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Catastrophic Injury

New York Catastrophic Injury Lawyers

You may be entitled to compensation if you or a loved one has suffered a catastrophic injury because of someone else’s negligence. The New York personal injury attorneys of Harris Keenan & Goldfarb have over 80 years of combined experience fighting for compensation for people who were injured by the actions of others. We aggressively negotiate and tenaciously litigate for the rights of clients who have suffered catastrophic injuries.

We place your needs first and foremost. Our experience and skill are responsible for our record of success in personal injury cases. The award-winning attorneys of Harris Keenan & Goldfarb are recognized as being among the leading attorneys in New York. Several of our lawyers have been designated as Super Lawyers.

This designation is given to attorneys who have met high standards within their field. The attorney goes through a rigorous selection and evaluation process. The selection committee may then designate them as Super Lawyers.

Million dollar advocates

Attorneys at Harris Keenan & Goldfarb have also become members of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. Attorneys in the Forum are chosen after they have demonstrated skill, experience, and excellence in advocacy. This is demonstrated by consistently winning million and multimillion-dollar verdicts and settlements.

Call our office today at 800-724-6529 to schedule your confidential consultation with an attorney who will aggressively fight for your rights and seek fair compensation to cover the cost of your catastrophic injury.

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New York Catastrophic Injury Lawyer

What are Catastrophic Injuries?

Outside the legal and medical community, the definition of” catastrophic” can vary. However, for legal purposes, a catastrophic injury is a life-changing injury that affects both the individual and their family members and loved ones. 

These injuries can shorten life expectancy, diminish the quality of life, and cause chronic pain. Individuals may also experience a permanent disability that prevents them from performing some of the simplest daily tasks. 

Several common types of injuries fall under this umbrella term, including:

Traumatic brain injury

Brain injuries happen on a continuum. In other words, there are mild forms and severe forms of traumatic brain injury. A concussion is a mild form of traumatic brain injury. Moderate and severe forms can cause long-lasting damage and affect nearly every function of the body. Symptoms of a moderate or severe brain injury will be apparent immediately. If a brain injury is suspected, it is critical to seek immediate medical attention.

Facial and skull fractures

Facial trauma can cause nerve damage, blindness, limited mobility of the jaw, and disfigurement. In severe cases of trauma to the head and neck, an individual may have difficulty breathing or experience severe bleeding.

Spinal cord injuries

Several types of spinal cord injury can occur in an accident. An individual could experience paralysis below the level of the injury to the spinal cord. Depending upon where the injury occurs, a person may suffer the loss of movement in their arms and legs or just their legs. A partial injury can cause hemiparesis. In this case, the left half or the right half of the body may experience weakness and tingling or complete paralysis.

Neck injuries

Injuries to the neck will affect muscles, tendons, and ligaments. This can reduce movement and result in a loss of range of motion with accompanying painful muscle spasms. This type of injury can have a significant effect on an individual's ability to work and drive. It can also affect the ability to perform tasks of daily living, such as taking a shower or fixing the bed.


Disfigurement of any part of the body can result in severe physical pain. It may also cause diminished quality of life, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life.

Multiple broken bones

Depending on the force of the break, fractures can be mild, moderate, or severe. The healing process is also affected by the age of the individual and the overall health of the person whose bone has been broken. Broken bones can be open or closed wounds. Open fractures occur when the bone is sticking through the skin. This requires surgical repair, called an “open reduction,” and internal fixation will keep the bone in its proper place using metal rods and screws. A closed break may be able to be set without surgical intervention.

Loss of limb

During an accident, an individual may experience a traumatic amputation or may require an amputation as treatment. This can occur when a limb is crushed so significantly that healing is highly unlikely.

Loss of eyesight or loss of hearing

The inability to hear or see requires life-changing adjustments. It may necessitate finding a new job, giving up previously enjoyed activities, and require retraining and re-education to continue to live independently.

Fatal injuries

Death has also been designated a catastrophic injury.

Why Do You Need a New York Catastrophic Injury Attorney?

Nearly every individual with a catastrophic injury will require hospitalization immediately after the accident. You might be entitled to compensation if you suffered a catastrophic injury due to someone else’s negligent behavior. 

However, the at-fault party’s insurance company wants to protect its financial assets and is unwilling to hand out fair compensation without negotiation. Insurance companies are well-represented by experienced attorneys and skilled insurance adjusters. 

Adjusters are adept at determining your level of expertise in the law and taking advantage of your inexperience. An insurance adjuster may approach you within days after the accident when you are vulnerable and in the hospital. They may want you to make a statement, give them a recorded statement, or they might immediately offer you a lump sum settlement. 

Do not speak to the insurance adjuster

You mustn’t speak with an insurance adjuster without your attorney present. Insurance adjusters are looking for information about the accident that can prove you were at fault. When you talk to an insurance adjuster without legal representation, you may inadvertently say something that can negatively affect your case. 

The legal team at Harris Keenan & Goldfarb understands the financial, emotional, mental, and psychological burden after a significant accident. Our mission is to ensure that you have appropriate legal representation, that your rights are protected, and that you receive fair compensation for your injuries. 

We negotiate with the at-fault party’s insurance company or gather evidence to support your claim in court so that you can spend your time and energy recovering from your injuries.

How Long Do You Have to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Every state has a law that limits the amount of time during which you can file a personal injury lawsuit. This is called the statute of limitations. In New York, the statute of limitations for a personal injury lawsuit dictates a three-year time period. If you do not file your lawsuit within three years of your accident, you relinquish the right to hold the at-fault party accountable.

Three years can sound like a long time. However, negotiating with an insurance company or filing a personal injury lawsuit can take months. In addition, it can take months or years to recover from a catastrophic injury fully. Many people do not regain total function but must undergo rehabilitation to learn how to perform daily tasks with limited physical mobility, hearing, or sight.

Each of these factors can create a situation where you may not file a personal injury lawsuit in enough time to recover compensation for the damages you incurred at someone else’s hands. While we understand that no amount of money can compensate for your loss of physical function, it can help ease the financial burden of catastrophic injuries.

Types of Accidents That Can Cause Catastrophic Injury

A catastrophic injury can happen in many types of accidents. Car accidents may be one of the largest causes, especially when your vehicle collides with a large commercial truck. Other causes of severe and catastrophic injuries include:

What Are the Long-Term Consequences of Catastrophic Injury?

A catastrophic injury has life-changing consequences. But what exactly does that mean? The long-term effects of a catastrophic injury can be experienced in many different facets of life. Nearly everyone with a catastrophic injury will have mounting medical bills and lost wages. 

Extensive treatment and therapies are required to save your life and offer you the best chance at rehabilitation to become independent. These treatments include surgery, medications, physical therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy. You may require bracing or a wheelchair for mobility; some require lifelong help at home.

 These monumental financial expenses are just one way a catastrophic injury can affect your life.

Financial hardship

This is nearly always one of the underlying hardships that are a consequence of catastrophic injury. Your injury may require lifelong medical care, which can get incredibly expensive. This can lead to mounting medical debt.


Your injuries may not allow you to return to the job you had before the accident. You might not be able to complete your duties at work, and no amount of rehabilitation or rest can make that happen. In legal terms, an injury is catastrophic if it prevents you from holding gainful employment. This contributes to financial hardship since you're unable to earn an income that allows you to live comfortably.

Physical disability

“Lifelong consequences” often means that a catastrophic injury will cause permanent physical disabilities. For example, an amputation, spinal cord injury, or traumatic brain injury will cause significant and permanent disability that requires the assistance of external medical devices or home care.

Doctor’s notes

Your attorney will obtain your medical records, and these should have notations by the doctor if anything unusual or hazardous happened during the delivery. Any communications between the doctor and other staff should also be noted in these notes. If fetal distress was recorded but not passed along to the doctor, then the negligence occurred due to lack of communication.

Mental disability

Catastrophic injury can either directly affect the structure and function of the brain, such as a traumatic brain injury, or can trigger mental health difficulties after experiencing a traumatic event. Blunt force trauma to the brain may result in:

Following a traumatic event that causes a catastrophic injury, a person may also suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It happens to people who have witnessed or experienced a traumatic event. 

People who have PTSD suffer from intense and disturbing thoughts and feelings that are related to the traumatic event. They might relive the event through flashbacks or nightmares and feel detached or estranged from their friends and family. 

Commonly, people with PTSD avoid situations that remind them of their experiences. Thus, an individual who suffered a catastrophic injury during a car accident with a commercial truck may avoid driving on the highway or avoid cars altogether.

What Is My Case Worth?

The compensation you may be paid depends on a wide range of factors. When the insurance company does not negotiate fair compensation for your injuries, we are prepared to litigate your case in court aggressively. 

The availability of insurance coverage also plays a role in your compensation. Since treating a catastrophic injury is expensive, we work hard to identify all responsible parties and available coverage to ensure that you receive compensation for your injuries and that your accident-related medical expenses and other costs will be covered. 

New York state law allows multiple parties to share responsibility for your injury. Our legal team fights hard to hold every at-fault party fully accountable to maximize your financial recovery. 

Some of the factors that can influence the value of your case include:

What Type of Compensation Is Available?

After a catastrophic injury, you should speak with a personal injury attorney from Harris Keenan & Goldfarb. We can help determine the type of compensation you may be owed. While it is difficult to value your case, with our vast experience in this type of accident, we can assess what the insurance company or companies may be liable to pay. 

Compensation is broken up into two categories: economic and non-economic compensation. Economic costs are concrete and tangible expenses for which you have receipts. Non-economic costs are subjective losses that you suffered from the accident. In many cases, you may be compensated for economic and non-economic damages after a catastrophic injury.

Economic damages

Your award of economic damages might include: 

Medical expenses

These are costs you incur after the injury that are related to the accident. These medical costs can include bills from your primary care physician, medical specialists, physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, bracing, and home care. They also include any prescription medications and psychological therapy that may be necessary to help you cope with PTSD, depression, or anxiety that resulted from the accident.

Compensation for medical expenses does not cover any pre-existing condition from before the accident. For example, if you had high blood pressure before the accident, compensation will not usually be awarded to cover physician visits and treatment for high blood pressure. However, if you develop high blood pressure after the accident that your physician believes is due directly to the accident or if your physician documents that the accident exacerbated your pre-existing high blood pressure, this can be included in medical expenses.

Permanent disability

A permanent disability may require future care that is not covered under medical expenses. For example, you may require modifications to your home and vehicle, consistent rehabilitation, long-term residential care, or in-home assistance. These expenses may also be covered as economic compensation.

Lost wages

You are entitled to compensation to cover your lost wages when you are unable to return to work after a catastrophic injury. This coverage can include the time you're off work to treat your injury and any additional time you’ll lose if you're unable to return to your pre-accident job.

Lost future earning capacity

The court may also award compensation for lost earning capacity that results from the catastrophic injury. For example, if you were a surgeon who is unable to return to your previous employment and must take a job with a lower earning capacity, the court may award you compensation for the difference.

Property damage

During a significant accident, your property may have been damaged or destroyed. For example, during a catastrophic accident with a commercial truck, your vehicle may have been totaled.

Economic damages

These damages can include payment for the following:

Pain and suffering

The court might award you non-economic damages that attempt to compensate you for the pain, emotional distress, or worsening of prior injuries that happen with a catastrophic injury.

Loss of enjoyment of life

The legal definition for loss of enjoyment of life is different from the general definition. When you are unable to do certain things that you could do before you were hurt, the court might award damages for your loss of enjoyment of life. This can happen when you have lost function or have pain that directly stems from the catastrophic injury.

Loss of Consortium

When the accident and injuries have a negative impact on your relationships and sexual function, the court can award damages for loss of consortium.

Call Harris Keenan & Goldfarb Today for Help After a Catastrophic Injury

If you were injured in a New York accident and suffered catastrophic injuries, you need an experienced and skilled attorney to represent your rights and fight for fair compensation. The award-winning attorneys of Harris Keenan & Goldfarb understand the financial, emotional, mental, and psychological burden that happens with catastrophic injuries. 

Our team comprises skilled negotiators and aggressive litigators with a successful track record in representing clients just like you. Call our office today at 800-724-6529 to schedule your confidential consultation. You can also fill out our intake form, and a member of our team will call you.


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