While some victims of car crashes suffer minor injuries that heal quickly, others will suffer serious permanent injuries. If you suffered a catastrophic injury, you could need ongoing medical care, be unable to work, and have a less satisfying quality of life.
Fortunately, the negligent driver who caused your car accident is responsible to pay you compensation for your past and future losses under California law. To protect your financial future and ensure you have access to the ongoing medical care you need, it is important to understand the types of compensation you should recover in your settlement and how to prove your right to future damages.
Permanent Injuries Caused in Auto Crashes
Even a minor accident, such as a rear-end collision where the vehicles are traveling at a slow speed, can cause a victim to suffer a long-term injury. Five common catastrophic injuries that survivors of a crash can suffer include:
- Traumatic brain injury. A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can be caused by blunt force to the head or an object penetrating the skull and brain in a wreck. A person who suffers from a TBI can experience devastating changes to their ability to move, see, speak, reason, concentrate, and much more.
- Spinal cord injury. If the spinal cord is injured, it can cause partial or complete paralysis. A victim may lose sensation in their arms, trunk, and legs and be confined to a wheelchair. They could also have problems breathing on their own and suffer many secondary conditions, like loss of bladder control, due to paralysis.
- Burns. Severe burns can affect all layers of the skin and the tissue beneath the skin and can be life-threatening. Burn victims can suffer from permanent scarring, disfigurement, and nerve damage, which can cause them to experience pain, limits in movement, and psychological trauma for the rest of their lives.
- Amputations. A body part can be severed due to the force of impact of the crash or may need to be surgically amputated if the damage is serious enough. Victims could need expensive prosthetics and experience life-long pain with limitations in their mobility.
- Internal organ damage. The kidneys, liver, heart, lungs, and other vital organs can be damaged in a car accident—sometimes developing into a life-threatening emergency. Victims can need immediate surgery or an organ transplant to repair the damage and suffer from medical problems throughout their lives.
Types of Compensation You Can Recover If You Suffered a Long-Term Injury
It is important to understand the types of compensation you should recover from the negligent driver’s insurance company so that you ask for and receive all the money you deserve in your settlement. Depending on the type of injury you suffered and the amount of damages you are receiving, you may want to accept your compensation in a structured settlement, where you receive payments over time or for the rest of your life. Types of damages awarded in these cases include:
- Medical expenses. You should be compensated for your hospitalizations, surgeries, medications, physical therapy, doctor visits, and other necessary medical treatments. You can also recover the cost of assistive aids or modifications to your home, such as a prosthetic, wheelchair, or wheelchair ramp.
- Lost wages and lost earning capacity. You should recover your past and future lost wages, sick and vacation time, and other perks of your job. If you must make a career change due to your injuries or are permanently disabled, you may be entitled to your future lost earning capacity to compensate you for the income you will lose for the rest of your life.
- Pain and suffering. You are entitled to compensation for the pain, suffering, and emotional trauma you suffer due to your injuries.
- Home health and personal assistance. Depending on your injuries, you may need a personal care worker to help you with your day-to-day activities or a home health care aide to assist you with your medical needs. The cost of these types of care should be included in your settlement.
Tips on Proving Your Right to Compensation for Your Injuries
If you suffered a permanent injury, the value of your claim will be more than if you suffered a minor injury. You need to be prepared for the insurance company to fight longer and much harder to deny your claim or pay you less than you deserve. You can strengthen your claim and increase the likelihood that you will receive the maximum recovery by taking these steps:
- Wait until you reach your maximum medical recovery to settle your claim. This is the stage where you have recovered as much as you can and your doctor can give you a final prognosis.
- Follow your doctor’s advice on your medical treatment and go to all of your appointments. This will help you document the seriousness of your injuries and help you defeat the insurance company’s arguments that you made your injuries worse by not getting the medical treatment you need.
- Document everything. Be sure your doctor documents your permanent injury, the future treatments you will need, and how your injuries will affect your future abilities in your medical records.
- Save all your medical records and bills. They will help you prove the amount of compensation you should receive for your medical expenses in your settlement.
Did you suffer a permanent injury in a car accident? You need the assistance of an experienced car accident lawyer if you want to win your case. To find out about my track record of success in these cases and how I can help you, contact my San Diego office to schedule your free consultation today.