Atlanta Catastrophic Injury Law Firm
Catastrophic injuries often have a devastating impact on the victim as well as the victim’s family and loved ones. Catastrophic injuries can happen suddenly and without warning, and one’s life can be changed forever. Recovering from a catastrophic injury is complicated, difficult, and costly. It is costly in terms of financial loss as well as physically and emotionally. Unfortunately, catastrophic injury cases usually result in severe and permanent disabilities. The far-reaching and long-lasting consequences of a catastrophic injury make it critically important to look for an experienced attorney who has handled numerous catastrophic injury cases in Georgia. The catastrophic injury attorneys at Finch McCranie LLP have handled many of these cases over the past several decades. If you or a loved one has suffered a catastrophic injury, contact us today for a free consultation at 404-658-9070.What Types of Injuries Are “Catastrophic” Injuries?
The types of injuries that are typically categorized as “catastrophic” include brain and head injuries, paralysis, spinal cord injuries, amputations, and burn injuries.Brain and Head Injury
A brain injury can have far-reaching physical and psychological effects. A traumatic brain injury (or “TBI”) is sudden damage to the brain caused by a blow or jolt to the head. Common causes include car or motorcycle crashes, tractor trailer accidents, falls, sports injuries, and assaults. A traumatic brain injury can encompass everything from a mild concussion to severe permanent brain damage. Symptoms of a traumatic brain injury include headaches and migraines, dizziness, sensitivity to light, fatigue, confusion, visual difficulties, and seizures and post traumatic epilepsy. Beyond just the physical limitations, there are many emotional and psychological difficulties that arise with a critical TBI, many of which develop and/or last well beyond the initial injury. More so than any other issue, impaired memory and thought appears to be an ongoing problem for patients. Although there is general improvement in cognitive function over time, many still have significant deficits years after the injury.
Other persistent non-physical issues that may be permanent include sleep difficulties, inability to manage time and get things done, deficits in attention and concentration, depression and anxiety, aggression and other personality changes. Certain emotional symptoms also can newly develop after the initial stages of recovery. In particular, irritability is a side effect that is not typically present at the initial time of the injury but which can manifest within the first three years. And it is important to remember these types of mood and emotional changes are impacted by lasting physical problems like chronic pain. The longer these problems continue, the more burden is felt by patients. This makes treating the most troublesome physical complaints a critical part of post-TBI care.Paralysis
Paralysis is defined as the loss of the ability to move (and sometimes to feel anything) in part of most of the body, typically as a result of illness or injury. The paralysis may be partial or complete. Paralysis of the lower half of the body, including the legs, is call paraplegic. Paralysis of both the arms and legs is called quadriplegic. Paralysis can occur as a result of auto accidents, motorcycle accidents, trucking accidents, pedestrian accidents, police or emergency vehicle accidents, and medical malpractice.Spinal Cord Injury
There is a wide variety of injuries and trauma that can occur involving the spinal cord. The spinal cord is largely comprised of disks and vertebra. Unfortunately, a large portion of back and spinal cord injuries result in persistent problems with pain and movement. Depending on the severity of the spinal cord injury, it can result in a lifelong struggle with chronic pain.Amputation
An amputation is the removal of a body part that is enclosed by skin. In our experience handling catastrophic injury cases in Georgia, the most common scenarios that result in amputation occur after an auto accidents, pedestrian accidents, trucking accidents, and construction accidents. Amputation cases are especially difficult because they almost always require expensive medical care for the duration of the amputee’s life.Burn Injury
According to the American Burn Association, each year there are 1.1 million burn injuries in the United States which require medical treatment. Roughly 45,000 of these injuries require hospitalization, and of those approximately 4,500 of these victims die. Many of these injuries are caused by the negligent or reckless conduct of another party.
Burns may result from fires, automobile accidents, work-related injuries, defective products and many other causes. These injuries often cause extreme pain and can lead to life-threatening infections and severe disfigurement.
There are three types of burns: first-degree, second-degree, and third-degree. These are classified in ascending order, with first-degree burns being the least severe and third-degree being the most severe.
First-degree burns are the least severe type of burn because only the outer layer of the skin is damaged. As with sunburn, the skin turns red and may feel warm and painful. However, there are no blisters or open areas. First-degree burns can heal on their own without medical treatment. Recommended treatment methods are soaking the affected area in cool water (not ice water) for five minutes and covering with a clean bandage. Over-the-counter pain medications such as Ibuprofen may be used to relieve pain.
Second-degree burns are more severe, since they damage part of the inner layer of the skin as well as its outer layer. The burned area turns pink or red, is very moist and develops blisters. As with first-degree burns, this type of burn can usually heal on its own if it is not very deep. However, if the burn is deep, the healing skin will be more fragile and is likely to reopen. Skin grafting may be necessary for deep second-degree burns if (1) the burn takes a long time to heal, (2) severe scarring occurs, and/or (3) the burn reopens.
Third-degree burns are the most severe type, since they destroy both the outer and inner layers of the skin. The burn may appear white or leathery, and may not be painful. (Third-degree burns can sometimes destroy the pain-sensing cells in the skin.) Very small third-degree burns may heal on their own, but this process takes a very long time. Any third-degree burn larger than a fifty-cent piece must be grafted or it will not heal.
In severe burn injury cases, many times it is necessary to perform a skin graft to treat the burned area. A skin graft is a thin layer of skin taken from one area of a person's body to cover another burned area of their skin.
If you or a loved one have suffered a catastrophic injury, it is important to contact a Georgia catastrophic injury attorney as soon as possible. It is critically important to hire an experienced, competent catastrophic injury attorney to investigate the incident immediately. Over time, evidence disappears and eyewitness memories fade. It is important for your Georgia catastrophic injury attorney to obtain and preserve all relevant evidence and to interview eyewitnesses while their memories are still fresh. If you or a loved one suffered a catastrophic injury in the State of Georgia, we encourage you to contact one of our catastrophic injury attorneys at Finch McCranie, LLP for a free consultation.
Catastrophic injury cases are different than other personal injury cases due to the severity of the injuries. Catastrophic injuries almost always involve permanent, lifelong disabilities or disfigurement. This almost always results in much higher medical expenses than in a regular personal injury claim. Additionally, because the injury is typically permanent, the future expected medical expenses are often projected to be hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars. Catastrophic injury cases are typically more difficult than a regular personal injury claim due to the fact that most insurance companies will resist paying a large settlement whenever possible.
An attorney’s initial handling of a Georgia catastrophic injury case will be dictated by the particular facts and circumstances of each case. If there is a dispute concerning how and why the incident occurred, and which party or parties are legally at fault for causing the catastrophic injury, the attorney must take the necessary steps to investigate the liability portion of the claim. This can involve inspecting and documenting the scene where the catastrophic injury occurred, interviewing eyewitnesses and obtaining sworn statements, and subpoenaing records and documents necessary to prove the case. The Georgia catastrophic injury lawyers at Finch McCranie LLP employ retired FBI agents as investigators in certain cases.
In many catastrophic injury cases, if there is any dispute as to how the incident occurred or which party or parties are legally responsible for causing the injury, it is necessary to file a lawsuit against the responsible parties. In a Georgia catastrophic injury case, after the defendants have been served with the lawsuit, the parties are entitled to conduct discovery in order to prepare the case for trial. If the Georgia catastrophic injury lawsuit is against a company or large corporation, this discovery process will often involve subpoenaing documents such as safety manuals and policies & procedures, the employment file and personnel records of the at-fault employee, and documents and electronic communications concerning the underlying incident. Oftentimes if there is a corporate defendant, we will take a 30(b)(6) deposition of a corporate representative. In a 30(b)(6) deposition, we submit a list of topics that we would like to cross-examine the corporation on. The corporation may choose whomever they like to serve as that representative. That representative is, from a legal standpoint, speaking directly on behalf of the corporation. Oftentimes these depositions can provide critical evidence which allow us to prove our case.
Conversely, a defendant in a catastrophic injury case is also entitled to conduct their own discovery. This usually centers on obtaining information about the nature and extent of the catastrophic injury. This involves obtaining all of the medical records for treatment for the catastrophic injury and all past medical bills. As discussed in more detail below, in many of the catastrophic injury cases handled by our firm, we will retain the services of a lifecare planner to assist in proving the future medical care and treatment that will be necessary.
The parties in a civil lawsuit in Georgia typically have six (6) months to conduct discovery. However, in catastrophic injury cases, due to the complicated issues in typically very high recoveries, this discovery tract is usually expanded to at least eight (8) months, and in most cases one year.
If there is no dispute as to how and why the catastrophic injury occurred, the attorney will move on to investigating available sources of recovery. This includes performing an in-depth investigation to determine the existence of insurance policies which may provide coverage for the catastrophic injury claim. The attorney will also interview the physicians and healthcare providers of the victim to determine the nature and extent of the catastrophic injury victim’s injuries, current problems, future prognosis for recovery, and any future medical care.
In Georgia catastrophic injury lawsuits, there are two categories of damages available to victims, economic damages and non-economic damages.Economic Damages
Economic damages include medical expenses, loss of earnings, cost of retaining domestic services, and loss of business or employment opportunities. The medical expenses in Georgia catastrophic injury cases can be extensive. Due to the nature of the catastrophic injury, it is common that the victim will need some form of medical treatment and assistance for the rest of their life. In these types of cases, we almost always retain a life care planner as an expert witness. A life care planner’s job is to project the future needs of an individual who has suffered a catastrophic injury. This can include physical therapy, prosthetic limbs (which must be replaced every few years), cost of home healthcare workers, cost of domestic health, and any future medical treatment and surgery. Depending on the extent of the catastrophic injury, these life care plans often end up being millions of dollars. Simply proving the cost of future medical care and treatment, and any other needs the injured person will incur in the future, in and of itself is a difficult task. This is why you should only hire an experienced Georgia catastrophic injury lawyer who is familiar with all of these issues that arise in these cases. Among the things a life care planner will consider when preparing a particular life care plan, they will take into consideration medical examinations and treatments, homebased or facility based care, physical, vocational, and occupational rehabilitation therapy, psychological assessments, therapy and counseling, adaptive devices such as walkers, wheelchairs, hospital beds, home adaptations such as ramps, widened doorways, bathroom renovations, and transportation assistance such as a modified van with a wheelchair lift, etc.Non-Economic Damages
The non-economic damages are the intangible losses suffered by a catastrophic injury victim. They include physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, disability or disfigurement, emotional distress, loss of society and companionship, loss of consortium, etc.
Recovering for a catastrophic injury claim is a multi-factored approach. First, it is necessary to identify the party or parties responsible for causing the catastrophic injury. Once you have identified the appropriate parties, your lawyer must then prove that those persons or entities are legally responsible for causing the harm or injury.
Insurance also plays a big factor in catastrophic injury cases. Unless the defendant is a large corporation with deep pockets, in all likelihood recovery will be limited to the insurance the defendant had in place at the time of the incident. If the defendant who caused the injury only has minimal insurance coverage, and no valuable personal assets, unfortunately in many instances the injured party is unable to obtain fair compensation.
If you are looking to hire a Georgia catastrophic injury attorney, it is very important that you retain a lawyer who has experience in investigating and identifying every potential insurance policy which may provide coverage for the incident. There have been several instances where the catastrophic injury attorneys at Finch McCranie LLP have been referred cases by other lawyers and we have successfully identified, and recovered, insurance proceeds that have not been previously discovered.
There are many law firms that handle catastrophic injury cases, but very few whose lawyers actually try these cases to a jury on a regular basis. Finch McCranie LLP is one of those few. Our catastrophic injury attorneys have extensive jury trial experience, which enables us to prepare each case with a willingness to go to trial. Because opposing firms know this, it allows us to resolve many cases before trial. In the cases we choose to take to trial, we have a long track record of success in obtaining multi-million dollar verdicts on behalf of our clients.
If you or a loved one has suffered a catastrophic injury, contact us today for a free consultation at 404-658-9070. You will speak directly with one of our Georgia catastrophic injury attorneys.