Don’t try to handle your catastrophic injury lawsuit alone

A serious injury can result in devastating, long-term effects on your life and the lives of those who love you. In an instant, a traumatic injury can leave you with paralysis, loss of cognitive or brain function, organ control, or disfigurement—not to mention post-concussive syndrome and PTSD, severe psychological trauma that often requires therapeutic intervention in order to heal. And crippling financial consequences can follow—such as the cost of medical care and surgery, hospital visits, medication, and even round-the-clock nursing in certain situations. There is also the question of how your injuries will affect your ability to work and support your family in the future.

Surviving a catastrophic injury can threaten families with financial instability. And when you or a loved one suffer such an injury because of another individual’s negligence, carelessness, or reckless, entire families need a qualified attorney to ensure that they can secure the treatment, care, and compensation they need to be made whole again.

At The Law Office of Scott R. Herndon, we help victims of negligence across California, from the San Francisco Bay Area to the Central Valley and Southern California. We take pride in obtaining rightful compensation for their resulting catastrophic injuries. Always treating our clients with dignity and respect, we draw upon our world-class legal knowledge to provide reliable and honest guidance when you need it most.

When is an injury considered catastrophic?

“Catastrophic injury” is not a legally established classification within California state law. Instead, it is a term of art used to describe any serious injury that either affects certain vital areas of the body such as the brain, neck or spinal cord, or other parts of the body which result in long-term or permanent disability. In other words, catastrophic injuries permanently impact a victim’s life.

Below are a few examples of catastrophic injuries:

  • Brain injury – Trauma to the skull or damage to the brain—the driver of human life—can lead to motor skill impairment, cognitive difficulties, memory loss, insomnia, headaches, and other long-term symptoms that alter daily life. Sometimes these are called traumatic brain injuries (or “TBIs”).
  • Spinal cord injury – Damage to the spinal cord which can result in paresis (muscle weakness/numbness), paraplegia (partial paralysis), or quadriplegia (total paralysis), as well as other serious complications. Often the devastating effects of these injuries are permanent. But it may be possible for expert medical intervention to help a survivor recover partial or full function from a spinal cord injury.
  • Loss of limb – In serious accidents, in particular those involving motor vehicles or other heavy machinery, there is a heightened risk of dismemberment (losing one or more appendages or limbs). Sometimes a limb must be amputated after an accident or other traumatic event to save the victim’s life. The effects of such surgeries can last a lifetime.
  • Internal injuries – Internal organs can become damaged through traumatic injuries, deep wounds, or impalement, sometimes requiring a transplant or resulting in permanent loss of the organ and its functions.
  • Severe burns – Commonly occurring in traffic or industrial accidents, such as when fuel ignites, or from electrical fires, serious burns can be permanently disfiguring and incredibly painful, requiring complicated skin grafts and countless other surgeries and therapies. Catastrophic burn injuries also carry an especially high risk for infection and other complications.

Are all catastrophic injuries personal injuries?

Whether a catastrophic personal injury can also be considered a personal injury for purposes of civil litigation depends on the circumstances under which the injury occurred.

A “personal injury case” is simply a legal phrase referring to an injury or ailment that results from the negligent, reckless, or intentional behavior of others. To secure personal injury compensation in a civil claim, one must prove that the catastrophic injury meets certain elements. These elements include showing proof of negligence, duty, a breach of that duty, causation (i.e., that the negligence caused the injury), and damages, or losses suffered as a result of the injury.

How do catastrophic personal injuries occur?

Although not all catastrophic injuries are personal injuries, those that are tended to occur in accidents or incidents, or as a result of unsafe conditions. Consider the following examples of catastrophic personal injury claims:

  • Traffic accidents, including those involving cars, large commercial trucks, mass transit vehicles, motorcycles, bicycles, and pedestrians
  • Dangerous premises (also known as premises liability), including unsafe walkways leading to slip and fall accidents and exposure to toxic compounds such as lead paint or asbestos.
  • Dangerous products (also called product liability cases), including those with manufacturing or design defects, those with inadequate packaging or improper, misleading, or missing directions or warnings. Severe catastrophic food poisoning can also fall into this category.
  • Accidents of Mentorship Protocol or Culture, such as a coach’s decision to require an athlete to continue to practice against medical advice, or sexual abuse by mentors within athletic or social institutions
  • Work accidents, such as those involving defective products, causing injuries on construction or other labor sites
  • Sexual Assault, Assault, and Murder

What care and accommodations do catastrophic injury victims require?

Survivors of catastrophic injuries often need extended or lifelong medical attention. Either during the recovery process or permanently, their care may require accessibility equipment such as wheelchairs or hospital beds, home renovations, daily professional nursing care, and an ongoing series of surgical and other medical procedures, and an extensive regimen of prescription medications.

Survivors are often faced with long and difficult regimes of physical therapy, occupational therapy, and even psychotherapy to cope with and adjust to their new reality. While progress can be made with aggressive treatment, some catastrophic injuries will never result in complete recovery. In those cases, victims who cannot return to their jobs or any form of work may require new sources of income to support their loved ones as they did before their injury.

Taken together, finding the right lawyer is essential to secure the future of any survivor of catastrophic personal injury.

What damages can I collect in my catastrophic injury claim, and how are they calculated?

There are three basic categories of damages victims may be entitled to in a catastrophic personal injury case:

  • Economic damages – Also known as general damages, this includes direct compensation for the costs already incurred, as well as the future projected costs that result from a catastrophic injury. Economic damages are meant to account for the full range of medical fees, lost wages due to missed or inability to work, and any other related expenses. These are calculated by compiling the costs incurred to date and, often under the guidance of a forensic economist or other experts, extrapolated out to determine the total estimated lifelong costs of the injury.
  • Non-economic damages – Sometimes known as special damages, non-economic damages refer to costs that occur due to diminished quality of life, emotional distress, permanent disfigurement, and other forms of pain and suffering. For an injury claim, special damages will be assigned a monetary value, again, with input from medical, psychotherapeutic, and economic experts.
  • Punitive damages – Not all injury claims will result in punitive damages. Instead, they are only available in those cases where the responsible party was malicious, grossly negligent, or reckless, caused intentional harm or violence, committed fraud (such as covering up a product recall to avoid bad publicity), or behaved in another way in which economic punishment is necessary to prevent them, and others in the future, from doing it again. Punitive damages can be capped as a single-digit multiple of compensatory damages and can be subject to the at-fault party’s ability to pay.

Protecting the Legacy of Your Family

No one, and no one’s family, and friends, should be forced to shoulder a catastrophic personal injury and its effects alone. At the Law Office of Scott R. Herndon, our attorneys pride ourselves on empathy, and respect for all of our clients, and we work tirelessly to ensure that negligence victims’ interests are protected, and their needs met—particularly when the consequences are severe and lifelong. We have received national recognition for the quality of legal services we provide, and hold ourselves to the highest standards, only accepting cases to which we can devote our full attention, intellectual pedigree, and cutting-edge expert resources.

From our law firm located in Berkeley, we represent clients throughout California, including the San Francisco Bay Area, the Central Valley, and Southern California. To learn more about how we can help you secure the maximum catastrophic injury compensation to which you are entitled, schedule a free consultation by contacting us online or calling

Call 415-360-5477 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with one of our highly skilled attorneys today.


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