As personal injury attorneys, our job is to represent clients who have sustained injuries in a wide variety of accidents. Over time, we have become familiar with the types of injuries those accidents inflict. There are bad injuries, like broken bones and injured ligaments. There are severe injuries that require short hospital stays and physical therapy. And then, there are catastrophic injuries.
Catastrophic injuries change life as our clients know it, forever.
Our clients with catastrophic injuries have been told by doctors they may never walk again, or that their loved one will never regain consciousness, or that they will have to learn to navigate life with a prosthetic limb. Catastrophic injuries leave our clients with special needs for long-term physical and emotional support. Catastrophic injuries can cost millions of dollars to manage over our clients’ lifetimes.
If an accident or incident in the Seattle area has left you or a loved one catastrophically injured, you may have legal rights to recover substantial sums of money to help you move forward in life. Contact the talented, determined catastrophic injury attorneys at Boohoff Law today to learn more.
Contact us today – call (877) 999-9999 or email us. We’re available 24/7!
The Boohoff Law Difference
Attorney Tatiana Boohoff founded Boohoff Law in Florida more than a decade ago. The firm relocated to the Seattle area, bringing with it a sterling reputation as a team of top-flight personal injury litigators. Attorney Boohoff is a graduate of Boston University School of Law, one of the top law schools in the nation. With her degree, she could have gone to work for a large corporate law firm. Instead, Attorney Boohoff focused her practice on serving the needs of people injured through no fault of her own. Today, Boohoff Law prides itself as a law firm unafraid to take on the largest defendants in seeking justice for injured clients, and which has a track record of success to match.
Common Catastrophic Injuries
What makes an injury catastrophic? In our legal practice at Boohoff Law, we consider any injury that permanently alters how our clients are able to live their lives as catastrophic. These injuries typically require massive medical intervention in order to achieve a full recovery that falls far short of returning our client to pre-injury condition. Many catastrophic injury victims will need a lifetime of medical care or supervision in order to maintain a quality of life. Examples of common catastrophic personal injuries include:
Traumatic brain injury (TBI). A TBI occurs when the brain sustains damage from a sudden impact, penetrating injury, or oxygen deprivation. A TBI amounts to a catastrophic injury when it leaves the victim with severe cognitive or motor impairment, or worse, living in an unconscious or semi-conscious state.
Spinal cord injury. A blow or penetrating injury to the spinal column can damage the nerves and structures that allow the brain to communicate with the body. When these injuries are permanent, they commonly lead to partial or total paralysis, such as paraplegia and tetraplegia, which makes them catastrophic. Victims of spinal cord injury must rely on assistive devices for mobility, may have to modify their homes, and could be confined permanently to a wheelchair.
Burns. Burns come in varying levels of severity. They qualify as catastrophic injuries when they cause permanent health complications, physical impairments, and disfigurement.
Crushed or amputated limbs. Almost by definition, a crushed or amputated limb is a catastrophic injury because it results in the functional or actual loss of an appendage. People who sustain these injuries have to learn how to navigate life without their lost limb, either through a prosthetic or by adapting their lifestyles to what limited functionality remains in the limb.
Organ failure/health complications. Any time someone’s actions, or inactions, result in our client suffering from a breakdown of their organs and systems, we classify those injuries as catastrophic. Likewise, when a medical misdiagnosis leads to our client developing a life-threatening health condition she would not otherwise have had.
In truth, any injury could qualify as catastrophic in the context of a client’s life. That is why, as personal injury lawyers, we approach every client’s case as one involving a potentially catastrophic injury, and we fight aggressively for every last dollar of compensation our client requires to return to as close to a normal life as possible.
Common Causes of Catastrophic Injuries
Catastrophic personal injuries result from a wide variety of circumstances. Of course, some scenarios are far more common than others as causes of catastrophic accidents, because of the physical violence or high degree of danger they involve. Those include:
Motor vehicle accidents. Accidents involving cars, trucks, buses, and motorcycles, injure millions of Americans every year. The Seattle area is no exception. The Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) reports crashes resulted in 580 serious injuries on the roads of King County in 2018. Many of these would no doubt qualify as catastrophic.
Bicycle and pedestrian accidents. The same goes for cyclists and pedestrians. The WTSC data also show that in 2018, 137 pedestrians and 38 cyclists sustained serious injuries in motor vehicle-related accidents in King County. When vehicles collide with pedestrians and cyclists, it is those unprotected people who suffer the brunt of the injury.
Premises liability incidents (a.k.a. slip and fall). Sometimes an easily preventable condition on someone’s property, like a wet floor or a loose handrail, leads to the most devastating injuries. Falls represent a particular danger for older adults, but even younger people can suffer massive trauma from falling (or having something fall on them).
Workplace and construction accidents. Workplaces and construction sites teem with injury dangers, from uneven footing to highly complex, heavy, and dangerous machinery. Some of the worst injuries in these settings occur when a worker falls from a high height, or someone’s limb becomes trapped in a moving machine part.
Defective products. As consumers, we rely on the products we buy and use to operate as intended. Products with a defect of design, construction, or lack of warning can fail unexpectedly, resulting in a limitless range of terrible injuries, including burns and amputated limbs.
Medical malpractice. Doctors, nurses, surgical techs, and other medical service providers have an obligation to deliver a standard of care to patients. Sometimes, for any number of reasons, they fail to live up to that standard. The consequences of these failures can be extreme, such as when a doctor fails to diagnose cancer in time to stop it, or a surgeon operates on the wrong part of a patient’s body.
Nursing home abuse. At Boohoff Law, we consider any intentional or negligent injury inflicted on a vulnerable adult in a nursing home to be a catastrophic injury, because there is no excuse for that sort of abuse to happen.
Dangerous drugs. Taking the wrong medication, or the right medication in the wrong dose, can easily result in massive health complications, or can cause secondary consequences that lead to accidents and catastrophic injuries.
Dog bites. Dog bites leave victims with physical and emotional trauma. These injuries most often rise to the level of catastrophic when the victim is a young child who does not recognize the signs of an agitated dog that is about to attack.
As above, these are just a sampling of the most common causes of a catastrophic injury. No matter how your injury occurred, the team at Boohoff Law is ready to help in any way they can.
Common Damages for Catastrophic Injuries
Under Washington law, the victim of a catastrophic injury caused by someone else’s carelessness or recklessness has a legal right, in most cases, to seek compensatory damages as a remedy. In general, the law classifies damages into two broad categories: economic (or special) damages, and non-economic (or general) damages.
Economic damages aim to cover the out-of-pocket costs related to a catastrophic injury. Economic damages for catastrophic injuries typically include:
- Un-reimbursed medical bills;
- Chronic or long-term care costs;
- Assistive medical devices, prosthetics, and home modifications;
- Physical therapy;
- Lost wages from time off from work while recovering or helping a loved one recover; and
- Lost income or employment opportunity due to injuries or permanent disabilities.
In Washington, unlike most other states, courts may allow the party with legal liability for economic damages to pay those damages in periodic installments, rather than in a lump-sum.
Non-economic damages compensate for the effects of a catastrophic injury that are more difficult to quantify in dollars-and-cents. They may include:
- Pain and suffering;
- Damage to personal relationships (a.k.a. loss of consortium/companionship/parent-child relationship); and
- Negative impacts on quality of life.
Non-economic damages are typically not as large in Washington as they are in other jurisdictions. That is because Washington law caps non-economic damages at a maximum of 43 percent of the average annual wage in Washington (an amount set by law) multiplied by the injury victim’s life expectancy at the time of the catastrophic injury (which is a minimum of 15 years). Washington law also does not typically allow a court to award punitive (or exemplary) damages.
Why You Need the Help of a Catastrophic Injury Attorney as Soon as Possible
Because catastrophic injuries are life-changing, their immediate aftermath can feel overwhelming. Victims and their families must face the prospect of an entirely new normal, at least for the short-to-medium term, and potentially for the rest of their lives. That comes with significant life complications and stressors, not to mention (frequently) financial strain.
The last thing on the minds of catastrophic injury victims and their families is getting a lawyer right away. And yet, that is something they should be thinking about. The longer a person waits to hire an experienced Seattle catastrophic injury lawyer, the more difficult it can become to obtain the compensation that person deserves under Washington law.
That’s the case for at least two reasons. First, the general statute of limitations on personal injury claims in Washington is three years from the moment of the accident. That time passes quickly, but even more significantly, as it ticks away, building a solid case for damages can become more-and-more challenging. The best time to collect evidence and interview witnesses about how a catastrophic injury happened is as soon as possible after the injury happens, so that evidence doesn’t go missing and memories do not fade.
Second, it’s important to seek legal advice and start an investigation as soon as possible after a catastrophic injury because insurance companies will be doing exactly the same thing. However, unlike an attorney who represents the injured client’s interests, insurance adjusters represent their employer, and their job is to minimize the company’s financial exposure. Insurance adjusters will often try to speak with accident victims right away after an accident, in hopes of getting the victims to say something that undermines their legal rights. Insurance companies may also try to dangle an inadequate settlement offer, hoping a victim will jump at the money before realizing the value of the legal rights they’re giving up.
Seeking the advice of an experienced Seattle catastrophic injury attorney protects catastrophic injury victims from these tactics, and gives the injured victim an advocate whose only job is to fight for every dollar of compensation the victim and her family deserve.
Seattle Catastrophic Injuries FAQs
What are catastrophic injuries?
A catastrophic injury is one that alters the course of your life, causing a long-term or permanent disability or disfigurement that often requires multiple surgeries and much more. The seriousness of these injuries is coupled with a long and arduous road toward recovery, and possibly a lifetime of medical care and assistance. Often, catastrophic injuries in Seattle lead to secondary health concerns that can also be life-threatening.
If someone else’s negligence caused a catastrophic injury, discuss your case with one of the dedicated personal injury attorneys at Boohoff Law in Seattle today.
What injuries are considered catastrophic in Seattle?
When serious enough, any injury can prove catastrophic, but the most common injuries so classified include:
- Spinal cord injuries – Spinal cord injuries can occur anywhere on the spine, and in their severest form, they lead to paralysis (above). Spinal cord injuries are generally caused by a blow to the head, shoulders, or body, and they are not only exceedingly painful injuries that are slow to heal but can also lead to chronic pain, a seriously diminished range of motion, and/or permanent disability.
- Paralysis – Paralysis refers to the permanent loss of control over one’s bodily motion in the affected area of the body and is caused by a serious injury to the spinal cord. The physical and emotional effects of such a serious injury are difficult to adequately describe. Further, paralysis often leads to serious secondary complications, such as respiratory difficulties.
- Traumatic brain injuries – Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are generally caused by a significant impact to the head or by the severe shaking of the head on the neck. Because these injuries affect the brain—our bodies’ command central—they are often serious and unpredictable. TBIs can have a wide range of effects, including physical, cognitive, and behavioral impairments. Many of these effects can persist for a long time, often hindering your ability to return to work or your regular activities.
What kinds of accidents cause catastrophic injuries in Seattle?
If it is serious enough, nearly any kind of accident can lead to a catastrophic injury, but the following types represent those that are most closely associated:
- Traffic accidents – Traffic accidents come in many different varieties that include car, truck, motorcycle, bike, scooter, and pedestrian accidents. These accidents are often caused by motorist negligence.
- Slip and fall accidents – While the idea of slipping and falling may not strike fear in you, these accidents can actually cause extremely dangerous injuries—especially from heights, such as from stairs, ladders, or scaffolding. Dangerous slip and fall accidents are often caused by negligent business owners who fail to live up to the reasonable duty of care owed visitors at their establishments. They are also common, however, to accidents on the job—especially on construction sites.
- Accidents caused by defective products – The products we use our hard-earned money to purchase are intended to enhance our lives, but when these products are defective, dangerous injuries—including catastrophic injuries—can ensue. Major offenders include defective cars and car parts, defective children’s products, and defective appliances.
If someone else’s negligence leads to you suffering a catastrophic injury in any kind of accident, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced Seattle personal injury attorney today.
What damages do catastrophic injuries cause in Seattle?
As the name implies, catastrophic injuries often lead to extensive damages that can be difficult to fully assess. The categories of damages that often apply include:
- Medical costs – Your medical expenses are likely to be vast and can include emergency care at the scene of the accident, emergency transportation from the scene of the accident, surgeries, aftercare, treatment and care from medical doctors and specialists, rehabilitation, physical therapy, prescription medications, home health care, adaptive physical devices and adaptations to your home, and much more. The fact is that catastrophic injuries often lead to secondary health complications that make an already serious injury that much more serious. Addressing the full scope of your injuries and their medical costs are critical to your ability to reach your fullest recovery. In other words, it’s imperative that you carefully consider your catastrophic injury and the full range of implications it has on your life before you can determine your associated medical costs in their entirety—and before you can accept a settlement offer from the insurance company.
- Lost wages – A catastrophic injury is very likely to translate to either a seriously diminished work capacity or the inability to return to work at all—both of which naturally mean reduced earnings (now and into the future). If you can’t return to work, you not only lose out on your current earnings but also bypass the opportunity to reach your full earning potential in the future.
- Pain and suffering – Catastrophic injuries are typically extremely painful injuries, and this can take a toll on your mental well-being, as well. In addition, the trauma of the accident itself can lead to mental struggles, and many victims of catastrophic injuries suffer PTSD-like symptoms that can include increased anxiety, depression, mood swings, emotional lability, and other psychological symptoms that are difficult to endure. Physical and emotional pain and suffering is very real and should never be overlooked.
The damages associated with catastrophic injuries typically live up to the name of catastrophic. You will face a lifetime of enormous medical and physical therapy bills, not to mention the potential costs of prosthetics, wheelchairs, and home modifications. If you didn’t cause the accident, you should never have to pay for those items. That means you will want a lawyer who can recover the full compensation you need to cover your damages.
What kinds of driver negligence cause catastrophic injuries in Seattle?
Many catastrophic injuries are caused by negligence on the part of another motorist. Such negligence can come in a variety of dangerous forms, including:
- Impairment – We all know that driving while under the influence of alcohol is dangerous, but some drivers refuse to give up this reckless practice. Alcohol plays a detrimental role in many serious and fatal traffic accidents, and the motorists who cause them must be held accountable. Impaired drivers are not only less in touch with what’s going on around them but are also less capable of safely reacting to traffic in their midst. Impaired drivers have no place on our roadways.
- Distraction – Distraction is becoming a bigger and bigger problem on our roadways. While the distractions that have always been there—like our radio dials, conversations with passengers, and the kids in the backseat—remain, drivers now have new and improved distractions, which include the highly dangerous distraction known as the smartphone. When drivers choose to interact with their phones while behind the wheel, they put everyone with whom they share the road at risk. When a driver is distracted by something as all-encompassing as a smartphone, he or she simply isn’t capable of paying adequate attention to the road ahead, and dangerous accidents often ensue.
- Exhaustion – Exhaustion has a way of rendering us less capable in everything we do, and this includes driving. Not only do drowsy drivers pose the very real risk of falling asleep behind the wheel, but they are also less-safe drivers in general. Exhaustion is distracting in and of itself and can prevent a driver from giving the road the attention required to maneuver safely over it. While many motorists think nothing of getting behind the wheel with too little sleep under their belts, it’s actually a very dangerous practice that can lead to very serious accidents. This is the reason that commercial drivers—like truckers and bus drivers—are held to such restrictive hours-of-service regulations.
- Aggression and speed – Aggressive drivers are dangerous drivers at any speed, but excessive speed is also one of the hallmarks of aggressive driving. Further, excessive speed plays a critical role in many of the most dangerous accidents on our highways and byways. But aggressive drivers rarely stop there. In fact, aggressive driving is often associated with engaging in multiple dangerous practices while behind the wheel. These can include tailgating, swerving in and out of traffic, failing to yield the right-of-way, passing on the shoulder or otherwise passing illegally, failing to follow traffic signs and signals, running red lights, becoming enraged with other drivers, and otherwise treating the road as if it were the aggressive driver’s own personal playground. Aggressive drivers are exceedingly dangerous drivers.
If another motorist’s negligence leads to your injuries, an experienced Seattle personal injury attorney at Boohoff Law can help.
How do I handle the insurance company?
The short answer to how you should handle the insurance company is that you should not try to do so on your own.
That’s a job for your dedicated catastrophic injury attorney. If you’ve been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you’re going to be hearing from an insurance company representative or two, but these helpful hints can help you successfully navigate this uncharted terrain, including:
- You are not required to provide the insurance company with a recorded statement about the accident that left you catastrophically injured, but you will be asked to do so. It’s in you and your case’s best interest to forego this offer and to allow your experienced personal injury lawyer to supply the insurance company with all the information it needs.
- The insurance company isn’t exactly on your side, and you shouldn’t proceed as if it is. Insurance companies are paid to cover losses like the ones you’ve suffered, but they are also in the business of generating revenue, which often amounts to whittling away at settlement offers and even denying claims from the outset. When it comes to the insurance company, always proceed with extreme caution.
- No matter how nice and reasonable your insurance representative is, remember that this is part of his or her job, but this job also has another essential component—tripping you up and casting doubt on the veracity of your claim. The fact is that these reps are adept at getting vulnerable claimants (whose lives as they know them have been upended) to incriminate themselves—even if there’s nothing to the incrimination in the first place. For example, we’re all prone to saying we’re sorry after an accident (in the heat of the moment)—because we are sorry that the accident happened. This does not mean that we are to blame for the accident or share fault in causing the accident. In other words, less is always more when it comes to dealing with the insurance representative in your case.
- Just as the insurance rep is adept at eliciting the responses he or she is looking for, your experienced personal injury attorney is adept at dealing with the insurance company and with thwarting its tactics related to diminishing your settlement amount. Your attorney has the knowledge, commitment, and resources to successfully negotiate with the insurance company on behalf of your claim’s most favorable resolution. Your attorney’s efforts will likely include timely providing the insurance representative with paperwork and documentation, obtaining evidence at the scene of the accident (including eyewitness testimonies), retaining expert witnesses in support of your claim, and doing much more.
- Finally, it’s important to recognize that an early settlement offer is very likely indicative of an attempt on the part of the insurance company to play on your desperation and to bypass having to pay you what your claim is actually worth. With time, the full extent of your catastrophic injury will become more apparent, and your full range of damages—in their entirety—will be difficult to ignore. Early on, however, the insurance company knows that you’re drowning in medical bills and that you may be just desperate enough to accept a lowball offer. Don’t sign off on a settlement offer until you’ve had a dedicated personal injury attorney at Boohoff Law in Seattle give you the go-ahead.
Call Boohoff Law if You Suffered a Catastrophic Injury in Seattle
Tatiana Boohoff and the talented team of legal professionals at Boohoff Law have years of combined experience representing clients who have suffered the worst kind of injuries. They make it their mission to deliver compassionate, responsive client service while standing strong against powerful insurance companies and corporate defendants out to undermine the client’s legal rights. When possible, they explore negotiated settlements with the parties who owe damages to their clients. When necessary, they have no hesitation about taking their clients’ cases to court.
Do not wait to connect with a skilled, determined catastrophic injury lawyer at Boohoff Law after a catastrophic injury leaves your life upended. You deserve sophisticated legal representation that gives you the best chance of recovering the maximum compensation available under the law. Contact Boohoff Law or call them at (877) 999-9999 today to schedule a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation with a member of their team.
“Great service, excellent constant communication and a speedy delivery time . 11/10 would recommend! William Bowles is an outstanding attorney. Nothing but the best with this group!”
– Riley M.
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