Injuries Types

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Types Of injuries And Damages & Your Accident Claim

Minor Or Moderate Injuries
Soft Tissue Injuries
Catastrophic Injury
Permanent Disability
Medical Expenses
Lost Income and Loss of Earning Capacity
Loss Of Consortium
General or Non-Economic Damages — (Pain and Suffering)
Common Defenses Used by Insurance Companies

 

 

Under the law, a personal injury is any harm that you as an individual sustain, including physical injuries, financial costs and emotional trauma. Injuries can also be personal losses, such as losing the care and companionship of a loved one.

 

As you work to resolve your accident claim, you may hear insurance adjusters, lawyers and doctors talk about different degrees of injuries. You may hear injuries described as minor, moderate, severe or catastrophic.

 

 

 

Minor or moderate injuries

Minor or moderate injuries can be injuries such as sprains, strains, fractures, bruising or superficial cuts. These may be painful, but they usually heal well and quickly, with minimal medical treatment.

 

 

 

Soft Tissue Injuries

You may hear insurance adjusters refer to "soft tissue injuries." Soft tissue injuries are injuries to the non-bony parts of the body, such as internal organs, nerves, muscles and connective tissues. Insurance adjuster use that term to belittle how significant such injuries can be. Sprains, whiplash and pulled muscles are all types of soft tissue injuries. Really these are the connecting tissue that hold you together. We refer to these as "connective tissue injuries" because it is a fairer picture of what happened to you Even if you have a bruise over the affected area, you and your doctor may not realize you have a connective tissue injury under the bruise, because it can be hidden from sight and hard to detect with tests. Connective tissue injuries may heal quickly, but they can also take a long time to heal. Some can even result in chronic pain and disability, which can be permanent if not treated properly. Typically, it is harder to recover substantial compensation in these cases than in cases involving serious or catastrophic injuries.

 

 

 

Catastrophic Injury

A catastrophic injury is a serious injury that is expected to permanently change the victim's life. Examples of this type of injury include burns, amputations, spinal cord injuries, paralysis and head injuries (also called traumatic brain injuries). These types of injuries result in the most significant settlements and verdicts, because the injuries can be proven objectively and are more obvious to the insurance company or the jurors.

 

Although catastrophic injuries are immediately obvious in most cases, sometimes the full extent of the injury is not immediately revealed. This is especially true when the victim suffered a traumatic brain injury, which may also be called a closed head injury. In some cases, the brain may be affected in ways so subtle that only people close to the victim notice changes in abilities, behavior or personality. A closed head injury can be caused by physical trauma (a hard blow or penetrating wound), a blast wave from an explosion or violent shaking of the head. It often results from actual jostling of the brain. Such trauma can damage the tissues of the brain, which in turn affects the abilities controlled by the damaged tissue.

 

A concussion is the mildest form of brain injury, but can have long-term effects. More serious brain injuries leave their victims permanently disabled. Naturally, brain injuries affect many aspects of the injured person's life, including physical movement, the senses, intellectual ability, creativity and even personality. Sometimes, what appears to be a minor concussion or brief loss of consciousness following a car accident can result in a serious closed head injury, with symptoms such as chronic headaches, memory loss, diminished concentration or changes in a person's personality or behavior.

 

 

 

Permanent Disability

Unfortunately, some people's injuries lead to permanent disabilities, either partial or total. A permanent disability is any loss of ability that will affect the rest of the victim's life, and at least partially impair his or her ability to work or perform other day-to-day activities.

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A permanent disability is often a major, life-changing event for victims and their families. In addition to the disability itself, disabled accident victims also face a higher risk of medical complications than uninjured people and often suffer profound emotional injuries because of their disabilities. People with permanent disabilities may require significant medical help, such as home health care nurses, extensive inpatient medical care and rehabilitation or long-term accommodation in an assisted living facility. Someone who has suffered a permanent disability is much more likely to recover a large judgment than someone who has fully recovered.

 

 

 

Medical Expenses

As everyone who lives in a modern society knows, health care can be very expensive. Even if you have medical insurance or good medical coverage through an auto insurance policy, you may be charged thousands or tens of thousands of dollars for a lengthy hospital stay, a trip to a specialized care center or repeated doctor visits and physical therapy appointments. If you do not have medical insurance, these costs can quickly reach into five or six figures. For someone who has suffered a catastrophic injury or a permanent disability, lifelong medical treatment can cost millions of dollars.

 

In a personal injury claim, these medical expenses are part of the damages (financial compensation) you are entitled to claim. This is not limited to direct health care costs, but may extend to any medical expense, including prescriptions, medical devices and the cost of transportation to and from your doctor's office. Recovering your medical expenses is an essential element of your personal injury claim.

If your case involves a catastrophic injury, your lawyer will want to not only determine your existing medical costs, but also hire medical experts to determine the likely cost of your future medical treatment. In some cases, your law firm may need to hire an expert to develop a "life care plan" that predicts all of your future medical needs. This expert will evaluate your injuries, review your medical records and project the cost of future medical care.

 

 

 

Lost Income and Loss of Earning Capacity

If you are unable to work because of your injuries, you are entitled to claim the income you lose. In addition, if you have a disability that affects your future earning potential, you are also entitled to recover monetary damages for loss of the income you would otherwise have earned.

 

For example, let us say that you can no longer do the specific job you had at the time of the accident, but you find a job within your physical limitations that pays less than your previous job. In this case, you would be entitled to recover not only the income you lost from the old job, but also any future income you lose because you had to take the lower-paying job. If you are self-employed and your injury makes you unable to do your job, you may need to hire someone to replace you. You may be entitled to compensation for the extra money you pay to that person during your recovery.

 

In addition to your lost income and loss of future earning capacity, you may be entitled to recover any loss of benefits, such as health insurance, pension plans, bonuses or other benefits directly associated with your employment. An experienced personal injury lawyer will help you determine all of your financial losses so you can seek compensation for those losses. Your lawyer may need to hire experts, such as a vocational expert (an expert in work) or an economist. These experts will review your financial and medical records, then calculate and predict the economic losses you have suffered from the accident. If you are self-employed, you can prove your economic losses through tax returns and other business documents.

 

 

 

General or Non-Economic Damages — (Pain and Suffering)

 

Another part of your personal injury claim is the way your injuries affect your daily life — what is often referred to as your pain and suffering. It includes those elements but that does not capture the entire area of damages. Idaho law provides that you can recover noneconomic damages for "physical and mental pain and suffering, past and future"; "impairment of abilities to perform usual activities"; "disfigurement caused by the injuries"; "aggravation caused to any preexisting condition." These damages are different types of damages from those you would claim for your economic losses or physical injuries. For example, someone who suffers chronic pain after an injury is entitled to be compensated for that pain and suffering.

 

Physical pain is a sensation and suffering is a mood. Pain is the awareness, through a stimulus in the brain, of something that could damage your tissues and is followed by a feeling of discomfort or unpleasantness. By contrast, suffering is an emotion that could be considered the opposite of happiness or enjoyment, and involves cognitive awareness of an unpleasant situation, or a lack of the pleasure the victim could have expected had it not been for the injury. Suffering could involve many emotions, including depression, anxiety and humiliation. For example, suffering could be embarrassment and anxiety from a disfiguring facial injury, an amputation, incontinence, paralysis or another injury that severely limits the victim's life activities.

 

It is the job of an experienced personal injury lawyer to help you prove specifically how your injuries have affected your life and your family. The ultimate goal of a personal injury claim is to obtain the maximum possible compensation, so you may return to your life as it was before the accident. Although injuries make that impossible in some cases, you are entitled to seek compensation for every injury you suffer. Remember, our system is designed to fix the things that can be fixed, make better those things that can be made better and to make up for what can't be fixed or made better. It is the goal of a personal injury lawyer to help you obtain the fullest and fairest compensation permitted by the law.

 

 

 

Loss of Consortium

Idaho law allows the spouse of an injured person to recover damages as well, even if the spouse was not injured. This is called a loss of consortium claim.

Black's Law Dictionary defines "consortium" as the "conjugal fellowship of husband and wife, and the right of each to the company, society, and cooperation, affection and aid of the other in every conjugal relation." Loss of consortium includes not only material services that you may lose because of a spouse's injury, but such intangibles as society, guidance, companionship and sexual relations. Usually, you should only make a loss of consortium claim when one spouse has been seriously injured, and that injury has had a direct negative effect on the marital relationship. Generally, you cannot make a loss of consortium claim if you are merely living with the injured person. A marital relationship, and sometimes a parent-child relationship, is essential to making a loss of consortium claim.

 

Often, the non-injured spouse, at the direction of an experienced personal injury lawyer, can present compelling testimony at trial. This helps convince a jury that an accident has affected not only the marital relationship, but also the family. Juries sometimes empathize with the spouse who was not injured and better appreciate how the injuries have affected the marriage and the family. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you determine whether you should add a loss of consortium claim to your personal injury claim.

 

 

 

Common Defenses Used by Insurance Companies

 

As experienced personal injury lawyers, we have years of experience with the misrepresentations, exaggerations and outright lies insurance companies commonly use after injury victims make a legal claim. One common defense is to suggest that the victim suffered from similar injuries before the accident, or that the victim was predisposed to the type of injury he or she suffered. Yet another defense is to try to prove that the victim's injuries were not caused by the accident, but by other events in the victim's life. When insurance companies cannot dispute the fault of their bad drivers (insureds/customers), they might resort to the age-old tactic of attacking a plaintiff's character or pre-existing medical history.

 

A good lawyer will successfully challenge these common defenses and help the victim present his or her injuries clearly, concisely and coherently. For example, even if you suffered from a similar medical problem (such as a back or neck condition) before the accident, your lawyer can help you prove that your previous injury was made worse as a result of your accident. Idaho law supports the premise that a bad guy "takes his victim as he finds him." This means victims are entitled to recover full compensation even if they were particularly susceptible to an injury, or predisposed to experience greater pain or suffering than could have been foreseen by the defendant.

 

For example, you have a bad back that never required surgery, but then you are involved in a serious car accident that aggravates the back condition enough to require surgery, you are entitled to recover compensation for the surgery. After all, you would not have needed it if the accident had never happened.