If you have suffered a severe injury, you may be permanently out of work, require lifelong medical care, and have emotional distress. You may be wondering if your catastrophic injury qualifies for a personal injury lawsuit. If you’re filing in Pennsylvania, you’ll need to know how the state treats your injury.
A person has a catastrophic injury when “the direct and proximate consequences” of that injury “permanently prevent an individual from performing any gainful work,” according to 42 U.S.C. § 3796b.
A catastrophic injury can result from an accident or medical malpractice, and usually occurs suddenly and leaves the victim disabled in some form for the rest of their life. Suffering a catastrophic injury means that after the injury, your body is not functioning correctly or the same as it was before, and you will not recover.
Injuries that fall under this definition include brain injuries, spinal cord injuries that may leave the victim paralyzed, amputations, or severe burns.
A person may suffer a catastrophic injury through a variety of situations, such as a bicycle accident, serious car accidents, workplace accidents, a fall, or medical mistake.
The type of injury sustained can generally be categorized into three areas: physical injuries, spinal cord injuries, and cognitive injuries.
Physical injuries can include losing a limb, a severe burn, or eye injuries that result in sight loss.
Spinal cord injuries can result in total or partial paralyzation, meaning the victim can no longer use or control one or all of their limbs. Spinal cord injuries can also cause problems breathing on one’s own, spasms, chronic pain, or loss of bowel and bladder control.
Finally, cognitive injuries are the result of severe brain damage, from injuries such as a concussion. Approximately 1.4 million people in the U.S. suffer a brain injury every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Victims may suffer a brain injury from a car accident or sports injury. Brain injuries can result in memory loss, limited movement in arms or legs, inability to control one’s emotions, speech and language impairment, and learning disabilities.
If you can return to life as normal and resume working as you did before the injury, your injury was likely not catastrophic.
There are also some specific accidents for which Pennsylvania has special rules. If you were in a car accident, Pennsylvania is a “no-fault” insurance state, which means for automobile accidents that do not cause serious injuries, your personal car insurance will cover any damages, regardless of whose fault it is. If the car accident is deemed serious, then you may be able to hold the driver accountable.
There are two crucial factors, outside of the injury itself, that affect personal injury cases in Pennsylvania.
First, you should receive treatment for your injuries and work towards your Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI). When a patient reaches MMI, medical treatment will no longer help them improve or recover past this point. Your MMI will illustrate that you are no longer able to complete job duties or live as you once did.
Second, there is a two-year statute of limitations in Pennsylvania, which means you have two years from when your injury occurred to file the lawsuit. While it is crucial to recover from your injury, keep in mind you must file before two years have passed, even if you haven’t reached your MMI. If you don’t file the lawsuit within two years of your injury, Pennsylvania courts can deny hearing your case and deny you the right to any compensation.
If you live or work in Pennsylvania and recently suffered one of the catastrophic injuries discussed in this article, first, get the proper medical treatment right away.
Once a doctor has treated you, call the offices at Ross Feller Casey immediately. The most important thing you can do is heal, so our team will work to file the case on your behalf.
We have a national reputation for winning personal injury cases and have set records in the amount of money won in these types of cases. You may need these recoveries to pay for medical equipment, medications, physical therapy, to make your home handicap accessible, pay for any nursing care, and to make up for any lost wages you suffered due to your injury.
We know you’ve already suffered enough, so we take personal injury cases on a contingency basis, which means you don’t pay for our services unless we win your case.
Disclaimer: Ross Feller Casey, LLP provides legal advice only after an attorney-client relationship is formed. Our website is an introduction to the firm and does not create a relationship between our attorneys and clients. An attorney-client relationship is formed only after a written agreement is signed by the client and the firm. Because every case is unique, the description of awards and summary of cases successfully handled are not intended to imply or guarantee that same success in other cases. Ross Feller Casey, LLP represents catastrophically injured persons and their families in injury and wrongful death cases, providing legal representation in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.