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When a person suffers a catastrophic injury, their loved ones may be confused and frightened. They sometimes do not know where to turn. From the intense pain and suffering felt by the injured person and their family to mounting medical bills and aggressive insurance companies, the process can be overwhelming.

On top of this, people who have suffered a catastrophic injury are often incapable of representing their own interest. In these cases, their family must file the claim on their behalf. An adept personal injury attorney is here to help alleviate the financial and emotional stress that can be placed on a family under these circumstances.

A Chapel Hill catastrophic injury lawyer can work with clients who have been injured through no fault of their own, and their families, to pursue the fair compensation that they deserve.

Defining Catastrophic Injury

A catastrophic injury can be defined as any injury that permanently prevents an individual from performing any gainful work. While in many cases this is only a temporary situation, in some instances, the injuries are permanent.

This means that not only will a person be unable to work during the period of their immediate recovery, but also for the rest of their life. Therefore, a catastrophic injury needs to be examined through an economic lens, as well as a medical one.

Examples of catastrophic injuries that a Chapel Hill catastrophic injury attorney can help with include:

  • Amputations,
  • Spinal Cord Injuries,
  • Severe Burns,
  • Blindness, and
  • Paralysis

North Carolina Laws Regarding Catastrophic Injuries

While a catastrophic injury may be caused by the intentional actions of another such as assault, or product-related accidents such as product liability, most catastrophic injuries are the result of a defendant’s negligence.

Simply put, negligence is when a person with a duty to protect others fails to act with reasonable care to do so.

Consider the example of a car driver not looking before proceeding through an intersection and colliding with a pedestrian, who suffers paralysis in his legs. There are five parts, or elements, of a negligence claim that must be met in this scenario:

  1. Duty – In certain instances, a person has a responsibility to protect other people. This is known as the duty of care. All drivers of cars and motorcycles have a duty to care for the well-being of other drivers and pedestrians. In this example, duty is clearly present since the defendant was driving at the time of the accident
  2. Breach – A breach of duty occurs when a person takes an action or fails to take an action, that constitutes a failure of the duty of care. In this example, if the driver of the car failed to properly look both ways before proceeding through the intersection, a breach of the duty of care may have occurred
  3. Cause – The plaintiff must show that the injuries were caused by the accident. While not as common in cases that involve a catastrophic injury, insurance companies will often argue that the injuries were pre-existing and that the accident had nothing to do with them
  4. Scope – The injuries must have been foreseeable considering the circumstances. In this case, severe injuries resulting from cars colliding with pedestrians are foreseeable.
  5. Damages – The plaintiff must have suffered actual physical harm. Here, the paralysis is certainly physical harm. Additionally, in catastrophic injury cases, economic damages such as loss of income are also included in damage calculations

Contributory Negligence

One must also keep in mind that North Carolina is a contributory negligence state.  In this case, the court stated that “A plaintiff is contributorily negligent when he fails to exercise such care as an ordinarily prudent person would exercise under the circumstances in order to avoid injury.”

This means that if the plaintiff is even one percent at fault for the accident, he will be prevented from damages recovery at trial. A Chapel Hill catastrophic injury lawyer can work to present an individual’s case to the insurance company in a way that portrays the other party as being 100 percent at fault.

Statute of Limitations

One more aspect to consider is the statute of limitations, which can be seen as a time limit for a plaintiff to come forward. North Carolina Law Chapter 1-52 states that a complaint alleging personal injury must be filed within three years of the accident.

While this can seem like a long time, medical treatment and negotiations with insurance companies can often stretch for months or even years, especially in catastrophic injury claims.

Benefits of a Catastrophic Injury Attorney in Chapel Hill

Personal injury cases involving catastrophic injury can be an extremely trying time for the victims and their families. Whether the injuries were the result of an intentional act or negligence, a catastrophic injury lawyer can help.

From gathering evidence of the facts of the case to consulting doctors and economists to determine the long-lasting effects of the injuries to negotiating with the insurance company, a Chapel Hill catastrophic injury lawyer can fight to get clients the compensation that they deserve.

Catastrophic injuries are severe injuries that will negatively impact the rest of a person’s life. How those injuries are compensated can play a major role in the quality of that person’s life. Do not take any unnecessary chances, contact a lawyer today.