From a legal standpoint, catastrophic injuries are those that carry extreme medical implications, leading to costs of care that are ongoing – usually for the remainder of the victim’s life. They are often the result of preventable accidents, so it is encouraging to know that if you are a victim of this type of injury, you may have legal remedies to obtain compensation under Maryland law. A lawyer can help you navigate the legal process, which may include filing an insurance claim, negotiating a settlement with the at-fault party, and/or filing a lawsuit against the responsible party or entity.
Examples of Catastrophic Injuries;
Catastrophic injuries are usually severe injuries that result in a permanent functional disability. Examples of this type of injury may include one or more of the following;
- Amputation of hands, feet, or limbs;
- Burn injuries that lead to significant scarring;
- Penetrating injuries to the brain;
- Loss of eyes or vision;
- Spinal cord injuries resulting in some degree of paralysis.
- Broken bones with permanent loss of function, strength or endurance;
- Lacerations; burns or other wounds that result in permanent scarring and/or disfigurement;
- Damage to internal organs; and,
- Brain bleeds or hemorrhaging resulting in brain damage
- Death (Wrongful Death)
How Catastrophic Injuries Happen
Though there are many specific reasons people may suffer catastrophic harm, the underlying cause of many accidents is human negligence. Negligence law in Maryland and Virginia requires the victim to prove that tortfeasor (at-fault party) had a reasonable duty of care, and failed to exercise reasonable care in a breach or dereliction of that duty and that the breach of duty was the direct and proximate (legal) cause of the victim’s injuries. Negligence can be constituted by a specific affirmative act, or an omission. (a failure to act)
Many victims sustain catastrophic injuries as a result of motor vehicle accidents, premises liability negligence, defective products or other types of negligence.
Damages for Victims of Catastrophic Injuries
One of the largest aspects of a catastrophic injury is usually ongoing medical costs. Depending on whether the injury is permanent or temporary and the level of disability they cause, treatment for catastrophic injuries may require:
- Emergency care, including emergency surgery;
- Long periods of hospitalization;
- Additional surgical procedures;
- Rehabilitation services and physical therapy;
- Treatment from specialists;
- At-home skilled nursing services;
- Modifications to your home and vehicle;
- Placement in an assisted living facility; and,
- Assistive devices and technology, such as a wheelchair or hospital bed.
In addition, there are other financial implications that arise from a catastrophic injury. For example, the victim may be out of work for some time while going through recovery, or may lose an aspect of their livelihood. For example, a surgeon who suffers a permanent hand injury might never be able to perform surgery again with a permanent functional hand-disability. If you are acting as a caretaker for a loved one who suffered catastrophic injuries, you may also be unable to work. Compensation may be available for these medical costs, lost wages, and many other economic damages, however the amount of compensation may depend on a variety of factors including but not limited to the unique circumstances of the individual who suffers the injury.
Many losses from catastrophic injuries are personal and subjective in nature. Therefore, it can be hard to assign a specific dollar value to such injuries. Lawyers often refer to this type of harm as non-economic damages.
Examples of non-economic damages may include;
- Pain and suffering;
- Emotional distress;
- Scarring and disfigurement;
- Loss of future earning capacity; and,
- Many others to voluminous to list here.
In Maryland, there is a cap on non-economic damages. It changes annually, so starting in October 1, 2022, the non-economic damages cap will be $920,000. It should be noted that this statutory cap on non-economic damages has no effect economic damage claims, which suffer no similar limitation.
Discuss Your Legal Remedies With a Maryland Catastrophic Injuries Lawyer
This article is meant to be an overview of Maryland Catastrophic Injury Law and is by no means exhaustive. If you or a loved one has sustained a catastrophic injury in an accident, it is critical to pursue those responsible for causing harm and to do so competently. The medical costs incurred over the victim’s lifetime can be devastating. To learn more about your legal remedies, give us a call today and we conduct a no-cost evaluation of your case.