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What should I do about catastrophic injuries that a loved one has sustained?

Catastrophic injuries are those that require significant medical treatment, and which usually have a long-term or permanent effect on an injured person's life. Some injuries are catastrophic, but with good medical attention the injured person can make a good or excellent recovery. Others cause permanent disability, significant suffering, and may substantially shorten an injured person's lifespan.

It is often a good idea to seek specialized legal assistance with catastrophic injury cases. For example, some personal injury attorneys have a much better understanding of closed head injuries or burn injuries than others. A catastrophic injury can necessitate a lifetime of medical care, or repeated reconstructive surgeries. It is helpful to have an attorney who understands the treatment and recovery process. A severely burned child may require repeated surgeries to accommodate growth, in addition to various cosmetic surgeries. A child with a bone fracture that affects a growth plate may face difficult bone-stretching procedures, and may never have normal use of an affected limb. If an attorney understands the long-term effects of an injury, the attorney will be better able to argue for just compensation.

When a person suffers a spinal cord injury, the person may face a life of disability and dependency. An active person can suddenly become an invalid, with injuries that cannot be treated by even the most advanced medical treatments. While there is always hope of a future medical advance which will ameliorate or even cure spinal cord injuries, at present medical science is limited. A parent whose child suffers a brain or spinal cord injury may suddenly find that the child requires full-time care. A brain injury may cause a personality change, causing a spouse, parent or child to suddenly seem like a different person.

One of the true tragedies of life is that many people are catastrophically injured, but cannot recover adequately for their injuries. Legislatures throughout the country have imposed caps on "non-economic" damages, which can be ridiculously low. Ironically, studies indicate that huge jury verdicts are rare, and that most injury victims are undercompensated. By misrepresenting the exceptional case as the norm, insurance companies have successfully protected their wealth at the expense of society's most vulnerable injury victims.

The worst and most dangerous drivers often carry the lowest possible amount of insurance that the law allows, or carry no insurance at all. Few people would voluntarily allow themselves to suffer even a simple fracture of a bone, even for tens of thousands of dollars. The amount of suffering that results from living a lifetime with disfiguring scars, or with a spinal cord or brain injury, is inconceivable.

If you or a loved one face recovery from a catastrophic injury, seek assistance from an attorney who has experience with your type of injury, and who knows how to find every possible source of recovery.

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