There are many different types of injuries that people suffer in accidents. Certain body parts are commonly injured, depending on the type of accident (i.e., motor vehicle accident, slip and fall, construction accident). For instance, back and neck injuries are common in car crashes and we often see shoulder or hip injuries in slip and fall cases. No matter which body part is injured or what type of accident caused the injury, a shared concern for accident victims and their families is whether their injury or injuries will be permanent.
Permanent injuries can result in total disabilities and the inability for someone to work and provide for themselves and families. Also, permanent injuries can restrict a person’s lifestyle and prevent them from doing things that they once enjoyed doing.
What is a Permanent Injury?
A permanent injury is defined as physical or mental damage which will restrict and have a long term or indefinite effect on your employment, activities and quality of life for the rest of your life. It will indefinitely disable a person from performing ordinary work or activities. It is a term that is applied to an injury that is ongoing and will not disappear with time.
For example, we represented a woman who slipped and fell on hazardous ice one winter and severely injured her shoulder. She suffered a complete tear of her rotator cuff. As a result she had surgery to repair her shoulder and underwent extensive physical therapy. Although she made progress through therapy, she lost range of motion and strength in her shoulder. Her surgeon concluded that her injury is permanent and gave her an 18% permanent disability in her upper extremity. Because of this permanent injury, this client’s activities are limited and now she cannot enjoy a lot of the recreational activities she once did.
The Legal Challenges of a Permanent Injury
When someone is injured in an accident in Massachusetts because of someone else’s fault, the accident victim is entitled to financial compensation. Even when the injuries are not permanent, obtaining full and fair compensation from the at-fault person’s insurance company is challenging. The insurance companies almost always dispute injury claims and extent of the injuries. But, insurance companies will often spend much more time and resources challenging the claim of a permanent injury. This is because a permanent injury exposes the insurance company to sizeable verdicts or settlements.
Insurance companies and their attorneys will make every effort to either diminish the extent of your injury or allege that you were at fault or contributed to the accident. Invariably, injuries that become permanent will most likely result in the insurance companies employing some of their most common tactics and strategies to challenge the claims. They will dispute how the accident happen, what the treatment entailed and the extent of the injury. Also, they will want independent medical evaluations and try to find some evidence to argue that the injury was pre-existing. These tactics are used by insurance companies to minimize the injury and the possible compensation they may have to pay.
Combat the Insurance Companies Tactics and Prove Your Damages
Damages in a personal injury case typically fall into two categories: economic and non-economic. Economic damages are those tangible costs and expenses involved in the injury. They include hospital and doctor bills, therapy and home care costs, medicine costs, lost wages from work and any associated costs that are directly related to the injury. Non-economic costs are much more difficult to calculate. These damages are where an experienced personal injury attorney can help identify and present to an insurance carrier or jury. These are damages for your pain, mental suffering, emotional distress, loss of quality of life and loss of consortium.
Considerable work is involved in proving and accurately valuing long term or permanent injury. Proof of loss of function, loss of income and long term pain and suffering require expertise in both preparation and presentation by an experienced attorney. You will need to provide expert medical opinion that your injuries are lasting and permanent. This is accomplished by a complete inspection of all medical treatment including but not limited to all medical reports all diagnostic testing and imaging, rehabilitation reports, prescriptions, etc., and obtaining a special narrative report from a medical expert or the treating physician. The expert or treating physician can provide a medical opinion as to causal relationship between the accident and injury as well as whether the injury is permanent and, if so, what the percentage of loss of function is.
We continually tell our clients, document, document, document. Damages have to be supported by medical reports that estimate or calculate future costs of medical care, estimation of future prescription costs, costs of future nursing care or physical therapy and cost of medical appliances or equipment, such as wheelchairs, access ramps, etc. You need to have supporting documents as to estimation of lost wages from being unable to perform the job you had prior to the injury. Even things you can no longer do such as hobbies and sports, such as golf, tennis, dancing, exercise, all play into the value of permanent injury damages.
Additional Factors for a Permanent Injury
Insurance companies have to be shown, in detail, how a particular injury has affected you. As in this case of the 63 year old homeowner with a crush injury to his foot, age is a significant factor in determining long term pain and suffering. Other factors such as physical condition at and after the time of the injury, prior medical conditions made worse due to the injury, how severe the pain will be in the course of your rehabilitation, how hard will rehabilitation be considering your age and physical condition and whether you are likely to return to the physical status you enjoyed prior to the injury, all play into presenting a case for permanent injury.
Speak With An Experienced Injury Lawyer Today
Mahaney & Pappas, LLP has over 40 years of experience handling personal injury claims. We have successfully represented clients, who have suffered serious, permanent injuries. Our experience and knowledge of injury cases offer accident victims an advantage against insurance companies in getting fair compensation for injuries.