What Are Some Catastrophic Injuries That Result From Trucking Accidents?
Due to the large size of 18 wheelers, victims of truck to car accidents can suffer an even higher incidence of catastrophic injuries than people in regular car to car wrecks. Some types of catastrophic injuries that result from semi-truck to car accidents are head trauma, concussions, back and neck injuries, including whiplash, and broken bones and other orthopedic injuries to joints such as knees, shoulders, ankles, wrists. Burns can occur if the car or truck catches on fire as a result of the accident. Some of the most tragic accidents can result in amputations or death.
I've seen spinal cord injuries that required surgery. One of my clients lost the use of the lower parts of his body. He could not go to the bathroom on his own any more and had to catheterize himself.
Another client of mine was in a small car that was basically crushed by a cement truck. The accident resulted in a head injury, and affected her vision by causing one of her eyes to wander.
I also represented a lady from New Orleans who had been involved in a wreck with an 18- wheeler that resulted in a fire. She was in her early twenties and suffered burns from the waist down and on her back requiring skin grafts and other treatments.
What Damages Are Typically Available In A Catastrophic Injury Claim?
People are almost always unable to work after suffering from a catastrophic injury. If you are employed, you will be able to claim past and future wage loss for any time you have missed work. Additionally, you can seek compensation for past and future medical bills you incur. You are also able to make a claim for what is called "mental anguish", which is worry. Physical impairment is the inability to pick up your child, jog, lift weights, ride horses, or complete other activities of this nature. A lot of people like to play sports, whether it's bowling, shooting pool, playing basketball or riding a bicycle. Those are all examples of physical impairment and damages you can be compensated for.
In terms of what you can get for pain and suffering, there is some variation from state to state. In Louisiana, for example, a jury awards gross wage loss and the total medical bill. In Texas, however, a jury awards net wage loss, which is after tax wage loss, and paid and incurred medical bills. So that's a smaller number. In order to get wage loss in the future, the truck accident lawyer that the person retains is going to have to get an economist involved to calculate loss of wages in the future, taking into account the time value of money and future medical bills. Occasionally, a life care planner is employed to testify regarding the different needs a person may encounter. For example, if a person has lost a limb, they will need a prosthesis. If the person is young, then they will need multiple prostheses throughout their life. A life care planner will calculate the value of the cost of the prostheses in the future, and then you can and seek those damages as part of the lawsuit.
Are Any Damages Available For Emotional Trauma And Things Of That Nature?
When there is a severe physical injury, you don't really call them emotional losses. Instead, you call them damages for pain and suffering or physical impairment. You still go to the jury and say, "I severely broke my arm and my bone was sticking through. I really can't use my arm like I used to. I need damages for that." However, you have to give the jury something more concrete than that. If, for example, a person used to go bowling all the time, then the attorney or somebody in the firm should go to that person's house and take pictures of all the bowling trophies that they have. They should also open up their photo album or look at their Facebook page in order to find all of the old pictures of them bowling. If a person used to go to the gym a lot and they lifted weights, then someone should go to the gym and ask for a copy of attendance records in order to show how many times the person went to the gym over the last year or so. A lot of people do things to improve or decorate their houses or yards, like putting in flower gardens and hanging up lights for Christmas. As a result of their physical impairment, they are no longer able to do these things. Again, you want to demonstrate to the jury that they used to enjoy those activities. You may do that by taking pictures of the flower bed.
In terms of showing mental anguish, we bring in family members to talk about the worries that the person has. If the worry is that they are not physically able to play with their children anymore, then they should bring pictures of their children, or pictures showing that the injured person used to play with their children.
In terms of pain and suffering, you can say that you're hurt, but it's better to bring in the records from the physical therapist in order to show that you reported a certain level of pain each day. You would also want to show which medications were needed due to the pain being so severe. You need to show some tangible proof of the pain, not just the word.
Another element of damage that you can get in a catastrophic injury case is disfigurement. If you end up with a scar that makes you unsightly, you can get pictures of the scarring. As another example, you may have a doctor talk about how a person with a plate in their neck after neck surgery is going to continue to have off-and- on pain for the rest of their lives. Again, a Life Care Planner's testimony would be helpful in this situation.
For more information on Catastrophic Injuries In Trucking Accidents, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (281) 819-3746 today.
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