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    The Ultimate Guide to Catastrophic Injury Claims

    What qualifies as a catastrophic injury, and why is it different than a regular personal injury claim? Typically, a catastrophic injury is much more life-threatening to the victim. As a result, they are more likely to suffer long-term effects that often impact their ability to work and live. Catastrophic injury lawyers specializing in catastrophic injury claims know how to calculate and pursue compensation to cover the financial costs of the injury now and in the future. 

    Managing catastrophic injury claims is complex because they usually involve ongoing rehabilitation and future case that can include medical care, vocational rehabilitation, speech or occupational therapy, and sometimes round-the-clock care. For example, people who break a leg or an arm can seek damages from liable parties in a car accident. Still, a catastrophic injury claim must account for how the incident will affect a victim years later. If the fractured leg results in an inability for the victim to perform their occupation, it may be catastrophic.  And if the fracture is so severe or results in a substantial infection that causes amputation, that is catastrophic.

    For example, suppose a person is in a vehicle collision that causes a traumatic brain injury (TBI). The victim may have short-term symptoms like loss of cognitive function, disorientation, vision problems, etc., requiring medical care. However, a catastrophic TBI can significantly affect a person’s balance, thinking ability, executive functioning, memory and other aspects of life. 

    Working with an expert catastrophic injury lawyer is the best way to win the compensation you’ll need to cover medical costs and missed work. In addition, experienced attorneys know what’s likely around the corner for victims, and they have the resources to map out the cost of future care and missed economic opportunities. 

    Click here to speak with an attorney. We’re here to offer you the support you and your family need.

    If you or someone you love suffers a catastrophic injury, here is your ultimate guide to filing a claim and winning your case to get the compensation you deserve. 

    Common Types of Catastrophic Injuries

    Most catastrophic injuries will impact victims for the rest of their lives. These types of injuries include the following:

    • Amputations
    • Brain Damage
    • Spinal Cord Damage
    • Loss or Organ Function
    • Paralysis
    • Loss of Eyesight 
    • Loss of Memory
    • Inability to Speak
    • Comas
    • Facial Scarring

    These injuries need more than your average visit to the hospital and a few sessions with a physical therapist. Often, they require a complete change in how the victims and the people around them approach life. 

    Imagine having to learn sign language or losing the ability to walk because someone else drove under the influence or a business didn’t practice the correct facility safety protocols. 

    Unfortunately, these types of injuries happen constantly, and too many families in America suffer the consequences alone. 

    Calculating the Cost of Ongoing Care with a Catastrophic Injury Lawyer

    A lot goes into calculating the overall cost of catastrophic injuries, which is why working with a catastrophic injury lawyer is vital to winning your case. The stakes are high; you’re likely working against powerful insurance companies with lawyers who spot blind spots quickly. 

    Lay people don’t typically know what’s in store when they suffer a catastrophic injury. In most cases, they can’t accurately estimate the cost of an emergency room visit, let alone understand how much it will cost to adjust to life living with a permanent disability. 

    There may be numerous experts needed to determine the future care needs for someone catastrophically injured.  Depending on the type of injury, they may need vocational rehabilitation experts, physical and/or occupational therapists, physiatrists, pain management physicians, speech-language therapists, life care planners, and economists. Experienced catastrophic injury lawyers are familiar with what kind of experts will be necessary and how to employ them to best advantage for your case.

    Here’s a brief overview of some of the costs associated with catastrophic injury recovery:

    Medical Bills

    Trips to the emergency room, physical therapy visits, surgery, and other medical costs are any injury’s most obvious financial impact. When you file a personal injury claim, your claim will usually seek compensation for damages caused and any subsequent medical care. 

    For example, a personal injury lawsuit will seek damages for the ambulance ride, emergency room visit, surgery, prescription drugs, urgent care visits, and physical therapy. 

    Medical bills are usually higher with catastrophic injuries because they require specialized care that stretches for extended periods. 

    Long-Term Care

    Similar to medical damages, long-term care is regularly a factor in catastrophic injury cases. The thinking is straightforward; if someone suffers injuries through no fault of their own, it shouldn’t be their or their family’s responsibility to take care of them for the rest of their lives.

    In some cases, victims must find permanent home care either in a facility or with 24-hour care in their home. Either way this costs a great deal of money, so you must work with your catastrophic injury lawyer to ensure any personal injury lawsuit covers continuing medical care. 

    Home Modifications

    Many injury victims overlook this when considering compensation for the accident. Once your emergency care is complete, you must consider your quality of life. 

    For instance, someone with a catastrophic injury that leaves them wheelchair-bound will require significant modifications to their house, car, and workplace. And a modified vehicle. Who should pay for that, the victim? Absolutely no. 

    Non-Traditional Therapy Care

    Most people understand the importance of getting physical therapy after surgery or some other significant injury. However, there are different types of treatment associated with catastrophic injuries.

    An excellent example of this is when someone loses sight or the ability to speak after an accident. They must spend years learning how to navigate life with their new disability. This includes learning sign language, how to read braille, the cost of a service animal, etc. 

    Another example of non-traditional therapy is if someone suffers significant memory loss due to an accident. They usually undergo extensive cognitive therapy to regain function and memory. A neuropsychologist may be needed to assess the patient and testify about their condition and future care needs.

    How Catastrophic Injuries Happen

    Catastrophic injuries can happen in various ways. A catastrophic injury lawyer often works with clients who suffer severe injuries at work in construction sites or factories. In addition, they can happen in car or trucking accidents. 

    The setting doesn’t matter as much as the circumstances at the time of the accident. An experienced attorney will know how to analyze the events at the time of the incident and talk to you about who is potentially liable. Here are some places they will look:

    Car, Motorcycle and Truck Crashes – By far the most common way that people are severely injured in this country.  Motor vehicle crashes take upwards of 40,000 lives and leave millions injured each year.  Of that, a substantial number of people are catastrophically injured.

    Defective Products – Did a product’s design or manufacturing process flaw lead to injuries? Unfortunately, this type of thing happens all the time. Whether intentional or not, companies selling or giving products to people must ensure they’re safe. 

    If there is any risk associated with the product or service, they must clearly mark the risks, which is why you’ll see choking hazard warnings on toys with small parts. Contact a catastrophic injury lawyer to discuss your options if you or someone you know is hurt using a product. 

    Negligent Security – Sometimes poor security is to blame for things like sexual assault, assault, and other crimes that result in catastrophic injuries. Businesses in the United States must meet a reasonable security standard to provide safe spaces for employees, customers, and other guests. 

    Medical Malpractice – This is another injury claim covering catastrophic injuries. When sick or injured people visit medical professionals, it’s reasonable for them to expect a certain level of care. When this doesn’t happen, the chances of catastrophic injury increase. Some medical mistakes result in hypoxia, a loss of oxygen to the brain. That can cause permanent brain damage. 

    Such is the case in surgeries gone wrong, mislabeled prescription medicines, incorrect diagnoses, wrong site surgeries, failure to recognize infections, etc.

    Falls – Most people don’t realize how many falls take place each day. Across the country there are 36 million falls a year among just the elderly.  Over 800,000 people each year are hospitalized because of falls. One out of five falls results in a serious injury.  When someone falls because of a dangerous surface, wet floor or trips over something that should have been marked, it can result in a catastrophic injury. 

    Resort Torts – Many catastrophic injuries happen on vacations or in theme parks when people are having fun with leisure activities. For example, people in Florida travel from across the world to enjoy the beaches and pleasant weather. 

    The area provides a good setting for many outdoor activities like boating, parasailing, jet skiing, etc. These activities involve traveling at high speeds.

    When an inexperienced tourist or customer goes on a parasail ride, they expect the company to take care of safety and manage any risks. 

    They know parasailing inherently carries some risk, but they rely on the company’s experience to keep them safe. Unfortunately, every year parasailing customers are injured or killed when they fall into the water, collide with other boats, or run into bridges. 

    Seeking Compensation After a Catastrophic Injury

    Life safety is the priority in any accident. Getting appropriate treatment is essential if someone falls at work or is in a car accident. After that, however, what you do will significantly impact the outcome of your case. Make sure to do the following whenever possible:

    1. Take Photos – Any photos or videos you capture of the scene and the events around it will be a significant part of your case’s evidence. If you’re in an accident, take pictures of the vehicle, the surrounding street signs, other people in the area, and whatever else you think is essential. 
    2. Gather Witness Statements – If you can get witness statements at the scene, that’s great. However, you may need more time in the rush of an accident and calling for emergency medical care. Instead, ask for people’s contact information, so you can call them later to get their record of the events. 
    3. Keep Your Records – Don’t throw anything away that is at all related to the accident. Even the most minor things can be part of your personal injury lawsuit. In addition, keep records of all your statements, receipts, etc., whether it’s for a doctor’s visit or to fix any property damage. 
    4. Hire an Expert Lawyer – Hiring a lawyer is critical to your personal injury lawsuit. Choosing the right legal team to represent you will impact the speed and among of any compensation you get. Do your research, and only hire a qualified lawyer with a proven track record winning catastrophic injury cases. Find out who is an elite lawyer and one who is respected in the legal community. Do so quickly, because time is the enemy.  The insurance company for the other side will be working on this and you want your lawyers to have a leg up on the case.  Witnesses disappear and evidence is lost, destroyed or recorded over.  Don’t wait.
    5. Don’t Talk to Other Parties – Victims and their families should be cautious about who they speak to about the accident. In situations where the accident was clearly someone else’s fault, the business or their insurance company will probably be quick to reach out to you, saying they’re looking for ways to make things right or offer compensation. 

    Don’t speak to anyone or give any written or recorded statement. They could use it to try and diminish your claim down the road. 

    Talk to a Catastrophic Injury Lawyer About Settlement Options

    Many victims justifiably wonder how they’ll get the compensation they deserve after an accident. It’s easy to understand why; they are often under tremendous stress dealing with bills, lost income, and a significant life change. So finding ways to get the right amount of money fast is crucial. 

    In many catastrophic injury cases, you’re likely to settle out of court because large companies, like hotel chains, cruise operators, or manufacturers, want to pay damages rather than go to court and suffer reputational damage. 

    Here are some different paths your catastrophic injury claim may go:

    Settlement Offers From Liable Parties

    Some injury victims are surprised when a company or property owner reaches out to them to offer money as payment for their injuries. Of course, they’ll apologize and say they want to make things right. 

    However, never take the first settlement offer from an entity, their insurance provider, or anyone else if you have an attorney. Don’t verbally agree to anything or sign any contract. These initial settlement offers are usually very low and will only cover some of your expenses related to the accident. Without an attorney you are likely to do irreparable damage to your case.  Remember, you are dealing with professionals who handle claims for a living.

    Negotiated Settlements with Catastrophic Injury Lawyers

    By hiring an expert catastrophic injury lawyer, you’re in a much better position to get more compensation. They’ll manage the case, build your case with you, and handle settlement negotiations. They will hire the appropriate expert witnesses and develop the facts and the law in your case. They will appear in court on your behalf and, if it gets that far, try the case for your.

    Working with an established and skilled lawyer is smart; they’ll know how much your projected medical expenses will be based on your injuries and the required care. As a result, they’ll know how much to ask for and how to best approach the negotiation process.


    You must be prepared to take your personal injury claim to trial. Only a small percentage of cases actually go to trial but you must be prepared to be in trial.  Top notch lawyers are always thinking about how the case will play out in a courtroom, what witnesses they will case, how they will present the case, what laws are best applied and what trial strategies they want to employ. Hopefully, this doesn’t happen, but you must hire an attorney with trial experience and significant judgments to represent you. 


    The right lawyer is the support you need when you and your family are picking up the pieces after a catastrophic injury. At Leighton Panoff Law, we have 38 years of experience working with catastrophic injury victims to win them compensation to pay for all costs associated with the accident. Our history of verdicts and settlements are some of the largest in Florida.

    Contact us to schedule a free consultation. Our team will discuss your situation and how to best approach filing your claim. 

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