Have you suffered a catastrophic, life-changing injury due to another party’s negligence?
You may have grounds for a South Carolina catastrophic injury claim.
Following catastrophic injuries, many victims have little idea about what to do next. Do you have the right to file a South Carolina catastrophic injury claim? Can you receive compensation for your injuries? What should you do next?
If you suffered catastrophic injuries in an accident due to the negligence of another party, contact the South Carolina catastrophic injury lawyers at Hughey Law Firm at (843) 881-8644 to learn more about your legal rights, including the compensation you can receive for your losses.
Hughey Law Firm: Real Clients, Real Results
At Hughey Law Firm, our personal injury lawyers have worked with many clients who have suffered catastrophic injuries. Our past results cannot guarantee the results of any future claim, even if you have very similar injuries to another client.
However, a look at our past results could help build your confidence and encourage you to move forward with your South Carolina catastrophic injury claim:
- $5,425,000 awarded after a trucking accident
- $2,025,000 awarded after a trucking accident
- $1,650,000 awarded after an auto accident
- $1,625,000 awarded after a premises liability accident
Understanding Catastrophic Injuries and Their Impacts on Your Life
Catastrophic injuries include injuries that permanently impact your life, your mobility, and the activities you can enjoy. Minor injuries, especially those that heal quickly, do not count as catastrophic injuries. On the other hand, injuries that cause long-term impact—including permanent disability or loss—can fall into the category of catastrophic injuries.
The Impact of Traumatic Brain Injury
Even mild traumatic brain injury can interfere with normal thinking patterns and make it difficult for the victim to think normally. Victims with mild and moderate traumatic brain injury may note symptoms more than a year after the initial accident.
Victims with more severe traumatic brain injury, on the other hand, may have a lifelong impact due to their injuries and their symptoms.
Traumatic brain injury often gets portrayed as a loss of long-term memories, resulting in gaping holes in the victim’s memory that make it difficult to piece together their past.
In reality, however, traumatic brain injury can affect much more than just long-term memory. Victims often struggle with short-term memories. They may forget how to complete common processes, struggle to remember what information they have already accessed, or forget what someone told them just minutes before. Victims may also struggle with emotional challenges, resulting in mood swings or extreme emotional reactions to ordinary circumstances.
In addition, trouble with focus and concentration can make it very difficult for victims with traumatic brain injury to handle the usual tasks associated with their jobs or with self-care and home care. Some victims may have trouble keeping their attention on a task long enough to complete it, while others may find themselves sitting behind their desks, unable to concentrate.
Some victims of traumatic brain injury even note severe personality changes, which can leave them feeling emotionally disconnected from loved ones or forced to start over in developing relationships.
Living With Spinal Cord Injuries
The spinal cord carries vital messages throughout the body. It takes signals from the brain and delivers them to the body, moving limbs and maintaining balance. It takes input from the rest of the body, including sensations, pain, and bodily awareness, and delivers them back to the brain.
Injury to the spinal cord interferes with those vital messages.
Victims with incomplete spinal cord injuries may suffer some loss of sensation and function, including limb function and mobility, below the site of the injury. Victims with complete spinal cord injury, on the other hand, often suffer a complete loss of sensation and function below the site of the injury. The higher on the spinal cord the injury occurs, the more movement and sensation the victim may lose due to the accident.
Spinal cord injuries can make it very difficult for victims to take on familiar tasks. For example, a victim who enjoys engaging in athletic activity may lose the ability to participate in those activities due to their injuries. Victims who work in very physical professions may also struggle with the ongoing limitations associated with spinal cord injuries. While victims with spinal cord injuries can continue to lead very fulfilling lives, they may suffer a substantial decrease in their usual function and capability.
The Aftermath of Amputations
Many types of catastrophic accidents, including auto accidents, can result in limb amputation. Sometimes, victims suffer limb amputations as a direct result of the accident: a limb severed in a construction accident with heavy machinery, for example. Other times, amputations may come in the aftermath of the accident: the victim may require limb amputation due to severe crushing damage or due to a lack of blood flow to the affected limb following the accident, which can result in dead tissue. Untreated, that dead tissue can lead to sepsis and, eventually, death.
Many victims require substantial occupational therapy in the aftermath of a limb amputation. For example, they may need to relearn how to perform many tasks. A victim who loses an arm may need to learn how to use his remaining hand to take care of common tasks, while a victim who loses a leg may need to relearn how to walk using a prosthesis.
Many amputees choose to use prosthetic devices to help restore some function and independence. While prosthetics can offer that independence and function or help restore normal appearance after the accident, they can represent a substantial, ongoing expense in the victim’s life after the accident. On average, amputees must replace their prosthetics every three to five years. They may need to replace them more frequently if their devices see heavy use, especially if they engage in athletic activity.
Severe Burns and the Aftermath
Victims with severe burns can end up with long-term losses due to their injuries. In addition to the substantial pain associated with the injuries themselves, many burn victims end up going through multiple procedures to help treat those burns. Victims may require a long stay in a special burn unit, which can substantially increase their overall medical expenses.
Following their recovery, many victims still have significant scarring. For many victims, that scarring can cause ongoing body image issues. It can also interfere with overall functionality. While some burn victims can receive plastic surgery to help repair some of the damage, plastic surgery does not always offer a viable option to improve appearance. Other victims may not want to go back through another surgery and recovery for cosmetic reasons alone.
Seeking Compensation After Catastrophic Injuries in South Carolina
Following a catastrophic accident, an attorney can help you determine whether you deserve compensation for your injuries and how to seek it. Get in touch with a South Carolina catastrophic injury attorney as soon after your accident as possible to get vital help with your claim, including answers to many of the questions you may have about the compensation you deserve.
Average Compensation for South Carolina Accidents Resulting in Catastrophic Injury
Catastrophic injuries generally lead to high, ongoing medical expenses and challenges that can impact every area of the victim’s life. Due to your injuries, you may lose the ability to work, struggle to engage in your usual hobbies, and even lose relationships and connections with the people you love due to the immense changes in your life.
How much compensation do you deserve? While the insurance company that covers the liable party likely has a clear standard for how much compensation you can receive for your losses, no legal guideline exists that will establish exactly how much compensation you can get for your injuries. Most of the time, victims of catastrophic injuries divide their claims into clear categories based on their losses related to the accident.
Medical expenses. For many victims, medical expenses following catastrophic injuries cause severe financial challenges. While medical insurance can help cover some of those expenses, you may find your costs mounting quickly. Emergency medical treatment could represent only the beginning of your medical costs. If you have catastrophic injuries, you will likely have a long stay in the hospital.
Burn victims, in particular, may need to stay in a special unit designed to reduce the risk of infection, while victims with traumatic brain injury may need round-the-clock care to help with self-care or to prevent them from making devastating decisions due to a lack of impulse control. You may also face substantial expenses due to ongoing follow-up visits or therapy designed to help you regain strength and flexibility following your accident.
In addition to the clear medical costs that you face as a result of your visits with doctors and therapists, you may also have transportation costs or need to factor in the cost of modifications to your home to allow for independence and function following your accident. You may, for example, find that you need to widen doorways or change your bathroom to make it easier for you to keep up with self-care tasks after your accident.
Lost income. Catastrophic injuries often prevent victims from returning to work for a long time after the initial accident. In some cases, you may even permanently lose the ability to take on your usual job tasks and responsibilities after a catastrophic accident. Following severe traumatic brain injury, for example, you may lose the ability to focus well enough to complete your job duties or lose the ability to handle creative problem-solving tasks. Spinal cord injuries can prevent construction workers from returning to work in their usual capacity.
Some employers will work with you to get you back in the office as soon after your accident as possible. They may make the modifications you need to make it easier to get back on the job, or permit you to work from home on a limited basis while you recover from your injuries. In other cases, however, your injuries may entirely prevent you from working in your usual capacity. You may need time to recover, or your employer might not want to accept liability for having you in the office while you recover.
If you permanently lose the ability to work in your field due to catastrophic injuries, you could also claim lost earning potential as part of your South Carolina catastrophic injury claim.
Pain and suffering. In addition to the other elements of your claim, which you can more easily define according to your specific financial losses after the accident, pain and suffering damages are more subjective. Pain and suffering may include the non-financial losses you face as a result of your injuries.
Usually, the insurance company or liable party will base compensation for pain and suffering on your medical expenses following the accident. This can include physical pain as well as any emotional anguish you face related to your injuries. However, you should discuss the suffering you faced due to your accident with your attorney, who can help you include all elements of your suffering and explain how they impact your claim.
Determining Liability in a South Carolina Accident Resulting in Catastrophic Injury
To file a South Carolina catastrophic injury claim, work with your attorney to learn who caused your accident, including any additional factors that may have contributed to your injuries.
The liable party in your accident must:
- Have borne a duty of care to you at the time of the accident. That party had a responsibility to you, whether to care for you directly (as in the case of a medical malpractice claim) or to help take steps to prevent your injury (as in an auto accident).
- Have violated that duty of care in some way. In an auto accident, for example, the liable driver may violate his duty of care to you by driving while distracted or drinking and driving at the time of the accident.
- Have caused your injuries due to that violation. A drunk driver who misses you by inches does not cause catastrophic injuries and does not leave you with grounds for a South Carolina catastrophic injury claim. On the other hand, a speeding driver who sideswipes your vehicle while trying to change lanes may leave you with grounds for a South Carolina catastrophic injury claim.
Talk to your attorney to learn more about how to determine the liable party after an accident involving catastrophic injuries. If your attorney identifies multiple parties that contributed to your accident, you may have grounds to file a South Carolina catastrophic injury claim against each one, which could ultimately help increase the compensation you receive for your injuries.
South Carolina Catastrophic Injury FAQ
Many catastrophic accident victims have a lot of questions about their legal rights following a serious accident. Consult an attorney to get a better idea of how much compensation you deserve or to get answers to key questions you may have about your right to compensation after an accident.
Do I really need an attorney to handle a South Carolina catastrophic injury claim?
If you suffered catastrophic injuries in an accident in South Carolina, you want to have an experienced South Carolina catastrophic injury attorney on your side. Many accident victims find that working with an experienced catastrophic injury attorney can help increase the compensation offered following an accident. Insurance companies often take victims more seriously when they have an attorney working for them.
An attorney can also:
Help you understand how much compensation you deserve. One of the biggest errors made by catastrophic injury victims involves underestimating the compensation they really deserve for their injuries. You may hear from the insurance company that covers the liable party shortly after your accident. In fact, that insurance company may get in touch before you leave your hospital room or even fully understand the extent of your injuries and what your recovery will look like. The insurance company may give you a settlement offer at that time.
That settlement offer does not necessarily reflect the full compensation you deserve. Instead, it can represent the insurance company’s attempt to minimize its financial liability, leaving you with higher expenses and no way to compensate for them. By talking to an attorney, you can get a better idea of how much compensation you really deserve.
Investigate your claim. Following an accident with catastrophic injuries, you may need to prove who caused your accident, including what factors contributed to your injuries. An attorney can help investigate that claim and give you a better idea of exactly how your accident occurred. That investigation can also turn up evidence that could help prove your claim, increasing the odds that you will get the compensation that you deserve.
Provide peace of mind. You have enough to deal with in the aftermath of catastrophic injuries. You may need to manage your recovery, handle therapy appointments, and even arrange for modifications to your home. You have to decide how to handle work responsibilities and manage your household despite your injuries.
You should not have to deal with everything in your South Carolina catastrophic injury claim on top of that.
Working with an attorney can provide immense peace of mind. This could help ensure that your claim will get handled as smoothly as possible. You can turn over many of the tasks associated with your claim to your attorney, which can help you focus on the other aspects of your recovery.
How much does it cost to hire an attorney for a catastrophic injury claim in South Carolina?
All too many people avoid hiring an attorney because they fear the cost. In reality, however, a South Carolina catastrophic injury attorney is often more affordable than you think.
Many attorneys will begin by offering a free consultation to go over your accident, your claim, and the injuries you suffered. During that consultation, the attorney will decide whether to accept your case, and you get the chance to decide whether you want to work with a specific attorney. Often, the attorney will choose to accept your claim on a contingent fee basis. In a contingency fee claim, you will pay your legal fees based on a percentage of the claim the attorney recovers.
What should I do about my medical bills after a catastrophic injury in South Carolina?
Medical expenses often seem to pile up very quickly following an accident. In fact, many victims consider managing their medical expenses to be one of the biggest financial challenges they have to deal with after their accident.
As the injured party, you must take responsibility for figuring out how to pay those bills.
You have several options for managing your medical costs after your accident.
- You can use your medical insurance. Health insurance helps provide an incredibly valuable buffer when you suffer significant injuries in an accident. Your health insurance may require you to handle copays and deductibles on your own. Nevertheless, health insurance will cover many of the expenses associated with catastrophic injuries, especially when it comes to long-term treatments. Consult your health insurance company to learn more about your coverage for catastrophic injuries, including how a South Carolina catastrophic injury claim can affect your health insurance coverage.
- You can make arrangements through the hospital. Many hospitals, especially those associated with South Carolina universities, may offer you reasonable payment arrangements that can make it easier for you to handle your medical bills. These hospitals understand that most people do not plan for catastrophic injuries and their aftermath. To help make coping easier, they may lower your bills or help you make payment arrangements that fit your current budget.
- You can use the funds from a South Carolina catastrophic injury claim to help cover your medical bills. The funds you receive from a South Carolina catastrophic injury claim can make it easier for you to cover many of the medical expenses associated with your accident. Often, however, you may have medical bills come due long before the funds for that claim arrive. An attorney can submit a letter of protection that shows your intent to pay for those medical bills once you receive the funds from your South Carolina catastrophic injury claim.
How long should I expect it to take to receive a settlement for my South Carolina catastrophic injury claim?
When you have catastrophic injuries, and the catastrophic medical bills that go along with them, you may want to settle your claim as soon as possible. Unfortunately, it can take time to settle your claim. Often, your attorney will advise waiting until you further recover from your catastrophic injuries before moving forward with your South Carolina catastrophic injury claim.
Severe burns, spinal cord injuries, and traumatic brain injury can all have dramatically different recovery times and prognoses depending on your specific injuries and the medical care you receive. Likewise, if you suffer limb amputation as a result of your accident, you may need time to learn whether you will require stump revisions or other procedures related to your loss. Unexpected infections and complications can cause your medical bills to shoot higher, your recovery time to lengthen, and your eventual capability to look very different.
In many cases, an attorney will advise that you wait until at least six months after your accident before filing your South Carolina catastrophic injury claim, since, at that time, you will have a much better idea of what your medical expenses and eventual prognosis will look like.
Other factors may also contribute to the length of time it takes to settle your claim.
- The amount you ask for. Because you suffered catastrophic injuries in your accident, you may have equally catastrophic medical bills to go along with them. As a result, you may ask for much more in compensation than people who suffered only minor injuries in an accident. Many insurance companies will drag their heels longer on claims with a high financial value, which can extend the time needed to settle your claim.
- How much negotiation you have to do. Often, you will need to go through multiple rounds of negotiation before you can reach an agreement with the insurance company or liable party after the accident. While you want to maximize the funds you receive as much as possible to make it easier for you to pay your medical bills and rebuild your life after the accident, the insurance company or liable party may want to minimize how much they have to pay out as much as possible. As a result, you may go back and forth for some time before settling. You may also extend the time needed to receive your settlement if you need to go through mediation with a court-appointed mediator or take your claim to court.
Plan for it to take several months to receive the compensation you deserve after your accident. The insurance company may try to wear you down to help decrease its liability as much as possible. Work closely with your attorney to learn more about your legal right to compensation and how to maximize it.
Should I expect my South Carolina Catastrophic injury claim to go to court?
In most cases, South Carolina catastrophic injury claims will settle out of court. Most insurance companies and lawyers recognize that going to court will substantially increase the legal costs associated with the claim, so they will try to reduce those costs as much as possible. However, you should prepare to go to court if needed, including having an experienced attorney on your side who will guide you through the process and keep your rights uppermost in everyone’s mind.
What tactics will the insurance company or liable party use to help reduce overall liability?
During your South Carolina catastrophic injury claim, you may have to deal with several challenges from the insurance company or the liable party that caused your accident. This is especially true if you try to handle your claim on your own.
Working with an attorney can help you spot and avoid these tactics.
- Low initial settlement offers. The insurance company may try to pressure you into accepting a low settlement offer. In some cases, the adjuster or representative who contacts you may even try to convince you that you need to act quickly to secure the funds they offer, which can leave you feeling rushed and prevent you from taking the time to consult an attorney or learn more about your rights.
- Shifting liability. The insurance company may attempt to shift liability to another party, including trying to shift liability to you. Working with a South Carolina catastrophic injury attorney can help ensure that you have a full investigation of your claim and evaluation of your evidence, which can show exactly who caused your accident and what elements contributed to it. The insurance company may, for example, try to claim that you caused your own injuries due to your actions or negligence, or to claim that a third party contributed more to the accident than the party that the insurance company covers. An attorney can give you a better idea of exactly who contributed to your accident and how to pursue compensation from each party.
- Trying to prove your injuries do not cause the limitations you claim. Catastrophic injuries can limit each patient differently. Some victims with traumatic brain injury, for example, may suffer extreme memory loss, while others may have extreme difficulty regulating their emotions after the accident. The insurance company may try to investigate your injuries to prove that they do not limit you as much as you claim, which may reduce the compensation you can receive.
Do You Need a South Carolina Catastrophic Injury Lawyer?
If you suffered catastrophic, life-changing injuries in a South Carolina accident, do not wait. Get in touch with the dedicated lawyers at Hughey Law Firm today by calling (843) 881-8644 or sending us a message through our contact page for your free initial consultation.