Catastrophic Personal Injuries
We’re trial lawyers. Our core competency – above everything else – is trying cases to juries. And we specialize in beating giants.
We’re trial lawyers. Our core competency – above everything else – is trying cases to juries. And we specialize in beating giants.
Suffering any type of personal injury is hard on accident and medical malpractice victims and their families. Going through medical treatments, dealing with pain, struggling with recovery, missing work, and losing income are all factors that can result in great physical, emotional, and financial hardship.
Sometimes, however, the level of personal injury an accident victim suffers crosses over into the category known as a catastrophic personal injury. In these cases the pain, suffering and loss become so deep that they have a lifelong impact on the victim and their entire family. While every personal injury interrupts a person’s life, a catastrophic personal injury permanently changes a person’s existence in ways that had once been unimaginable.
If you or a family member have suffered a catastrophic personal injury because of another’s negligence, you have the right to seek damages from those who were at fault. Even though no amount of money can fix the damage that has been done, you deserve to have your needs or the needs of your family members competently and compassionately taken care of for life.
It is important to consult with a catastrophic personal injury attorney as soon as possible after the accident that gave rise to the injury occurred. There are strict time limits — called statutes of limitation — for filing lawsuits. If you miss the deadline, you will be forever barred from recovering damages.
Typically, to be considered a victim of catastrophic injury a person must have been harmed in such a way that the repercussions are permanent and disabling. Victims with catastrophic injuries have lifelong issues and require constant care and attention to ensure that their physical, emotional, and/or financial needs are met. They often suffer through ongoing medical treatments, such as multiple surgeries, that cause them great pain. Even when they have access to the best care, those living with catastrophic injuries can feel isolated and disconnected from family and friends. Once independent people find themselves constantly calling upon others to help them accomplish the simplest activities of daily living. Disability from catastrophic injuries is usually permanent and often cuts the victims life short by years or even decades.
Some of the most common types of catastrophic injury are:
Catastrophic personal injuries have additional consequences. For instance, victims can suffer from:
In many cases, a person with catastrophic injury will never be able to work in a way that allows them to be self-sufficient.
Any incident that results in physical trauma has the potential to cause catastrophic injury. The most common traumatic events are motor vehicle accidents, such as car, truck, and motorcycle crashes.
Catastrophic personal injuries also often result from:
As you already know, the person suffering with a catastrophic injury is not the only one whose life is forever altered. The pure emotional exhaustion that comes with caring for a disabled loved one is immense. Accepting and adjusting to the new normal of a lifetime of care and coping is overwhelming, especially given the fact that the injury usually occurs suddenly and without warning.
If you have taken on the new role of caregiver, you probably have had to leave your job, perhaps adding to the financial strain for the whole family. You may not be equipped to handle the care on your own, and the expense of bringing in home health care, reconfiguring a home for a disabled person, and acquiring a vehicle that can transport your loved one may also be weighing heavily on your mind and your pocketbook.
You are going to need help and lots of it. Thankfully, the legal system is designed to find justice for people just like you. A Minnesota Catastrophic Personal Injury Lawyer will guide you in filing a lawsuit so you can hold those who are at fault responsible.
Once you have obtained counsel to represent your interests, he or she will set about analyzing your case, including calculating the damages you may be entitled to. When you are dealing with catastrophic injuries, it takes a team of professionals — actuaries, accountants, financial planners, and others — to determine the cost of the care that will be required for an entire lifetime.
You are entitled to recover for all of your quantifiable economic damages, including:
In addition, you are entitled to recover for other non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering, loss of marital relations, and loss of the ability to participate in activities that were once enjoyed.
We have a process that works in getting exceptional results for our clients.
We are trial lawyers who prepare every case for trial from Day 1. Investigation and legal research are the first things we do, and we spend a lot of time on them. Because we haven’t filed the case yet, we have complete control – the defendant has no say and we want to use this time wisely. We interview witnesses that can help us prove the case. We’ll ask you for all relevant documents in your possession and review those carefully as well. We also will spend some time conducting legal research about unique issues in the case. We pull the jury instructions that the judge will ultimately charge the jury with after closing arguments at trial.
Our next step is typically to send a demand letter to the defendant. In the letter, we thoroughly lay out: the facts surrounding the defendant’s misconduct; the applicable law (including statutory and case citations) that make clear that the defendant broke the law; an analysis of your damages and the defendant’s monetary exposure; a demand for a monetary amount to settle the claim; and an instruction to preserve all relevant evidence, including electronic evidence. The point of this letter is to give the defendant a chance to do the right thing and pay a fair amount before litigation, and to give the defendant an opportunity to present any defenses or evidence it wants us to consider before moving forward. Sometimes we skip the demand letter if there are strategic reasons to move straight to filing, but we typically give defendants a chance to do the right thing.
If early negotiations fail, great – we file a Complaint and serve the defendant with it. A Complaint is a legal document that states the facts of what happened and alleges how the defendant broke the law. It formally starts the lawsuit. Many lawyers draft complaints in a general and relatively vague way, just to get it done and filed – because that’s all that’s really required. We take a different view. We view the Complaint as our first chance to tell your story to the judge, and we take it seriously. So we draft detailed complaints and include legal citations to statutory and judicial authority on unique points. Sometimes we’ll include a number of exhibits, diagrams, or other demonstrative aids to help the Court understand our claims. A secondary benefit of this approach is that defense lawyers reading the Complaint can become educated on the problems of their case and the state of the law – sometimes this leads them to reach out to us shortly after service of the Complaint to re-initiate settlement negotiations. Of course, by that time, the price for settlement has gone up.
Some lawyers view written discovery as a necessary evil – something to get done and out of the way before depositions. Not us. Written discovery is a gift and an opportunity. We spend a great deal of time crafting requests for documents and interrogatories (questions for the defendant to answer in writing) that are specific, detailed, and tailored to get what we need to prove our case. Many lawyers – even great ones – think written discovery is a waste of time because defense lawyers typically answer them on behalf of their clients and can try to stonewall with legalese and objections. We view this as a wonderful opportunity. In our experience, most defense lawyers can’t help themselves when answering discovery: they over-state their defenses and make assertions that their clients will not be able to support in testimony. So we get to commit the defendant to defenses that they can’t back up, leading to contradictions, confusion, and chaos in their depositions later on. We also use Requests for Admission – which many lawyers don’t. The Federal Rules and Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure allow us to ask defendants to “admit” certain facts. We send them RFAs that are very difficult for them to deny. Of course, they do it anyway, but that sets them up later for cost and fee-shifting, which the Rules mandate for defendants that deny RFAs that are later proven true. And usually, we can get the defendants’ own witnesses to admit facts that their defense lawyers denied in RFA. That’s a great situation that leads to more chaos and confusion on the defense side.
One last point on written discovery – we send multiple waves of it throughout discovery. We typically send 3 or 4 sets of written discovery requests to defendants throughout discovery. This compounds the problems for them, because the defense lawyers continue to overstate their defenses, but now run into contradictions from not just the defendant witnesses’ deposition testimony, but also their own previous discovery responses. This makes for a great record that we can present to the judge at dispositive motions, and use for impeachment at trial.
This is our chance to question relevant witnesses, on the record with a court reporter (we typically videotape important depositions as well). We get to confront the defense witnesses with all of the evidence we’ve developed through written discovery and document production. By this time, the defendant put its witnesses in an impossible position through its written defenses, which are often untrue and indefensible. So the witness has to either lie to support the defense, or admit it’s not true. That’s a dilemma that works for our clients either way, no matter which option the witness takes. We use depositions to expose contradictions, create a record for dispositive motions, lock witnesses into their stories so that we can impeach them later at trial, and sometimes, to show defense lawyers how hopeless their case is. We often calls from defense counsel shortly after depositions of their clients, seeking to re-start settlement negotiations.
The defendant will usually make a motion for summary judgment after discovery, asking the Court to throw out the case without having a jury trial. Because we’ve hit discovery so hard – both through written discovery and depositions – this is a tough motion for defense counsel to write in our cases. We draft our response for the Court and now get to bring everything together: the admissions, contradictions, nonsense, and obvious fact disputes that we’ve uncovered through discovery. We tell a compelling story that wraps everything together for the Court and makes clear that the defense motion has to be denied, and the defendant needs to face a jury for its conduct.
Sometimes, we’ll even make an affirmative motion for summary judgment, asking the Court to grant judgment in favor of our client without a trial. These motions are generally rare for plaintiffs to make, because the defendant can usually point to some fact dispute on its intent or some other factor that necessitates a trial. But we make affirmative summary judgment motions significantly more than is typical for plaintiffs, and that’s because the work we put in during discovery helps build a fantastic record to do so.
After the Court denies the defense motion for summary judgment, the defendant has only 2 options: 1) do the right thing and pay you a fair amount to our client to settle your claim (usually much, much more at this point than the defendant could have paid at the beginning of the case to settle); or 2) face a jury for its conduct and risk an enormous verdict. This is the dilemma that we have been creating and forcing the defendant into for the entire case. We’ll engage in settlement negotiations at this point from a position of extreme strength, mainly because most defendants are (rightly) terrified of facing a jury to defend their conduct.
This is, candidly, our favorite part of the case – why we went to law school: to hold the powerful accountable before juries. We prepare heavily for trial, including: detailed witness preparation, focus groups, and mock trials. At this point, the potential outcomes and consequences for the defendant are much more severe than if it simply did the right thing at the beginning of the case and paid a fair amount to compensate our client for its misconduct. As we advocate to the jury for our client, we’re also mindful of protecting the record so that defendants will be unsuccessful in attacking the verdict in post-trial motions or appeal.