Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Costs of a Catastrophic Injury in Florida

“Catastrophic injuries” are defined in the legal field as injuries so severe that they prevent any future gainful employment. Treatment for such injuries can range from emergency care, physical therapy, at home nursing services, surgery, and constant pain management. Over the course of years, especially without stable income, the cost of treating these injuries can become unmanageable, and many conditions may lead to continued physical and psychological deterioration.

Types of Catastrophic Injuries

Although any injury can be deemed “catastrophic” under the right circumstances, the most common types of injuries that result in a catastrophic categorization are as follows:

-Traumatic Brain Injury1 (“TBI”): Brain dysfunction caused by a violent external force, such as a blow to the head;
-Spinal Cord Injuries: Injury to the spinal cord or nerves at the bottom of the spinal cord that can cause paralysis, unrelenting pain, or inability to control your movements;
-Third or Fourth Degree Thermal Burns: When extreme heat, such as fire or steam, destroys the cells in the under-layers of the skin and may reach the bone or tendons (fourth degree burns);
-Organ Crushing Injuries: When pressure applied to the chest or other body parts is so severe as to cause the breaking of bones and injury to essential organs, such as the lungs and heart.

These injuries are common causes of permanent disability, disfigurement, or even death, especially when suffered as the result of a car or truck accident. Rollover accidents, which are a common type of accident that occurs in trucks or large vehicles, can result in the severe crushing of organs and burns if you are trapped in a vehicle fire.

Costs of Treating Traumatic Brain Injuries

The expense associated with each type of catastrophic injury will vary depending on the nature and severity of the injury suffered. For example, if a loved one suffered traumatic brain injury that resulted in a vegetative state, there is no limit to your potential medical expenses. In a vegetative state, patients have no cognitive function, but a certain part of their brain that remained uninjured still works to keep them in a waking or semi-waking state. However, a patient cannot respond to hunger, pain, or sound and requires constant hospice care. The estimated cost of caring2 for patients in vegetative state is nearly $150,000 per year. If that is multiplied by the average life expectancy of those in such a state, which can range from 1-10 years, it can result in millions of dollars in expenses.

Costs of Treating Spinal Cord Injuries

Severe spinal cord injuries can be some of the most expenses injuries to treat, as patients who suffer paralysis from such injuries require expensive medical equipment, constant nursing services, and specialized neurological and neurosurgical care. Further, such patients may never be able to return to their profession depending on the extent of their injuries. According to the Reeve Foundation,3 the average lifetime medical expenses, excluding lost wages and fringe benefits, for treating someone who has suffered a catastrophic spinal injury can range from $1,000,000 to $5,000,000. If you were injured at around age 25, which for young men is one of the most common ages to be involved in a DUI or auto accident, the average medical expenses are approximately $5,000,000 over the course of your lifetime, but you may also lose the ability to work and support yourself. The loss of your wages, pension, and fringe benefits such as health insurance, can result in over $1,000,000 of additional economic loss.

Catastrophic Injuries and Insurance Coverage

If you suffered a catastrophic injury as the result of a car accident, you may believe the liable driver’s insurance will be responsible for all your medical expenses; however, this is not the case. It is estimated that those who suffer from a catastrophic spinal injury will have $400,000 to $1,000,000 in medical expenses in the first year, but most Florida drivers only carry the mandatory state minimum insurance requirements of $10,000 per person. Even though Florida is a no-fault state, which means that Florida drivers are required to carry a certain amount of coverage for their own medical expenses, most drivers also only carry the state minimum, again $10,000. Accordingly, you will have exhausted almost all of your medical benefits in less than a month. Even your health insurance benefits may be capped, as many health insurance plans have lifetime and yearly payment maximums.

Economic Experts and Damage Assessments

Catastrophic injuries can affect more than your health, they can alter your career and ability to support your family. For some injuries, an injured individual may be able to return to work in a lighter capacity or change fields and have a fulfilling career, but for others, catastrophic injuries may spell an end to your earning capacity. An experienced Florida personal injury attorney will typically hire an expert in the field of economics to analyze your total lifetime economic loss as the result of your injuries. This expert will be able to write a report to the court that would help determine the value of your case. Although certain settlement offers may seem temping in the beginning, you should not settle until you speak with a personal injury attorney and an economic expert so you can fully understand the loss suffered.

Contact a Clearwater Personal Injury Attorney for a Free Case Analysis

Catastrophic injuries are life-changing, and it is important to have an advocate on your side to assist you and your family through the litigation process. Many insurance companies will try to convince you to settle your case early on, when in many cases you may not know the extent of your injures or chance of recovery for years. If you or a loved one suffered a catastrophic injury as the result of an accident, the Dolman Law Group may be able to help you get the compensation you deserve. Their attorneys are your premier traumatic injury lawyers in the greater Tampa Bay area, and they are here to fight for your rights. Contact them today at (727) 451-6900 for a free, no-risk consultation.

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765