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Catastrophic Injury Lawyers in Los Angeles

The effects of a very serious injury go beyond physical pain. Victims of catastrophic injury in Los Angeles may be temporarily or permanently disabled, which can wreak havoc on everything in their lives: jobs and marriage, plans for the future, even their independence. It’s no exaggeration to say that this type of loss is emotionally devastating as well as physically painful. And unfortunately, a catastrophic injury is almost always financially devastating as well. Even if you have medical insurance, the cost of surgeries, hospitalization and other costs can quickly skyrocket into the tens of thousands. And of course, victims may not be able to go back to work for months or may not have jobs waiting when they return — if they can work at all.

If you or a loved one was catastrophically injured by another person’s bad decisions or bad behavior, you have a legal right to hold that person responsible for the results. An experienced Los Angeles catastrophic injury lawyer can help you make your case and collect the maximum possible financial compensation. That money can’t reverse a catastrophic injury, but it can help victims get the care they need and live with dignity and independence.

Why Choose Us?

The Los Angeles catastrophic injury attorneys of Panish Shea & Boyle are renowned as some of the top trial attorneys in the United States. Our partners have extensive experience litigating over catastrophic injuries caused by airplane, helicopter and train crashes; serious auto accidents; unsafe pharmaceuticals; corporate fraud; and defective consumer products, especially defective auto parts. We have handed many complex national or international lawsuits, and have taken leadership roles in several national class actions and consolidated cases over aviation disasters and defective drugs.

  •  Our long history of positive results for badly injured clients.
  • Our dedication to individuals and families throughout California.
  • Our custom-tailored legal strategies during personal injury claims.
  • Our recognition in the industry, including a Tier 1 ranking by Best Lawyers®.
  • Our honest business practices, including affordable and transparent fees.

Panish Shea & Boyle has a strong record of recovering significant verdicts and settlements for its clients. Our attorneys have won the largest verdict in American legal history; the largest defective tire verdict in the United States; and the largest verdict ever awarded against the City and County of San Francisco. In fact, we have won more than 150 verdicts or settlements of $1 million or more. All of our attorneys are active members of professional legal organizations such as the Consumer Attorneys of California, and partners have been repeatedly honored with titles such as Most Influential Attorneys and Best Lawyers in America.

What Classifies as a Catastrophic Injury?

Catastrophic injury is a legal term. It refers to an injury that is so severe it will permanently affect an individual. A catastrophic injury may cause permanent scarring and disfigurement, for example, or a lifelong disability that prevents an individual from enjoying everyday life. Catastrophic injuries often take individuals out of work as well, leading to a lifetime of lost wages and earning opportunities. Catastrophic injuries can significantly and irrevocably impact a victim’s life, livelihood, enjoyment of life and ability to work.

Catastrophic injuries are also more likely to impact the entire family compared to less severe injuries. Family members may have to act as caregivers for someone with a permanent disability. The family may also incur costs related to ongoing care, such as medical bills, special education for a child, physical therapy, rehabilitation, travel expenses, medications, medical devices and live-in nursing care. Furthermore, the victim will not be able to contribute to household income or household chores due to a disability that renders him or her unable to do so.  

Finally, catastrophic injuries can have a devastating effect on a victim’s emotional wellbeing. The victim may suffer depression, anxiety, mental anguish, lost quality of life, humiliation, inconvenience, post-traumatic stress disorder and many other examples of emotional distress due to his or her permanent injuries. The victim’s family could also experience noneconomic damages, such as a loss of the injured person’s affection, care, parental guidance and spousal consortium. Greater emotional damages can translate into higher damage awards for catastrophic injury claims.

Examples of Catastrophic Injuries

Catastrophic injuries often describe permanent injuries, such as a spinal cord injury that causes permanent paralysis below the point of the injury (e.g. quadriplegia or paraplegia). Any injury with a poor prognosis for full recovery could constitute a catastrophic injury under California’s civil laws. If the injury takes the victim out of work, it may also be catastrophic in the eyes of the law. Common catastrophic injuries in injury claims in Los Angeles include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Severe head or skull injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Third-degree burns
  • Significant scarring or disfigurement
  • Temporary or permanent disabilities
  • Losses of significant bodily functions
  • Vision or hearing damage
  • Losses of limb
  • Any injury that requires intensive or long-term medical care

The definition of a catastrophic injury in a civil claim can be relative. The same injury that could be catastrophic to one victim may be only moderately harmful to another depending on the victim’s age, health, pre-existing conditions and many other factors. Whether or not an injury is catastrophic depends on how much it impacts the victim’s life. If you are not sure whether you or a loved one’s injury qualifies as catastrophic in California, talk to an attorney. A Los Angeles personal injury attorney will know how to recognize catastrophic injuries and understand the state’s related laws.

What Can Cause a Catastrophic Injury?

Many different accidents in Los Angeles can cause catastrophic and permanent injuries. Any incident that involves blunt force trauma to a victim could cause fractured bones and internal damage. These are serious injuries that could permanently affect a victim. At Panish Shea & Boyle, LLP, our lawyers represent victims during many different types of accident cases, including accidents that frequently cause catastrophic injuries.

  • Car accidents
  • Truck accidents
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Pedestrian and bicycle accidents
  • Falls
  • Dog attacks
  • Diving accidents
  • Sports accidents
  • Construction accidents
  • Defective products
  • Medical malpractice
  • Acts of violence

You may have grounds to file a claim for a catastrophic injury in California if someone else’s negligence caused the accident that injured you. The legal doctrine of negligence describes a breach of the duty of care owed. If you or your attorney can prove, using evidence, that someone else lawfully owed you a duty of care but did not meet the standards of this duty, you can recover compensation for your injuries and losses. For example, if a drunk driver gave you a permanent spinal cord injury, that driver may owe you a financial recovery. The word for this compensation in the civil justice system is damages.

Damages for Catastrophic Injuries

It is critical to have everything you need to take care of yourself or your family member after a catastrophic injury. The average catastrophic injury can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical care alone over a victim’s lifetime. This does not include the added costs of lost wages and property repairs. Securing a monetary award could give you the ability to pay for your catastrophic injury and look to the future with greater peace of mind. It could also provide justice by holding the at-fault party accountable. A catastrophic injury can make a victim eligible for greater compensation for his or her losses than a minor injury. The damages available for your catastrophic injuries will depend on the circumstances of the case and your losses.

  • Past and future medical expenses. The total costs of a catastrophic injury could exceed $1 million over a victim’s lifetime. As a plaintiff, you could recover 100% of the medical and treatment costs related to your catastrophic injury.
  • Lost wages and lost capacity to earn. You could recoup the costs of wages you have already lost from missing time at work, as well as foreseeable future lost earnings if a disability prevents you from returning to your job.
  • Pain and suffering. Catastrophic injuries cause immense pain and suffering. This type of award could cover physical suffering, emotional distress, mental anguish, psychological trauma, inconvenience, humiliation, lost quality of life, diminished enjoyment of life and loss of consortium.
  • Property repairs. If the accident that gave you a catastrophic injury also damaged your property, such as damage to your vehicle in a car accident case, the defendant may owe you compensation for property repairs or replacement.
  • Out-of-pocket costs. If your accident or the legal process led to out-of-pocket costs, such as travel expenses, legal fees, court filing costs, health care deductibles or property repairs, you can list these expenses as part of your personal injury lawsuit.
  • Punitive damages. A judge may grant a punitive damage award to punish a defendant for gross negligence, maliciousness, intent to harm, recklessness or wanton disregard for others’ safety. Punitive damages are more common in catastrophic injury cases than ordinary injury claims.  

Damages in catastrophic injury cases in California are often substantial. It is important not to accept an insurance settlement offer before bringing it to a lawyer for a review. Insurance companies often offer amounts that do not provide fair values for the victims, especially for serious or catastrophic injuries. Your lawyer can negotiate with an insurance company for a fair settlement for your past and future losses. At Panish Shea & Boyle, LLP, we always fight for maximum compensation on behalf of our clients.

How Do Catastrophic Injuries Differ From Other Types of Injuries?

The main difference between a catastrophic injury and another type of injury is the severity of the injury. Catastrophic injuries cause major disruptions to a victim’s life. In contrast, an ordinary injury will only impact the victim temporarily. A victim will make a full recovery from a noncatastrophic injury over the course of several weeks or months. A catastrophic injury will impact a victim for the foreseeable future and possibly for the rest of his or her life.

While an ordinary injury could still result in significant medical costs and pain and suffering, these losses have an end date in sight. Catastrophic injuries, on the other hand, will affect a victim without any foreseeable end. The permanency of a catastrophic injury results in greater damages for the victim, such as lifelong medical care rather than a temporary treatment regimen. Thus, the settlement and verdict values for catastrophic injury cases typically exceed those of ordinary injury claims in California.

A catastrophic injury case may have to deal with California’s cap on noneconomic damages. California legislature has a noneconomic damage cap of $250,000 on medical malpractice cases. This damage cap means no victim can recover more than $250,000 in noneconomic damages for a medical malpractice claim. For other types of claims, however, no cap on noneconomic damages exists. Although any type of injury claim for medical malpractice may encounter this cap, it is more often an issue during catastrophic injury cases.

Catastrophic Injury Verdicts & Settlements

  1. Anderson v. General Motors $4,900,000,000
  2. Griggs v. Caterpillar, et al. $55,832,000Joseph B. Griggs sued West-Pac Industries after the Catepillar scraper he was operating burst into flames resulting in third-degree burns over 75% of his body. Attorney Brian Panish argued that the fire was due to a defective mechanical product in the hydraulic system of the construction vehicle. A jury agreed, awarding Griggs 55,832,000.
  3. Lampe v. Continental General Tire $55,000,000
  4. Nelsen v. Hillyard, Inc., et al. $21,067,093Largest personal injury verdict in San Bernardino County history.
  5. Tilton v. Southern California Gas Co. (Sempra Energy) $15,000,000
  6. Wu v. Singapore Airlines $15,000,000
  7. Beltran v. Boeing, et al. $13,550,000Largest known settlement for military personnel injured during the war in Iraq awarded to Juan Beltran and Ron Carns for injuries they received. Beltran was represented by Kevin Boyle and was awarded $11,247,500 for injuries he suffered in a helicopter crash in Iraq which left him paralyzed.
  8. Pogosyan v. Southern California Rapid Transit District (SCRTD) $22,000,000Pogosyan lost her leg above the knee and suffered severe internal injuries when a car being chased by Southern California Rapid Transit District struck her while she was getting out of her car. The jury awarded $22 million in the pedestrian accident case, resulting in a $13 million award following liability adjustment.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, call us today at (877) 800-1700 for a free case evaluation.

HOW CAN WE HELP YOU?

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