If someone else’s actions led to your injuries, you may be able to collect compensation under a personal injury lawsuit. However, not all instances of personal injury qualify for serious or catastrophic injury damages.
You may be experiencing a catastrophic injury if you suffered an instance of personal injury that leads to significant, permanent consequences. Any accident caused by someone else’s negligence or recklessness that results in any of the following consequences may qualify under these circumstances.
- Dismemberment or significant disfigurement
- The permanent limitation of use for a body part, organ, function, or system
- The loss of an unborn child
- A temporary injury to a person that limits his or her ability to participate in his or her daily routine for a certain period of time
- The permanent loss of use for a body part, organ, function, or system
- The death of a person
Types of Serious or Catastrophic Injuries
Serious or catastrophic injuries come in various forms. However, they all have one thing in common: they are either life-altering or life-threatening. Let’s take a look at some examples:
According to the CDC, more than 30% of injury-related deaths in the United States are related to traumatic brain injuries. That is an incredibly high number and is nothing to look lightly upon. Because the death and permanent disability rates are so high, it is crucial that you get the financial compensation you need to pay for the best care possible. When brain injuries do not lead to death, they often cause lifelong mental issues, paralysis, seizures, and other complications.
Spinal Cord Injuries
After brain-related accidents, spinal cord injuries are the most serious injuries. The CDC believes there are between 12,000 and 20,000 new spinal cord-related injuries each year in the United States, and many of those are related to negligence. These injuries can be life-threatening and often lead to paralysis, loss of feeling, and chronic pain.
Scarring or Disfigurement
While maybe not life-threatening like brain or spinal cord injuries, scarring or disfigurement can certainly be catastrophic and life-altering. Burn injuries often require extensive medical treatment, surgeries, and ongoing care. Disfigurement can prevent you from completing tasks you were once capable of doing.
Electrocution or electrical-related injuries are very serious. They can harm internal organs, lead to brain damage, and cause serious pain in victims. In many situations, electrical injuries require long-term medical care and treatment.
While a broken bone may not sound like a serious or catastrophic injury at first glance, they can have life-altering effects in certain situations. This is especially true when breaks occur in multiple places, bones pierce the skin, or breaks cause internal bleeding or ruptures.
How Do You Prove Negligence?
To successfully secure a settlement in a serious or catastrophic injury case, you will need to prove that the at-fault party acted in negligence, leading to your injuries. Proving negligence in a catastrophic injury case is the same process as other personal injury cases.
To prove negligence in a personal injury case in Kansas City, you and your attorney will need to work together to satisfy the following four elements.
You will need to prove that the person or entities responsible for your accident owed you a duty of care in some way. For example, if you lost a limb in a car accident, you can prove this element by the fact that all drivers owe a duty of care to others on the road by driving safely and following all traffic rules.
Breach of duty
You will need to prove that the at-fault party breached his or her duty of care to you in some way. For car accidents, proving that the other driver caused the collision or broke a traffic rule, leading to the collision, can help satisfy this element. If you fell down broken stairs in your apartment complex and suffered a spinal cord injury, you can prove a breach by providing evidence that your landlord knew about the broken stairs and failed to fix them.
You will need to prove that the breach of duty of care led to your serious or catastrophic injuries. You will need to provide evidence to satisfy this element, such as surveillance footage, medical records, and correspondence. This will involve significant investigation on the part of you and your attorney.
You will need to prove that you suffered damages as a result of the serious injury that you can collect in your lawsuit. These damages can be both economic and non-economic in nature, such as emotional distress, medical expenses, lost wages, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
If you suffered a serious or catastrophic injury as a result of medical malpractice, the elements to proving negligence are very similar to standard personal injury cases.
Medical Malpractice Occurs When A Doctor, Nurse, Or Other Medical Professional Breaches His Or Her Duty Of Care And Causes Harm To You In The Process
Existence of doctor-patient relationship
The first step to proving negligence in a medical malpractice case is to establish that you and the medical professional had a doctor-patient relationship. You can prove this element by showing that you were under the doctor’s care in a professional capacity at the time of your injury. If you took advice from a friend who happens to be a nurse, you cannot establish a duty of care. However, if the nurse treated you in a hospital setting, you can prove this element.
Breach of duty
Next, you and your attorney will need to prove that the medical professional breached his or her duty of care to you and failed to uphold professional standards. You will need to prove that the doctor’s actions were contrary to what a similarly trained and educated doctor would have done. Your attorney may need to consult with expert witnesses to prove this element.
Injury caused by the breach
You will need to prove that the medical professional’s actions caused your injuries. For a medical malpractice case, this can be very difficult because it is very likely you visited the doctor for treatment of the same or another condition. For example, if the doctor ignored your symptoms of meningitis and the progression of the condition led to a loss of hearing, you will need to prove that the doctor’s ignorance led to your injuries. This element may also involve consultation with a medical expert and other medical professionals who provided treatment to you.
You will need to prove that your injury led to damages you can collect in the lawsuit. This element is similar to personal injury cases. You can only claim damages related to the injury you suffered as a result of the breach, not the condition you visited the medical professional to treat. Your attorney can help you determine which damages are eligible for your settlement.
What Is the Statute of Limitations on Serious Injuries in Missouri?
The statute of limitations is a deadline under which you must file your lawsuit, or the Missouri civil court will refuse to hear your case. For personal injury cases, you have five years from the date of the injury to file your case. However, if you did not and could not become aware of your injury until a later date, you have five years from the date of discovery to file your claim.
If your case involves any government agencies or employees, the statute of limitations is much shorter. You only have 90 days from the date of your injury and you must file it with the Office of Administration’s Risk Management Division. If your case involves medical malpractice, you have two years from the date of the injury or the date of discovery to file your claim.
Have You Or a Loved One Been Seriously Injured In Kansas City, Missouri?
If you've been injured in the Kansas City area you should speak with an experienced serious injury lawyer as soon as possible. Please feel free to contact us online or call our office directly at 816.832.4688 to schedule your free consultation. We are proud to serve Kansas City, Missouri and the surrounding area and look forward to speaking with you.