More than 400,000 motor vehicle accidents occur on Florida’s roads and highways each year, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV). Fortunately, the majority of these accidents are minor fender benders with no bodily injury. However, over 250,000 of those crashes result in injuries. Not all injuries are severe, but those that are can permanently change the lives of victims and their families.
Catastrophic injuries result in chronic, long-term conditions or permanent disabilities that prevent victims from returning to work or seeking gainful employment in the future. Beyond the physical pain and emotional trauma of catastrophic injuries, the extreme cost of medical expenses and a lifetime of lost wages make dealing with such injuries more stressful and more traumatic than with other injuries. Making matters worse, the vast majority of auto accidents are preventable. This means you or your loved one likely could have avoided this devastation were it not for the negligence of another motorist.
If you, your child, or another close family member has suffered catastrophic injuries in an Orlando traffic accident, you are likely experiencing a life-altering transition. You have the right to hold the party accountable who caused you harm, so that party doesn’t hurt anyone else in the future. An experienced catastrophic injury lawyer has the empathy and compassion to help you through this challenging time and advocate for you, so you get the compensation that you and your family deserve.
If you live in the Greater Orlando area, contact the skilled catastrophic injury attorneys at Michael T. Gibson, P.A., at (407) 490-1271 to learn how we can assist you in the aftermath of a catastrophic injury.
Our Results in Catastrophic Injury Cases
The qualified legal team of Michael T. Gibson, P.A., has almost two decades of experience in negotiating, settling, and litigating auto accident cases, including those involving catastrophic injuries. The firm’s passionate commitment to client service, seeking justice, and case preparation have resulted in the recovery of millions of dollars in damages for injured clients.
Recent cases involving catastrophic injuries range from $600,000 for a family of three that suffered injuries in a traffic crash on the interstate to $3.2 million in a wrongful death suit after a truck hit a vehicle head-on, killing one person and severely injuring another. These cases serve as examples but do not guarantee a specific outcome in your catastrophic injury claim. Each accident has specific factors that can add to or detract from the value of a claim.
Regardless, the legal team at Michael T. Gibson, P.A., has the resources and know-how to build a strong case against those who caused you harm, maximizing your chances for a positive outcome.
Types of Catastrophic Injuries
You might assume that all severe injuries are catastrophic in nature, but this is not the case. Catastrophic injuries are a specific legal classification of injuries in which the victim suffers an injury resulting in permanent disability or a chronic lifetime condition. Any injury that prevents a victim from returning to his or her former job or finding employment in the future falls under the umbrella of a catastrophic injury. Some of the most common types of catastrophic injuries that victims experience in auto accidents include:
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
The impact of a traffic collision can lead to a traumatic brain injury when it jars the head or if an object strikes a person’s head during impact. Not all TBIs, however, are catastrophic injuries. Even mild TBIs, more commonly called concussions, can cause lifelong damage and force victims to cope with many different challenges. However, many TBI victims find ways to cope with their challenges and remain capable of working. In the event of a severe auto accident, a TBI can be catastrophic.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that severe TBIs cause long-term difficulties in four areas of function:
- Cognitive function. Major struggles with cognitive functions can include difficulty learning because of short-term memory problems and trouble focusing.
- Motor function. Severe dysfunction of motor skills can include difficulties with coordination and balance and general feelings of weakness. Those unable to coordinate movements or keep regular balance will have difficulty with employment.
- Sensation. Individuals who suffer a TBI can experience a wide array of potentially catastrophic results, including struggles with hearing and vision. TBI victims might lose hearing or suffer from ringing in the ears. Such individuals can also lose some or all of their vision, depending on the part of the brain affected by the injury.
- Behavior. Changes in behavior remain one of the most common issues that TBI victims and their families must face. Victims often suffer from increased aggression, depression, and anxiety. Even more catastrophic is uncontrollable and inappropriate social behavior, making it difficult, if not impossible, to work, especially when combined with other functional loss.
Spinal Cord Injury
Not all spinal cord injuries are catastrophic, but many are. The location of the injury along the spinal column serves as the primary indicator of the level of functional loss that a person experiences. Unlike many other cells in the body, spinal cord cells don’t regenerate, so damage is often permanent. When an injury occurs near the tailbone or lower back, the loss is limited. Spinal cord injuries that occur in the neck, near the brain, typically result in full-body paralysis from the neck down, known as tetraplegia. Those with severe spinal cord injuries must be confined to a wheelchair for life and need ongoing medical treatment and nursing care.
Motor vehicle accidents, especially head-on collisions at high speeds, can lead to crushed limbs upon impact. Legs get trapped under the steering column or dashboard, and victims who don’t die upon impact cannot move. When legs get crushed, they no longer receive blood flowing from the rest of the body and begin to die. This can cause infection to spread to the rest of the body and potentially lead to death. Doctors try to restore blood flow to crushed limbs, but it isn’t always possible. Amputation is the last resort and often the only way a physician can save a car accident victim’s life. Amputees must deal with the pain of losing a limb as well as the emotional trauma of their loss. Amputation doesn’t always mean a person cannot work, but it does lead to challenges that can impact a person’s ability to do certain jobs and affect the amount of income that they can ultimately earn.
Like other auto accident injuries, back injuries are not always catastrophic. However, a person who suffers a severe back injury can tell you it’s one of the most excruciatingly painful and debilitating injuries to experience. Severe back injuries, such as herniated discs, fractured vertebrae, and slipped discs, prevent victims from finding comfort whether they are sitting, standing, or lying down. Many back injury victims must have one or more surgeries to help alleviate pain and repair the issues, but even surgery doesn’t eliminate all of the pain and suffering. Some back injury victims suffer pain for the rest of their lives to the extent that their injuries impact their ability to work.
Permanent Vegetative State (PVS)
A severe head trauma can leave an accident victim in a permanent vegetative state (PVS). This means that he or she can have sleep and wake patterns but remain unaware of their surroundings and also have no self-awareness. PVS is the most catastrophic of all injuries. Victims obviously cannot take legal action on their own, so someone must consult with an attorney on their behalf. PVS requires costly, long-term nursing care, an expense that isn’t covered under insurance policies. Getting compensation from a car accident settlement after a victim is diagnosed with PVS can help provide the funds for needed care.
Catastrophic Injuries Create Massive Financial Burdens
Victims and their families can suffer massive financial difficulties after a catastrophic injury. Losses are much greater than other types of car accident injuries. Depending on a household’s situation before a catastrophic injury, some families can face bankruptcy, foreclosure, or repossession, while also accumulating credit card debt.
Some of the most costly aspects of a catastrophic injury include:
- Medical expenses. The medical costs for treating a catastrophic injury are astronomical compared to lesser injuries. In addition to ambulance and emergency services, accident victims may need to spend weeks, maybe months, in the hospital, all while racking up bills for doctor visits, medication, diagnostic imaging, and specialists. It’s not uncommon for those who suffer catastrophic injuries to undergo one or more surgeries to keep them alive or try to correct one or more medical issues.
- Rehabilitation expenses. Those who suffer catastrophic injuries, by definition, will never make a full recovery. Regardless, most need to undergo some sort of rehabilitation to help them improve as much as possible. Rehabilitation typically includes a variety of different specialists. Physical therapists can help victims build muscle, regain strength, and possibly regain some lost function. Occupational therapists can help accident victims learn how to complete daily tasks in different ways when a disability prevents them from performing tasks the same way they did before the injury. If an injury results in challenges with speech and language, a speech pathologist helps victims communicate. Catastrophic injuries are also emotionally traumatic events, which means victims who have retained their mental capacity likely need behavioral therapy to deal with the trauma of their accidents and injuries.
- Lost earning capacity. The inability to work and bring home a paycheck can be one of the most devastating financial aspects of a catastrophic injury, especially if the accident victim contributed a large portion of the household income. Even when children are accident victims, a parent sometimes must quit his or her job to care for the child. Children who suffer catastrophic injuries may never have an opportunity to go to college or vocational school and build a career. Lost future wages are often a large part of a catastrophic injury claim because families often suffer when a team member cannot contribute.
- Home modification expenses. In the fortunate event that an accident victim can return home after a catastrophic injury, it’s likely that he or she will need to make some modifications to his or her home to make it more accessible. Depending on the extent of what is needed, home modifications can prove a costly endeavor. They might include installing grab bars and handrails throughout the home, especially in the bathroom and shower. Home modifications might also include constructing a wheelchair ramp and building a main-floor living area for those who cannot go up and down stairways.
- Replacement services. Auto accident victims, especially adults, who suffer catastrophic injuries may struggle to help maintain the household in the way that they did before their injuries. In some cases, family members can chip in and pick up the slack, but many families might need to hire outside help, depending on what chores the victim completed. Some examples of replacement services include hiring a lawn care service, a cleaning service, a pool maintenance service, or a handyman who can take care of fixing things inside and outside the home. Other examples might include someone who helps cook, grocery shop, and do laundry. Finally, some families need to hire a nanny, use a daycare service, or find after-school help for young children.
Contact an Orlando Catastrophic Injury Lawyer at Michael T. Gibson, P.A.
If you live in the Greater Orlando area, and you or a loved one has suffered a catastrophic injury in an auto accident, contact the experienced catastrophic injury lawyers at Michael T. Gibson, P.A., online or at (407) 490-1271 for a free consultation and to determine the best path forward for you and your family. The skilled legal team at Michael T. Gibson, P.A., understands the challenges you face in the wake of a catastrophic injury, and we can help you through this difficult time of transition.
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“I couldn’t be happier with the services provided to me by Michael T. Gibson’s team. Kathy, Jeannette and Amit did an outstanding job in representing me. Throughout the entire process they kept me updated, were easily reachable via email or telephone and always maintained kindness, patience and professionalism. I highly recommend using Michael T. Gibson’s law office as your auto justice attorneys. You will be in the best hands.” -Ash T.