Understand your rights and how to maximize your compensation after sustaining catastrophic injuries in an Atlanta car accident
When a car accident in Atlanta results in catastrophic injuries or wrongful death, the consequences for those involved and their loved ones are profound and far-reaching.
Coping with the stress of medical bills, physical pain and emotional distress after these accidents can be truly overwhelming, making it essential for accident victims to have the right legal support in place to ensure they get the full compensation they deserve.
At Gerber & Holder, we know how devastating these accidents can be. That’s why our team is committed to providing compassionate, dedicated legal representation to help you navigate the complex aftermath of these tragic events.
Take the first step toward your financial recovery today by scheduling a free consultation with the experienced Atlanta injury attorneys at Gerber & Holder.
What is considered a catastrophic injury?
A catastrophic injury is typically defined as a severe injury that results in long-term, if not permanent, disability, disfigurement, or impairment that has a substantial impact on an individual’s quality of life.
So, how do catastrophic injuries differ from other types of injuries in car accidents?
Catastrophic injuries differ from other types of injuries sustained in car accidents primarily in their severity and long-term impact. While typical injuries from car accidents, like broken bones or minor lacerations, generally heal over time and allow individuals to return to their pre-accident state of health and lifestyle, catastrophic injuries often result in permanent issues that impact the victim for the rest of their life.
What are the most common types of catastrophic injuries from car accidents?
Some of the most common types of catastrophic injuries resulting from car accidents include the following:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI). These can range from concussions to severe brain bleeds, often leading to long-term issues with memory, concentration, coordination and emotional regulation, as well as changes in personality and permanent disability.
- Spinal cord injuries. These injuries can lead to partial or complete paralysis, including paraplegia or quadriplegia, depending on the injury level on the spinal cord.
- Severe burns. These can cause significant scarring and disfigurement and require extensive medical treatment, including skin grafts and reconstructive surgeries.
- Multiple bone fractures. Severe fractures can lead to long-term complications, including chronic pain and mobility issues.
- Internal organ damage. Injuries to organs like the liver, kidneys or lungs can be life-threatening and have lasting health effects.
- Severe neck and back injuries. Neck and back injuries can lead to chronic pain, limited mobility and, in some cases, permanent disability.
- Amputations. The loss of a limb or extremities can occur either during the accident or as a surgical necessity afterward due to severe injury to the limb.
- Severe eye injuries. Serious eye injuries from broken glass or other flying debris during an accident can lead to loss of vision or even loss of the eye itself.
Each of these injuries can have a profound impact on an individual’s life, often requiring long-term medical care, rehabilitation, and significant lifestyle adjustments.
Are catastrophic injuries always immediately apparent after a car accident?
No, catastrophic injuries are not always immediately apparent following a car accident. In some cases, what initially seems like a minor injury can rapidly evolve into a serious condition. Below are just a few examples:
- A seemingly minor headache or dizziness could be an early symptom of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) like a brain bleed. Over time, these symptoms can worsen, leading to significant cognitive and neurological issues.
- A simple back or neck pain might initially seem like a muscle strain but could actually indicate a more serious spinal cord injury, which could lead to paralysis or other serious complications if not treated promptly.
- Abdominal pain or discomfort, which might be overlooked initially, can signify internal bleeding or organ damage. Without immediate medical attention, this can lead to life-threatening complications.
- A fever after a car accident should also be taken seriously, as it could be a sign of an overlooked injury or infection. If left untreated, infections can lead to sepsis, a potentially life-threatening condition.
These examples underscore the importance of seeking an immediate and thorough medical evaluation after a car accident, even if the injuries seem minor initially. Early detection and treatment are crucial in preventing an injury from becoming catastrophic.
What are the long-term effects of catastrophic injuries from car accidents?
The long-term effects of catastrophic injuries from car accidents can be profound and life-altering, impacting various aspects of an individual’s life. These effects include:
- Physical limitations. Depending on the injury, individuals may face chronic pain, limited mobility, or permanent disabilities like paralysis. These physical challenges often require ongoing medical treatment and rehabilitation.
- Cognitive and emotional impacts. Traumatic brain injuries can lead to long-term cognitive impairments, affecting memory, concentration and problem-solving skills. Emotional and psychological effects, such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), are also common.
- Lifestyle changes. Many people with catastrophic injuries may need to modify their homes for accessibility, change their daily routines, and rely on assistive devices or long-term care.
- Reduced quality of life. The cumulative effect of physical, emotional, and financial challenges can significantly reduce the overall quality of life.
- Financial strain. The cost of ongoing medical care, rehabilitation and home care can be substantial, often leading to financial strain. This is exacerbated if the injured person can no longer work or requires a caregiver.
- Employment challenges. The ability to work can be severely impacted, leading to a loss of income and career opportunities. Some individuals may require vocational rehabilitation to help them develop skills for a new job if they can’t continue working in their previous profession, while others may have injuries that prevent them from working in any capacity.
- Social and relationship changes. Relationships with family, friends and partners can also be affected. The injured individual may become more dependent on others, and caregivers may also experience stress and emotional burdens.
Each individual’s experience with a catastrophic injury is unique, but these long-term effects highlight the importance of comprehensive medical care, psychological support, and social services in the recovery and adaptation process.
What compensation is available for car accidents that lead to catastrophic injuries?
Whether you’ve suffered a catastrophic injury during a head-on collision, a rear-end collision or an accident while driving for work, various forms of compensation may be available to the injured party, often depending on the circumstances of the accident and the resulting injuries.
Types of compensation typically include:
- Medical expenses. This includes costs for immediate medical treatment, surgeries, hospital stays, medications and any ongoing medical care, such as physical therapy, rehabilitation and future medical procedures.
- Lost wages and earning capacity. Compensation can cover wages lost due to the injury and the loss of future earning capacity if the injury affects the individual’s ability to work in the future.
- Pain and suffering. This non-economic damage compensates for the physical pain and emotional distress suffered due to the accident and the resulting injuries.
- Disability and disfigurement. Compensation may be awarded for any permanent disability or disfigurement caused by the accident, including compensation for the impact on the individual’s quality of life.
- Home and vehicle modifications. If the injury requires modifications to a home or vehicle to accommodate a disability (like wheelchair ramps, modified bathrooms, etc.), these costs can be included.
- Long-term care costs. In cases of severe injuries that require long-term care, compensation can include the costs of in-home care services, nursing care or specialized care facilities.
- Loss of consortium. In some cases, family members of the injured individual can claim compensation for the loss of companionship, support and affection resulting from the injury.
- Punitive damages. In cases where the defendant’s actions were particularly reckless or egregious, punitive damages may be awarded as a way to punish the wrongdoer and deter similar conduct in the future.
It’s important to consult with an attorney experienced in personal injury law to understand the specific compensation available in your particular case.
What do I need to prove fault in a Georgia car accident for catastrophic injuries?
To prove fault in a Georgia car accident that resulted in catastrophic injuries, you’ll need to establish certain key elements, including:
- Negligence. First, you’ll need to demonstrate that the other party was negligent, which means they failed to exercise reasonable care. This can include speeding, distracted driving, drunk driving or not obeying traffic signs. If the other party violated traffic laws, this could be strong evidence of their negligence.
- Causation. Next, you’ll need to show that the other party’s negligence directly caused the accident and your resulting injuries. This is a critical component, as the injuries must be a direct result of the accident. To do this, you’ll need to collect and present evidence to support your claim. This can include police reports, witness statements, traffic camera footage, accident scene photos, cell phone records, and expert testimony.
- Injuries and damages. You’ll also need to provide clear documentation of your injuries and other financial damages to show how these injuries have impacted your life.
It’s important to note that Georgia operates under a system called “modified comparative negligence,” which means that an injured party can only recover compensation if they’re found to be less than 50% at fault for the accident.
If the injured party’s fault is 50% or more, they cannot recover damages. Additionally, if they are partially at fault but less than 50%, their compensation will be reduced by their percentage of fault.
So, as an example, if you were found to be 10% at fault for an accident in which you would have been awarded $100,000, your final compensation would be reduced by 10% (your percentage of fault), so ultimately, you’d end up with $90,000.
Can family members claim compensation for a loved one’s catastrophic injury if a car accident leads to wrongful death?
Yes, family members can claim compensation for a loved one who dies as a result of a catastrophic injury from a car accident. In such cases, certain family members, like the spouse, parents or surviving children, can typically pursue a wrongful death claim.
Types of compensation in a wrongful death claim can include:
- Medical expenses incurred due to the catastrophic injury leading to death
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of income and potential future earnings of the deceased
- Loss of companionship, care and guidance for the surviving family members
- Emotional distress and mental anguish suffered by the family members due to the loss
Given the complexities involved in wrongful death claims, especially those stemming from catastrophic injuries, it’s advisable to seek legal representation. A lawyer who specializes in wrongful death cases can provide guidance, help gather necessary evidence, and navigate the legal proceedings.
How long do I have to file a claim for a car accident that led to catastrophic injuries or wrongful death in Georgia?
In Georgia, the time limit, or statute of limitations, to file a legal claim for a car accident that led to catastrophic injuries or wrongful death is generally 2 years from the date of the accident.
Since missing this deadline can result in losing the right to seek compensation, it’s advisable to consult with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible to ensure your right to compensation is protected.
Get help from an experienced Atlanta injury attorney
If you or a loved one is suffering from the consequences of a catastrophic injury in Georgia, reach out to the knowledgeable Atlanta injury lawyers at Gerber & Holder today. We’ll work hard to gather the evidence you need to prove negligence in your case and handle all negotiations with the insurance company so you can focus on healing.
We understand how much catastrophic injuries can cost over the course of a lifetime, so we won’t rest until you get the full compensation you deserve.