$48.5 MILLION

Truck Accident Multimillion-Dollar Settlement.

"M.A.," a 30-year-old man, was driving to work in New Mexico. Suddenly a commercial truck veered across the center line and struck his vehicle head on. M.A. died at the scene. The McNeely Stephenson firm was hired shortly after the crash to represent the family of the deceased.

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Catastrophic Injury: Compensation for Your Pain and Loss

A favorable personal injury settlement can accomplish a lot. It can pay for property damage, cover medical bills, and compensate for pain and suffering. In some cases, it can even be used to punish bad actors and deter future wrongdoing. Ironically, though, no amount of settlement money can ever accomplish what damage awards were designed to do in the first place – put the victim back in the position he or she was in prior to the accident. Nowhere is this more evident than in a catastrophic injury case.

Catastrophic injuries are those that cause either death, or, at a minimum, a significant and permanent deterioration of the victim’s quality of life. A spinal cord injury resulting in paralysis is a classic example. For victims and their families, these cases do not end when a settlement check is issued or the jury renders its verdict – the consequences last a lifetime.

At McNeely Stephenson, we understand that financial compensation will not undo the harm you suffered. But that does not mean your catastrophic injury claim is something to be taken lightly. The fact that you or your loved one may never fully recover from the physical injuries inflicted during the accident makes proper handling of the legal claim imperative. Your future depends on it. Contact our team of Indiana trial attorneys now to learn more about your rights.

A Word about Childhood Injuries

One of the most heartbreaking things that can happen is when your child becomes injured. It’s even worse when the injury could have been prevented, if it hadn’t been for another party’s recklessness or negligence. Injuries to children feel especially upsetting to all of us because they have their whole lives ahead of them.

When is an Injury Considered “Catastrophic”?

There is no accepted legal definition that specifies what makes a personal injury catastrophic. However, a serious injury from which a person is not expected to recover that prevents them from performing gainful work is generally considered to be catastrophic.

A lifetime of lost wages, huge medical and rehabilitation bills, the physical pain suffered during recovery, the tragedy of disfigurement, and the financial and emotional distress of family members—all of these factors can deem an injury to be catastrophic. When another party is responsible for such devastation, it is fitting that they should bear the monetary costs of the injured party’s pain and loss.

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How Catastrophic Injuries Occur

You often hear the term “freak accident” used to describe horrific incidents. This terminology is meant to characterize one-of-a-kind accidents that no one could have foreseen or prevented. The truth is that very few accidents are without some type of fault. The facts surrounding a catastrophic accident are always unique, to be sure, but the conduct involved usually fits a familiar pattern. Here are the most common categories of catastrophic injury causes:

Vehicular Accidents

Vehicles of all types and weights can wreak havoc when they are not driven with care or when some other form of negligence is responsible for the victim’s injuries. The accident can be one of the following types:

Workplace Accidents

2016 figures indicate that almost one million workers were seriously injured on the job that year, a fairly typical annual number. Many types of catastrophic injuries can occur while you are on the job:

Other Types of Catastrophic Injuries

Severe, disabling injuries can also come about from:

What Are the Consequences of a Catastrophic Injury?

After 30 years of representing accident victims in Indiana, the attorneys at McNeely Stephenson have witnessed catastrophic injuries affecting every function of the human body. The worst of these injuries are the ones that permanently impede a victim’s . . .

  • Mobility
  • Cognitive skills
  • Ability to communicate
  • Physical appearance
  • Longevity

Limitations in any one of these areas cause irreparable harm not just to the victim, but to the wellbeing of the victim’s dependents and loved ones. The amount of compensation obtained in a catastrophic injury settlement should reflect this fact.

Types of Catastrophic Injuries We Handle at McNeely Stephenson

Catastrophic injuries and catastrophic accidents do not necessarily go hand in hand. An accident that appears terrible, such as a high-speed traffic crash, may produce relatively inconsequential injuries. Conversely, a seemingly-minor accident, like falling off a work platform only a few feet above the ground, may lead to permanent disability. This is why, when it comes to proving damages, our lawyers focus on what matters most – your injury.

We represent persons who have suffered all types of catastrophic injuries due to another party’s negligence, including:

  • Spinal cord injuries and paralysis, which can result from scenarios as varied as a workplace crushing accident to a vehicular crash
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBI), a significant cause of disability in those under the age of 40
  • Severe burns, often from occupational situations
  • Amputations and other loss of limbs
  • Internal organ damage resulting from being struck by or against an object
  • Multiple bone fractures and crushing injuries
  • Vision and hearing losses
  • Disfiguring injuries

Unfortunately, some catastrophic injuries result in death. When that occurs, a wrongful death case can be brought if another party is at fault.

What Types of Compensation Are Likely in a Catastrophic Injury Case?

The financial burdens of a catastrophic injury case can be staggering, and should not fall on your and your family’s shoulders if someone else is responsible for your pain, injuries, and disability. The typical varieties of monetary damages awarded to catastrophic injury victims include:

  • Medical expenses, both past and future, that relate to the injury
  • Rehabilitation expenses
  • Physical, occupational, speech, and other therapies
  • Modifications that are needed for a home and vehicle
  • Property damage
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of future earning capacity
  • Loss of consortium and comfort
  • Physical and emotional pain and suffering

Amounts can vary widely, depending on the individual case. The catastrophic injury lawyers at McNeely Stephenson will take many factors into account when it comes to obtaining the compensation you deserve.

The Details about Comparative Fault

In Indiana, as in many states, personal injury cases are subject to the “comparative fault” rule, meaning that if the injured party is found to be partially at fault, monetary damages can be reduced or even eliminated.

Here’s an example: Suppose you are driving 5 mph over the speed limit when someone else abruptly moves into your lane, resulting in a crash that produces a catastrophic injury. It could be determined that you were at fault for a portion of the accident because you were speeding—let’s say the court decides you are 15 percent at fault. Under the comparative fault rule, any damages you are awarded would be reduced by 15 percent.

If you are found to be 50 percent or more at fault for the injury, under the comparative fault rule you would not be able to collect monetary damages from any other party determined to be at fault.

Existing Indiana Damage Caps

Some states limit the amount of monetary damages you can collect for non-economic injuries in personal injury cases. Limitations such as these are called damage caps. In Indiana, as of 2017, there are no damage caps for personal injury (tort) cases involving non-economic injuries. Non-economic injuries are situations that involve loss of function, such as the loss of a limb, blindness, mutilation, permanent disability, or reproductive or sexual harm. Non-economic injuries also include what is commonly called “pain and suffering,” which can be considerable after an amputation or catastrophic burn injury.

Economic damages in personal injury cases, generally meaning lost wages and any relevant medical expenses, are not capped in Indiana and in fact are rarely capped.

Wrongful death damage caps are a bit more complex in Indiana, and depend upon the victim’s age and marital status, and on certain details concerning the surviving parties.

Indiana Catastrophic Injury Statutes of Limitations

In Indiana, both catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases must be filed within two years from the date of the injury, regardless of the specific cause of injury, except when a government entity is the defendant. A claim against the state must be filed within 270 days from the date of the injury, and a claim against a city or county must be filed within 180 days.

Speak with an Indiana Catastrophic Injury Attorney Today

When an insurance company is notified that one of its insureds may have caused a catastrophic injury, it immediately goes to work strengthening its side of the case. As a victim, you need to do the same. The first step is to contact an experienced Indiana personal injury law firm for a consultation and case evaluation. McNeely Stephenson has offices in Indianapolis, New Albany, and Shelbyville.

We can also visit with you on the telephone, or even at the hospital or at home if necessary. Call 1-317-825-5200 or use our convenient and confidential online form to tell us about your case now.

real-life cases

“B.K.” was driving on a two-lane road one Sunday afternoon with his mother in the front seat and his brother and sister-in-law in the back seat when his life was forever changed. B.K. was struck head on by D.C.

D.C. had spent the day drinking with a friend and had stopped at a restaurant less than five miles from the point of the accident where D.C. had been served several drinks. D.C.’s blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit.

As a result of the terrible wreck, B.K. received devastating injuries, which included multiple broken bones, facial fractures, and loss of vision. B.K.’s mother, brother, and sister-in-law were all killed in the accident.

As one would anticipate, D.C. had virtually no insurance. Stephenson, through his thorough and detailed investigation, was able to prepare claims against the restaurant and those that provided the alcohol.

Stephenson pursued dram shop claims against those responsible CASE SUMMARY

D.H. was a competitive bicyclist who was riding in preparation for a cross-country fundraising ride. In the spring of 2010, D.H. was riding across an old steel-grated deck bridge in Shelby County when he hit a hole in the bridge and flipped over the handlebars of his bike. The impact to the bridge decking caused severe injuries to his face, teeth, tongue, and elbow.

Through the investigation, they were able to learn as early as 1998, the bridge inspection reports showed the bridge in question needed to be replaced. The county never authorized additional inspections. The county obtained $844,000 in funding for the replacement of the bridge in 2000, but the Historical Society and adjacent property owners wanted the bridge repaired rather than replaced.

This crash could have been avoided if the inspectors and county had done their jobs. CASE SUMMARY

Our client (“D.W.”) was a front-seat passenger in a vehicle that was struck by a UDF truck making deliveries. D.W. received broken arms and legs, as well as internal injuries. Stephenson was retained by D.W.’s personal counsel to prepare and try the case. Discovery determined that the UDF driver had multiple driving violations. Stephenson retained numerous experts to show the jury the devastating effects of the injuries. Before trial, the defendant’s company stated that a jury in a small southern county in Indiana would never return a verdict for $1 million in this case.

The defendant was correct; the verdict was twice that amount. CASE SUMMARY

Speak to an Indiana Personal Injury Lawyer Today

When an insurance company is notified that one of its insureds may have caused a catastrophic injury, it immediately goes to work strengthening its side of the case. As a victim, you need to do the same. The first step is to contact an experienced Indiana personal injury law firm for a consultation and case evaluation. McNeely Stephenson has offices in Indianapolis, New Albany, and Shelbyville.

We can also visit with you on the telephone, or even at the hospital or at home if necessary. Call (888) 991-8278 or use our intake form to tell us about your case now.

Updates
Personal Injury Lawyer
August 13, 2018 / Product Injury, Wrongful Death
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AWARDED. CREDENTIALED. PROVEN.

Mike Stephenson is a Super Lawyer in Indiana along with many of his peers at McNeely Stephenson. This is one of the highest honors an attorney can achieve

AWARDED. CREDENTIALED. PROVEN.

The AV Preeminent Rating from Martindale Hubbell is the HIGHEST RATING and considered a significant accomplishment. It is a peer-reviewed process reflecting that other attorneys rank Mike Stephenson at the highest possible level of professional excellence.

AWARDED. CREDENTIALED. PROVEN.

Attorney Mike Stephenson is a proud member of The Litigation Counsel of America’s Honorary Society. A close-knit, peer-selected, and aggressively diverse honorary society of 3,500 of the “best trial lawyers” in the country. Less than one-half of one percent of American lawyers, vigorously vetted for skills, expertise, and service; an invitation-only collegial network.

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The American Board of Trial Advocates is an invitation-only organization for attorneys of “high personal character and honorable reputation.” ABOTA works for the preservation of the civil jury trial, “Justice by the People,” and supports the right of a jury trial.

AWARDED. CREDENTIALED. PROVEN.

Our attorneys are proven advocates and trial attorneys. They have served as lead trial counsel in more than 100 civil jury trials, and have handled litigation in 18 states