Catastrophic Injury Attorneys in Birmingham, AL
Cases involving serious and catastrophic personal injury or wrongful death are always painful and tragic. When a loved one is severely injured or killed due to the carelessness of another person or party, it is a devastating time for the victim and their family. Medical costs can easily exceed six or seven figures, and the injury could keep the victim out of work for several months or longer. On top of this, victims of serious injuries suffer immense physical pain, and there is great anxiety in the household not knowing when life can return to normal.
Our injury lawyers treat your case with sensitivity and treat you and your loved ones with the dignity and respect that you deserve. At Burge & Burge, our attorneys are sensitive to the tragic circumstances that bring you to our firm, and we provide the strong legal guidance and moral support you will need to help you get through this difficult time, so you can concentrate on healing.
Causes and Types of Catastrophic Injuries
Wrongful death or serious personal injury claims can arise from a number of different accidents or events, such as:
- Motor Vehicle Accidents: The impact of a motor vehicle crash, particularly one that occurs at a higher speed, can leave those involved with serious injuries. There are certain cases in which the likelihood of a catastrophic injury is higher; such as large truck crashes, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, train collisions, boating accidents, and multi-vehicle crashes.
- Workplace Accidents: In many industries and occupations, workers are exposed to hazards on the job every day. For example, some people work in elevated areas, enclosed areas, with heavy machinery, on wet and slippery surfaces, and in other dangerous environments. In most industries, an injured worker would first seek compensation through a workers’ compensation claim. However, there are cases in which a third party other than the employer may be responsible, in which case it may be possible to file a lawsuit directly against the responsible party. Railroad workers who get injured on the job can also file a lawsuit against their employer under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA).
- Premises Liability Accidents: Property owners and caretakers have a duty to take reasonable steps to keep their premises safe and free of hazards for visitors. When an owner or caretaker fails in their duty, and this failure results in a visitor getting seriously injured, it may be possible to file a premises liability claim against the responsible party.
- Medical Malpractice: Those who receive treatment from a medical professional have the right to expect competent care. When health professionals fail to meet even a minimum standard of care and a patient suffers a serious injury as a result, this constitutes medical malpractice, and these professionals should be held liable for their actions.
- Defective Product Accidents: Some serious and catastrophic injuries happen because of dangerous or defective products. There are countless new products that hit the market each year, and unfortunately, many have not been properly vetted. When the normal use of the product causes a severe injury, it may be possible to bring a product liability claim against the designer, manufacturer, supplier, and/or distributor of the faulty product.
Some of the injuries that might fall into the category of “catastrophic” include:
- Spinal injuries
- Explosion Injuries
- Burn injuries
- Brain injury
- Head trauma
Injuries like these are debilitating, and in some cases, they can end up being permanent. When this is the case, ongoing medical care will most likely be required, and the victim may not be able to return to his/her previous job or participate in any type of gainful activity at all.
Emotional Impact of a Catastrophic Injury
Imagine the stress that victims and their spouses are under when they have to deal with a catastrophic injury. Being thrust into a caregiving role is difficult for anyone, and many people have had to face this situation with parents or other aging loved ones. But when it happens suddenly after an accident or another type of unexpected event, it can cause an incredible amount of emotional and psychological trauma.
Consider also the changing relationship between children and parents who suffer a catastrophic injury. A parent whom the child has always seen as a strong provider and protector is now disabled and no longer able to provide. This parent can no longer drive them to and from school activities, fix things around the house, or prepare their meals. The role is suddenly reversed, and the injured parent needs assistance with every physical task.
To make matters worse, many catastrophic injuries have no clear recovery timetable. In other words, if it is a long-term debilitating injury, there is no projected “end date” for this situation. The effects of the injury could go on for years, and there may never be a return to the quality of life the family once enjoyed.
This does not mean that life is hopeless after someone suffers a catastrophic injury – far from it. Families tend to come together in the face of these types of adversities, and there are community resources and other places to get help. Although you may need to adjust to a “new normal”, you are not the only one who has ever had to face a situation like this, and you are not alone in this struggle.
Pursuing a Catastrophic Injury Claim in Alabama
When someone is seriously injured because of the negligence or reckless actions of another party, they deserve to be fully compensated. Several things must be considered when calculating your total losses for a catastrophic injury, and compensatory damages will fall into one of two general categories:
- Economic Damages: This is reimbursement for direct economic losses that the victim suffers. Examples include hospitalization costs, costs for surgeries and other types of medical treatment, rehabilitation expenses, costs for ongoing medical care, lost wages, loss of future earning capacity, and funeral and burial expenses (in the case of a wrongful death). If there was property damage, this would also fall into category of economic losses.
- Noneconomic Damages: This is reimbursement for losses that are real but intangible and more difficult to quantify. Examples include physical pain-and-suffering, psychological distress, loss of enjoyment, disfigurement, permanent injury, loss of consortium, and loss of comfort, guidance, care, and support.
In some more limited cases in which the actions that caused the catastrophic injury were willful, malicious, fraudulent, or grossly negligent, punitive damages might also be awarded over and above any compensatory damages the victim receives. Punitive damages are not intended to compensate the victim, but rather to “punish” the wrongdoer and help discourage similarly egregious actions in the future.
Although serious injury victims may be entitled to full and fair compensation, recovering compensation can be very difficult with these types of cases. Because the losses the victim suffers are more extensive than with standard injury claims, defendants tend to expend far more resources to fight these cases and minimize the amount of damages they will have to pay.
Catastrophic injury cases are even more challenging in states like Alabama, where they apply the “contributory negligence” legal standard. Most states use some form of comparative negligence, which allows victims to recover compensation even if they share some responsibility for the underlying accident or event that caused the injury. Under contributory negligence, however, an injured party can be barred from recovering compensation even if they are found to be just 1% at fault.
This is a very high bar to clear, and with so much at stake, it is all the more critical for victims of serious injuries to get an experienced attorney involved as early as possible. The other side will be at work right away preparing their defense, and you need a skilled advocate working on your behalf to protect and preserve your right to recover compensation.
Contact a Knowledgeable and Compassionate Alabama Catastrophic Injury Lawyer
If you have been seriously injured or have lost a loved one because of the negligent actions or misconduct of another, you will need experienced strong legal counsel to successfully pursue the claim. Our injury attorneys at Burge & Burge will provide you with quality representation and treat you with the dignity and respect you deserve. Contact us today at 205-549-8371 or toll free at 800-633-3733 or message us online to schedule a free, no obligation consultation with a member of our legal team.
Our law firm, located in Birmingham, Alabama, provides FELA and personal injury legal services throughout the Southeastern U.S., including the cities of Birmingham, Montgomery, Tuscaloosa, Huntsville, Dothan, Gadsden, Mobile, Anniston and Decatur. We bring FELA claims in many states, including Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, Kentucky, Ohio and Florida.