What does it mean to suffer a ‘catastrophic’ injury? Most people understand it to mean a very severe, traumatic injury that has an ongoing impact on your life. It may result resulting in permanent disability which prevents you from ever working again and may also deprive you from enjoying other aspects of a full life. The psychological effects of such an injury can be equally debilitating.
In many cases there is also a major impact on your family, who may be placed in the role of your carer for the rest of your life. And there is the inevitable financial burden that accompanies the costs of medical treatment, ongoing care, home modifications to cater for your disability and much more.
What sort of injuries are catastrophic in nature? These might include:
- Spinal injuries that result in paraplegia, quadriplegia and tetraplegia;
- amputation or disfigurement caused by the injury;
- brain damage that results in lasting impairment to speech and other motor functions;
- psychological and psychiatric damage caused by your experience of the accident;
- other lasting injuries such as burns.
If your catastrophic injury was caused by the negligence of another – be it in the course of your employment, in a public place or from a motor vehicle accident, for example – you are likely entitled to compensation.
Catastrophic injury claims can be complicated and the guidance of a legal professional with expertise in this area is highly advised. Damages pay-outs for injuries of this nature can run into hundreds of thousands of dollars or more, taking into account an injured person’s medical expenses now and into the future, as well as lost income and other expenses associated with the injury.
What can you claim for?
If your ability to work and overall lifestyle has been badly impacted by a catastrophic injury, a claim to recover costs might cover:
- Past and future pain and suffering, a loss of enjoyment of life and reduced life expectancy as a result of the injury.
- Past and future medical treatment, including the costs of doctors, physiotherapy, surgery, scans, pharmaceutical, etc.
- Past and future loss of earnings and superannuation.
- Past and future aids such as a wheelchair, or home and car modifications.
- Past and future domestic services such as gardening, ironing, home and vehicle maintenance.
- Past and future care services, as well as past and future voluntary or gratuitous care services by family and friends.
How are these claims treated in Western Australia?
A claim for compensation as a result of sustaining a catastrophic injury will depend on how you sustained the injury and its severity. In Western Australia (WA), a number of statutory schemes exist to provide compensation depending on whether your claim arises from a motor vehicle accident, workers’ compensation or public liability.
WA’s Catastrophic Injuries Support (CIS) scheme, for example, was introduced in July 2016 and provides lifetime treatment, care and support for people catastrophically injured in motor vehicle crashes in Western Australia when they are unable to establish the fault of another driver.
If it’s difficult to prove another party’s negligence caused your catastrophic injury, your legal adviser will be able to check whether any of the insurance policies and superannuation accounts you may hold include Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) coverage, which can also be called on to financially assist you during recovery or rehabilitation.
The importance of good advice
In most personal injury claims, strict time limits after the accident apply in lodging your claim and so it’s important not to delay. Seeking legal advice from trusted legal professionals as early as possible after you sustain injury is essential. Evidence about how you sustained the injury, including any medical treatment at the time and in the aftermath can be crucial to a successful claim.
Dealing with the insurance companies involved in the statutory compensation schemes can also be challenging. The insurer may challenge your claim and/or take undue time in processing the claim, and this is where the experience of an expert compensation lawyer can prove invaluable.
Gajic Lawyers are specialists in personal injury. We have years of experience in claims related to a catastrophic injury, be it the result of a workplace injury, motor vehicle accident, public liability or medical negligence. We are also experts in Superannuation TPD claims. We take steps to try and finalise your claim as quickly as possible, and you will not be required to pay anything toward the preparation of your claim. Get in touch with our Perth office on 1800 413 755 today for an obligation-free consultation about your case.