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What Is Considered A Catastrophic Injury In California?

In California’s personal injury law, “catastrophic injury” is a critical term that denotes injuries far beyond mere severity. These injuries profoundly alter the lives of those affected, permanently changing their ability to function and quality of life. For legal professionals, individuals who have suffered such injuries, and their families, recognizing and understanding the scope of catastrophic injuries is crucial. This understanding shapes the course of legal actions, influences the financial compensation that may be pursued in a personal injury lawsuit, and dictates the need for ongoing care and support.

Legal Definition and California Statutes

Under California law, a catastrophic injury is defined by its profound impact on the victim’s life. While no California statute encapsulates all aspects of a catastrophic injury, various legal provisions and case law provide guidance. Generally, these injuries are so severe that they leave the victim with permanent disabilities, significantly altering their ability to lead a life they had before the injury. The California Civil Code and decisions from the California Supreme Court have set precedents in understanding and defining the scope of catastrophic injuries through interpretations and rulings.

Types of Catastrophic Injuries

Catastrophic injuries can manifest in various forms, each with its unique challenges and implications for the victim. Some of the most recognized types under California law include:

Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) – These injuries are among the most severe, often resulting from blunt force trauma to the head. TBIs can lead to a wide range of physical and cognitive disabilities, with symptoms varying from mild concussions to severe brain damage.

Spinal Cord Injuries – Damage to the spinal cord is another form of catastrophic injury, potentially resulting in partial or complete paralysis. The impairment level typically depends on the injury’s location along the spinal column.

Severe Burns – Burns that cover a significant portion of the body or are of third-degree severity can be life-threatening and are considered catastrophic due to the long-term physical and psychological effects they impose on the victim.

Amputations – The loss of a limb or other body part significantly impacts a person’s mobility, ability to work, and quality of life, thus classifying such injuries as catastrophic.

Multiple Bone Fractures – While a single broken bone might not qualify as catastrophic, multiple fractures, especially those requiring extensive surgical intervention and leading to long-term disability, may be considered under this category.

Legal Implications in California

The classification of an injury as catastrophic has profound legal implications in California. It affects the types of damages a victim can pursue, including medical expenses, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, pain and suffering, and sometimes punitive damages. Given the long-term and severe nature of these injuries, compensation claims often involve substantial sums to cover lifelong care and support.

Moreover, the statute of limitations for filing a claim involving a catastrophic injury might be subject to specific exceptions, given the time it may take to fully realize the extent of the injuries and their long-term impacts. Legal practitioners specializing in catastrophic injuries are well-versed in navigating these complex cases, ensuring that victims receive the comprehensive support and compensation they are entitled to under California law.

A Final Word About Catastrophic Injuries

Catastrophic injuries irrevocably change lives, posing significant challenges not just to the victims but also to their families and support systems. In California, the legal framework surrounding these injuries is designed to provide a pathway for justice and compensation, reflecting the profound impact these injuries have on individuals’ lives. Understanding the legal definitions, the types of injuries considered catastrophic, and their implications is crucial for anyone navigating this challenging legal landscape.

Call Our Bay Area Personal Injury Attorneys

If you or a family member has experienced a severe injury as a result of another person’s negligence in California, you don’t have to deal with this legal matter on your own. At Bracamontes & Vlasak, P.C., we are dedicated to delivering empathetic and effective legal assistance for personal injury victims in California. Contact our Bay Area personal injury attorneys at 415-835-6777 for your free case evaluation and consultation. Allow our skilled legal professionals to assist you in pursuing the fairness and compensation that you and your loved ones merit during this difficult period.

Do I Have A Lawsuit?

Were you injured in an accident recently in Oakland? Just because you are hurt does not mean you have a valid personal injury claim. There are several factors to consider determining if you can sue someone for your losses after an accident. Have a question about your case? Talk to the Oakland personal injury attorneys at Bracamontes & Vlasak, P.C., to see if you have a possible injury claim.

Legal Requirements For A Valid Personal Injury Claim

Suppose you were hurt in an Oakland car accident near Lake Merritt or Jack London Square. If you were in an accident by yourself, it is unlikely you can sue another party for damages. However, they may have been negligent if someone else caused the accident.

Proving negligence means proving the following:

  • The other driver had a duty of care to drive safely. For example, drivers are obliged not to speed and stop at stop signs.
  • The driver breached their duty of care by, for example, running a stop sign and hitting your car.
  • The breach of duty led to your injuries and losses related to the accident. For example, you may have $10,000 in medical bills and two months of lost wages.

Your Oakland trial attorney will conduct a free consultation with you. They want to learn if the claim has merit. They will interview witnesses, review medical reports, and consult with accident reconstruction experts. You could have an actionable case if they can prove the other party was negligent.

Common Oakland Accidents That Lead To Personal Injury Lawsuits

Many accidents in Oakland could be the subject of a personal injury lawsuit:

  • Auto and tractor-trailer accidents
  • Construction accidents
  • Nursing home neglect and abuse
  • Product defects
  • Medical malpractice

It is possible to represent yourself in an injury claim or lawsuit, but hiring an Oakland personal injury lawyer is always preferable. Your attorney knows California laws for personal injury cases and can expertly negotiate with the insurance company. In addition, many lawsuits result in a settlement, so it’s essential to have an attorney who can haggle the most money from the insurance adjuster.

If you are concerned that the personal injury attorney will be too expensive, rest assured: The attorney will not be compensated unless they win your case or obtain a favorable settlement. Personal injury attorneys usually handle all legal expenses incurred during the case. They take their fees and costs out of your award. So, there typically are no out-of-pocket expenses.

Talk To Oakland Personal Injury Attorneys Today

If you have been injured in an Oakland accident, you could have unpaid medical bills, lost earnings, and terrible pain and suffering. What will you do to get your damages covered and obtain justice?

The Oakland personal injury attorneys Bracamontes & Vlasak, P.C., have the skills and experience to hold the liable party accountable for their actions. Contact our Bay Area personal injury lawyers to learn how we can get the most compensation for your injuries. Our attorneys serve injured clients in Oakland, the Bay Area, and Northern California. Please call (415) 835-6777 for a complimentary consultation.

What Are Special Damages In A Lawsuit?

If you are injured in an accident in California, you could be entitled to compensation if someone was negligent. Once the claim or lawsuit has been resolved, you can receive money for your losses. When speaking to a lawyer about your case, there are two major types of damages to be aware of.

Find out below about special damages in a personal injury claim. If you have questions about a case, talk to the Oakland personal injury attorneys at Bracamontes & Vlasak, P.C.

What Are Special Damages?

Special damages refer to out-of-pocket costs you incur after an accident caused by someone else. Special damages also can be referred to as economic damages. The idea behind awarding special damages is to put you in the same financial position as before the accident happened.

The most common special damages are:

Lost earnings

If the accident affects your ability to earn a living, you could receive compensation. You should receive compensation for the work you lost already. Also, you may be entitled to lost earnings in the future. To show you lost income, you must verify that the injury prevented you from working.

Medical bills

These damages are all medical costs from the moment of the accident and into the future. Injured clients need to realize they may be due medical expenses for weeks, months, or years of treatment, not just for treatment in the past.

Out-of-pocket costs

There are other costs from an accident you may not think of. For example, what did it cost you in gas expenses to drive to and from the doctor? What did you have to pay for prescriptions?

Repairing or replacing the vehicle

If you were in a car accident, you could be entitled to having your vehicle repaired or replaced. In addition, if the car contained personal property such as a cell phone or computer, you could be compensated for that.

Rehabilitation expenses

If you need physical therapy and rehabilitation to regain lost function, you could receive money for those expenses.

Funeral costs if a loved one is deceased

You could receive funeral and burial costs if you lost a loved one in the accident. If so, filing a wrongful death lawsuit could be necessary.

Special damages should be calculated. This includes past and future special damages. Your Oakland personal injury attorneys will request your medical and other out-of-pocket expenses. Then, they will add them up with other categories of damages before presenting the negligent party’s insurance company with a demand letter.

Whether you were injured near Oakland Ice Center, Roof Garden, or another Bay Area location, a personal injury attorney can help you get the money you deserve.

Talk To Oakland Personal Injury Attorneys Today

Many personal injury lawsuits are settled out of court. The Oakland law firm Bracamontes & Vlasak, P.C., has helped injured clients in northern California for years to get the most special and general damages in their claims. Our attorneys will also fight aggressively for a favorable outcome if your case goes to trial.

Contact our Oakland personal injury lawyers at Bracamontes & Vlasak, P.C., to learn how we can get the most compensation for your personal injury claim. Our attorneys are pleased to serve clients in Oakland, the Bay Area, and Northern California. Please call (415) 835-6777 to set up a free consultation.

What Are General Damages in a Lawsuit?

general damages

If you are hurt in an accident, you face tremendous uncertainty. How will you cover your medical bills? What about your earnings? Will you need to file a personal injury lawsuit? 

Whether your attorney reaches a settlement or the case goes to court, general damages are one type of compensation you may be owed. California Civil Code 3281 states that every individual who suffers because of an act of another person may be eligible for damages in a lawsuit. Learn more about general damages below, and contact an Oakland personal injury attorney if you have questions. 

General Damages Overview

General damages in a California lawsuit are also referred to as non-economic damages. General damages usually cover: 

  • Pain and suffering: These damages are often the most significant part of a personal injury settlement or verdict award. Your attorney will attempt to determine fair compensation for pain and suffering by showing the types of injury you suffered. Also critical is how long your recovery takes. 
  • Mental anguish: This category refers to your injuries and accident’s emotional and psychological stress. Compensation may be for PTSD, depression, anxiety, and more. Your attorney will probably call on a mental health professional to demonstrate the emotional impact of the accident and injuries. 
  • Loss of your quality of life: If your personal injuries prevent you from, for example, exercising and playing with your children, you could receive this compensation. You may receive money for almost any activity you cannot enjoy now and in the future. 

General damages may be available to you in many personal injury cases. Partnering with a skilled Bay Area personal injury attorney is essential because general damages can sometimes be larger than economic damages. Therefore, having an attorney who can maximize your general damages compensation pays. 

Your attorney will have access to recent settlements and verdicts in California, which can be a way to indicate what your injuries might be worth. 

Economic Damages Overview

General damages are different than economic damages. Economic damages, also called special damages, include:

  • Lost earnings: If your personal injuries affect your ability to make money now or in the future, you should seek compensation. Your attorney will attempt to prove loss of income by using your doctor’s testimony to show you cannot work. 
  • Medical bills: These damages include all the medical costs related to your injuries, both in the past, present, and future. You must show the insurance company or jury proof of your medical and rehabilitation costs, including bills and receipts. 
  • Out-of-pocket costs: This category of economic damages includes the costs you have had since the accident. For example, you may have gas costs to go to medical appointments. Or, you had to come up with co-pays for your treatments and prescripts. 
  • Personal property: These are the expenses for repairing your car or what it was worth if it was totaled. You also may be entitled to compensation for personal property lost in the accident, such as a computer or cell phone. 

Past economic damages can usually be easily calculated, but future economic damages can be more complicated to compute, because it may depend on what medical treatment you need in the future or whether or when you are able to return to work and at what job. It’s important that you work with the right attorney and expert(s) to accurately project all your future economic damages if you are significantly injured. 

General damages are just as objective and real as special damages but only you fully experienced them (i.e., you know your own pain best). Therefore, it is important that you work with the right attorney who can understand your pain and effectively communicate what you are going through to the defense team on your case or to a jury in court. 

For instance, say you are rear-ended at a traffic light and have $25,000 in medical bills and lost wages. These are economic damages that your attorney will attempt to prove with medical bills, receipts, and other documented evidence. 

However, your pain and suffering may be more significant than the bills and could include pain and discomfort, inability to enjoy daily activities, and depression over being injured. These damages could be worth far more than $25,000. It all depends on how much pain and discomfort you endure. Also critical is how long it takes to recover. 

Calculating General Damages in California

General damages require the judgment of people to determine. Also required is good listening, communication and advocacy from your lawyer. The Judicial Council of California Civil Jury Instructions states that the jury should rely on their judgment to determine a ‘reasonable amount’ of general damages based on evidence and common sense. Your lawyer should help inform the jury what constitutes the ‘reasonable amount’ for your situation and injury. 

Calculating compensation for all damages is challenging and complicated in a personal injury lawsuit. Even with medical bills and lost earnings documented, getting the insurance company to pay can be difficult. And with general damages, your attorney must present a strong case. 

It also is essential to have an attorney who is experienced with both settlements and going to court. You never know when an insurance company will dig in its heels and refuse to compensate fairly for your pain and suffering. 

Claims That May Be Eligible For General Damages

General damages may apply to most personal injury claims, depending on the nature of your injuries, including: 

  • Auto accidents
  • Truck crashes
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Pedestrian accidents
  • Slip and fall cases
  • Defective products
  • Medical mistakes and malpractice

Caps on General Damages in California

Fortunately, there are few cases where general damages are capped in California, with the exception of medical malpractice cases. However, in other personal injury claims, there is no cap on your award. 

The lack of a general damages cap for most claims means your attorney can pursue the most damages possible. That is why it is so critical in California to hire an attorney who knows how to determine the full value of your pain and suffering. 

Talk to an Oakland Personal Injury Attorney Today

Many personal injury lawsuits settle before the case goes to court. The Oakland law firm Bracamontes & Vlasak, P.C., has the skill and experience to get you the most for your personal injury case. Also, if your case goes to trial, our attorneys know how to win the compensation you are entitled to. 

Contact our personal injury lawyers at Bracamontes & Vlasak, P.C. to find out how we can help. Our lawyers Michael Bracamontes and Ryan Vlasak are proud to serve Oakland, the Bay Area, and Northern California and work hard to safeguard your rights. Please call (415) 835-6777 to set up a free consultation.

What is Joint and Several Liability?

During a personal injury claim, you may come across the term ‘joint and several liability.’ It is a legal principle that holds that each individual defendant in a personal injury case can be held individually liable for the entire accident. In California, there are special rules and regulations in place regarding joint and several liability. Below, our Oakland personal injury attorney provides a more comprehensive guide to joint and several liability in California,


What is Underinsured Motorist Coverage and How Do I Make a Claim?

Having automobile insurance in San Francisco is a wise idea and an important one that will protect you when you are hit and injured in a crash, or if you hit another party on the road. It is impossible to get in your car to go to work, run an errand, take your child to school, or go on a road trip, and know for certain if you will be in a Bay Area car accident.


What is the Statute of Limitations For Personal Injury Lawsuits In California?

What You Need To Know About The Statute Of Limitations For Personal Injury Lawsuits In California

A serious accident can change your entire life in a matter of seconds. Injured victims need financial compensation to pay hospital and medical bills, cover lost income, and support their families. In California, you have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit against any defendant(s) who were at fault for your accident.