Phoenix Catastrophic Injury Attorney

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Phoenix Catastrophic Injury Lawyer

A catastrophic injury can be devastating for a person and even their family. These are injuries that usually have lifelong consequences and may very well result in a need for lifelong treatment and care.

Unfortunately, many of these injuries are the result of someone else’s mistake or error. If that’s the case, then you can give yourself a much better chance at a positive outcome by working with a Phoenix catastrophic injury attorney.

The substantial costs, whether financial, psychological, or emotional, that come with an injury are the responsibility of those at fault for the injuries. It will, though, most likely be their insurance company that will be accountable for providing the appropriate compensation.

The costs of a catastrophic injury can be substantial. It can often be difficult to get insurance companies to part with such a significant amount of money. Getting what you’re owed may mean needing to involve the legal system and the civil court process.

If that’s the case, the team of Phoenix personal injury lawyers at the Bleaman Law Firm can use their knowledge and experience to put together a strong case for liability on the part of the defendant and the compensation you need.

What Kinds of Injuries Are Considered Catastrophic in Phoenix, AZ?

Catastrophic injuries are those that make the biggest impact on a person’s life. They create life-altering changes. In many cases, they can result in a person’s physical disfigurement, impairment, and an inability to function the way they did before the injuries. A catastrophic injury is likely to leave a person needing medical treatment and other care for the rest of their life.

Some catastrophic injuries include:

How Do Catastrophic Injuries Happen?

In most cases, catastrophic injuries are the result of significant physical trauma. That means that any situation where someone could be exposed to that kind of trauma carries the risk of a catastrophic injury. Things like car accidents are certainly a possibility, but the more exposed a person is, the greater the risk. This means something like a motorcycle accident or a bicycle accident carries an even greater possibility of these kinds of injuries.

Although some situations are more likely than others to cause a catastrophic injury, the reality is that humans are more fragile than we might like to admit, and these injuries can happen in many different situations. Many of them are even things that appear to be a fluke occurrence.

Proving Liability in a Catastrophic Injury Case in Phoenix

In most cases, seeking the damages you are looking for from a catastrophic injury can be done through a personal injury claim in Phoenix, AZ. The key to being able to collect compensation in a personal injury claim is to demonstrate negligence on the part of the defendant. If their mistake, error, or even malice can be connected directly to the injuries that are suffered, then it’s possible to collect compensation.

Proving negligence is the job of the plaintiff’s lawyer. They will have investigated the circumstances surrounding the injury and can use the evidence they’ve gathered to persuade the court. They may also choose to make use of eyewitness claims if possible. Additionally, if the situation takes specific knowledge to understand, they may choose to make use of an expert witness to help the court understand a particular situation.

Duty of Care

The first element of a personal injury claim is demonstrating that the defendant has a duty of care. What that phrase means is that the defendant had a duty to the others around them to consider the effects of their actions and not to place others at any excess risk.

The idea of civil law is to address the things that we owe to each other as a result of belonging to a society. One of those things is to take reasonable precautions to protect the safety and well-being of those we come in contact with.

This duty looks a little bit different in every situation. When driving, it’s a duty to follow traffic laws and avoid driving recklessly. For a construction site, it’s a duty to keep the site as reasonably safe and free from risk as possible. The specifics of the situation will dictate exactly what duty is expected. Many times, it may even be as simple as living up to industry standards. This is true of something like a nursing home.

Breach of Duty

Once that duty has been demonstrated, the plaintiff’s attorney must then be able to show that there was a breach of duty. This is when someone fails to live up to the responsibility to take reasonable precautions to prevent others from being in any excess risk or danger.

To prove this, the plaintiff’s lawyer will first need to prove what exactly the defendant did in the situation in question. They’ll use the evidence they gathered in the course of investigating this case to demonstrate what the defendant’s behavior was.

Once the defendant’s behavior is shown, the plaintiff’s lawyer will then need to describe how exactly this behavior failed to meet the duty of care. This will look different depending upon the situation that was involved. For more familiar situations, this is easier to describe. Most everyone understands why something like drunk driving would be a breach of duty.

The more unfamiliar that the situation is, the more challenging it can be to explain the breach to the court. For instance, most of us aren’t familiar with what a skydiving instructor’s duty is. In those situations, it can be helpful to bring in an expert witness who understands the standards in a circumstance and can help explain the breach to the court.

Cause of Injury

The final thing that the plaintiff’s lawyer will need to show is that the breach was the cause of the catastrophic injury that was suffered. This connection might often require the plaintiff’s lawyer to prove first that the breach was the cause of some kind of accident and that the accident was the cause of the injury that was sustained. There are times when a breach is unrelated to an injury.

For instance, we could imagine a situation where a scuba diving instructor failed to give guidance on the proper use of equipment when underwater. That’s a breach but not the cause of the accident if someone slips and falls while still in the boat. Therefore, the connection between those two things must be direct and clearly shown.

The injuries, too, must be a direct result of the accident. This will generally not be heavily disputed in a catastrophic injury case because the injuries can be overwhelming. There are times, though, when someone might attempt to exaggerate the seriousness of their injuries. They could also attempt to pass off pre-existing conditions or something that was sustained after the accident as having been a result of the accident.

However, doing these kinds of things would be difficult in the case of a catastrophic injury because of the nature of the injuries. The plaintiff’s lawyer will still need to clearly show the connection.

What Compensation Is Available in a Phoenix Catastrophic Injury Claim?

Once the three elements of negligence have been proven, the plaintiff can then argue for compensation for the costs that were incurred. Here, again, it will be necessary to continue the line of connection from the breach.

The only costs the plaintiff will be allowed to collect on are those that are a direct result of the injuries sustained. Things like doctors’ notes, medical bills, and other documentation can be helpful in proving these connections. The compensation will be paid through a few different forms of damages.

Damages With a Financial Component

Economic damages are the simplest to calculate and understand, as they primarily cover costs that have a very clear financial component. Medical bills are an important aspect of what is covered by these damages. Many catastrophic injuries have significant medical expenses, possibly including doctors’ visits, tests, surgeries, medications, and physical therapy and rehabilitation.

All of these things are compensated under economic damages. Particularly important in the case of catastrophic injuries, which usually have ongoing costs, future medical expenses will also be calculated and addressed through economic damages.

In some cases, a catastrophic injury could also occur with some kind of property damage. For instance, if a car accident is involved, there may be damage to a vehicle. Compensation for these costs is also included in economic damages.

For those who were employed at the time of the injury, a catastrophic injury often means at least some missed work time and possibly never being able to return. In these cases, lost wages from being out of work will be covered by economic damages. This is another element that will consider future costs as well. Lost earning capacity may also be included in economic damages.

Damages Without a Financial Component

The costs of an injury, though, extend well beyond the tangible, financial aspects. There are intangible costs that are significant as well. Psychological and emotional disruptions can be significant and a tremendous cost to the victims and their families. Things like loss of enjoyment in life, pain and suffering, or loss of use of a body part are all compensated through non-economic damages.

The financial award of non-economic damages can’t fix the things that they address. They aren’t those kinds of problems. However, they may be able to ease some concerns in a different part of life. Perhaps that easing of stress can create more space to better handle and work through these challenges.

Damages That Punish the Defendant

A third possible category of damages is punitive damages. These are not determined based on the costs you’ve incurred but are rather an assessment of the defendant’s behavior. These damages are a kind of punishment for behavior deemed egregious. If a catastrophic injury is the result of something malicious or otherwise reprehensible, it’s possible that punitive damages could be awarded in addition to economic and non-economic damages.

Potential Limitations to Damages

A damage cap is not a threat to a damages award, as the state of Arizona doesn’t allow them. However, the comparative negligence rules that apply could impact your award. Under these rules, if the defendant is able to demonstrate that the plaintiff was also negligent in a way that contributed to their injuries, then their damages could be reduced proportionately to their share of the fault.

If the plaintiff is found to be 10% at fault on a $2 million award, the final damages received will be $1.8 million. In some states, a share of 50% or more prevents a plaintiff from collecting any damages, but because Arizona operates on pure comparative negligence rules, even someone 99% at fault could collect 1% of damages.

A Phoenix Catastrophic Injury Attorney Can Help You Seek the Compensation You Need

A catastrophic injury is a life-altering experience. The victims are left with permanent changes in their health, appearance, ability to move and work, and day-to-day life. In many cases, these injuries are the result of an accident that was someone else’s fault.

Whoever that liable party is, they are responsible for paying the costs incurred by those who were injured. The costs they face are significant medical bills, losing the ability to work, and tremendous psychological impacts. Most catastrophic injuries will require long-term medical care that can be costly.

Compensation for these things will usually be the responsibility of an insurance company that the liable party has a policy with. Ideally, these insurance companies would pay everything that’s owed without the process being difficult. Unfortunately, though, the ability to file a civil claim exists because it may be necessary to get the compensation you need. Even the credible threat of going to court may be able to bring about a more serious offer.

If you and your family need compensation for a catastrophic injury, working with a Phoenix catastrophic injury lawyer can put you in a better position to get what you deserve. At the Bleaman Law Firm, we use every option available to us to fight for what our clients need. Contact us today if you need compensation for a catastrophic injury.


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