Whenever someone suffers a traumatic brain injury, paralysis due to spinal cord damage, or any catastrophic injury due to the fault of another, there are two parts to the case. The first is establishing liability by showing someone ran through a red light, distributed defective drugs or other products, or was responsible for some other reason. The second is determining the amount of the damages. What is the case worth based on the severity of the injuries?
It’s much easier to place a figure on a claim when the injuries heal, such as when a broken arm is placed in a cast and then the cast is removed months later. With catastrophic injuries, the harm can last a lifetime. Any settlement requires reasonably anticipating what the victim’s medical needs will be for the rest of his/her life and how much pain and agony he or she will suffer for the duration of his/her life.
Factors in assessing damages
Placing a value on a TBI, spinal cord damage, burn injuries, or any catastrophic injury requires preparation and attention to detail. One way to estimate damages is to review how similar cases have been resolved for patients with similar problems. There are databases and reports that experienced catastrophic injury lawyers and insurance companies will result to compare your case (or the case of a loved one) to others with a similar diagnosis.
The more accurate way to evaluate the damages is to work with the medical professionals who treated and will treat you to determine your past and future expenses and to work with financial professionals as well. In catastrophic injury cases, the key parts of a catastrophic injury claim are generally evaluated as follows.
- Medical expenses. These costs include:
- The expense of any surgeries and treatments – past and potential (for the future)
- An itemized list of each and every doctor and therapist the victim will need to see. This includes how often they’ll need to see them, what each physician or therapist charges, what complications may require other doctors and therapists, every medication, and the cost of all medical devices.
- The cost of all support services including in-home care and the cost to live in any private or state-run nursing home or care facility.
- Lost income. An accident victim who was earning an income or could reasonably be expected to earn an income is entitled to damages for the loss of income through the date of the settlement or verdict. They are also entitled to any future income losses. A starting point for placing a figure on this economic loss is to assess the person’s yearly income level and then multiply it by their life expectancy.
- Pain and suffering. This evaluation is done by reviewing all the pain and suffering the patient has endured and will endure. Usually, the medical specialists such as neurosurgeons, psychologists, and others can detail what the victim’s life will be like for most days of the rest of his/her life. This includes their loss of function, their inability to have normal relationships, their need to rely on others, their emotional problems, and each and every difficulty they are likely to face. Pain and suffering can (typically) be assessed in a number of ways, based on how severe the injury and losses are. Insurance companies may use a “multiplier,” while a jury may look at the damages, and considering all the evidence, decide what is appropriate.
There are many other factors that need to be reviewed and detailed depending on the specific type of injury involved. In some cases, such as burn cases, victims also have the right to demand compensation for scarring and disfigurement.
Factors involved in payment of catastrophic damages
Once the case is valued, the primary payors of your damages will be the insurance company for the responsible driver, property owner, manufacturer or other neglectful parties. These insurance companies will only pay up to their policy limits. In car accident cases, you may have the right to file an underinsured or uninsured motor vehicle claim. Expenses beyond the policy limits may be paid by Medicaid, Medicare, or other federal or state programs.
Many times, a structured settlement is considered. Here the amount of the settlement is essentially held/invested to cover the cost of bills as they become due. This type of settlement is used where there are concerns that otherwise the funds will be spent for nonmedical care instead of the essential medical care.
Why Plattner Verderame, P.C. is the right team to help you
Our Phoenix catastrophic injury lawyers have obtained substantial, multi-million dollar awards for our clients. For example:
- $17.5 million settlement for a child born with birth defects due to chemical exposure of the mother
- $25 million for a car crash involving a catastrophic brain injury to a small child
- $10 million verdict for an airplane crash involving serious injuries to passengers of a small airplane on a sightseeing trip over the Grand Canyon
While our awards are significant, we also offer a benefit to our clients because all of our partners are Board Certified Specialists in the areas of Personal Injury and Wrongful Death. This means that we “have demonstrated superior knowledge, skill, integrity, professionalism and competence in a specific area of law, to better serve the public.” Out of more than 18,500 active members of the Arizona Bar, only 700 are Certified in one of the 8 areas of law.
Finally, we understand how life-changing catastrophic injuries are – not just for the victim but for the family and support givers too. We work aggressively to prove individuals and companies caused these crushing injuries. Our Phoenix catastrophic lawyers then document and explain the overwhelming expenses and losses that are reasonably likely. We offer our clients honest, practical guidance about what difficulties they may face, and we fight for the best possible outcome at every step.
At Plattner Verderame P.C. we’ve been fighting for injury victims since 1991. If you or your loved one has sustained a catastrophic injury, we want to help you. Call our experienced Phoenix injury lawyers today. You can make an appointment by calling 602.783.8793 or filling out our contact form.