What does it mean when someone talks about a catastrophic injury?

Personal injuries usually refer to physical injuries that are very severe, often life-threatening without emergency medical treatment. The severity of catastrophic injuries also means that they require the victim to undergo significant medical treatment with a long period of recovery. In many cases, but not always,  injuries are so extensive that they leave the victim with permanent disabilities.

What kinds of injuries would be considered catastrophic?

Any injury that’s sufficiently severe can be considered a catastrophic injury. Common examples include spinal cord injuries that result in paralysis (tetraplegia, paraplegia, and quadriplegia); injuries that result in crushed or amputated limbs; injuries that blind the victim; injuries that cause organ damage; and traumatic brain injuries.

Do catastrophic injuries result from certain types of accidents?

Catastrophic injuries can be caused by almost any type of accident. Victims can suffer catastrophic injuries from motor vehicle accidents, explosions, fires, exposure to toxic or caustic chemicals, construction accidents, agricultural accidents, defective products, aviation accidents, and boating and maritime accidents, among many others.

What sorts of compensation are available when someone suffers a catastrophic accident that’s someone else’s fault?

Someone who suffers a catastrophic injury can receive the same types of compensation as anyone who’s hurt in an accident caused by someone else. These damages can include compensation for the victim’s pain and suffering, mental anguish, past and future medical expenses, lost wages and reduced earning capacity, disfigurement and permanent physical impairment, and exemplary (or punitive) damages. Exemplary damages are meant to punish someone who causes injury to another by outrageous, malicious, or otherwise bad conduct and to deter such conduct by others in the future.

How do I know how much my catastrophic personal injury claim is worth?

Although damages can be substantial in many catastrophic injury cases, your case is unique. That means there’s no way to know what compensation you’re entitled to without knowing about your circumstances and how you were injured. A qualified Texas personal injury attorney is the best source for advice about your rights under the law. You should meet with a personal injury lawyer at your first opportunity after your accident. A personal injury attorney who has experience handling catastrophic accident cases can explain what claims you have and what compensation you may be able to recover based on your catastrophic injury.

What if the catastrophic accident was partly my fault?

Even if you are partly at fault for the accident that resulted in your catastrophic personal injuries, you may still be able to recover compensation. A qualified personal injury attorney can discuss the facts of your accident with you and advise you about your concerns.

I was in a catastrophic injury accident, but it’s taken a long time to start getting back on my feet. Have I waited too long to file a personal injury lawsuit?

In Texas, in most cases you must file a personal injury lawsuit within two years after the accident happened, so you probably aren’t too late. It’s important to protect your rights by talking with a qualified Texas personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after any catastrophic accident. Even if you think you’ve waited too long, talk to an experienced personal injury attorney now – you might still have a timely claim.

What happens if a catastrophic injury victim dies after filing a personal injury lawsuit? Does that mean the victim’s case is over? What about the victim’s family members – do they have a claim?

In the past, it was the rule in Texas that a personal injury claim no longer existed after the injury victim died. That changed when Texas passed the Texas Survival Statute. The Survival Statute allows a personal injury victim’s heirs or estate representative to pursue the victim’s claim. The heirs or estate representative can file a personal injury lawsuit after the victim dies; or, if the lawsuit already was on file, then the heirs or estate representative may keep the lawsuit going.

In addition, under the Texas Wrongful Death Act the surviving spouse, parent, or child of a personal injury victim may each have a separate claim for damages suffered because of the personal injury victim’s death.

I keep hearing from an insurance company after my catastrophic accident. They want me to settle my claim. How do I know whether the settlement they’re offering is fair?

Every case is different, but one thing’s for certain: the insurance company wants to settle your claim for as little as possible so they can make your claim “go away” quickly and cheaply. That’s in their interest, not yours. Don’t let the insurance company take advantage of you. Before accepting any settlement from an insurance company, you should meet with a Texas personal injury attorney who has the qualifications and experience necessary to evaluate your claim and advise you about your rights. That’s the only way you can make a smart decision about how to resolve your personal injury claims in the way that’s best for you.