We live in a very hyperbolic world. People regularly complain that the slightest inconvenience is “the worst,” or suggest they are so happy/sad/embarrassed they “died.” Society has become so used to this rhetorical trick that we have actually had adversaries roll their eyes when we suggest our client has suffered a catastrophic injury.
Unfortunately, saying an injury is catastrophic is not an exaggeration. While Illinois has no official definition of the term, a catastrophic injury is generally understood to mean an injury that is so terrible, it forever alters the victim’s life.
Common Catastrophic Accident Injuries
A Chicago area resident who suffers a catastrophic injury forever loses a part of themselves, whether it’s a limb, the ability to walk, the ability to think clearly and process information, or their personality.
Amputation Injury: Each year, 130,000 Americans suffer an illness or injury that leads to an amputation. Over 20 percent of these amputations are related to traumatic accidents. The Stein & Shulman team has represented numerous amputees in the Chicago area who were injured in motor vehicle accidents. It is not unusual for the victim of a serious car accident to need an amputation after suffering burn injuries or the destruction of blood vessels in a limb.
Burn Injury: Burn injuries, whether they are caused by heat or a chemical, can severely disfigure victims, and cause excruciating pain that never goes away. While doctors and scientists have made great strides in treating burn injuries, such injuries are still debilitating.
Severe Fractures: Healing broken bones may seem like basic medical science, but there are some fractures so severe the victim is never the same post-injury. Compound fractures that pierce the skin, and shattered bones that require complete replacement by metal or plastic parts may leave accident victims forever in pain, and unable to complete daily tasks they once took for granted.
Organ Damage: Organ damage is not always visible to outsiders, but it can forever alter an accident victim’s way of life. The victims of catastrophic accidents who suffer organ damage may need an organ transplant or may be required to seek expensive medical care on a regular basis just to stay alive.
Spinal Cord Injury: A spinal cord injury can cause paraplegia or quadriplegia, resulting in the inability to use one’s extremities. Over 10,000 people each year suffer a catastrophic spinal cord injury. Motor vehicle accidents cause over half of all spinal injuries with another twenty percent caused by slip and fall accidents. This type of injury generally impairs a catastrophic accident victim’s motor functions, as well as the ability to move, work, or even enjoy the simple pleasure of a walk with one’s family.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI): Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are the leading cause of death for individuals under the age of 45, but even minor brain injuries can have serious, long-lasting impacts. These injuries may be caused by the brain moving within the skull and impacting the hard bony surface of the inside of the skull (closed head injury), or from a fracture to or penetration of the skull that allows a foreign object to impact the brain (open head injury).
It used to be that the only recognized brain injuries were paralysis or cognitive decline, but we now know that TBIs can cause
- Loss of motor skills;
- Impaired memory and reasoning skills;
- Difficulty with communication and speech;
- Changes in personality;
- Loss of bodily functions, control, and sensation; and
- Trouble regulating emotions.
No Treatments, No Cures, No Amount Of Time Can Put Things Right
When a Chicago-area resident has suffered a catastrophic accident, they and their loved ones must face the reality that there are no treatments, no cures, and no amount of time that needs to pass before things can go back to “normal.” They are going to spend the rest of their lives living a new normal.
This also means there is no amount of money that can adequately compensate the victim of a catastrophic accident for the harm they have suffered, but that does not mean that catastrophic accident victims in the Chicagoland area should go uncompensated.
The Stein & Shulman team has helped Chicagoland residents recover millions of dollars to pay for medical expenses and support themselves and their families. Under Illinois law, accident victims who have suffered a catastrophic injury can seek both economic and non-economic damages.
In order to get our clients the most money possible, we begin by gathering evidence that explicitly enumerates their economic damages. This includes:
- Medical expenses;
- Lost income;
- Decreased future earnings; and if applicable,
- Property damage.
Our team also works with experts who can estimate what it would be fair to pay a victim to compensate them for non-economic losses like:
- Physical pain;
- Emotional anguish;
- Permanent disfigurement or disability;
- Loss of consortium; and
- Loss of enjoyment of life.
Furthermore, if we can prove that the person who caused the injury (the defendant) acted with disregard for human safety or engaged in criminal behavior, Illinois law allows us to seek punitive damages. Punitive damages have a twofold purpose: to punish the defendant and to discourage others from engaging in similarly egregious behavior. Punitive damages can greatly increase the amount of money a victim receives.
Estimating how much money a catastrophic injury may be worth is not something that should, or really can, be done on the internet because each victim is unique. To get a realistic figure, and learn more about what it is going to take to actually hold the responsible parties accountable, victims and their family members should contact an experienced personal injury attorney like those on our staff at Stein & Shulman. Our firm has the experience and resources needed to get Chicago area catastrophic accident victims the compensation they deserve.
We Do Not Get Paid Unless Our Clients Do
It takes a lot of time and energy to gather all the evidence needed to make a strong argument for compensation at the negotiating table or in the courtroom, even in a catastrophic accident case where the injuries are obvious and serious. But that does not mean that victims should hesitate to contact an attorney, or worry about how they will pay for one.
Stein & Shulman represents Chicago area catastrophic accident victims on a contingency fee basis. This means we do not get paid unless our clients do, and our fee is always just a portion of whatever we are able to win for our clients.
Contact Our Chicago Area Catastrophic Accident Attorneys Today
If you or a loved one in the Chicago area has suffered a catastrophic injury through no fault of your own, the Stein & Shulman team is here to help. Whether you are ready to take legal action right away or are simply curious about what options are available to you, let’s talk. Please contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation.