Serious or catastrophic injuries have long-lasting and life-changing consequences for victims. If you or your loved one has suffered a serious or catastrophic injury, you may have questions about what is next.
At Morris James, we have helped many victims of serious injuries get answers to their questions and compensation for their injuries. Contact one of our experienced team to find out how we can help you too.
What is a serious or catastrophic injury?
A serious or catastrophic injury is one that has a substantial risk of death, protracted and obvious disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member, organ, or mental faculty. Serious injuries typically involve lifelong, debilitating physical and emotional issues, and could include limb amputations, severe burns, broken bones, spinal cord injuries, and brain injuries. Victims may require years of treatment, therapy, or use of adaptive medical equipment.
How do I know if I have a serious injury?
Serious injuries may not be visible to an outsider. If you have suffered an injury which put you at risk of death or caused you long-term or life-altering harm, either mentally or physically, you may have suffered a serious or catastrophic injury. You should ask your medical team about your short- and long-term prognosis after an injury to find out what you will need to do to take care of yourself and enhance your recovery, what you can expect your life to look like into the future, and to determine the seriousness of your injury.
If you think you may have suffered a serious injury, you should contact an attorney to discuss whether or not you are entitled to seek compensation for your injuries, which could help you with the expenses that you will inevitably incur after a serious injury.
What should I do if I have suffered a serious or catastrophic injury?
If you have suffered an injury, you should get medical attention. Your health and wellbeing is the first priority. Many serious injuries necessitate calling an ambulance for immediate assistance or going to the nearest hospital emergency room for care. Even if you do not need urgent medical treatment, you should see your healthcare provider promptly. This is important for your own care and to record your injuries for any future legal claim or negotiation.
Contact an experienced personal injury attorney before discussing the circumstances of your injury with other involved parties or insurance providers. Any statement that you make regarding the incident that led to your injuries could be used as evidence in a negotiation or dispute about liability for your injuries. It is important that you get the advice of an attorney to protect yourself and your right to compensation for your injuries.
What are common causes of serious injuries?
Serious injuries can unfortunately happen to anyone, anywhere. They are commonly caused by motor vehicle accidents, workplace accidents, defective products, boating accidents, and household accidents.
What are possible consequences of a serious injury?
A serious or catastrophic injury is life-altering for the victim. They may suffer physical disfigurement, pain, and ongoing emotional trauma. In the immediate aftermath of the injury, they will likely have significant medical treatment and expense, possibly including hospitalization. As they rehabilitate, either at home or in a rehabilitation center, they may continue to need medical treatment and therapies, medication, and support. They may also need home or vehicle adaptations as a result of their injuries. Victims and their caregivers often miss work, or have to give up work completely, due to their injuries and necessary medical care.
The emotional trauma of a serious injury is also significant. Victims can face both physical and mental challenges after an injury, and require treatment and lifestyle changes as a result.
What compensation can I get for a serious injury?
Compensation for a serious injury is intended to cover the harm and losses that you have suffered as a result of the injury. This includes physical, emotional, and financial harm such as:
- Medical expenses (including future medical expenses)
- Lost wages and benefits (including future lost wages and benefits)
- Home and vehicle modifications
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship or consortium
- Wrongful death
While some of these amounts can be easily calculated with receipts and wage statements, others are more difficult to value and prove. An attorney can assist with this process and, as a result, victims who have legal representation typically receive more compensation than unrepresented victims.
Items that are frequently underestimated by unrepresented victims are future costs and pain and suffering. Future medical expenses and lost wages are often underestimated because victims do not appreciate the extent of the care they will need and its future value. Pain and suffering is difficult to value because, unlike other expenses, it cannot be proven by a receipt or invoice, and must be argued for in front of a court or in negotiations. A personal injury attorney has the skills and experience necessary to ensure that a victim is properly compensated for their suffering.
Who is liable to pay compensation after a serious injury?
You may be entitled to compensation or an insurance payout if your serious injury is the fault of another person or is covered by an insurance policy. In some situations, you can recover a portion of your loss from an insurer, and pursue an at-fault person for additional compensation. You should contact an experienced personal injury attorney for advice on what you are entitled to, and who is legally liable.
Situations in which you may be covered by your own insurance could include car accidents, boating accidents, or a household accident. Another person’s insurance company may be liable if you fall in business premises or on another person’s property. In a car or boating accident, another person’s auto or other insurance policy may provide coverage.
If a company or person is at fault for your injury, typically due to their negligence, it may also be possible to bring a legal claim against them for compensation. This could apply in any situation including when a defective product causes an injury, or when an auto, business, or other insurance policy does not provide sufficient coverage for your losses.
How long do I have to file a claim for serious injury in Delaware?
Each state has its own rules setting out the deadline for filing serious injury claims. In Delaware, a victim typically has 2 years from the date of the accident to file a legal claim. If the claim is against a city, county, or state government entity, the time limit is shorter and the claim must be filed within 1 year.
You should not delay in contacting a lawyer and pursuing your claim. As time passes, more medical expenses pile up and it can become financially difficult to stay on top of the bills and carry out any home or other modification that you need. Also, in the early days after an injury, the memories and evidence that are so crucial to a successful claim are fresh. It is advisable to contact an attorney and take steps toward getting the compensation that you need as soon as possible.
Do I need a lawyer for a serious injury?
It is highly recommended to get the advice of a lawyer for a serious injury. Serious injuries lead to significant suffering and expense, for which you may be legally entitled to compensation. A lawyer can advise you on your legal rights and your practical options, and handle the administration and negotiation of a legal claim, so that you can focus on healing.
Unfortunately, many unrepresented victims of serious injury accept lowball settlement offers from an insurance company or at-fault person because they do not have the experience or legal knowledge to know how much compensation they should receive. Insurers are for-profit businesses that will try to minimize your compensation to maximize their profit. A lawyer can protect you from such lowball offers, and ensure that your legal rights are protected.
When you contact a lawyer for a serious injury, they will often offer a first consultation free of charge so that they can determine whether or not you may have a legal claim, and you can decide how you want to move forward.
At Morris James, our attorneys have been standing up for victims since we opened our doors in 1932. If you have other questions about serious injuries, contact us online, in one of our local Delaware offices, or call us at 302.655.2599 to discuss your individual case.