Birmingham Catastrophic Injury Attorney
What You Need to Know After Suffering from Catastrophic Injuries
Catastrophic injuries can be life-altering for individuals and their families. Injuries such as brain damage, paralysis, severe burns, loss of vision, or loss of limbs can seriously affect a financial future. If you or a loved one has suffered a catastrophic injury in an accident, you may be able to pursue compensation for your damages and losses. Hiring a Birmingham accident lawyer who specializes in catastrophic injury cases is essential.
What is Catastrophic Injury?
A catastrophic injury is a personal injury that is long-term or permanent. The American Medical Association has defined a catastrophic injury as one which causes severe damage to the brain, spine, or spinal cord. This may also include fractures to the skull or spine. The injuries can keep victims from performing work to support themselves or their families.
Common Types of Catastrophic Injuries
- Spinal cord injuries are injuries resulting in paralysis (paraplegia or quadriplegia). These injuries may require medical procedures, long-term care, and accommodation such as ramps and lifts in a person's car or house as well as in-home care needs.
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are injuries to the head that can cause brain damage resulting in loss of speech, hearing and vision issues, problems with motor skills, and memory problems. People who suffer TBI often need long-term rehabilitation to relearn basic functions. Unfortunately, some TBI are serious enough that victims never fully recover.
- Burn injuries can create long-term damages. While most burn injuries are not fatal, they can cause serious pain and health complications such as facial scarring and loss of limbs. These disfiguring injuries often make painful surgeries and skin grafts necessary. The scarring can cause negative psychological consequences for burn victims.
Top Causes of Catastrophic Injuries in Birmingham
Various types of accidents can cause catastrophic injuries. The most common ones include:
- Car accidents: Automobile accidents are the number one cause of spinal injuries. In 2014 they resulted in 2,402 injuries in women and 7,205 injuries in men nationwide.
- Motorcycle accidents: Although there are far fewer motorcyclists on the road than car drivers, they are at a greater risk of catastrophic injury because they do not have the external protection that vehicle drivers have.
- Bicycle accidents: Bicycle accidents can cause severe trauma, particularly when the cyclist is involved in a collision with a motor vehicle. This is why it is important to always wear a helmet.
- Pedestrian injuries: We are all aware that distracted drivers and drivers under the influence of drugs and alcohol put pedestrians at risk, but you may be surprised to know that pedestrians often put themselves at risk when distracted by their phone or other device.
- Falls: You can suffer a fall no matter what your age or agility. A fall may occur in the workplace, as a result of a medical event, such as fainting, or simply due to misnavigation.
- Diving injuries: A cervical spine injury is the most common catastrophic injury caused by diving into a swimming pool.
- Gunshot wounds: Every year, thousands of Americans suffer gunshot wounds. While not all gunshot wounds are fatal, many can cause a catastrophic injury.
- Falling objects: It’s not uncommon to be injured by a falling object while you are at work, particularly if you work in a dangerous environment such as a construction site.
- Surgical complications: Medical errors, surgical complications, such as infection, and incorrect post-surgical care can result in catastrophic injuries.
- Person-to-Person Contact: In most cases this type of catastrophic injury involves an altercation with another individual, though it may also be a result of playing contact sports.
Who is Liable for Catastrophic Injuries in an Accident in Birmingham?
Catastrophic injuries have many causes. In obvious cases such as where a vehicle driver was driving intoxicated, or where a property owner did not maintain the properties, there are clear liabilities for catastrophic injuries. Most liabilities are straight-forward with negligence where the defendant is fully liable, but there can be also contributory negligence situations where the plaintiff is partially responsible for injuries. An example would be in the situation of a homeowner who was careless with leaving a pool gate open and an intoxicated guest who decided to go swimming. Leaving a pool gate open is negligence on the homeowner's part, but the guest should have had the responsibility to not swim.
Will Insurance Coverage Be Enough?
Whether or not insurance coverage is enough to fully cover your injuries greatly depends on the policy you have purchased. Unfortunately, standard insurance coverage isn’t always enough to cover catastrophic injuries. For example, as a driver, you should be aware of two different types of insurance coverage – standard insurance and uninsured motor accident coverage. In the state of Alabama, the law requires everyone who operates a motor vehicle to have both a minimum of $25,000/person accident coverage (or $50,000 per accident) and $25,000 in property damage coverage. However, not all motorists obey this rule, and many have inadequate insurance coverage as a result. While uninsured motorist insurance will certainly aid in helping to compensate for lack of insurance coverage on the part of the other driver, hiring a personal injury attorney is the only sure-fire way that you’ll be able to successfully maneuver through the complexities surrounding insurance coverage, vehicle accidents, and liability.
How Long Should I Wait to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Alabama?
The personal injury statute of limitations is two years to file a lawsuit. Hiring a catastrophic personal injury attorney as soon as you are able is advisable.
How Much Can I Expect from a Lawsuit?
In Alabama, there are no limits on compensation for personal catastrophic injury cases against private individuals. Your ability to recover compensation may be limited if you have contributory negligence. If a judge decides you have contributory negligence, then your compensation can be smaller or be denied entirely. In the example of the homeowner who leaves the pool gate open and the intoxicated guest, a judge or jury may decide the guest was 25% responsible for contributory negligence and give the guest a lower settlement.
There are also limits to personal injury cases in Alabama if the defendant is a municipality such as a city, town, or county. The limitation in these situations is $100,000. If you've been affected by a life-changing catastrophic injury, don't hesitate to contact the attorneys at Guster Law Firm, LLC at (205) 386-6844.