A catastrophic injury can be caused by almost any aspect of daily life. Regardless of how one was involved in a catastrophic injury, the important takeaway is that accident has dramatically changed the life of the injured person by impacting their health, livelihood, family, and future.
What Constitutes a Catastrophic Injury?
There is no official legal definition for a catastrophic injury. A reasonable person can conclude that not all injuries are the same. For example, fender benders, slip-and-falls, and general clumsiness may leave someone with injuries, medical bills, and time off work. However, a catastrophic injury renders a person completely incapacitated and unable to live a healthy and productive lifestyle.
These types of injuries can be caused by any number of accidents, including (but not limited to):
- High-impact automobile collisions.
- Construction accidents.
- Falls from high buildings.
- Real property defects like uncovered holes, damaged trees and other foliage, dilapidated structures, and exposed wiring or powerlines.
- Electrocution and fire.
- Injuries caused by hazardous chemical or pollutant exposure.
- Criminal violence, including gunshots, stab wounds, and being hit with blunt objects.
For a free legal consultation with a catastrophic injury lawyer serving Marion, call (901) 526-2126
Types of Catastrophic Injuries
Although the number of types of catastrophic injuries is theatrically endless, below are some of the most common forms of injury:
- Brain trauma
- Spinal cord damage
- Bone fractures
- Internal organ damage or failure
- Permanent hearing and vision impairment
- Mental and emotional anguish caused by severe physical trauma
Marion Catastrophic Injury Lawyer Near Me (901) 526-2126
Compensation for Catastrophic Injuries
Compensation for catastrophic injuries can vary depending on the circumstances of the accident. Not all cases have a set dollar amount but may include one or more of the forms of compensation:
- Loss of current and future wages: this includes loss of past wages that were missed because of the accident and a loss of earning potential for future wages
- Loss of consortium: a loss of one’s ability to display affection in a marriage or towards one’s kids putting a permanent strain on familial relationships
- Medical bills: the extraordinary cost of medical bills, which can include surgery, rehabilitation, physical and occupational therapy, psychological therapy, prosthetics, medication, and other medical supplies
- Pain and suffering: a subjective measure where finders of fact look to the physical discomfort and emotional distress a person suffers after an injury and compensates them accordingly
- Punitive damages: a form of damages meant to punish a defendant for their actions and deter certain behavior. Arkansas does allow punitive damages under very particular circumstances, which includes a finding that the defendant acted with malice, reckless disregard for others, or intentionally
Establishing Liability for a Catastrophic Injury
In many cases, the standard for determining a defendant’s liability is whether the defendant’s actions amount to negligence. For example, in Arkansas, the test for negligence is relatively straightforward.
Duty of Care
Under the first prong of the negligence test, a plaintiff must show that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care. Courts determine this by looking at other reasonably situated persons in the defendant’s position. For example, in a typical catastrophic car collision case, a defendant driver owes typically the plaintiff a duty of care based on other reasonably situated drivers on the road.
Breach of Duty of Care
Once a defendant’s duty has been established, the plaintiff must show whether the defendant breached that duty. To use the car example above, all drivers must abide by a set standard of traffic rules to lawfully operate their vehicles on the road. Any deviation from those rules like driving on curbs and sidewalks, speeding, running red lights, improper land changes, failure to use a signal, etc., may constitute a breach of that duty.
Once the plaintiff has shown the defendant owed a duty of care and breached that duty, the plaintiff must now show that the defendant was the actual and proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injury. Courts generally define actual cause as to whether the defendant’s actions caused the accident. For example, did the defendant collide with the plaintiff’s vehicle? Yes, then the defendant is the actual cause of the accident.
Proximate cause is a little trickier to understand. Many states, including Arkansas, use the “but for” or substantial factor test to determine whether a defendant was the proximate cause of an accident. Given the facts of the case, “but for” the defendant’s actions, the plaintiff would not have been injured. Alternatively, were the defendant’s actions a substantial factor in the plaintiff’s injury.
Finally, a plaintiff must show that the accident caused them harm in the form of monetary damages. When calculating damages, courts will look to use compensatory damages (medical bills, lost wages, pain, and suffering) to try to place the plaintiff in the position they were in before their accident. As explained above, a court may award punitive damages in rare cases.
However, more often than not, catastrophic injuries are caused by defendants acting recklessly or intentionally, making punitive damages a consideration in the case.
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Services Provided by a Catastrophic Injury Attorney in Marion, AR
An experienced Marion, AR catastrophic injury attorney has spent years seeing some of the most gruesome and unfortunate accidents. Because these cases drastically impact the lives of their clients, a quality catastrophic injury attorney has built a legal support framework to zealously and effectively fight for their client’s interests. Services provided by a catastrophic injury attorney include:
- Providing confidential and accessible legal advice ensures the client’s story has been heard and their issues are fully considered
- Conducting a comprehensive investigation of the facts of the case by obtaining and organizing medical records, collecting witness statements, and cataloging relevant legal documents and tangible evidence to support the injury claim
- Developing a sound legal strategy to incorporate the client’s preferred outcomes based on the severity of their injury
- Filing well-research motions in court and navigating the complexities of litigation
- Negotiating on the client’s behalf among interested parties, including the defendant and insurance companies
- Seeking settlements from interested parties if and when the client and Marion, AR catastrophic injury lawyer believe the settlement is in the client’s best interest
- Appealing rulings, where appropriate
Contact a Catastrophic Injury Lawyer in Marion, AR for Help
If you or a loved one has been involved in a catastrophic injury, they may be entitled to compensation under Arkansas law. Please contact a Gatti, Keltner, Bienvenu & Montesi, PLC, catastrophic injury attorney today for a free consultation.