Catastrophic injury cases are complex. They’re similar to any other personal injury lawsuit, but the injuries, treatment costs, and lasting physical and mental damage are much greater. When filing a catastrophic injury lawsuit, you want an attorney and a law firm on your side that have years of experience representing injured people. By learning about filing an injury lawsuit in California, you’ll know what to expect.
Types of Catastrophic Injuries
Catastrophic injuries leave permanent damage, chronic pain, or lasting physical or mental disability. Some types of catastrophic injuries include:
- Third-degree burns
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Paralysis, including paraplegia or quadriplegia
- Limb amputation
- Loss of an organ or organ function
- Permanent partial or total hearing or vision loss
Common Causes of Catastrophic Injuries
Several kinds of accidents or incidents can lead to a catastrophic injury. Common causes of catastrophic injuries include:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Workplace injuries
- Construction accidents
- Dog bites or animal attacks
- Defective products
- Medical malpractice
- Criminal incidents
Filing a Catastrophic Injury Case
You should contact a knowledgeable personal injury attorney as soon as possible after you’ve suffered a catastrophic injury. The sooner you contact a catastrophic injury attorney, the better the evidence your attorney can find for your claim.
Evidence is the key to proving negligence. In fact, you need a “preponderance of evidence” for your case, which means you have to prove each point of your claim.
To begin the process of filing a catastrophic injury lawsuit, your attorney needs to gather and review the available evidence. They can use their knowledge and experience to determine the most likely at-fault person or people for your injury claim.
You and your attorney must review the expenses associated with your injury and evaluate any non-economic losses to determine the amount of compensation you wish to pursue for your injuries. Once you know the value of your claim, your attorney can send a demand letter and supporting documentation to the liable party.
If the liable party (or their insurance company) accepts your demands, they will issue a settlement offer for the amount you stated in your demand letter. If the liable party doesn’t accept the terms of your demand letter, your attorney can negotiate on your behalf to attempt to reach a fair settlement.
If your attorney and the prospective defendant can’t reach an agreement, your catastrophic injury attorney can file a lawsuit to bring the claim to court to seek compensation for your pain and suffering.
California’s Personal Injury Statute of Limitations
Depending on the cause of your injuries, you may have a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit against a negligent party for your injuries. In California, the typical statute of limitations for personal injury cases is two years from the date of the accident for things like car crashes, truck accidents, or dog bites.
However, there are exceptions to the two-year rule. If the negligent party was a government entity, you must file an administrative claim within six months of your injury. If they don’t respond within 45 days, you can file a lawsuit within two years. If they approve your claim, your attorney can negotiate terms. If they deny your claim, you must file your lawsuit within six months of the denial.
If the victim was a minor at the time of the accident or not mentally competent to file a lawsuit, the statute of limitations is two years from the minor’s eighteenth birthday or two years from when a court determines that they are mentally capable of filing a catastrophic injury lawsuit.
The other exception applies when the at-fault party leaves the state before you can file your lawsuit. The statute of limitations pauses until they return to California.
The statute of limitations is also different in medical malpractice catastrophic injury cases. You have one year to file a medical malpractice claim in court, unless the practitioner attempted to hide the mistake that caused your injury. In these cases, you have three years to file your lawsuit.
If you were injured while someone else was committing a felony, you have one year after the criminal judgment to file a lawsuit. For more serious criminal charges, such as murder, attempted murder, rape, or kidnapping, you have ten years after the defendant is discharged from parole.
Who Can You Hold Liable for Your Injuries After an Accident?
You might be able to hold multiple parties liable for your injuries, depending on the incident. In some cases, such as a construction accident, you may be able to hold the property owner and general contractor or equipment manufacturer liable for your injuries if their negligence led to your injuries.
In a medical malpractice case, you may need to file a lawsuit against an individual doctor and the hospital. In a car accident case, multiple drivers could be responsible for a multi-car pile-up.
Proving Negligence in Catastrophic Injury Cases
You must be able to prove negligence in your case. Proving negligence includes:
- Proving the defendant owed you duty of care
- Proving the defendant breached their duty to cause the incident
- Demonstrating the incident caused your injuries
- Proving that you suffered losses due to the defendant’s actions
How an Attorney Can Help You Manage Your Case
Your attorney can help you gather evidence, such as photos from the accident scene and security camera footage from nearby businesses. They can look for local witnesses to make a statement about what they observed.
Your attorney can also refer to a medical expert to compare information from your medical history with reports from after your injury to associate new injuries with the incident. Your lawyer can present all the information to an accident reconstructionist to create a simulation of the accident events.
Contact an Experienced Catastrophic Injury Attorney in Orange County
Filing a catastrophic injury lawsuit involves several steps and knowledge of how to gather evidence for an injury claim. Turn to an experienced attorney with our firm at Khalil Law Group. Call us today at (714) 617-7870 or contact us online to schedule a no-obligation consultation with a catastrophic injury attorney at our office in Newport Beach, CA.