Fort Lauderdale Catastrophic Injury Attorney
Lawyers guiding clients through claims after catastrophic accidents in Florida
When a serious accident occurs, the resulting injuries may change your life. Whether you suffer a spinal cord injury, a traumatic brain injury, an amputated limb or a lost organ, you may face significant medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages. At Boone & Davis, Attorneys at Law, we believe that you should not have to face this difficult time alone. With more than 40 years of litigation experience and a background in insurance law, our Fort Lauderdale catastrophic injury attorneys know how to fight for you. We work hard to help you hold negligent parties responsible for the harm done to you and to obtain the compensation you need both now and in the future.
Types of catastrophic injuries
Our Fort Lauderdale catastrophic injury attorneys provide thorough, compassionate and highly accessible representation to help you recover compensation for all types of long-lasting or debilitating injuries, including:
- Head injuries: Traumatic brain injuries can result in serious harm, including long-term mental impairment, loss of control of limbs, senses or organs, or even a persistent vegetative state. The most serious head injury may even leave the victim brain dead, and many brain injuries are fatal.
- Back injuries: A spinal cord injury almost always results in ongoing pain, but a serious spinal injury may cause paralysis below the site of impact, including paraplegia or quadriplegia.
- Burns: Deep burns can lead to permanent disfigurement and nerve damage. Burns on a visible part of the body can be intensely upsetting, especially when they cover part of the face or a person’s hands. Large burns over joints often need multiple surgeries to loosen the constriction so that a person can regain their full range of movement.
- Amputation injuries: Car accidents, construction and industrial accidents, theme park accidents, animal attacks and medical malpractice may all result in the loss of a limb. In some cases, a traumatic amputation may occur during the accident. In other cases, amputation may be necessary to save your life afterward.
- Nerve damage: Permanent damage to the nerves can result in chronic pain as well as paralysis. Nerve damage on the face can permanently disfigure a person’s appearance. Some nerve damage responds to surgery, but much of the damage to nerves is permanent.
- Internal injuries: In addition to brain injuries, catastrophic accidents may result in injuries to internal organs, nerve damage or muscle damage. When an organ is damaged, you may require a surgical transplant and ongoing care. Internal injuries may also occur because of surgical errors.
- Blindness and deafness: Blindness and deafness can occur in all types of accidents. For example, a traumatic brain injury may result in blindness, deafness or loss of the senses of taste or smell. Car accidents, explosions and medical treatments — including dangerous drugs — may also result in the loss of senses. In addition, exposure to noises, lights, chemicals, drugs and other traumas at work may cause the loss of senses.
- Fatal injuries: Many catastrophic injuries are fatal, whether at the site of the accident or after treatment in the hospital. Even in cases where injuries are not fatal, they may shorten the lifespan of the victim. If you have lost a family member because of a fatal injury resulting from the negligence of others, our attorneys can guide you through each step of your wrongful death claim.
Helping victims and their families through the lawsuit process
Catastrophic injuries almost always require ongoing treatment or care, medical aids and life changes. If your injuries have left you unable to walk, you may need to renovate your home for wheelchair access in addition to paying for costly treatment and expensive medical devices and equipment. Many victims of catastrophic accidents need live-in care, breathing apparatuses, wheelchairs, prosthetic limbs, ongoing physical therapy and other aids. In addition to medical treatment and care, you may no longer be able to do the work you did before and earn the same living.
Receiving fair compensation is vital. One complication with catastrophic injury cases is accurately estimating the amount of these losses. With past medical care, we have a bill that shows how much the medical procedure cost. But estimating future medical care is always complicated. Will a person with an amputated limb need one additional surgery going forward? Two? Three? And how much will this surgery and associated rehabilitation cost?
Problems with accurate calculation also come into play with future lost income. Some clients might be permanently disabled, while others are able to work a different, but lower paying, job after an accident. If you suffer permanent paralysis at age 30, then you have 35 or more years left in your working life. Accurately calculating how much income you are likely to lose out on typically requires the help of expert witnesses. At our firm, we know how to carefully estimate the full loss of employment opportunities in a way that judges and juries find compelling.
The Boone & Davis difference
At Boone and Davis, our personal injury attorneys provide the support you need to obtain the compensation you deserve. We represent victims of catastrophic injuries and family members of victims of fatal injuries, including those whose loved ones have been declared brain-dead. Using our substantial litigation and negotiation skills, we help you build and present your case to a judge and jury or to an insurer. We use the latest in technological advances during a trial to present a compelling picture to jurors. In addition, we work with a network of experts, including medical, vocational and financial experts, to help you obtain compensation for both past and future damages.
Law firms without experience in this field often do not know how to pull together a case that will survive scrutiny. One common issue that crops up is that a person’s damages cannot be too “speculative.” For that reason, someone asking for damages for future medical care or loss of future earnings capacity must build a solid evidentiary record to support their claim for compensation. We can do that.
The emotional effects of a catastrophic injury
In addition to expensive medical care and lost income, our clients suffer another loss: the loss of peace of mind and happiness. Permanent injuries can lead to intense emotional anguish as a person’s life has been turned upside down. Many victims struggle to piece their lives back together and suffer with depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, irritability, and fear.
Imagine never being able to enjoy long walks with your spouse or never being able to enjoy your favorite hobbies and activities—all because you are immobile or in too much pain. Imagine never getting a good night’s sleep because of permanent nerve damage and always waking up tired and cranky. These types of losses are difficult to calculate with monetary values—but they are very real.
Florida law allows victims to seek compensation for emotional distress and mental anguish caused by the accident and their injuries. But how much money can really compensate a person? Unlike with medical bills—where we have an actual number printed on a piece of paper—these emotional harms are harder to quantify. In one sense, no amount of money can make up for never being able to walk again or never being able to hold your grandchild. But money is all we can get from a defendant who caused your devastating, catastrophic injuries.
At Boone & Davis, we rely on our decades of experience to settle on a number that is reasonable. Damages for pain, suffering, and emotional distress often make up a significant chunk of any offered settlement. For this reason, it is vital that a victim meet with seasoned legal advocates who understand how to maximize the compensation for these losses.
Loss of consortium claims for catastrophic injuries
Under Florida law, a person who has suffered a catastrophic injury can sue for compensation. However, our state also recognizes that a person’s spouse has suffered an injury of their own. After all, marriage is a union between two people, and a catastrophic injury to one spouse intimately affects the other. For this reason, a spouse might be able to seek their own loss of consortium claim following an accident.
This claim is separate from the claim of the victim who suffered the injury—though the two cases are obviously linked. It is the catastrophic injury suffered by one spouse that gives rise to the husband or wife’s claim.
“Consortium” essentially means companionship or fellowship. This companionship can be impaired, and the spouse can seek compensation for:
- Loss of services. Imagine that a wife cleaned, did laundry, and watched the children. Once she is disabled, the couple must hire people to do this work.
- Loss of sexual intimacy. After a catastrophic accident, a couple might no longer engage in sexual intimacy, which is a loss warranting compensation.
- Emotional distress. A catastrophic injury places a great burden on family members, who can also sink chin-deep into depression or anxiety.
In a narrow range of cases, a child can bring this type of claim when a parent suffers a significant permanent injury. Brought under Florida Statute § 768.0415, this claim compensates for the loss of parental guidance and love.
The settlement process for catastrophic injuries
The route to a settlement is often winding, full of twists and turns. We wish we could say that insurers are dedicated to settling claims quickly so that our clients can receive badly-needed compensation to cover surgery and at-home care. But the opposite is usually the case. Insurers know that large amounts of compensation are in play. If only a few thousand dollars were at stake, they might immediately agree to our settlement offer. Not so with catastrophic injuries.
A typical settlement timeline looks something like this:
- We need to thoroughly investigate what happened to build a case. Remember, the defendant is only liable if their conduct was the proximate cause of your catastrophic injury. In most cases, the defendant negligently did something which injured you—but we need proof. The investigatory phase can last a long time.
- Working with experts. We also need to carefully estimate our client’s full economic and non-economic losses. Often, we pull in experts to help us with this.
- Initial offer. We try to make an initial offer that gives the other side some room to come down. Settlement negotiations are a little like negotiating to purchase a new car. Each side makes an initial offer and then moves in increments to a position that both can agree to. If the other side makes the first offer, we typically must reject it because it is too low.
- Continued negotiation. Negotiation is a back-and-forth process. With over 40 years of experience, we know how large insurers negotiate in Florida and we are very patient. Often, we need to outwait the other side.
- Mediation or other alternative dispute resolution. Mediation is sometimes helpful in catastrophic injury cases at getting both sides closer to agreement. Mediation is held before a mediator, who listens to each side describe the dispute and guides discussion. Sometimes the mediator sees a way to resolve the dispute that both sides can’t see yet.
- Where negotiations break down or fail outright, we need to go to court to vindicate our client’s rights. At Boone & Davis, we ensure that our clients file before the statute of limitations period runs out. Litigation is a complicated process, but we have the experience necessary. Sometimes, a case will settle mere moments before going to trial.
In all, an accident victim might wait up to two years before their case is resolved, but sometimes it is possible to reach an agreement earlier. Be sure to ask an attorney during an initial consultation how long they think the case will take.
Contact a dedicated Fort Lauderdale personal injury law firm today for prompt, reliable assistance
At Boone & Davis, Attorneys at Law we care not only about the results of your case but also about how you are treated. From the moment we accept your case, we are dedicated to being accessible, reliable and supportive. And while we have a history of proven results that includes verdicts and settlements in excess of $1 million, we also have a track record of client satisfaction. To learn how we can help you after a catastrophic accident, contact us online or call 954-566-9919 for a free initial consultation.