Bakersfield Catastrophic Injury Lawyer

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Robert May

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Whether they involve congested roadways filled with fast-moving vehicles or large trucks in the area’s energy production sector, a botched procedure at one of the dozen or so medical facilities in the Bakersfield area, or a slip and fall at Memorial Stadium, people can find themselves catastrophically injured in many ways in Bakersfield.

Unfortunately, some of these injuries are catastrophic, permanently altering all aspects of the sufferer’s life.

If you or your loved one incurred a catastrophic injury because of someone else’s careless or reckless actions, let an experienced Bakersfield catastrophic injury lawyer at The May Firm explain your legal options for obtaining compensation.

During a free case evaluation

we will answer your questions about the claims process and how our legal team can assist you. We pride ourselves on our attention to detail, our responsiveness to the needs of the injured, and for taking the difficult cases that other attorneys turn away.

Community Involvement

At The May Firm we strive to be involved and connected to our local community. For example, this past holiday season we had bicycle and Christmas tree giveaway’s dedicated for individuals in our community. Our goal is to be a positive force for good in the local community and give back in some small measure to those we can serve. We receive satisfaction and joy from serving our clients and will continue to look for ways to be of assistance to the community as a whole. We receive positive energy from the community when we are involved.

We have listed a few of the local organizations we support and look forward to growing our outreach in the future. If you have any suggestions for ways we can be of service or support, please reach out to us.

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Catastrophic Injury Attorney In Bakersfield

What Is a Catastrophic Injury?

A catastrophic injury is an injury that has a high likelihood of producing permanent disabilities that will impact an individual’s ability to earn an income or to perform daily living tasks independently. Personal injury claims involving catastrophic injuries are often high-value cases due to the severity and permanence of the injury and the need to anticipate and account for a lifetime of expenses relating to lost earning capacity and assistance with personal care when valuing the claim.

Common Types of Catastrophic Injuries

When lawyers talk about catastrophic injuries, they often refer to injuries affecting the body’s central nervous system: the brain and the spinal cord. These two systems control the body’s functions and involuntary responses.

However, despite their importance, neither the brain nor the spinal cord effectively heals from injuries, meaning that the damage is often permanent.

Here is a look at injuries that could be considered catastrophic.

#1. Traumatic Brain Injuries

Traumatic brain injuries involve damage to one or more of the lobes of the brain that generally occurs from a blow to the head or body. Each lobe of the brain—including the frontal lobe, temporal lobe, occipital lobe, parietal lobe, cerebellum, and brain stem—controls different body functions. Because of this, the deficits an individual will acquire from a brain injury depend not only on the severity of the injury but also on the injured part of the brain.

Common deficits occurring from a traumatic brain injury include consciousness disorders such as a vegetative or minimally conscious state; loss of memory; difficulty speaking or understanding spoken language; inability to control one’s behavior, emotions, or impulses; loss of vision; or difficulty moving in a balanced or coordinated manner.

In addition to permanent disabilities, traumatic brain injuries commonly result in dangerous complications that can result in further damage and necessitate further medical treatment throughout life.

Some complications resulting from a brain injury include:

  • Seizures, which most often occur in the early hours or days after the onset of the injury, but can recur many weeks or months later, for some people. Recurring seizures as a complication of a brain injury are called post-traumatic epilepsy.
  • Hydrocephalus, which is a buildup of cerebrospinal fluid on the brain that can increase pressure and cause additional brain damage. The most common treatment for hydrocephalus is the surgical placement of a shunt that will drain the fluid away from the brain and into the body, which can flush it out as waste.
  • Chronic headaches, which are not unusual in the early days or weeks following the injury. However, in some individuals—even those who have experienced a concussion, which is considered a “mild” brain injury—these headaches can continue to recur months or even years after the injury. This is one of the primary symptoms of post-concussion syndrome. (While brain injuries are categorized in severity levels of mild, moderate, and severe, there is nothing mild about an injury that can result in permanent disabilities.)
  • Damage to the blood vessels that supply blood to the brain. This damage often is a result of the same violent blow that caused damage to the brain itself. However, this condition can lead to potentially life-threatening complications including stroke.
  • Loss of sexual desire or a change in sexual interest or preference following the injury as a result of changes to hormone levels that occurred from the brain damage, changes in the sufferer’s self-esteem, and psychological impacts to the relationship the injured individual has with their partner. Spouses, partners, and other family members are often burdened with much of the caregiving tasks required by the injury, even as aspects of the relationship they once enjoyed with their loved one are no longer possible.

The lifetime costs of a traumatic brain injury are between $85,000 to $3 million for medical treatment alone. Added to this steep price tag is the reality that many people with brain injuries never return to work after the injury.

More than half of the homeless population in the U.S. may suffer from a brain injury. While some of these injuries result from the often harsh and violent conditions of homelessness, for others, the injury and the significant impacts it has on the individual’s life is the catalyst for homelessness.

#2. Spinal Cord Injuries

Encased in the relative protection of the spinal vertebrae and discs is the spinal cord, a bundle of nerves that extends from the base of the skull to the waist. It relays messages between the brain and the rest of the body

The primary result of a spinal cord injury is the loss of sensation and function below the injury, which is known as paralysis. Incomplete injuries allow some of the messages between the brain and the body to be delivered, meaning the individual retains some function and sensation below the injury site, while those suffering complete injuries have no retention of sensation or function.

The level of paralysis in an individual is often called:

  • Tetraplegia or quadriplegia, which occurs in individuals who have suffered an injury high on the cervical (neck) portion of the spinal cord, resulting in paralysis over all the body below the neck.
  • Paraplegia, which occurs in individuals who have suffered an injury lower on the spinal cord, resulting in paralysis below the waist.

Like traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries also carry a high risk of complications, including those that can create further damage or even kill a person.

For example, the most common cause of premature death in spinal cord injury sufferers is pneumonia, which occurs because of the body’s inability to effectively expel excretions from the lungs and throat by coughing due to paralysis in the chest muscles.

Other common complications of spinal cord injuries include:

  • Loss of bladder and bowel control, which can result in incontinence, constipation, and an increased risk of urinary tract infections or the development of bedsores as a result of skin tissue that weakens from prolonged contact with urine or feces.
  • Bedsores, which are also known as pressure ulcers, occur as a result of the injured person’s inability to change positions frequently enough to prevent pressure from building in one part of the body and causing damage to the skin.
  • Circulation issues which can result in sudden changes to blood pressure as well as an increased risk of developing blood clots in the deep veins of the legs. These clots can break free and travel through the circulatory system to the lungs, where they can cause a life-threatening condition known as a pulmonary embolism.
  • Changes in muscle tone, including particularly stiff, rigid muscles known as spasticity, as well as limp, flaccid, to soft muscles.

The costs of spinal cord injuries depend on the completeness of the injury and the age of the sufferer. The first year of treating the condition is generally the costliest, though any loss of motor function from a spinal cord injury comes with anticipated yearly medical costs of more than $42,000 a year.

Lifetime costs of treating high tetraplegia occurring in an individual who was 25 years old at the time of the injury could reach more than $4.7 million. The lifetime costs of incomplete motor function at any level to an individual who sustained the injury at 25 about $1.5 million.

#3. Other Injuries That Can Be Considered Catastrophic

While traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries are often associated with the loss of ability to earn an income or provide self-care, other injuries can also have these results, including:

  • Blindness or deafness
  • Amputation or significant loss of the use of a limb
  • Severe burn injuries that result in significant scarring and disfigurement
  • Other types of brain injuries, such as anoxic brain injuries that occur when the brain sustains damages as a result of oxygen deprivation
  • Severe injuries involving the spinal vertebrae or discs that result in chronic pain, loss of range of motion, and instability in the spine.

How Catastrophic Injuries Occur in Bakersfield

Catastrophic injuries can occur in Bakersfield in many ways, most commonly through motor vehicle accidents. More than 3,000 motor vehicle accidents occur in the city each year, with many of these accidents resulting in serious injuries.

Motor vehicle accidents are among the most common causes of both traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries.

Other potential sources of catastrophic injuries in Bakersfield include:

  • Falls, either from elevation or height, which also account for a high number of traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries.
  • Violence, such as assault or child abuse. Victims of violence can file a catastrophic injury claim in California against the individual who committed the act, and these claims often include punitive damages, which courts award to punish the defendant’s wanton disregard for the safety of others.
  • Defective products or parts used in automobiles, appliances, or other machinery.

How a Bakersfield Catastrophic Injury Lawyer Can Help

Catastrophic injuries produce impacts to every part of the sufferer’s life, including their ability to earn an income, obtain an education, care for themselves, participate in society, and enjoy hobbies and activities with families and friends.

An experienced Bakersfield catastrophic injury lawyer from The May Firm understands how important it is in a catastrophic injury claim to obtain the maximum compensation available since our clients face a lifetime of expenses that require compensation.

We can assist you in your claim by determining liability, negotiating a settlement with the at-fault party’s insurance adjuster, obtaining evidence to prove your claim in court, filing your claim within the statutory deadline, and collecting your settlement or award.

Contact us for answers to the questions about your specific claim.

 

 

The main criteria that an injury needs to meet catastrophic status are that it substantially impairs the sufferer’s ability to earn an income and/or self-care. Another frequently considered factor in evaluating a catastrophic injury is whether it impairs the sufferer’s ability to complete daily living tasks independently.

The value of a catastrophic injury claim is determined based on:

The average income the sufferer was earning before the onset of the injury, which we will use to calculate lost earning capacity.
The medical expenses already incurred for injury treatment and those the individual will likely incur.
The psychological impacts that you incurred or will likely experience due to a drastically altered life.
Psychological impacts of an injury are often referred to as non-economic damages, or—more informally—as pain and suffering damages. In the legal arena, the word “damage” refers to compensation received for harm.

Economic damages are compensation for the expenses of the injury. You can prove them by producing receipts, bills, and employment documentation.

You can prove non-economic damages by relying on testimony by medical experts who work with individuals dealing with injuries such as yours, as well as testimony from family, friends, or others in your care.

Generally, the individual or entity whose careless, reckless, or even intentional actions led to your injury will be liable. However, there can be more than one source of liability in some types of accidents.

Our Bakersfield catastrophic injury lawyer can determine all sources of liability and insurance resources you can access for compensation.

Here are some possible sources of liability:

Motor vehicle accidents: A driver who fails to operate their motor vehicle safely and legally to protect the health and safety of others, the employer of a driver who causes an accident during the normal scope of their employment, other drivers who were not necessarily involved in the accident but whose actions factored into the accident occurring, a business establishment or social host who furnishes alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person or a minor who then caused an accident due to alcohol impairment, or the manufacturer of defective vehicles or vehicle parts.
Premises liability accidents: The owner or possessor of private, commercial, or public property who failed to regularly inspect their property for hazards that could cause injuries to guests and promptly mitigate them.

As with all types of personal injury claims, Bakersfield catastrophic injury claimants can seek compensation for both the expenses and the impacts of the injury.

Some of the expenses and impacts commonly included in catastrophic injury claims are:

Medical expenses, such as the cost of ambulance or medical aircraft transport; emergency treatment; the services of the physician or surgical team; diagnostic or laboratory testing; hospitalization; prescription medication; long-term care, the provision of assistive devices such as a wheelchair or prosthetic limb, physical therapy, and rehabilitation.
The cost of household services that you must pay someone else to perform.
Loss of future earning capacity as the permanent disabilities you acquired from the injury affect your ability to earn an income.
The repair or replacement of property that was damaged at the same time your injury occurred, such as damage to your vehicle in a motor vehicle accident.
Physical pain and suffering relating to the injury itself, the procedures used to treat it, or from the cascade of complications that often accompany catastrophic injuries.
Emotional distress resulting from the permanence of the injury, its complications, and the impacts it has on your life.
Loss of consortium, which is a damage obtained on behalf of the injured person’s spouse or domestic partner for the loss of physical intimacy and companionship that is often experienced after a catastrophic injury.
Loss of the enjoyment of life, which is compensation provided for the loss of the ability to participate in activities and events you previously enjoyed.

The damages received for the expenses and impacts of your injury are compensatory. However, another type of compensation is sometimes provided in catastrophic injury cases—punitive damages.

Punitive damages are not related to the injury itself. Courts award them to financially punish the defendant for:

Malice, which refers to behavior that intentionally disregards the safety and property of others. This behavior is commonly found in intentional acts such as assault or child abuse, or where an individual injures someone during the commission of a felony.
Oppression, which refers to behavior that subjected the claimant to cruel and unjust treatment in conscious disregard of their rights. This also often involves intentional acts, such as domestic violence.
Fraud, which involves injuries that resulted from intentional deception or concealment of material facts. A common example of a catastrophic injury occurring as a result of the concealment of material facts would be a medical malpractice claim in which an individual incurred a catastrophic injury in a medical procedure with an unreasonable risk of the injury occurring, but the doctor did not disclose that known risk to the patient before obtaining the patient’s consent.

In California, family members including the spouse or domestic partner, parents, children, grandchildren, or others who were financially dependent on the deceased can seek compensation through a wrongful death claim.

Plaintiffs must file wrongful death claims within two years of the death.

Wrongful death claims can provide compensation for:

The loss of financial support contributed to family members.
The cost of household services that were performed by the deceased that someone else must now perform.
Funeral and burial expenses.
The cost of medical treatment of the deceased’s final injuries.
Loss of love, comfort, companionship, care, and consortium provided by the deceased to their loved ones.

No. Currently, no cures exist for the permanent damage caused by traumatic brain injuries or spinal cord injuries, though research may find them. The value of your claim develops under the assumption that your injuries are permanent.

Settlement agreements are final, meaning that once everyone signs the agreement and the judge approves it, neither side can go back and ask for anything additional. Either side can appeal an award within a limited time. The discovery of a cure for a previously permanent condition would likely not serve as the basis of an appeal unless it came simultaneously or in proximity to the decision.

According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), compensatory damages—those you receive for the impacts and expenses of your injury—are not income and not taxed. However, if you obtain punitive damages, those are income and taxed.

Many claimants deduct medical expenses from their overall tax burden. If you later receive a compensatory award that includes medical expenses, you must repay the deduction.

The Bakersfield legal team at The May Firm understands that worry over the cost of an attorney prevents many personal injury claimants from seeking legal assistance that will enable them to obtain the maximum compensation available to them.

Personal injury claims are complex, particularly those involving catastrophic injuries because they require an additional layer of proof that the injury is, in fact, permanent, and will prevent the sufferer from being gainfully employed.

By choosing not to hire an attorney, you must gather evidence to prove liability, expenses, and impacts; adhere to all court expectations and formalities; engage with very experienced legal counsel for insurance companies who will undoubtedly notice and use your lack of legal experience to their advantage; and understand the value of your claim and what constitutes a fair settlement offer.

Because having an experienced attorney by your side is so critical to the success of your Bakersfield catastrophic injury claim, The May Firm offers to anyone who needs our assistance has access to it, regardless of ability to pay:

A free case evaluation, also commonly referred to as a free consultation. This is time you can have with our attorneys to learn more about the process, talk about your case, and obtain information about the process of obtaining compensation for a catastrophic injury.
A contingent-fee billing method. You will not need to pay for the services of our legal team unless we obtain a positive outcome in your claim.
With a free case evaluation and a contingent-fee billing method, you risk nothing by seeking guidance and assistance with your claim.

A catastrophic injury can change the entire course of your life and your family’s life. It is not unusual for individuals suffering from these injuries to feel they are fighting a battle alone.

Let the compassionate and experienced attorneys at The May Firm fight alongside you for the compensation you deserve. For your free case evaluation, contact The May Firm online by calling (661) 244-9712.

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