A catastrophic injury dramatically changes the life of a victim in an instant. It is impossible to prepare for the far-reaching effects that a debilitating injury could have on an individual and their loved ones.
A catastrophic injury is even more tragic when it was the result of a preventable accident caused by someone else’s negligence. In such circumstances, the injured person and their family could seek damages from the negligent parties.
A Portland catastrophic injury lawyer could provide guidance to ensure you have the support you need through every step of the process. Having a trustworthy personal injury attorney to rely on greatly increases your chances of reaching a settlement that provides reasonable compensation for your or your loved one’s losses.
What Makes an Injury Catastrophic?
State law does not explicitly define “catastrophic injury,” but there is a general legal understanding of a catastrophic injury’s characteristics. A catastrophic injury imposes limitations on a person’s activities and functioning, and these limitations are usually permanent. A person with a catastrophic injury might not be able to return to their job or maintain any kind of paid employment. Some catastrophic injuries render a person unable to live independently.
Some injuries that are considered catastrophic include:
- Blindness or significant hearing loss
- Complex fractures that cause permanent mobility loss
- Organ damage that impairs bodily functions, such as kidney or lung damage
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Severe burns
Depending on the circumstances, a capable Portland attorney could make a case for other injuries having a catastrophic impact on a specific individual. For example, a larynx injury that alters someone’s voice might require a difficult adjustment for some but could be catastrophic for a professional singer or actor.
How do Portland’s Comparative Negligence Laws Impact Catastrophic Injury Claims?
Maine Revised Statutes §156 codifies the State’s policy regarding comparative negligence. The law says that if an injured person is seeking damages and their actions contributed to the cause or severity of their catastrophic accident, they are entitled to only a portion of their damages. If the catastrophically injured person was primarily responsible for the incident, however, they cannot collect any damages.
A defense lawyer might assert that an injured person caused the accident in an attempt to limit, or even escape, their client’s own liability. A Portland attorney could work diligently to show that other parties’ negligence was the primary factor that caused the accident and catastrophic injuries and that the plaintiff’s actions had little or no impact on the outcome.
Importance of Prompt Legal Representation
Anyone who suffered a severe or catastrophic injury should seek advice from an accomplished Portland attorney as quickly as possible, ideally before leaving the hospital. If a severely injured person is unconscious or otherwise incapable of speaking to an attorney, a family member should try to arrange representation for them. This is a critical step, even if the family has no desire or intention to bring a lawsuit.
Insurance companies often take advantage of shocked families or injured people by offering them a quick settlement for far less than a catastrophic injury might merit. In some cases, an insurance representative might go to a hospital to try to convince the injured person and their family members that agreeing to the inadequate settlement is important for their financial stability after the tragedy.
Nothing could be further from the truth. A family dealing with a catastrophic injury needs a lawyer to handle all contact from insurance companies and other potentially responsible parties. By allowing an attorney to assume this burden, the injured person can recover in peace, and the family will not unwittingly weaken their position or settle for less than they deserve.
Book a Consultation with a Portland Catastrophic Injury Attorney Now
A Portland catastrophic injury lawyer could make things easier on your family by taking over communication with potentially responsible parties and working with medical experts and financial advisors on your behalf to help strengthen your case. Schedule a consultation today.