Legalese-Free Answers to Your Top Questions About Catastrophic Injury Cases

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Personal injury cases are already confusing in most cases. But they can become even more so when catastrophic injuries are involved. Here are the top three questions people ask about these cases, answered in language you don’t need a legal degree to decipher:

What Injuries Are Considered “Catastrophic”?

Based on a definition set by the American Medical Association, a catastrophic injury is a very serious injury that impairs the victim’s ability to live life as he or she did before. Most often, these are injuries to the spine or spinal cord (including some spinal fractures), the brain, or the skull.

How Are Settlements or Damages Affected?

In all personal injury lawsuits, there are two separate categories that go into determining the amount of money the victim may receive (either a settlement or damages as part of a court case). The first category is economic, and includes things like medical costs and lost wages. The second is non-economic, and includes pain and suffering or emotional distress. While the latter category is always difficult to attach a figure to — what’s a fair price for spending months recovering, or having to retrain for a completely new career? — catastrophic injuries make the former category less clear-cut as well because future medical costs and ongoing care should also be taken into consideration.

Why Should I Hire a Lawyer for Catastrophic Injuries?

If you or a loved one has suffered a catastrophic injury, it will change your life. Having the financial support you need to help you weather those changes can make a big difference, and that’s why it’s generally not worth trying to go through a case like this on your own. Hiring a great lawyer doesn’t have to be prohibitively expensive, either; even many top law firms work on what’s called a contingency fee in personal injury cases, meaning they only get paid (as a percentage, typically) if you recover something through a settlement or trial.

Do you have any tips to share on hiring a lawyer for catastrophic injuries? Join the discussion in the comments.

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