Accidents often result in bodily injuries, with most injuries healing with proper medical care in a matter of months. However, some injuries are so serious that accident victims will suffer with serious, lifelong disabilities. These are catastrophic injuries, and they are more common than many people think.
At Larson & Gallivan Law, we understand the challenges someone with a catastrophic injury faces moving forward. You and your family will have high medical expenses and deal with emotional and financial stress. Call us to talk. Below, we highlight some of the most common catastrophic injuries and explain how our Vermont personal injury lawyers can help.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
The brain controls most of what the body does. It sends signals to our limbs, regulates our breathing and heart rate, and allows us to speak and understand other people. The brain also regulates a person’s mood and is the repository of their personality and memories.
Any damage to the brain can show up as an impairment of these essential functions. Because different areas of the brain are involved in different tasks, your symptoms will depend on which part of the brain is injured. Many people suffer from:
- Speech difficulties
- Lack of coordination
- Mood swings and increased risk of mental illness
- Memory loss
- Vision or hearing impairment
Traumatic brain injuries vary by severity. A mild concussion could heal in a few months, after which point you experience no more symptoms. But moderate and severe brain injuries cause much more significant impairment. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control reports that 57% of those who suffered a moderate TBI have a disability five years later.
Recovery is sometimes possible but grueling. TBI patients often need years of expensive rehabilitation, prescription medication, and possibly at-home help. They are also highly likely to be unemployed. In fact, about 55% of those who suffer a moderate or severe TBI are unemployed five years later. A Vermont personal injury lawyer can help by holding the person who caused your injury accountable. A personal injury claim should seek compensation for all out-of-pocket expenses, like medical care and lost income.
Amputations are also catastrophic. If you lose an arm, hand, leg, or foot, you can suffer serious emotional distress. Many people even experience pain in the phantom limb.
Violent accidents can lead to amputation when the bone and soft tissue are damaged beyond repair. Some victims also have a limb amputated after it has been crushed under a heavy weight to prevent “crush syndrome,” which occurs when skeletal muscle is damaged. Crush syndrome, also called rhabdomyolysis, is often fatal, and the amputation is necessary to protect your life.
Small, superficial burns can heal nicely without medical intervention. But deeper burns can damage tissue below the skin, including nerves, muscle, and bone. And burns which cover a large part of the body are often fatal.
Any burn on a joint is especially disabling because the skin will contract and patients often need multiple surgeries, including physical therapy, to regain some movement. Burns also cause intense emotional distress. A burn which disfigures the face could prevent someone from socializing with friends or even leaving the house.
The eyes are not that well protected in the head, and it’s a miracle that serious eye injuries are rare. For the unfortunate few who do suffer eye trauma, blindness or impaired vision is a real possibility.
We see blindness caused by car accidents which involve massive trauma to the face or direct damage to the eye. Pieces of metal, plastic, or glass can cut into the eyeball. Nerve damage at the back of the eye is difficult to repair.
Other accident victims suffer blindness due to chemicals getting into their eyes, which might be the result of a workplace accident. Some workers are not provided with safety goggles, or the goggles are defective and therefore useless.
Many blind people maintain their independence with guide dogs, canes, and other devices. The rise of electronic devices like smartphones has made it easier for the vision impaired to live with dignity. Still, this is a major injury, and many people experience that their lives have been tossed upside down. In addition to medical expenses, a person blinded in an accident has suffered major pain and suffering. Hire a Vermont personal injury lawyer to uncover whether you can sue.
Spinal Cord Injury
The spinal cord rivals the brain in importance. It runs along the middle of the back and is protected by vertebrae. Nerves also branch off the spinal cord and spread to our distant limbs.
Vertebrae are strong enough to survive minor bumps and falls. But violent car accidents, truck accidents, and other incidents can smash the vertebrae and directly impact the spinal cord. Bits and pieces of bone can also shred the cord or become embedded in it.
Any damage to the spinal cord can show up as impaired movement and/or sensation below the point of impact. You might experience any of the following symptoms:
- Numbness or tingling in your limbs
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Intense back pain
- Difficulty walking
- Stiffness in the neck
A complete spinal cord injury is one that cuts the cord in two. They are paralyzed below the point of impact and, apart from experimental therapies, there is little chance of regaining movement below the impact site. With an incomplete injury, the cord is not completely severed, so signals can still run up and down the spine.
Someone with spinal cord injury will probably require multiple surgeries to strengthen the spinal column, physical therapy, and other treatment. They will probably also need at-home help, possibly for the rest of their lives.
Spinal cord injuries are some of the most expensive. A study out of the University of Michigan has calculated that even an incomplete injury causing motor difficulties will cost about $380,000 in the first year.
Contact Our Vermont Personal Injury Lawyer
Larson & Gallivan Law has assisted many families struggling with catastrophic injuries. A lawyer from our firm can meet you anywhere to discuss your accident and possible legal remedies, including a lawsuit. Please call us today at 802-327-8458 to schedule a consultation.