A catastrophic injury is one that substantially affects the victim’s physical and/or mental condition to such an extent that it is life-altering. It includes serious bodily injury that significantly impairs a vital bodily function or causes severe disfigurement. It also involves an injury critical enough to prevent the injured party from being able to engage in further employment.
Because of the substantial damages involved in catastrophic injury cases, an experienced catastrophic injury lawyer from Toronto is essential if you are to receive the most compensation available. Do not hesitate to call a skilled Affinity Law personal injury lawyer from Toronto to handle your case.
Examples of catastrophic injuries include:
- Spinal cord injuries resulting in paralysis
- Loss of vision or hearing
- Loss of a limb
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Severe disfigurement from burns or other injury
- Organ damage
- Exposure to toxic chemicals or substances
Accidents that Cause Catastrophic Injuries
For such severe injuries to occur, the accident or condition that led to the injury must have been substantial. These would cover:
- Truck accidents
- Car accidents at high speed
- Swimming pool accidents leading to brain damage
- Motorcycle accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Dog bite or attack
- Surgical negligence
- Birth injuries
- Structural fires
- Defective household products
- Faulty electrical wiring
- Defective medical devices
- Construction accidents—falls or being struck by objects or equipment
- Medications leading to strokes, heart and liver damage, or birth defects
- Defective consumer products
- Chemical pollution of water and air
- Physical assault
Some of these accidents are caused by corporate, industrial, or medical negligence or individuals acting as employees, agents, or otherwise in their official capacity for these entities. This includes trucking companies, medical device manufacturers, doctors, hospitals, nursing homes, hotels, municipalities, chemical companies, contractors, bars and restaurants, and drug companies. If so, then there may be resources available that can adequately compensate the injured victim.
But because of the enormous resources of these entities and the substantial damages that most catastrophic injury victims sustain, you can expect a long or protracted legal battle to get you or a loved one the compensation to which you are entitled. Only a catastrophic injury lawyer from Toronto and Affinity Law should be handling such cases.
The following are some of the more common catastrophic injuries in more detail:
Traumatic Brain Injuries
It does not necessarily take a violent accident to cause traumatic brain injury (TBI). Any blow to the head can result in a concussion that if left untreated can lead to TBI and possible permanent brain damage. A concussion is a jolt to the brain causing it to move from side to side inside your skull cavity, bruising and damaging blood vessels and nerves. If there is bleeding, it can mean hemorrhaging that must be stopped.
Symptoms from a concussion may not be immediate with some not manifesting until days or weeks following the trauma. Symptoms include:
- Lack of balance
- Slurred speech
- Blurred vision
- Inability to focus or concentrate
- Sensitivity to noise and light
- Memory loss
Concussions are classified as Grade 1, 2 or 3. A Grade 1 is no loss of consciousness where symptoms dissipate or are gone after about 15 minutes. Grade 2 concussions also involve no loss of consciousness but symptoms last longer than 15-minutes. A Grade 3 concussion is loss of consciousness for any amount of time. The majority of concussion injuries are minor and victims are not left with any lingering or permanent injury.
A secondary impact, though, can lead to brain swelling and possibly death. This occurs when a person who is still recovering from a concussion or head injury suffers another traumatic blow to the head.
Long term effects from a concussion can be substantial and severe, including:
- Cognitive defects—memory loss, coma, attention deficit, difficulty problem solving, loss of time and space perception
- Perceptual defects—changes in sense of touch, smell, hearing or vision
- Behavioral—anxiety, depression, mood swings, quick to anger or aggression
- Communication problems—problems reading, speaking, comprehending
- Motor skills—difficulty swallowing, paralysis, weakness, tremors
- Social changes—depression, anxiety, awkwardness in social interactions
Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI)
Car accidents make up about 38% of spinal injuries followed by slip and falls that constitute 30%, according to a 2015 University of Alabama study. Motor vehicle accidents are generally the result of speeding, alcohol and drugs, fatigue, and distracted driving. The latter usually refer to the widespread use of smartphones while driving that re-directs the driver’s attention and focus from the road to texting or scrolling on the phone.
Slip and falls are often the result of wet or slippery surfaces from someone’s negligence or carelessness. This includes a failure to clean up spills, ice or debris on floors, driveways, entrances, or parking lot surfaces, poor or no lighting on stairways, loose or torn carpeting, and defective or lack of guardrails.
An SCI results from either a direct or indirect trauma to the spinal cord. Direct trauma is injury that directly to the nerves, while indirect is to the soft tissue, bones and vessels surrounding the spinal cord.
Also, spinal cord injuries are classified as complete or incomplete. A complete injury means that the victim has lost all sensation or ability to move below the level of the injury. An incomplete injury leaves the victim with some function and movement that is below the level or injury.
For severe injuries where the victim suffers a complete or incomplete SCI, the victim will need various degrees of assistance for months or during their lifespan, which includes long periods of physical and vocational therapy. Estimates are that the average annual expenses for a spinal cord injury ranges from US$ 228,500 to US$775,500 for the first year.
Burn Injuries and Serious Disfigurement
Burns are one of the most painful injuries anyone can experience. If you are burned in an accident caused by someone’s negligence, then you are entitled to compensation. Common incidences that lead to severe burn injuries include:
- Defective electrical wiring
- Car accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Gas explosions
- Defective household products
- Structural fires
- Construction accidents
There are generally 4 types of burn injuries:
- First degree burns are mild and result in reddening of the skin’s outer layer or epidermis. A mild sunburn is an example These injuries can be treated with aloe vera and antibiotics.
- Second degree burns affect the epidermis and lower layer or dermis, causing swelling and blisters. Treatment is by ointments or antibiotic creams.
- Third degree burns are severe—the burn goes through the dermis and affects deeper tissue resulting in charred or whitened skin. Such burns may require a series of painful skin grafts or use of synthetic skin. Intra-venous fluids and antibiotics.
- Fourth degree burns are the most severe as they damage underlying bones, muscles, and tendons. Nerve endings are destroyed so there is no sensation. Victims may suffer permanent damage and amputation of limbs. There may also be organ damage.
Your compensation in a severe burn case depends on the degree or extent of liability of the defendant, if you may have been comparatively at fault, and the available amount of insurance coverage or recoverable assets of the defendant.
If disfigured, your compensation or settlement will also depend on the extent of the scarring, its permanency despite surgery, your gender, and where the disfigurement is located. Facial disfigurement is obviously more visible and emotionally traumatic than if it appears on your leg, though women may be more sensitive to scarring there or to anywhere else on their bodies.
Defective Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices
Like any other negligence claim, there are elements or certain components of a case that the plaintiff or claimant must prove to have a valid and sustainable cause of action. For defective drugs or medical devices, these come under the principles of product liability, another aspect of negligence law. Negligence law has the following elements:
- The defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff
- The defendant breached its duty of care
- The plaintiff suffered damages
- The plaintiff’s damages were caused by the defendant’s negligence or breach of the duty of care
Drugs and medical devices are consumer products that must meet certain standards of quality and that they do or perform as advertised or intended. If they cause harm because of certain defects, then a product liability claim may be brought. These claims often entail:
- Defective design at a stage of the design process or testing
- Negligent manufacture of the product or process; or which tainted the drug
- Lack of or inadequate warning of the dangers or potential complications of the device or drug
- Failure to recall the device or drug
- Misrepresentation regarding the benefits of the drug or device; i.e., improper marketing
- Insufficient testing of the product
- Falsifying test results of the product.
Product liability claims are difficult and involve complicated issues of liability and causation as it pertains to damages. Trust you claim to a highly skilled and knowledgeable Toronto catastrophic injury lawyer from Affinity Law to handle a claim of this complexity.
Damages in Catastrophic Injury Cases
The effects on your life with a catastrophic injury are far reaching and often affect the families of the victims. The damages are usually far higher than in a typical personal injury case and there may not be enough insurance or personal assets from the liable party to fully compensate the victim.
If your injury was caused in a car accident, you may only collect general damages from the responsible motorist or party if your injuries are permanent and cause a serious impairment of an important physical function. Catastrophic injuries will generally fall within this threshold.
Damages can be a lifetime of lost earnings, lost earning capacity, enormous and ongoing medical expenses, and immeasurable diminution in the quality of life, pain and suffering.
Canadian law limits the amount of non-pecuniary damages, referring to pain and suffering or your diminished quality or enjoyment of life. Currently, the limit is $380,912.00, an amount adjusted for inflation each year. This amount is generally limited to the most extreme injury cases such as quadriplegia.
There is no limit on pecuniary or economic damages that covers past and future loss of earnings, medical expenses and care. Housekeeping and home maintenance is included.
The law also imposes a deductible on injury awards in car accident cases. As of 2019, there is a deductible of $38,818.97 on awards less than $129,395.49. The deductible does not apply for awards exceeding that amount. These amounts are adjusted yearly for inflation.
Affinity Law attorneys are experienced and seasoned lawyers who have handled numerous catastrophic injury cases with considerable success and have obtained millions of dollars in compensation for clients. Call a Toronto personal injury lawyer from Affinity Law for a free consultation about your catastrophic injury claim.
Call us today for a free consultation at (905) 738-2463