Catastrophic injuries permanently change the lives of those who suffer from them. They may involve paralysis, brain trauma, amputation, disfigurement, and broken or fractured bones. Someone who suffers catastrophic injuries may face challenges that they could not have previously imagined. In addition to lost income and medical expenses, they may need vocational rehabilitation, counseling, household services, or even lifelong care. If you have been hurt due to someone else's negligence or wrongdoing, you may be able to recover damages with the assistance of Detroit, Traverse City, and Grand Rapids catastrophic injury lawyer Kelly Neumann. At Neumann Law Group, we can help you navigate the difficult process of bringing a civil lawsuit against the at-fault party.Proving Liability for a Catastrophic Injury
In order to establish negligence, a personal injury plaintiff will need to establish each of the following elements by a preponderance of the evidence:
- the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care;
- the defendant breached that duty;
- the defendant’s breach actually and proximately caused the plaintiff’s injuries; and
- the plaintiff suffered actual damages.
The "preponderance of the evidence" standard is a relatively lenient standard of proof that generally means that the plaintiff’s evidence established that an element was “more likely than not” met. While these elements can be shown in a straightforward manner in some cases, they sometimes require the assistance of an expert. For example, in a car accident case involving catastrophic injuries, the plaintiff may need to retain an accident reconstruction expert to show how the sequence of events unfolded.Comparative Fault Laws in Michigan
Sometimes, catastrophic injuries are the fault of both the plaintiff and the defendant. The defendant's insurer will likely try to pin as much blame on the plaintiff as possible to try to avoid paying the full damages sought by the plaintiff.
Michigan is a modified comparative negligence state. This means that for economic damages, the award will be reduced proportionately to the plaintiff's negligence. Economic damages are tangible, documented damages, such as medical bills and lost earnings. However, for noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering or mental anguish, the plaintiff must be no more than 50% responsible for the accident to recover these types of damages.Catastrophic Injury Cases Involving Multiple Parties
Some catastrophic injuries arise out of the negligence of multiple parties. For example, a truck accident may be the fault of the truck driver, the trucking company, and the third party that loaded the truck. In general, a defendant may be held "severally liable" for any damages attributable to that defendant. Any joint tortfeasor has a right of contribution against the other joint tortfeasors. Moreover, if a partial settlement is reached in a case involving joint and several liability among multiple defendants, the non-settling defendants get the benefit of an offset in the amount of the settlement.
However, in medical malpractice cases, the doctrine of joint and several liability applies. This means that any single defendant, regardless of that party’s degree of fault, may be responsible for satisfying the entire judgment.Enlist the Help of a Traverse City Catastrophic Injury Lawyer
If you or a loved one recently experienced a catastrophic injury, it is likely that your life has been dramatically and permanently altered as a result. However, through a catastrophic injury lawsuit, you may be able to recover meaningful compensation to help you overcome your accident-related expenses. As an award-winning Detroit, Grand Rapids, and Traverse City catastrophic injury attorney, Kelly Neumann has consistently secured more than $3 million in personal injury cases each year over the past several years. Attorney Neumann and the experienced serious injury lawyers at the Neumann Law Group assist victims in Petoskey, Warren, Holland, Midland, Muskegon, Saginaw, Wyoming, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Flint, and Ann Arbor, as well as in communities throughout the Upper Peninsula. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation today, give the Traverse City personal injury lawyers at the Neumann Law Group a call at 800-525-6386. You can also connect with us through our online contact form. Calling is free, and we will not bill you for our services unless and until we can connect you with the compensation you deserve.