Catastrophic injuries, as the name suggests, are anything but typical. Their effects on a person’s health are severe, often introducing long-term difficulties in everyday life. These injuries require victims to change their entire lives in ways that are inconvenient and taxing. Those who suffer catastrophic injuries are completely right to want justice and compensation from those who caused their injuries.
Anyone, anywhere can suffer a catastrophic injury, even in our Duluth community. It can be easy to feel defeated and uncertain after a catastrophic injury. What comes next? What does the future look like? At Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers, our Duluth catastrophic injury lawyers provide answers and the assistance you need to move on the best you can with life. Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers offer free case evaluations. If you’ve suffered a catastrophic injury in Duluth, call us now.
Table of Contents
- Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers: Compassion and Dedication You Can Count On
- What makes a catastrophic injury different?
- Common causes of catastrophic injuries
- Damages in Duluth catastrophic injury cases
- Duluth Catastrophic Injury FAQs
- Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers: compassion and legal expertise when it matters the most
Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers: Compassion and Dedication You Can Count On
In 2007, Russell Nicolet started his firm to help people with the difficult legal challenges facing them. Today, Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers has over 20 offices throughout Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North Dakota. Our lawyers are members of the community and are proud of the people we serve.
After a catastrophic injury, surround yourself with people you can trust. It may seem like everything is changing, but that doesn’t mean you can’t move forward with confidence. At Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers, we have the experience and know-how to handle your Duluth catastrophic injury case professionally and pursue the maximum compensation you deserve.
Our past results demonstrate. While we can’t promise a particular outcome, we’re in your corner providing top-quality legal advice and representation at every turn to help successfully resolve your case and get you on with life.
Examples of our past successes include:
- $700,000 for a man injured in a semi-truck accident
- $1,200,000 for a child who suffered burns from an auto accident
- $550,000 for a client injured in a trucking accident
Nicolet Law no longer handles Disability or Bankruptcy cases.
What makes a catastrophic injury different?
When a client comes to us with a catastrophic injury, they have experienced life-changing trauma. Catastrophic injuries are not your normal injuries. Persons who suffer a catastrophic injury typically face permanent restrictions and limitations. They must adapt to a new way of life and accept a new reality. These changes are among the biggest challenges they face. Injuries typically categorized as catastrophic include:
Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
It’s scary to think about an injury to the brain. The brain controls every function in the body. It allows us to speak, think, and act. Our brains are one of the most important features of our humanity. This is why a brain injury is so serious. Not all brain injuries are catastrophic injuries. In fact, thousands of people suffer from brain injuries every year without any long-term effects. But many TBIs leave victims with severe impairments in even the most basic functions
The American Association of Neurological Surgeons reports approximately 288,000 hospitalizations for TBIs every year in the United States, and between 80,000 and 90,000 people experience the onset of lifelong or serious TBI disability.
The long-term effects of a TBI can include:
- Memory loss
- Vision loss
- Difficulty concentrating
- Mood or personality changes
If you have ever experienced a burn, you know even a minor burn can cause intense pain. But severe burns can do much worse, causing permanent nerve damage, scarring, and loss of mobility. Beyond that, burns carry a high risk of infection and large burns can be life-threatening. According to the CDC, up to 10,000 people in the United States per year die due to burn-related infections.
Spinal cord injuries (SCI)
The spinal cord consists of a bundle of nerves that runs from the base of the skull to the bottom of the spine. The spinal cord transmits messages to and from the brain to the rest of the body. When a spinal cord injury occurs, the nerves are damaged, disrupting the messaging system. As a result, spinal cord injuries often result in permanent or temporary paralysis. The degree of the injury will depend on where along the spinal cord the injury occurred and how severe the impact was. Nearly half of all spinal cord injuries result in incomplete tetraplegia, in which the victim loses function of all extremities, but may retain some movement or sensation unevenly across the limbs.
According to the Mayo Clinic, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries in the United States. Falls, assault, and sports-related injuries also account for large numbers of spinal cord injuries. People who incur spinal cord injuries are at an increased risk for many health issues, which may include:
- Mental health problems
- Pressure sores and infection
- Sexual dysfunction
- Respiratory issues
- Circulation issues
- Muscle atrophy
A person experiences much of life by sight. Whether just to get around or to watch a beautiful vista, sight is one of the most valuable functions we have. The loss of sight is indeed a catastrophic injury. Vision problems, including partial and complete vision loss, can occur in an injury to the eye or may result from a brain injury. A person who suffers vision loss may need to undergo occupational or physical therapy and may also need structural modifications to their home or an assistant to get around.
Loss of limb
The Amputee Coalition reports that there are approximately 2 million amputees in the United States. Every year, approximately 185,000 people experience an amputation, with about 45 percent being the result of a trauma. Trauma-related loss of a limb can occur because the limb was severed or crushed, or as the result of nerve damage. Someone who undergoes an amputation may need physical therapy and benefit from a prosthetic. Amputations can also take immense emotional tolls.
Common causes of catastrophic injuries
Catastrophic injuries in Duluth can happen when you least expect them. Just going about your everyday activities can expose you to dangers that can change your life. While they seemingly come out of nowhere, they’re often the result of someone else’s negligence, and that person could have avoided it with reasonable care. Common causes of catastrophic injuries include:
Motor vehicle accidents
Motor vehicle accidents are one of the most common causes of catastrophic injuries. According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, Office of Traffic Safety, more than 80,000 motor vehicle accidents took place in Minnesota in just one year. The office conducts in-depth yearly analyses of motor vehicle accidents across the state. The most recent data found nearly 1,300 of 19,902 injury accidents resulted in serious injuries.
Some of the leading causes of motor vehicle accidents include:
- Distracted driving
- Drunk driving
- Failure to yield the right of way
When you have a job, you expect your employer to make workplace safety a priority. Unfortunately, on-the-job accidents happen every single day. While accidents can happen anywhere, people who work with heavy equipment or in physically demanding jobs are more at risk.
Common causes of workplace injuries include:
- Crush injuries
- Motor vehicle accidents
Premises liability accidents
Premises liability accidents include all injuries that happen on someone else’s property due to their negligence. Common settings for these accidents are grocery stores, retail outlets, and private residences. If a person owns or manages property, they have a legal responsibility to keep it safe for those who are legally on their property.
Examples of premises liability cases include:
- Slip and fall accidents
- Dog bites
- Swimming pool accidents
- Negligent security
- Trip and fall accidents
Damages in Duluth catastrophic injury cases
Catastrophic injuries can cause a tremendous financial burden on the victim and their family. If another person’s actions or negligence resulted in your injuries, you may have legal recourse to recover damages, or compensation. The damages a Duluth catastrophic injury victim may recover are typically significant, due to the severity of their injuries; as such, these cases tend to be costlier for liable parties and their insurers to pay out, and those parties may fight these claims harder.
Typical damages in a catastrophic injury case include:
Economic damages refer to actual costs related to your injury. These are costs you can typically prove with a receipt, or predict using pure math and economics. You want to recover as many of these costs as possible to cover your past and anticipated catastrophic injury expenses.
Examples of economic damages in a Duluth catastrophic injury case may include:
- Past and future medical bills: Medical care is expensive. For catastrophic injuries, medical bills may climb to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Costs may include hospital stays, surgeries, medication, lab tests, and rehabilitative services.
- Medical equipment: If your injuries affect your mobility, you may require the help of an adaptive device or medical equipment. This can include wheelchairs, hospital beds, braces, and prosthetics.
- Past and future lost wages: A catastrophic injury can leave you unable to return to work. When this happens, lost wages damages can make up for the loss of a source of income. Calculation of lost wages takes into account your wage at the time of the accident, your potential earning capacity, and your age relative to when you expect to retire.
- Residential structural modifications: Where a catastrophic injury makes it difficult to even move about your home, residential modifications may be necessary. These may include wheelchair ramps, stairlifts, or handrails.
- Household expenses: Catastrophic injury victims may also recover damages to pay for household functions they would have done themselves before but now must pay someone else to do because of their injuries. This category may include house cleaning, lawn care, and childcare.
Non-economic damages compensate the victim for losses that don’t have a direct monetary value, but still constitute significant losses. These damages cover impacts like pain and suffering and inconvenience.
Other non-economic damages in a Duluth catastrophic injury case may include:
- Loss of enjoyment: Has a spinal cord injury taken away your morning run? Does a brain injury make it so you can’t concentrate long enough to sit down and read a book? When you can’t do the things you enjoyed before your injury, you can demand compensation for such losses.
- Loss of companionship or consortium: Your relationships are important. A catastrophic injury can make it difficult to maintain relationships in the same way you did before. These damages may include loss of guidance, loss of an emotional connection, or loss of a sexual relationship.
- Mental and emotional anguish: A catastrophic injury can change every aspect of your world. It’s normal to struggle mentally and emotionally with this change. Mental anguish may include depression, anxiety, or PTSD.
- Disfigurement: Legally, disfigurement causes a permanent and physical change to your body. Examples include severe burns and amputation injuries. People who experience disfigurement injuries may deal with depression, embarrassment, or self-esteem issues.
Courts rarely award punitive damages. A court awards them when it finds the defendant’s actions especially condemnable—not to compensate the victim for any particular loss, but to punish the defendant for causing intentional harm or wanton and reckless actions. Courts often award punitive damages in catastrophic injury cases where a defendant assaulted the victim or drove under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident.
Duluth Catastrophic Injury FAQs
What Is a Catastrophic Injury?
When accidents happen, the injuries that result can be very different depending on the victim and the circumstances of the accident. Some people incur serious injuries that present major difficulties for an extended time, but they eventually recover and heal. Unfortunately, other victims never make a full recovery. Victims of this kind of catastrophic injury have their lives forever changed in the aftermath of an accident.
Some catastrophic injury victims regain limited function over time with intensive rehabilitative therapy. Even so, catastrophic injuries often result in permanent disability. Disabilities can limit the ability to move, speak, and/or think. In addition to the permanent disabilities that a catastrophic injury causes, victims often face severe and debilitating pain.
Most catastrophic injuries fall into one or more of the categories below:
- Spinal cord damage, which can include full or partial paralysis.
- Traumatic brain injury.
- Amputation or loss of a limb.
- Widespread and severe burns.
- Injuries that cause disfigurement or permanent scarring.
- Crush injuries or multiple broken bones.
- Chronic conditions from an accident.
What Are the Potential Effects of a Catastrophic Injury on a Victim’s Life?
There are many ways a catastrophic injury can affect a victim. Every disruption to your life, medical bill, expense, or difficulty from your injury is an accident-related loss.
Unlike injuries that present only temporary hindrances or challenges, a catastrophic injury’s effects are often lifelong and present in every aspect of a victim’s life—physical, emotional, and psychological.
- Loss of Independence - For many victims of a catastrophic injury, the most difficult aspect is often their sudden loss of independence due to their injuries. In many cases, victims must endure long-term hospital stays and rehabilitation. Once they return home, many victims must rely on their families or hired caretakers to help them meet their basic needs day-to-day. Most catastrophic injury victims can't work and provide for themselves or their families and cannot enjoy their life the way they did before the accident.
- Significant Costs for Care - The cumulative lifetime costs for a victim of a catastrophic injury in the U.S. often range from $1.2 million to $5 million. This is a shocking amount of money that can place an enormous burden on a victim and their loved ones. While medical insurance can cover some of these costs, the long-term nature of a victim’s needs often far exceed their insurance limits and can leave a victim and their family with significant bills for copayments, premiums, deductibles, and coinsurance costs.
- Ongoing Trauma - The emotional and mental toll a catastrophic injury takes on the injured person and their family is often significant. Trauma from the accident and its aftermath often manifests as anxiety, depression, mood disorders, or other mental health conditions. Many victims require ongoing mental health care to cope with their losses and to help them adapt to their changed future.
- Uncertain Future - For a victim of a catastrophic injury, it can be difficult to look toward the future. Unfortunately, the severity of a victim’s injuries can make it especially difficult to predict what their life will look like down the line. Many catastrophic injury victims can't return to work and must rely on their families to care for them and support them financially.
- Strained Relationships - A catastrophic injury victim’s loved ones often suddenly face a change in the dynamic of their relationship. Their relationship may shift to that of a primary caretaker and support system for the victim. Many spouses or other close loved ones must sacrifice their careers, time, and future endeavors to adapt to the needs of the injury victim. This can strain relationships and become a source of stress for families and the victim themselves.
What Elevates Your Risk of Catastrophic Injury in Duluth?
Duluth, Minnesota is home to various industries and activities that put the public at risk of catastrophic accidents and injury. Manufacturing jobs, the busy transportation industry, popular recreational activities including snowmobiling and boating, and a robust healthcare system all contribute to the risk that residents and visitors will suffer a catastrophic injury in Duluth and the surrounding areas.
What Are the Most Common Type of Accidents That Result in a Catastrophic Injury?
Catastrophic injuries do not just happen. The accidents that cause these injuries usually result from the serious negligence of an individual or company. Negligence often causes the permanent disabilities and injuries that a victim suffers in a catastrophic accident. A catastrophic injury can strike anyone due to the negligent actions or inactions of another party.
Examples of situations that can result in catastrophic injuries include:
- Workplace accidents.
- Medical malpractice, including mistakes during labor or delivery.
- Motor vehicle accidents.
- Pedestrian or bicycle accidents.
- Motorcycle collisions.
- Defective products.
- Recreational accidents.
- Slip and fall accidents.
What Compensation Can You Receive If You Suffer Catastrophic Injuries Due to Negligence?
Catastrophic injuries can result in exorbitant costs for a victim’s treatment and care. When a catastrophic accident happens due to someone else’s negligence, the victim might be eligible for compensation through an insurance claim or lawsuit. Compensation can include accident-related financial costs and compensation for the non-economic toll a catastrophic injury takes on the victim and their family.
Compensation can include:
- Past medical costs and projection of future medical expenses.
- Income losses after the accident.
- Loss of earning potential.
- Lost quality and enjoyment of life.
- Pain and suffering.
Who Could Be Liable to You for Your Injuries?
If you or a loved one was the victim of a catastrophic accident, schedule a free consultation with a personal injury attorney to discuss your accident. An attorney can help you determine who may be at fault for your injuries, depending on the circumstances of your accident.
In most cases, victims file an insurance claim against the person or company they believe is at fault for their accident. The insurance company then investigates the claim and decides fault. If, after the investigation, they believe their insured caused the accident, they will generally enter into settlement negotiations with the victim. However, there are circumstances when the insurer may dispute that their insured is at fault or whether the insurance coverage applies. In this situation, the victim may choose to file a claim against the at-fault party and/or their insurance company in civil court.
In some cases, liability is clear cut, but in other situations, it is difficult to ascertain the liable party. It is not uncommon for multiple parties to share liability for an accident, which can complicate seeking compensation. A catastrophic injury lawyer understands the intricacies of these cases and can identify all parties you can hold liable in your case.
Liable parties in a catastrophic case can include:
- Property owners.
- Businesses, institutions, or government organizations.
- A doctor or other healthcare professional.
- A driver.
- The owner of an involved vehicle.
- The manufacturer of a dangerous device or product.
How Much Time Do You Have to File a Claim or Lawsuit Following a Catastrophic Injury?
The reality is that when you suffer a catastrophic injury your energy and focus must first be on your healing and recovery. It's hard to think about who is at fault for your injuries when you may still face many medical and personal uncertainties. Unfortunately, a catastrophic injury victim must bring a lawsuit against the responsible party or parties within a short time after the accident. And to make matters even more complicated and urgent, it can take some time to properly prepare an injury claim against the at-fault party.
The statute of limitations in Minnesota requires that an injury victim initiate a lawsuit against a defendant within as short as two years of an accident if the injury was caused by an improvement to property. However, in some cases you may have as long as six years to file a personal injury claim. The severity of your injuries does not change the amount of time available to you to seek recovery against the responsible parties. Failure to initiate a lawsuit within the statute of limitations can preclude you from recovering compensation for your losses.
Should You Hire an Attorney After a Catastrophic Injury?
Yes. For a victim of a catastrophic injury, it is a significant risk to proceed with an insurance claim without the assistance of a catastrophic injury lawyer. Catastrophic injury victims face burdensome expenses and needs throughout their lives due to their injuries. Any mistake or omission in an insurance claim can be a costly error that results in less compensation than the victim deserves.
The reality is that a catastrophic injury victim needs all the compensation they can recover in a claim or lawsuit. Your medical expenses will keep coming in, and the consequences of your injuries may require lifelong care. You are likely unable to earn the amount of income you did before the accident. You must consider the costs that you will face throughout your lifetime.
A catastrophic injury attorney will work alongside you to calculate your current and future losses to ensure you fight for the maximum compensation you deserve against the responsible parties. Your lawyer will represent you throughout an injury claim, advocate for your rights and interests, and advise you if a lawsuit should become necessary in your case.
Leave the worries about pursuing the compensation you deserve to a qualified and knowledgeable personal injury attorney. Your legal team can carry the stress and burden of dealing with the insurance companies off of your shoulders and help you focus on your recovery.
If you or a loved one suffered a catastrophic injury that was someone else’s fault, you might be eligible for monetary compensation for your losses after an accident. Contact a Duluth catastrophic injury attorney at Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers for a free case evaluation. Discuss the facts of your case and your injuries with us, and we can advise you about your legal options.
Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers: compassion and legal expertise when it matters the most
At Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers, we see it as our job to help our catastrophic injury clients get past the pain and uncertainty. We do so by applying our knowledge and expertise to help you recover the compensation you need to handle all your expenses and impacts and adjust to your new life.
Duluth catastrophic injury victims have just two years after an accident to file a lawsuit. This may sound like a long time, but it passes quickly, and victims should not delay getting started pursuing a claim. If you or someone you love has suffered a catastrophic injury, you should talk to an experienced catastrophic injury attorney right away. Contact Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers for a free case evaluation by calling (218) 217-0698 or through our online contact portal.
306 West Superior Street, Suite 606
Duluth, MN 55802