Severe / Catastrophic Injuries
When a catastrophic injury occurs, it is imperative that the victim or the victim's family hire an attorney that not only has the ability to understand his client's concerns, but also has the experience to educate the client about potential future difficulties that they may encounter.
That's because catastrophic injuries are different from other injuries in many critical ways. The impacts they have upon the victim, as well as his/her family, are often far more disastrous and long-lasting than other types of injury situations.
Catastrophic injuries span a variety of types of cases, including:
Many times, the person directly impacted by a catastrophic injury will be permanently disabled and unable to work as a result. They may also be rendered completely unable to care for themselves, requiring others to provide 24/7 care and meet even their most basic needs.
That means that the victim of a catastrophic injury has an especially high need for legal representation of the strongest caliber, needing not just to hold those responsible accountable, but to obtain a substantial sum to help them deal with the many long-term or lifelong harmful effects of their injuries.
When your injury was the result of someone else's negligence, you have the possibility of recovering multiple forms of damages. One of these is something Oregon law calls "economic damages." This compensates you for losses that are, in the everyday sense, tangible things. For example, it compensates you for the income you would have earned but will not as a result of the injury.
It also includes the costs of your medical care, both past and future. As part of this portion of your case, it may be necessary to retain the services of a specific kind of professional expert -- known as a life care planner -- to develop a life care plan, which is a written report that lays out, in detail, all of your future supportive care needs, along with the financial costs that will be associated with meeting those needs.
Those costs include not just your doctors' bills and hospital charges, but also the costs related to your physical therapy and rehabilitation needs, as well as the expenses you incur for skilled nursing care and accommodations like installing wheelchair ramps, widening doorways, retrofitting bathrooms, and so forth.
For the victim of a catastrophic injury, this amount often will be quite large as your injury may have cost you decades of wages, potentially including your prime earning years, and also caused you to incur medical treatment and care costs spanning years or, more likely, decades.
Oregon law also allows you to recover something called "noneconomic damages," which are the things that are less readily quantifiable. This includes things like your pain, suffering, and emotional distress -- both what you will endure and what you have already experienced.
Additionally, Oregon law recognizes certain noneconomic damages for others impacted by your injury, which is why your legal case may be one advanced not just on your behalf, but also on behalf of a spouse. In Oregon, a spouse can recover a sum of noneconomic damages for something called "loss of consortium." Loss of consortium essentially is a claim that recognizes that an injury has the potential to prevent the victim from participating in the marital relationship as they had before, and seeks to compensate the spouse for the negative impact he/she endured as a result of that loss.
There's also another form of damages that may be available in some cases -- punitive damages. Punitive damages possibly are available if you prove that those you sued "acted with malice" or showed "a reckless and outrageous indifference to a highly unreasonable risk of harm."
Often, there are complications that go with seeking punitive damages, which further spotlights a catastrophic injury victim's need for highly knowledgeable legal advice. For one thing, in most cases, you'll never see most of that punitive damages sum. ORS Section 31.735 says that 70% goes to the State of Oregon, split between the Criminal Injuries Compensation Account and the State Court Facilities and Security Account. Only 30% goes to you.
Nearly all injury cases can benefit from diligent representation from a seasoned attorney, but that need for the attorney is critically high when the injury was an extremely severe one. The catastrophic injury attorneys at the office of Kaplan Law LLC have the knowledge and skills to guide clients and their families through the most difficult of these cases, and the experience necessary to advocate for them effectively. Please call us at (503) 226-3844 or contact us online today to discuss how we can help.