Catastrophic Injury Cases: The Most Difficult & Heart-Wrenching


Catastrophic injury cases are some of the most difficult cases for a lawyer to handle. Because of the exposure for the defendants – those causing the injuries – these cases are usually vehemently defended. Regardless of the cause of the injury, every element of the case will have to be proven. And for those lawyers inexperienced in dealing with such injuries, and sometimes even for those of us who are, they can be emotionally heart-wrenching.


Catastrophic injuries can occur in numerous different settings:

  • Auto accidents

  • 18-wheeler accidents

  • ATV accidents

  • Motorcycle accidents

  • Slip and fall incidents

  • Workplace accidents

  • Medical malpractice

  • Pharmaceuticals and medical devices

  • Defective products

  • Toxic exposures


The exact cause of the injury may not be known or could arise from multiple concurring contributing factors, which means expert witnesses will need to be engaged to investigate and reconstruct exactly what happened. A thorough and complete investigation is critical for any later pursuit of those responsible for the damages.


The extent of the injuries caused by the incident or accident must also be determined. Sometimes the extent of the injuries cannot be readily ascertained immediately following the incident or accident but may appear later or through different or more extensive examination. Settling a case before the extent of the injuries or impacts are known can be disastrous to the injured person and those otherwise impacted by the injuries. Sometimes the treatment for one injury can actually cause others, such as complications, side effects, or unforeseen impacts.


And the injuries are not the only damages that may be caused by the incident. The physical injury may have an impact on one emotionally and mentally. It can also affect one’s earning capacity or the ability to perform his or her job or profession. It can have an effect on one’s marriage and marital relations. Damages from all of these problems may be recoverable in a catastrophic injury case provided that they can be causally linked to the incident and proven. Expert witnesses may also be necessary to establish the causational link and also to prove the costs associated with those injuries for which a dollar value can be calculated and proven. It can be difficult to assign an economic value to the emotional injuries experienced with a catastrophic injury and its treatment, but they can be recovered, and experienced trial attorneys have many different tools that they regularly used to do so.


In addition to these compensatory damages, punitive damages may also be recovered. The injury does not dictate whether punitive damages will be recoverable. What can be proven about the facts and circumstances causing the injury will most likely determine whether punitive damages can be awarded and recovered in a given case.


An attorney’s experience dealing with catastrophic injury cases is critical to maximizing the value of such cases. Experienced injury lawyers can associate the expert witnesses necessary to help investigate and prove the cause of the accident and those who can testify as to the connection between the personal injuries and the accident, along with the extent of the personal injuries and pain and suffering associated with them. These injury lawyers also have the staying power to pursue these cases, which will be strenuously defended by equally experienced lawyers.


The personal injury lawyers and wrongful death attorneys at Watson McKinney have extensive experience in catastrophic injury cases and find it truly rewarding to help people in these critical times of need.

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