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Five Types of Catastrophic Injuries and Their EffectsThere is no legal definition for a catastrophic injury in a personal injury case, but general consensus defines it as an injury that permanently affects your ability to work or enjoy your life. Suffering a catastrophic injury may entitle you to substantial compensation if another party was at fault for the accident. You will need the money to pay for expensive medical treatments and therapy, as well as to replace your lost income or to train you for a new career. Your lost quality of life is more difficult to quantify, though compensation for pain and suffering should help. Here are five types of catastrophic injuries, each debilitating in its own way:

  1. Brain Injuries: Suffering a fractured skull or concussion can result in traumatic brain injuries. A minor brain injury can cause headaches, dizziness and troubling thinking, but the prognosis for recovery is usually good. A severe brain injury can cause longer-lasting or permanent symptoms, such as problems with memory, speech, or bodily functions.
  2. Spinal Injuries: Spinal cord injuries are often associated with paralysis, loss of feeling and the inability to control bladder and bowel functions. The severity of the symptoms depends on where the injury occurred and whether it is a complete or incomplete injury. The injury will affect a greater part of the body when it is higher on the spinal cord. An incomplete injury may allow some feeling and movement, while there is a low chance of recovering from a complete injury.
  3. Limb Loss: Victims can lose body parts when they are severed as the result of an accident or when the extent of the damage forces doctors to amputate. In some cases, a severed body part can be reattached, followed by painful rehabilitation. Otherwise, losing a finger or limb will permanently change how a person functions.
  4. Organ Damage: A ruptured organ, such as a liver or kidney, is often a medical emergency because it can cause internal bleeding. The victim may be able to recover with time, but there can be long-lasting symptoms if doctors had to remove part of the organ due to damage or infection.
  5. Severe Burns: Third-degree burns can cause severe disfigurement, chronic pain, loss of sensation, or disablement of part of a body. Even if the long-term effects are purely cosmetic, that may still diminish the person’s quality of life.

Contact a McHenry County Personal Injury Lawyer

No amount of money may ever feel like enough to pay for a catastrophic injury, but you need the compensation for practical purposes. A Crystal Lake, Illinois, personal injury attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can tell you how much compensation you can expect to receive for your injury, based on similar cases. Schedule a free consultation by calling 815-338-3838.

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Slips vs. Trips Can Change Personal Injury CasesBoth slipping and tripping can end in a fall-related injury, but there are important differences between the two types of accidents. A slip-and-fall accident is more likely to cause severe injuries because of how you lose your balance. It can be easier to establish premises liability with a trip-and-fall accident because of what caused you to trip. In either case, you must document the circumstances that led to your injury and determine whether the property owner neglected its duty of care towards you.

Slipping

The act of slipping occurs when a liquid causes a lack of traction on the ground. Usually, your foot slides forward at a greater speed than the rest of your body, which may cause you to fall backward. It is difficult to stop yourself when falling backward because you cannot use your arms or legs to catch yourself. You can suffer traumatic injuries to your:

  • Back;
  • Neck;
  • Spine;
  • Pelvis; and
  • Head.

In order to hold a property owner liable for your slip and fall, you must prove that the owner was aware of the dangerous condition that caused your accident and did not take sufficient action to prevent it. Surfaces can suddenly become slippery, such as when there has been a spill. The property owner could argue that it was unaware of the spill or did not have enough time to respond.

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Proving Proximate Cause in a Personal Injury LawsuitTwo factors determine whether a defendant can be held liable in a personal injury lawsuit: actual cause and proximate cause. Actual cause, also known as cause-in-fact, is when the defendant’s actions directly lead to the injury. Proximate cause is determining whether the defendant could have reasonably foreseen that his or her actions would cause injury. Proving proximate cause can be straightforward with a defendant whose actions directly resulted in the plaintiff’s injuries. A reckless driver can reasonably foresee that his or her actions would put other drivers and pedestrians in danger. However, proximate cause can be more difficult to prove with a third party involved in the incident.

Recent Case

In Kramer v. Szczepaniak, the plaintiffs have filed a lawsuit against multiple defendants whom they claim are liable for a vehicle-pedestrian accident. The plaintiffs were leaving a Chicago movie theater at 1:30 a.m. and used Uber to call a ride. The driver could not figure out the directions to get the passengers to their destination and kicked them out of the vehicle when one of them offered to help give directions. While walking home, the plaintiffs were hit in a pedestrian crossing by a driver who was speeding. The plaintiffs filed a personal injury lawsuit against the driver of the vehicle that hit them, the Uber driver, Uber, and the person who let the Uber driver use his vehicle. Before hearing any arguments, a trial court dismissed the lawsuit against all defendants except for the driver who hit the plaintiffs, citing a lack of proximate cause.

Appeal

An Illinois appellate court reversed the trial court’s ruling, stating that there is a question of fact whether the Uber driver is liable for the injuries. The court said that the plaintiffs proved actual cause with the driver because they would not have been walking home if the driver had not forced them out of the vehicle before reaching their destination. As for proximate cause, the court said it is possible that the driver could have foreseen that he was putting the plaintiffs in danger because:

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Manufacturers Have Strict Liability with Product DefectsWhen a defective or unexpectedly dangerous product injures you, you can file a product liability lawsuit to collect personal injury compensation. Most product liability cases in Illinois fall under the theory of strict liability, which means that you do not have to prove that the manufacturer was negligent in order to hold it liable. Before you file a product liability lawsuit, you should make sure that your case meets the qualifications under Illinois law.

Product Liability Types

There are three categories of product liability claims, each of which blames the injury on a different defect with the product:

  • A design defect means that the faulty design of a product makes it inherently dangerous to consumers;
  • A manufacturing defect means that the manufacturer did not build the product to design specifications or used faulty materials; and
  • A marketing defect means that the instructions that came with the product did not warn consumers about dangers in using the product that would not be obvious to a normal person.

You will file your lawsuit against the manufacturer in most cases because it is likely responsible for the defect. You can include the business that sold you the product or the product wholesaler if they knew about the defect or somehow caused it.

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Strict Interpretation of Snow Removal Law Benefits Injury PlaintiffsThe legal distinction between a sidewalk and other walking surfaces may determine the success of your personal injury case. The Illinois Snow and Ice Removal Act states that property owners who remove snow from sidewalks abutting their properties are not liable if someone is injured because of icy conditions created by the snow removal. This legal immunity makes it difficult for people to receive personal injury compensation when they slip and fall because of an untreated accumulation of ice. However, some Illinois courts strictly interpret the law as applying only to sidewalks and not other paved surfaces.

Liability Standard

Illinois law does not require property owners to clear the snow off of their walkways or hold them liable for personal injuries on their property caused by a natural accumulation of snow or ice. Before the Snow and Ice Removal Act, personal injury victims could claim that property owners who cleared snow from their sidewalks created an unnatural accumulation of snow. The melting snow piles caused icy conditions on sidewalks. The Snow and Ice Removal Act changed the liability standard, and property owners are now liable only if:

  • They willfully or wantonly created the hazardous condition; or
  • Negligence in the condition of the property caused an unnatural accumulation of snow or ice.

Thus, property owners are not liable for the melt off from a pile of snow they have created, but they may be liable if a malfunctioning gutter system caused the ice accumulation.

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