Suffering an injury in an accident can be traumatic. However, sustaining a catastrophic injury will undoubtedly change the life of the victim and their family, often forever. Whether due to a San Diego car, work or maritime accident, permanent injuries will impair a person’s ability to work, enjoy life and provide for their family.
Whether you are the accident victim or a loved one, you may still be in a state of shock. But it’s vital that you enlist the services of an experienced personal injury lawyer right away. The lawyers, staff and in-house investigators at The Dominguez Firm are ready to assist you. Call us at 800-818-1818 for a free consultation today.
Below you’ll find out more about catastrophic injuries in San Diego, the types of accidents that cause them and what your rights are.
What is Considered a Catastrophic Injury?
The medical and legal definitions of a catastrophic injury are different. The American Medical Association (AMA) definition is short: a serious injury to the brain, spinal cord or spine. The U.S. Labor Code describes it as: “catastrophic injury’’ means consequences of an injury that permanently prevent an individual from performing any gainful work”. It addresses the negative financial effect this kind of severe injury will have on the victim and their family.
Personal injury lawyers work off this legal definition to build a case against those responsible. Lawyers working on civil injury cases seek to obtain financial compensation for their catastrophically-injured clients through litigation. If the actions of the defendant were intentional and malicious, they would also likely face criminal charges. Those charges are presented by the state, not the injury victim and are tried in criminal court. Note that the outcome of a criminal trial has no bearing on a civil case.
In short, a serious, permanent injury that severely impacts a person’s life in a negative manner, including the ability to work can be considered catastrophic.
What are Some Examples of San Diego Catastrophic Injuries?
Some of the most common examples of catastrophic accident injuries include:
- Injuries that cause blindness
- Injuries that lead to deafness
- Permanent lung damage
- Serious burns
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs)
Even patients who make partial recoveries will require extensive medical care and have their everyday life radically altered in a negative way.
Some Leading Causes of Catastrophic Injuries Include the Following:
One of the main causes of catastrophic injuries in San Diego and throughout California is traffic accidents. These can include:
- Car accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Truck accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Bicycle accidents
Work injuries are another leading cause of catastrophic injuries. Some of the most dangerous professions include:
- Construction workers across various specialties
- Steel workers
- Workers who operate heavy machinery
- Agricultural workers
- Truck drivers
- Refuse and recyclable material workers
How Long Do I Have to Sue for My Catastrophic Accident Injury?
In most cases, you have two years from the date of your San Diego accident to file your catastrophic injury claim. If your accident involved a government entity such as a public utility truck, then you would have six months to pursue legal action. These time limits are legally known as the statute of limitations.
The statute of limitations is paused if the victim is a child or an active member of the military. For a child, the clock doesn’t start ticking until they reach the age of 18. For members of the military, the countdown of two years or six months starts as soon as their military service ends.
Note that neither minors nor active military members are obligated to wait. Parents or guardians can file a claim for a minor and frankly, they should. The same holds true for active military personnel. The don’t have to delay filing a claim until they leave the service in San Diego. And if they have suffered a catastrophic accident injury, they should also sue right away.
No matter your situation, it’s never a good idea to delay filing your catastrophic injury claim. Doing so will greatly reduce the value of your case. Given the incredibly high cost of a catastrophic injury, you’ll want every cent of the compensation you’re legally entitled to.
Waiting will hurt your San Diego catastrophic injury claim for several reasons:
Defense attorneys will use your delay against you – If enough time has passed, lawyers for the insurance company will question your recollection of how your San Diego accident happened. If they can shift more of the blame to you, it could diminish your claim significantly.
You could lose touch with any witnesses – This is especially true if months or a year has passed. Any delays will also cause defense attorneys to question witness memories.
Crucial evidence will inevitably be lost – If you call The Dominguez Firm immediately, we can dispatch our investigators to the scene of the accident. This allows us to collect important evidence that will help our lawyers build your case in the strongest way possible.
Given the seriousness of the injuries, San Diego catastrophic accident claims are almost always complex. Getting our lawyers involved from the beginning is always preferable. Let us work on your personal injury claim while you concentrate on your recovery.
Can I File a Catastrophic Injury Claim if I’m an Undocumented Immigrant?
Your immigration status has nothing to do with your catastrophic injury claim so it can’t be used against you. Undocumented immigrants who have suffered catastrophic injuries in accidents have had the right to sue since 2017. This is all thanks to AB 2159which then-Governor Jerry Brown signed into law that year.
You not only have the right to sue those responsible for their accident, you can do so without fear of deportation. Defense attorneys aren’t allowed to bring up your status or use it against you under any circumstances. This extends to members of your family too.
Another important change enacted under AB 2159 is that your compensation will be calculated according to the cost of your healthcare, earning capacity and salary in the U.S., not your country of origin. This important change significantly changed how much undocumented injury victims were awarded in compensation.
To summarize, you have no reasons to let your immigration status stop you from exercising your right to seek a fair compensation for your San Diego catastrophic accident injury. Our lawyers will make sure AB 2159 is adhered to every step of the way.
A Loved One Suffered a Catastrophic Injury in an Accident and Subsequently Died. Can I Take Legal Action Against Those Responsible?
You can certainly take action if you are the deceased’s legal next of kin. However, you wouldn’t be filing a personal injury lawsuit. Instead, you would be presenting a wrongful death claim against those who caused your untimely loss.
Surviving spouses and children are the most common plaintiffs in San Diego wrongful death cases. Nonetheless, depending on the situation, stepchildren, parents and even guardians can also have the right to sue.
Just as with personal injury claims, the damages in a wrongful death claim are broken up into two categories, economic and non-economic. Damages is simply the legal term for the financial compensation the victim is entitled to for their accident losses.
Economic damages can include:
- All medical bills stemming from the deceased’s catastrophic accident injury
- Funeral expenses
- Burial expenses
- Amount the deceased would have earned in income
- Household services the deceased would have contributed
Non-economic damages are meant to compensate the surviving family members for:
- Loss of consortium which includes loss of love, sexual relations and companionship
- Loss of parental guidance
Non-economic damages can’t be added up on a calculator. But there’s no limit as to how much can be awarded in non-economic damages in California. This means they usually make up the largest part of a surviving family member’s final settlement or verdict.
Wrongful death claims can be complex. These cases should not be entrusted to just any attorney. The Dominguez Firm has over 30 years of experience successfully handling wrongful death claims for family members who have unexpectedly lost a loved one.
Call the San Diego Personal Injury Lawyers at The Dominguez Firm
The Dominguez Firm is a full-service personal injury law firm. We are not a referral service nor will we settle your case for less to avoid going to court. Our award-winning trial lawyers aren’t afraid to take your San Diego personal injury case to trial if the insurance companies won’t make a fair offer for your injuries. We have the knowledge, financial resources and legal staff to fight for every penny you’re entitled to. We won’t settle for less.
Our lawyers have handled all types of accident cases throughout Southern California over our 30 plus years of service. This experience has also allowed us to grow our network of quality medical providers. As a client of The Dominguez Firm, you have access to this network. This gives you access to the crucial medical care you need without worrying about any costs up front.
If you think you can’t afford to hire a San Diego catastrophic injury attorney, think again. The Dominguez Firm works on a contingency basis. That simply means we get paid from a percentage of your final verdict or settlement. You’ll know exactly what that percentage is when you sign on as our client. As for your medical care, we’ll subtract that amount from your final compensation too. You have no up-front, hidden or out-of-pocket expenses to worry about at all. And of course, as always, if there is no recovery there is no fee!
Contact the San Diego catastrophic injury lawyers at The Dominguez Firm now for a free consultation at 800-818-1818. We can travel to your home or hospital at a moment’s notice.