Corpus Christi Catastrophic Injury Attorney
Accidents happen every day in Corpus Christi, and throughout Texas. Most of these accidents are the result of human error that is often brought about by negligence. Unfortunately, if you or a loved one suffered a catastrophic injury due to someone else’s negligence, you likely face a lifetime of recovery. Fortunately, Texas personal injury law provides an avenue whereby you can be compensated for your injury and the impacts it has on your life now, as well as how it will impact you far in the future. An experienced personal injury lawyer at The Patel Firm can help you understand your legal options.
6 Instances of Catastrophic Injury?
A catastrophic injury is one of a very serious nature that presents life-altering impacts on the sufferer’s life that may include his or her ability to work, enjoy things he or she enjoyed doing before the injury, and to accomplish daily tasks without assistance. These types of injuries are set apart due to their seriousness, and full recovery from such an injury is often impossible.
Examples of catastrophic injuries include:
1. Traumatic Brain Injury
According to information provided by the Brain Injury Association of America, an acquired traumatic brain injury is an alteration of the brain function caused by an external force such as a blow to the head, an object penetrating the skull and entering the brain tissue, or even the “whiplash” effect of the brain colliding against the inside of the skull due to a traumatic event such as a car accident. A brain injury is considered severe if it produces the following symptoms:
- Loss of consciousness for more than 24 hours (known as a coma)
- No sleep/wake cycle during loss of consciousness
- Signs of the injury appear on neuroimaging tests
While a person is experiencing a full coma, they are not eligible for any type of brain injury rehabilitation program. However, while some individuals remain in a coma for a long time, many will emerge from the coma or will experience an increased level of consciousness that will enable rehabilitation to begin.
Other consciousness disorders may appear, including:
- Vegetative state: While remaining unaware of what is going on around them, the victim begins to experience sleep/ wake cycles, normal digestion, breathing, and heart rate, may respond to painful stimuli and may open his or her eyes.
- Persistent vegetative state: This is the term given to an individual who experiences a vegetative state for more than one year after the accident that caused his or her brain injury.
- Minimally conscious state: While slight, the individual shows definite self-awareness or awareness of his or her environment.
- Locked in syndrome: Locked in syndrome is a disorder in which the individual is alert and aware but only able to move their eyes.
- Brain death: A condition in which all brain functions, including that of the brain stem, no longer work.
Even without a consciousness disorder such as those described above, individuals experiencing a severe brain injury are often left with deficits in their ability to speak, reason, control their bodily functions, or their impulses. While the brain does feature a limited ability to heal itself, many symptoms of a brain injury will remain throughout the sufferer’s lifetime.
2. Spinal Cord Injury
An estimated 1.2 million individuals are living with some level of paralysis as a result of a spinal cord injury. As explained by the Christopher Reeve Foundation, spinal cord trauma is more than the single event that caused the injury. The trauma takes place over the following hours and days following the initial killing of nerves and cells due to the injury. There is a cascade of bodily responses, including loss of oxygen and the release of chemicals that exacerbate the injury. Spinal cord injuries produce loss of function—known as paralysis—below the site of the injury. There are two types of spinal cord injuries:
- Complete: This occurs when there is a complete loss of sensation and function below the site of the injury.
- Incomplete: The individual retains some function and sensation below the site of the injury.
As spinal cord injuries create paralysis below the injury site, it stands to reason that injuries occurring higher up on the spine produce a more profound impact. There are four regions of the spine:
- Cervical: The highest part of the spine, occurring in the neck. This area of the spine controls the neck, arms, hands, and diaphragm. Injuries to this area of the spine often result in tetraplegia, often known as quadriplegia, which is the loss of function and sensation to all four limbs, the torso, and pelvis. The higher up the injury occurs, the more likely that the sufferer will require a ventilator to breathe.
- Thoracic: This part of the spine is in the upper back region and controls function to the torso and some parts of the arms. The higher up the injury is, the less likely the individual is of retaining control of the torso and trunk.
- Lumbar: This is the mid-to-lower part of the spine, and those suffering injuries to this region may retain the function of the hips and legs. The lower the injury occurs, the more likely the individual will be to be able to extend the knees.
- Sacral: This is the bottom-most part of the spine and is responsible for relaying signals to the toes, groin, and parts of the legs.
In addition to the loss of function and sensation to parts of the body, spinal cord injuries also produce such conditions as loss of bladder and bowel control, loss of sexual function, low blood pressure, deep vein thrombosis, spasticity, and chronic pain. Some secondary issues often experienced by spinal cord injury sufferers include pressure ulcers (bed sores), respiratory complications, urinary tract infections, obesity, and depression.
Traumatic limb amputation is the loss of a body part—such as a finger, toe, arm, or leg—as the result of an accident or injury, according to information from the U.S. National Library of Medicine. The limb might have been lost in the accident itself or may be later removed by doctors due to extensive damage that makes it impossible to repair. Some limbs could be reattached if special care of the residual limb is maintained before reattachment can occur. However, many times, severely damaged limbs offer no opportunity for reattachment. Some of the complications from limb amputation include:
- Severe bleeding
- Phantom pain, which is a psychological condition in which the brain perceives pain, such as aching or throbbing, in a limb that is no longer present
- Grief over the lost limb
WebMD reports that about 1.8 million Americans like with an amputation. The most common amputation surgery is the leg, either above or below the knee. Long-term care for amputated limbs includes physical therapy to improve muscle strength and control, activities that help a person to develop the skills needed to carry out daily activities independently, artificial limbs and/ or assistive devices, and emotional support in coping with a new body image.
4. Organ Damage
High impact accidents, such as the conditions often present in serious car accidents, can result in damage to internal organs. Not only does this place the victim at risk for internal bleeding, but can also result in the loss of the organ, or the inability for the damaged organ to perform its usual functions within the body. Organs may be damaged from the accident itself or a result of broken ribs from the accident, which can, in turn, damage other organs inside the body. Some of the organs that may sustain accidental damage include:
- Lung, such as when broken ribs collapse the lung, which is known as pneumothorax
- Abdominal aorta
Often, those who suffer internal damage are unaware initially that they have been injured. It is only after the symptoms of internal damage begin to appear that the individual realizes the severity of his or her situation. Some of these symptoms are:
- Abdominal pain
- Pale complexion
- Feeling dizzy or light-headed
5. Severe Burns
Third and fourth degree burns can cause permanent scarring, disfigurement, and many potential complications that can alter a person’s life. Third degree burns present widespread thickening of the skin, as well as a leathery, white appearance. Fourth degree burns feature the same symptoms, but the damage extends through the skin layers and into the muscles and tendons. Some of the common complications caused by severe burns include:
- Infections, including sepsis or tetanus
- Blood loss
- Dangerously low body temperature
- Emotional damage due to the new body image
Those suffering from a severe burn injury often require long-term care that includes surgeries, physical therapy, rehabilitation, and assisted care with completing daily tasks.
The eyes are particularly susceptible to damage in many types of accidents, which may result in partial or complete loss of vision. Some of the causes of accidental blindness include penetrating trauma to the eyes; particles becoming embedded in the eye; chemicals; or electric shock. Though damage to vision can sometimes be reversed through immediate treatment, many people are left with ongoing blindness due to their injury.
Head injuries may cause blindness either by damage to the parts of the brain that control vision, as well as damage to the optic nerves. Optic nerve damage may, in some cases, be repaired through surgery, resulting in the individual regaining some or all of his or her vision.
Accidents That Cause Catastrophic Injuries
Most types of accidents have the potential to cause catastrophic injuries. However, the risk of severe injury is higher with some accidents than others. Some of the most common causes of catastrophic injuries include:
- Motor vehicle accidents, including those involving passenger cars, company vehicles, motorcycles, bicycles, aircraft, or boats
- Workplace injuries, including construction sites, where there is a risk of falling, becoming caught in an object or between two objects, or coming into contact with dangerous chemicals
- Premises liability accidents (Slip and Fall Accidents), such as accidents at amusement parks, swimming pools, inside collapsing structures, or hazards that can cause a person to fall from a height.
What Is Negligence?
Negligence is a person’s carelessness or recklessness that results in an accident. In personal injury law, when a person seeks compensation for their injuries from another party, they must be able to establish that the other party’s negligence was the proximate cause of their injuries. This is established by showing:
- The other party owed them a duty of care. The duty of care depends entirely on the actions that were taking place at the time of the accident. For example, in a car accident case, the duty of care one driver would owe to another would be to operate their motor vehicle in a safe and lawful manner.
- There was a breach in the duty of care. Just like with duty, the breach depends on the actions involved. Using the same car accident scenario, the breach in the duty of care may be operating the vehicle while impaired by alcohol, or driving while drowsy.
- This breach resulted in the accident, which caused the injuries.
While any accidental injury can be the subject of a personal injury lawsuit, often catastrophic injuries result in the highest value cases. In this instance, highest value doesn’t mean more important. What it does mean is that more money will be required to treat the long-term complications of the injury and to account for the more dramatic impacts on a person’s life, and to the lives of his or her loved ones.
A catastrophic injury lawyer will help determine a value to your case that reflects the expenses you have already faced, those you face in the future, and non-economic damages such as pain and suffering or the ability to provide for yourself or your family due to the severity of your injuries.
Need Assistance Now?
If you or your loved one has suffered a catastrophic injury due to an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you deserve a lawyer who can help you obtain the most compensation possible to ensure that your current and future needs are met. Contact us at The Patel Firm PLLC online or by calling (361) 400-2036 to schedule your free consultation.