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Legal Issues After A Catastrophic Injury Guide
This guide quickly answers common questions and provides useful information for families who are facing a number of unanticipated, serious legal issues following a catastrophic injury.
Legal issues faced by people with a catastrophic injury
As soon as it happens, a catastrophic injury brings up several legal questions, like:
- • Who is legally entitled to make medical decisions for the injured person?
- • Did the injury occur due to some wrongful situation?
- • What are the circumstances of the injury?
- • Did the injury occur while on the job?
- • Will this injury require long-term care or planning?
- • What types of insurance provisions are available to the injured person?
- • Does the person have an advanced medical directive or will?
Do I really need a lawyer?
Most professionals agree it’s advisable to contact an attorney if any one of the following is true:
- • Your loved one was killed or incapacitated to the point that you need a guardian for them
- • You were injured badly enough:
- • To require a hospital visit for more than a check up
- • That you have a broken bone, a serious cut, a bad burn, or similar injury
- • That you suffered a temporary loss or altered state of consciousness
- • Or, that you still have symptoms 3-4 weeks after the accident
- • Your child was injured
- • More than one person was significantly injured in the accident
- • It isn’t entirely clear who is at fault for causing the accident
- • One of the insurance companies (yours or the negligent party’s) is threatening to deny coverage or limit their payment of benefits
Individuals or their families may not be aware of their rights and how to keep them protected, and they may not be aware of how to receive compensation for any lost opportunities and abilities.
How to find legal help
Lawyer commercials on television try to convince you that when looking for representation in a serious personal injury case, the only criteria that matter are how mean, tough and aggressive the lawyer is, how many lawyers are in their firm, or even that they look good walking down the courthouse steps in slow motion.
However, if you or a loved one has been injured badly enough that you have decided you really do need a lawyer, it’s extremely important to find representation from an attorney who understands the complex nature of these life altering injuries and has a proven, reliable history handling these types of cases.
To seek a reputable personal injury attorney:
- • Do some research and ask questions
- • Ask trusted friends or family members for references
- • Don’t base your decisions solely on advertisements
- • Contact law firms you are interested in and set up a consultation
- • During the consultation be prepared to ask them specific questions about their abilities and experience in representing people with catastrophic injuries
Remember, the decision to hire an attorney after a serious injury is about the rest of your life or the life of your loved one.
Long term legal issues
After a catastrophic injury has occurred and the person becomes medically stable, a number of other legal concerns may arise, such as:
- • Guardianship, or who will make medical, legal, and financial decisions for a severely injured person (A guardian must be approved by the court.)
- • Lifecare planning, or ensuring appropriate medical and lifestyle care for the person (Lifecare planning is a medical profession, usually conducted by a nurse case manager who coordinates clinical care for a person throughout their lifespan.)
- • Lawsuits — or challenges to individuals, organizations, or institutions — that protect a person’s rights
- • Estate planning, or how to ensure the injured person’s valuables and assets are protected
You Can Afford Legal Representation
Unfortunately, many people with catastrophic injuries do not receive the specialized legal representation they deserve. A lawyer who represents a person with a spinal cord injury or a brain injury and his or her family should have specific knowledge, education, and experience in this area of litigation. In most states, injured persons have the ability to retain a lawyer through a contingent fee agreement. The lawyer is paid a fee based upon a percentage of the sum ultimately recovered. The lawyer does not receive any fee until the conclusion of the case. Under this system, an injured person and his family can afford to retain the most qualified legal representative.
Questions To Ask When Hiring a Lawyer Guide
Since the results of your lawsuit will have a lasting impact on the quality of your life, it is important to find the most qualified lawyer for your catastrophic injury case.
Here are some questions to ask any attorney you are considering retaining in a catastrophic injury case:
- • Are you a board certified civil trial lawyer?
- • What percentage of your practice is devoted to representing people with a catastrophic injury?
- • Will you be handling my case personally or will you be referring it to another lawyer or law firm?
- • How many cases similar to mine have you been involved with as the principal attorney over the past three years?
- • How much experience have you had conducting actual trials of large civil cases?
- • Does your law firm have the financial resources to advance and properly prosecute my case, if necessary?
- • Does your firm represent insurance companies?
- • Have you lectured to any bar associations, injury associations, or other groups about the effective legal representation of people with catastrophic injuries?
- • Have you ever received any professional honors and awards concerning your representation of people with catastrophic injuries?
Don't be afraid to ask these questions and any others you have. The lawyer will be working for you and you deserve to know that he or she has the qualifications you're looking for.