Catastrophic accidents can have life-altering consequences. Severe injuries may require extensive medical care and leave victims unable to work. This could make it difficult for injured parties to provide for themselves and their families.

If you were injured due to another person’s negligence, you should consider contacting a Phoenix catastrophic injury lawyer. A dedicated personal injury attorney could assess your case and help you fight for justice.

Common Types of Catastrophic Injuries

Catastrophic injuries are often the result of careless or reckless acts by a negligent third party. Potential causes of these severe injuries may include car crashes, construction accidents, or high-impact sports collisions.

Dangerous accidents such as these often have permanent or long-term impacts on a person’s health and ability to perform daily tasks. Common examples of life-altering injuries include:

Injured parties suffering from these types of conditions may lose the ability to perform basic tasks. Individuals may require long-term medical treatment or rehabilitation in order to return to their everyday lives. A seasoned local attorney familiar with catastrophic injury cases could work to determine who is responsible for an individual’s injuries and file suit to recover compensation for their specific damages.

How Catastrophic Injuries Differ from Most Injury Claims

MMDAF awards_logo1Due to their serious nature, it is often more challenging to a pursue catastrophic injury claim compared to a standard negligence case. This difficulty is due to a number of factors. First, the compensation for catastrophic injuries is often much higher than other accident claims. With so much at stake, litigation becomes more likely.

The severity of these injuries can also cause these claims to take much longer to resolve. Investigating a catastrophic injury can require more time, and building a successful case could require the use of multiple experts. These delays can lead to lengthy litigation proceedings, as the discovery phase of a catastrophic injury lawsuit can be extensive.

Establishing Liability in an Injury Claim

Before filing a claim, the injured person must prove the fault of the other party. To establish liability, plaintiffs must prove the at-fault party owed them a duty of care and breached that duty. Further, injured parties must show that the negligent person’s actions directly caused the accident and the resulting damages.

Those responsible for an accident often avoid admitting fault. A skilled catastrophic injury attorney could assist potential plaintiffs in proving negligence in their case.

Shared Fault for a Catastrophic Injury

AzTLA awards_logo4Not every catastrophic injury claim will have a clear-cut case of negligence against the at-fault party. In some cases, the injured party could also share some responsibility for their injuries.

Fortunately, a degree of responsibility will not bar an injured party’s catastrophic injury claim, as Phoenix courts abide by the legal theory known as pure comparative fault. Under pure comparative fault, a plaintiff’s negligence will not completely prevent them from obtaining financial recovery. However, it will diminish the amount of compensation the court ultimately awards them. A person who suffered a catastrophic injury could pursue a claim against another party even when they were primarily at fault.

The judge or jury deciding the case will ultimately determine the degree of fault every party is responsible for by assigning a percentage to each party. The judge or jury will then determine the total amount of damages suffered by the plaintiff and reduce that amount by the percentage of the plaintiff’s negligence.

Time Limit for Filing a Lawsuit in Phoenix

ASLA awards_logo3It is important to act quickly in an accident, as there are time limits for filing a civil suit. Under Arizona Revised Statutes § 12-542, personal injury lawsuits should be filed within two years of the accident, though there may be some exceptions. For example, if the victim is less than 18 years old at the time of the accident, they may have more time to file.

Missing the filing deadline could harm an individual’s chances of recovering damages. A diligent attorney could help injured parties manage these important dates to avoid facing negative consequences.

Damages Available

The compensation available in most personal injury lawsuits consists of economic and non-economic damages. In certain cases, punitive damages may be awarded to the victim.

Compensatory Damages

Compensatory damages are categorized as economic and non-economic. Economic damages have a specific dollar amount. These losses may include medical bills, lost wages, and property damage.

Non-economic damages are subjective losses such as pain, suffering, and diminished quality of life. Arizona is one of the few states that do not place a cap on compensatory damages.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are meant to punish outrageous acts or instances of intentionally to harm. A lawyer familiar with the laws governing catastrophic injury cases could determine what types of damages may be available to an injured person.

Identifying the Value of a Claim for Compensation

It is understandable for any person suffering from a catastrophic injury to be curious about the potential value of their claim. However, there is no simple and exact way for an injured person to calculate the compensation they will receive by filing a lawsuit.

Fortunately, a consultation with a catastrophic injury lawyer in the Phoenix area could provide an injured person with an idea of their claim’s value. It is important to remember that no attorney can guarantee a specific outcome in an injury case. However, a knowledgeable attorney could carefully review the facts of a particular accident and related medical records to advise an injured person regarding what to expect. Our attorney’s evaluation could provide helpful insight into the injured person’s chances of obtaining the compensation they desire and fully prepare them for the litigation process.

Phoenix Catastrophic Injury FAQ

Below are answers to some commonly asked questions about catastrophic injuries. If you have specific questions about your situation, reach out to the Phoenix catastrophic injury lawyers at Zanes Law Injury Lawyers directly.

How Can I Prove My Pain and Suffering Damages in a Catastrophic Injury Case?

One of the major elements of your damages in a catastrophic injury case is pain and suffering, which is a payment that you receive for what you are experiencing in the wake of your accident. Of course, a large part of this is physical pain, but these damages can also include the difficulties that you are enduring in your overall day-to-day life, such as anxiety and depression that you are facing as you deal with your injuries.

By definition, pain and suffering is a very subjective part of your catastrophic injury case. After all, how can the insurance company know what you are dealing with if they will not place themselves in your shoes? They try to substitute subjectivity with an objective measure that always seems to try to underpay you. You never seem to benefit from an insurance company’s calculations.

At this point is where you need documentation of your experience after the accident. It starts with your medical records, but you should also be prepared to describe what you have gone through and will continue to in the future.

You can receive payment for future pain and suffering. This documentation can include:

  • Your medical bills
  • A daily journal that you keep of your experiences since the injury
  • Witness testimony about what you have endured
  • Testimony from your doctor about the extent of your injuries

What Is a Catastrophic Injury?

The category of catastrophic injury is far broader than you think. Usually, these involve injuries to the brain and spinal cord. There may be severe short and long-term effects of the injury. The damage will result in life-altering consequences. You may find you cannot work for an extended time—if you can earn a living again at all. Federal law defines a catastrophic injury as something that can “permanently prevent an individual from performing any gainful work.”

In any catastrophic injury, the victim loses something. This “something” can be normal brain function or the ability to walk or use limbs. They will require an extensive amount of rehabilitation (if any recovery is possible) and a high degree of care.

Can Medical Treatment Help With Catastrophic Injuries?

While these injuries will have a long-term effect on your life, there is some hope for recovery. However, these treatments can be very expensive. Catastrophic injury victims are often subject to years of surgeries and rehabilitation just to regain some of the function that they once had. In a best-case scenario, they can make a partial recovery.

Here is some of what can help catastrophic injury victims:

  • Emergency medical care is helpful in the short term, especially when dealing with a traumatic brain or spinal cord injury. This treatment can help stabilize the patient and get them out of immediate danger.
  • Catastrophic injury victims will need repeated surgeries over the years, necessary to make incremental improvements. It is not uncommon for them to need upwards of a dozen medical procedures.
  • Injury victims who have lost some function may gradually regain it through physical and occupational therapy.
  • Medications for symptoms can also help, although many of these prescriptions are prohibitively expensive.
  • Catastrophic injury victims can benefit from medical devices that can help them perform some functions of daily life that their injuries will not allow them to do for themselves.
  • If the catastrophic injury is a burn, the accident victim may need repeated skin grafts.

Why Are the Legal Considerations Different With Catastrophic Injuries?

Catastrophic injuries will have the same basic principles as any other personal injury case, both in terms of determining legal responsibility and financial compensation. However, catastrophic injuries, by definition, will be higher dollar value cases than a usual personal injury case.

When you or a family member cannot do things like working or walking, you will lose far more than an accident victim who recovers after a shorter time, meaning that you should be far more deliberate in your case, knowing exactly how much your claim is worth before you file it. In addition, you should take the time to establish the extent of your damages.

You can expect that a catastrophic injury case will require more investigation, given the extent of the damages involved. It may take more time to establish the extent of your medical injuries. Ideally, you will want your exact prognosis to be known before you file a claim or a lawsuit, and that can take time to know.

How Do I Prove My Damages in a Catastrophic Injury Case?

You can only receive money for damages that you can prove in a personal injury case, and it all depends on how badly you have personally been affected by your injury. You will need evidence that shows the specific harm that you have experienced in the past and that you will endure in the future. You can receive payment for everything lost, both previously and in the future.

What follows can establish the extent and amount of your damages:

  • Information about your earnings presently and your career path in the future
  • Your medical bills and the estimates of the future care that you will need
  • Testimony about how badly you have suffered since the accident
  • Proof of what your life was like before the accident and what you have lost out on in life

You can prove these damages with testimony from:

  • Vocational experts that can testify about the likely path your career path would have taken if you did not sustain the injury or injuries
  • Lifecare planners that can testify about what may be necessary to care for you in the future
  • Economic experts who can testify about inflation, both in terms of your possible earnings and how much healthcare costs will increase

You can expect there to be more disagreement about your damages in a catastrophic injury case because the future is always uncertain for accident victims. The insurance company may dispute your injuries. They may not even think that your injuries are serious. There may be a difference of opinion as to the extent of the recovery that you can make.

What Happens If a Catastrophic Injury Occurred at Work?

If you suffered a catastrophic injury at work, your claim will likely take on an entirely different nature. Assuming that there is not a third party (not your employer or coworkers) to blame for your accident, then you will need to file a workers’ compensation claim. There are pros and cons to this. Your compensation is likely to be far lower than it will be in a personal injury lawsuit.

You may receive just a percentage of your lost wages and payment for your medical care. You will not receive pain and suffering damages. However, you will likely receive compensation far more quickly than you would from a personal injury claim. In addition, you do not have to prove fault in a workers’ compensation claim. It does not matter whether you were to blame for your accident. Negligence is not an issue in these claims.

How Long Will My Catastrophic Injury Case Take?

One thing that you will need quite a bit of for your catastrophic injury case is patience because you can expect that resolving your case will take some time. You should put aside a focus on getting your money quickly. We understand that this is easier said than done because you need the money. However, an emphasis on time can lead to settling your case for less than it is worth.

With that in mind, settling your case can take months to years. It may be quicker if liability is apparent and you are due the policy limit. However, insurance companies will not easily write a large check. They will start with a lower offer and only raise it after you reject it and demand the money you deserve. This process takes time. Insurance companies will usually make you work for the money that they offer.

You need to prepare yourself for a long process and set your expectations accordingly. Settling your case too quickly can lead to leaving money on the table. It can mean that you have accepted a low offer and could have gotten more had you rejected it and filed a demand letter. Remember that you may need this money years in the future. An insurance company can offer you a large amount of money today, but you might get an even bigger check if you take the time to negotiate.

What Happens If an Insurance Company Denies My Insurance Claim?

While the insurance company certainly has power, at the end of the day, they are just a business. They cannot determine whether you legally should receive compensation. All they are is a gatekeeper. Your legal rights are determined conclusively in a court of law. If the insurance company denies your claim, you have several options.

First, your attorney can speak with the insurance company to learn more about the reasons for the denial. If it is simply a case of missing paperwork, you can refile the claim to the satisfaction of the insurance company. Second, you can file a lawsuit, and the jury will ultimately decide your case. You do not have to accept the insurance company’s denial as the final word about whether you can receive payment for your injuries.

Can I Afford a Catastrophic Injury Lawyer?

Money is an issue when you are facing a serious personal injury. Medical bills are increasing, and you cannot work, which is not the time to put out money for anything. The good news is that you do not have to spend money out of your pocket to hire an attorney.

Many types of attorneys ask for a retainer to take your case but not personal injury attorneys. Here, your lawyer receives a percentage of your recovery, but only if you reach a settlement or win your case in court. You do not need to pay anything upfront to retain an attorney. You are also not given hourly bills for work on your case.

If you do not win your case, you will not receive a large legal bill at the conclusion, meaning that hiring a lawyer comes at no risk to you. There is little reason not to hire an attorney in a catastrophic injury case.

Will I Have More Money for Myself if I Do Not Hire an Attorney?

Some people think that they are better off trying to settle their own cases. They may not want to pay an attorney the percentage of their proceeds. This mindset is shortsighted thinking, especially when you are dealing with a catastrophic injury.

First, finding someone else legally responsible for your injuries is far from assured in your case. It requires evidence and a presentation of your case to convince an insurance company or jury that you should receive compensation.

Once you establish that you should receive the money, the attorney will handle negotiations. If you are on your own, you will likely get far less than if an experienced attorney represents you. Research shows that represented people receive larger settlements, and the money in their pocket is greater even after accounting for the percentage that went to an attorney’s fees.

A Phoenix Catastrophic Injury Attorney Could Advocate for You

Doug Zanes

Doug Zanes, Phoenix Catastrophic Injury Lawyer

Severe injuries can be physically and emotionally overwhelming. You should not attempt to take on the legal claims process on your own, especially while you are still recovering from your injuries.

Trying to do it yourself places you at risk of falling victim to the games that insurance companies play, padding their profits at the expense of paying you. Hiring an attorney is a worthwhile investment in your future because you are at risk when your legal rights are unprotected.

Contact a Phoenix catastrophic injury lawyer who could advocate for you and improve your chances of success in court.

If you are dealing with the aftermath of a catastrophic injury, do not risk leaving the money you deserve on the table. Seek help from our catastrophic injury attorneys in Phoenix today.

Phoenix Catastrophic Injury FAQ

There are many ways that a company’s employee can cause a catastrophic injury. The most common scenario is a car or truck accident when the other driver is on company time. When it comes to personal injury liability, employees are considered one and the same as their employer. In other words, a company is liable for the acts of their employees when they are within the scope of their employment. Driving the company car for a personal errand is something that will not be within the scope of employment.

This means for you and your family that there may be a more significant insurance policy and more corporate assets that they could use to pay for your injuries. When you are dealing with catastrophic injuries, you could very quickly run up against policy limits. Companies will usually have more insurance because they do not want injured plaintiffs to go after their assets after they get a judgment.

Most often, the answer to this question is no. Your employer maintains workers’ compensation insurance that they use to pay when their employees suffer injuries. In exchange for paying the premiums on this insurance, the law prevents employers from being sued in personal injury lawsuits.

There is good news and bad news for injured employees. The good news is that they do not need to go through a lawsuit and prove that someone was negligent in getting compensation. The worse news is that workers’ compensation claims may not pay as much as personal injury lawsuits because you cannot recover non-economic damages.

You can file a lawsuit if you suffered an injury on the job and a third party that is not your employee was to blame for your injuries.

Most of your damages are for what you have endured after your injury. However, there are some ways that your claim can compensate for what your family has gone through.

Here are some:

  • Loss of Consortium – this is a claim that compensates the family for what they have suffered from their loved one’s injury. A spouse could lose some of their relationship with their spouse, including sexual relations. Children can lose an active parent who can participate in certain activities with them.
  • Lost Wages – accident victims can recover damages for lost wages that they could have earned. You can also include lost wages that family members could have earned when they need to miss work to take care of a seriously injured loved one.

Wrongful death – if an accident victim dies from their injuries, their family can file a wrongful death lawsuit to compensate for their losses when their loved one has died. This could include the loss of wages that their loved one would have earned and their grief and trauma from losing their loved one.

Unfortunately, accident victims cannot keep coming back for more money in the future if their injuries change over time and they need more money. This is why you need to take the time to prepare your claim now and try to understand your medical situation as best as possible. Before you submit a claim or lawsuit, your attorney will take the time to review your medical records and prognosis to figure out what your needs are.

At Zanes Law Injury Lawyers, we can work with medical experts and life care planners to come up with the most accurate damages estimates possible. This will not be a “back of the envelope” calculation. Instead, we will do our homework to make sure that you are asking for enough money. We know that the worst thing that our clients can do when they suffer a catastrophic injury is to settle their claim for too little.

No accident victim will ever have complete certainty about what the future may hold. The key is to have a Phoenix catastrophic injury lawyer who can do the work to understand what could happen as best as possible. We learn our clients’ unique situations and take the time to think ahead.

A catastrophic injury case is a form of a personal injury case when the accident victim has suffered a severe injury. The case still requires the same showing that the defendant was legally responsible for the injuries through their negligence.

The major issue is the complexity of a catastrophic injury case when dealing with damages.
You are likely dealing with significant lost wages, pain and suffering, and medical costs. In addition, there is likely going to be a significant difference of opinion on the value of these damages between the plaintiff and the defendant and their insurance company. This is a long-term injury that requires your lawyer to project out into the future. It will also involve a larger payout than a more standard personal injury case because you may never be 100% ever again after suffering such severe injuries.

When asked questions like these, many lawyers will focus on the statute of limitations and tell injured clients to file as soon as they can to not miss their legal window of opportunity to sue. In Arizona, the statute of limitations is two years from the time that you were injured or should have known that you were injured. However, many factors come into play when deciding to begin the legal process. The one thing that every lawyer can agree on is that you or your family should call a Phoenix catastrophic injury attorney as soon as possible after your accident.

It may not always be the best thing to start filing a claim right after your injury. You need to understand the extent of your injuries and long-term costs before you begin talking settlement. While everyone focuses on the statute of limitations, you will not miss it when you call a lawyer as soon as possible. There is a balance between starting the claims process and doing enough homework to know how much you deserve. The one thing to do quickly is to hire the right lawyer.

You hire a personal injury attorney precisely because you should not be speaking with the insurance company after an injury. No good can come of this conversation. You have to understand the role that the insurance company plays in your claim. They do not feel bad for you, nor do they care about your situation. Instead, they care solely about their own finances. You need to view everything that they do through the lens of saving money on your claim. They will not miss a chance to take advantage of you, even when you are severely injured.

If an attorney represents you, simply tell the insurance company to call your lawyer. If you are not represented yet by a lawyer, you should still not try to speak with them. Instead, you should politely tell them that you are not speaking with them, and then you should retain an attorney. The longer you go without legal counsel, the more you are at risk.

A catastrophic injury is paying you now for everything that you will suffer in the future. This may mean that you get a large check now. Not only do you need legal advice in your case, but you also need financial advice.

First, your lawyer will discuss settlement options with you. Some plaintiffs are better off when they receive a structured settlement that does not give them all of their money now. If you decide to take your settlement in a lump sum, you should have a financial advisor or planner who can help you with that money. The settlement will need to cover future medical expenses and lost wages, so it is crucial to be smart with the money and to resist the temptation to go out and spend. The reason why you are receiving this money directly correlates to the harm that you suffered.

Let’s face it — prices are going up very quickly in America today. Not only may your future wages increase, but the cost of healthcare also goes up far faster than the rate of inflation. When you are dealing with a large settlement, these are things that you need to think about.

At Zanes Law Injury lawyers, we work with economic experts to understand your particular situation and how inflation may affect you. This is something that you need to be concerned with, especially if you will no longer have the ability to earn money in the future. We work with vocational, economic, and healthcare experts to learn how things may change in the coming years.

Your catastrophic injury recovery can factor in future inflation because the law bases it on how you may suffer in the future. You should not lose sight of what the future value of your dollar might be tomorrow in light of all of the costs you may need to pay.

Your lawyer is most concerned with protecting your legal rights and helping obtain the highest amount of compensation possible for your injuries. To do this, they must learn about your situation while working to keep the insurance company or anyone else from taking advantage of you.

Catastrophic injury attorneys will usually:

  • Begin with trying to learn as much as they can about your case, both by asking you questions and performing an extensive investigation.
  • Make sure that you completely understand what is happening in your case and how you can best obtain compensation.
  • Keep the insurance company at bay while they work to establish and lay the groundwork for your claim.
  • Help you decide whether it is best to file a claim or go straight to a lawsuit.
  • Negotiate to hold the insurance company accountable when they try to offer you less than you deserve. They will also let you know whether any settlement offer that you receive is reasonable.
  • Aggressively fight on your behalf in court, if necessary.

At Zanes Law Injury Lawyers, we take a comprehensive approach to defending our clients’ interests. We are compassionate and sympathetic to our clients, but we will show insurance companies no mercy if they try to take liberties with our clients. We will do the work that is necessary to present the strongest case on your behalf.

Money worries should not be the reason that you do not hire a lawyer (in fact, there is no reason not to get an attorney). You have no risk in retaining a personal injury lawyer because they do not bill you for their services in a traditional way.

When you hire an attorney, you do not need to give them any money out of your own pocket. You also do not need to pay them if you do not win your case. Their compensation comes as a percentage of your recovery, whether you receive a settlement or jury award.

This is called a contingency arrangement. Your lawyer’s payment is contingent on yours.
This is why you can call a Phoenix catastrophic injury attorney at Zanes Law injury Lawyers with confidence and without concern.

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