitations in California. Most personal injury cases for car accidents, dog bites, or other accidents allow you two years to file a court claim. There are exceptions for government entities, minor victims, and incapacitated victims where the statute of limitations differs for personal injury claims. Your lawyer can help you determine when to file.
However, you only have one year to file your claim for catastrophic injury due to medical malpractice. The exception for malpractice is that if the negligent party or their employer attempted to conceal the malpractice, you have three years to file your claim against the parties involved.
Compensation Awards in Catastrophic Injury Cases
Your catastrophic injury attorney can help maximize compensation in your case. However, what does that mean? Personal injury lawsuits are civil suits where you can pursue monetary damages for injuries caused by a negligent party. In personal injury cases in California, you can seek economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.
Economic damages include expenses for medical treatment and other costs incurred due to your injury, such as:
- Hospital and medical bills (current and future)
- Physical therapy and rehabilitation
- Transportation to appointments
- Household services (lawn care, pool maintenance, house cleaning, etc.)
- Lost wages from time off from work
- Childcare services
Non-economic damages include estimates for other mental and emotional losses you suffered due to your injury, including:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Emotional distress
- Traumatic stress disorders
- Depression or anxiety
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
The court may also award punitive damages meant to punish the defendant by multiplying the total compensation award by a number. However, the court must believe that the defendant acted recklessly, egregiously, or with intent to award punitive damages. Unlike some other states, California does not place a cap on punitive damages in personal injury cases.
California’s Pure Comparative Negligence Rule
California uses pure comparative negligence in awarding damages for personal injury cases. This means you can seek compensation even if you were partly at fault for the accident that caused your injuries. The court will determine your percentage of fault and deduct that amount from your total compensatory award.
For example, if the court determines that you were 10% at fault for your accident, and your total compensation was $500,000, you will receive $450,000. You may also need to pay attorney fees, court costs, and other expenses from your award.
How a Catastrophic Injury Attorney Can Help With Your Claim
Many aspects of your case can affect your final compensation award or settlement offer. You might be able to settle with the insurance companies with a demand letter from your lawyer without ever having to file a lawsuit. However, most insurance companies will attempt to devalue or deny your injury claim, requiring you to file a lawsuit.
Your lawyer can help you gather the appropriate evidence to build your case, including:
- Photos and security camera footage from the scene
- Witness statements and contact information
- Medical records from before and after the incident
- Expert analysis from medical professionals, accident reconstruction engineers, and other professionals
As soon as you suffer a catastrophic injury, you should contact your personal injury attorney. Evidence and witnesses become more difficult to track down as time passes. Your attorney can help with each step, from filing your insurance claim to presenting your evidence in court.
Contact an Orange County Catastrophic Injury Attorney
A catastrophic injury attorney can help maximize compensation for your case in Southern California. Call Khalil Law Group today at (714) 617-7870 or contact us online to schedule a no-obligation consultation at our office in Newport Beach, CA.