California Catastrophic Injury Attorneys
Seasoned Los Angeles litigators for clients facing life-altering injuries from medical malpractice and the wrongdoing of others
If you or someone you care about has sustained a catastrophic injury because of medical negligence, accidents, wrongdoing of other individuals or corporate malfeasance, the experienced California attorneys at Heimberg Barr LLP are here to protect your rights. The attorneys understand how to value the short and long-term costs of living with the consequences of a catastrophic injury. The firm is prepared to meet with you and discuss your case in a free consultation. Contact the firm to learn more.
What makes an injury catastrophic?
An injury is deemed catastrophic when it alters a person’s life forever. A catastrophic injury can be permanent and requires ongoing medical and attendant care for the rest of a patient’s life.
Examples of catastrophic injuries from medical negligence or other wrongful conduct
Whether it was because of the medical professional’s inattention, impairment from alcohol or drugs, inexperience, inattention or any other cause, a preventable medical error, wrongful conduct by healthcare professionals can have a devastating impact. Here are some examples of catastrophic injuries:
- Spinal cord injuries and/or paralysis. Medical negligence can cause a spinal cord injury when a doctor fails to diagnose a medical condition in the spine such as a tumor, makes a surgical mistake, or delays performing a procedure.
- Brain injury. A brain injury can be the result of medical negligence in cases such as misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis of stroke or heart attack, medication error, untreated brain infection, failure to intubate correctly, oxygen deprivation, or a surgical mistake during brain surgery, or it can also occur through traumatic events typically involving injury to the head.
- Severe burns. Third-degree burns which cover large areas of the body can be prone to infection, bone and joint constriction, scarring and scar tissue which can restrict movement and mobility. Radiation burns from cancer treatment, or internal damage from medical devices, can be the result of medical negligence.
- Birth Injuries. Injuries sustained during labor and delivery such as hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) or cerebral palsy can have lifelong consequences for your child and for you.
- Surgical errors. Preventable errors during surgery can cause organ damage, brain damage, paralysis, infections, and other devastating injuries.
- Anesthesia failures. Errors made in administering anesthesia before and during a surgical procedure can cause permanent brain damage and death.
- Medication errors. Also called adverse drug events, about half of medication errors are preventable and can cause irreparable harm or death to a patient.
- Wrongful death. Many of these tragic accidents, preventable medical mistakes or other wrongdoings could potentially cause the death of a patient, which may leave relatives with grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit.
What damages are available in a medical malpractice claim?
If you are successful in proving liability after a medical malpractice claim, you will be able to recover compensation which may come in the form of a settlement or jury verdict. The following are different types of damages:
- Past, current, and future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Diminished earning capacity
- Loss of household services
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
Your award will depend on the factors of your claim. Due to the breadth of the impact of a catastrophic injury, damages tend to be higher than one might see in other injury cases. When the average person sees a verdict for a catastrophic injury case that is in the multimillion-dollar range, he or she might think that the injured person has recovered a windfall of money. But in practical terms, that money must cover the victim’s costly medical bills for the ongoing medical treatment they will require for the rest of their lives. It will also cover lost income for the rest of their lives because the injury prevents them from working.
While a significant settlement or jury verdict for a life-altering injury can help secure a person’s future, no amount of money will take the injury away. The L.A. medical malpractice attorneys of Heimberg Barr LLP understand that the compensation you seek will help you protect your family as you adjust to your new normal.
In California, Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) limits the recovery of damages in medical malpractice cases including capping non-economic damages to a maximum of $250,000 cap, permitting medical defendants to pay judgments in periodic payments, and allowing medical defendants to introduce evidence of health insurance and other benefits to reduce the damages they have to pay.
Assume a person suffers a spinal cord injury and is rendered a quadriplegic for the remainder of his/her life because of the negligence of a medical professional.
Assume the person incurred medical expenses of $5 million, paid for by his/her health insurance except for a $50,000 deductible.
Assume the person was awarded a total of $15 million in trial for $5 million in medical expenses and $10 million in non-economic damages for the loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement, and pain and suffering.
Because of the drastic and profoundly unfair effects of MICRA, the $15 million award may be reduced to as little as $300,000 because the MICRA cap on non-economic damages will reduce the $10 million non-economic damages award to $250,000, and the medical expense recovery of $5 million will be set off by the health insurance payments leaving only the $50,000 plaintiff paid for deductible.
These real-life scenarios underscore the importance of having an attorney who know how best to circumvent/limit the harsh effects of MICRA. Heimberg Barr LLP are the pre-eminent experts in the state on this topic and regularly lecture other attorneys in the field.
Life cycle of a lawsuit
The life cycle of a lawsuit involves several stages. Anyone contemplating legal action should be aware that it is often a lengthy process whether or not the case ultimately ends in trial. Described below is a general overview of what a typical lawsuit entails in California.
- Review. At Heimberg Barr LLP, we typically begin the process by securing and conducting an initial review of the medical records to determine whether there is an action to pursue.
- Investigation. Heimberg Barr LLP will then undertake a preliminary investigation by securing other necessary records, interviewing potential witnesses and consulting a relevant medical expert. Through each process, we continue to update our assessment as to whether the medical professional has breached the accepted standard of care.
- Notice of Intent. In a medical malpractice action (but not in other personal injury lawsuits), California law requires that you provide 90 days’ notice to the defendant (usually the doctor or hospital) of your intent to sue. Heimberg Barr LLP will send a letter to potential defendants setting forth the legal basis of the claim.
- Complaint. A complaint is the first document filed with the Court. A Complaint states the factual as well as legal basis for the claim. The complaint along with a summons must be served on a defendant, which provides notice to the defendant(s) of the lawsuit.
- Discovery. This is the entire process during a pending lawsuit in which the parties to the lawsuit obtain information from the other side through depositions, interrogatories (written questions and answers under oath), demands for production (documents, inspections), etc. The parties also conduct expert discovery which involves a similar process with medical and other experts who will offer opinions at trial. This process can last months or even years in some cases depending on the complexity of the case, and the nature and extent of disputes that arise in the process.
- Settlement Conference. The Court will at time order, or the parties will agree, to participate in a settlement conference at some point during a lawsuit to determine whether an agreement can be reached prior to trial. A mediator or a settlement officer will typically preside over the conference to assist the parties to the lawsuit.
- Trial. The case, consisting of witnesses, documents and other evidence, is presented to a jury and the factual questions and the final judgment are determined by a jury. At times, parties will proceed to a court trial where the case is presented to and the findings are decided by a Judge rather than a jury.
- Post-Trial. A case does not always end with the trial. There are steps that both sides may take regarding the judgment. The party who does not agree with the outcome of the trial may file post-trial motions (e.g., seeking a new trial, for judgment notwithstanding the verdict) or seek to appeal the result.
The accepted standard of care
Physicians, nurses, hospitals and other medical professionals hold the lives of their patients in their hands when they are treating their patients or performing surgery. Therefore, all physicians are held to a minimum standard of care under California law.
This does not mean that a mistake will automatically rise to the level of malpractice. Doctors are human and therefore fallible, and not all mistakes will lead to injury. However, if a medical professional’s careless or intentional conduct causes harm because he or she failed to meet the standard of care, then his or her conduct may be actionable malpractice.
If you are unsure whether negligence played a role in your injuries, contact the experienced attorneys at Heimberg Barr LLP.
How can a Los Angeles medical malpractice lawyer from Heimberg Barr LLP help?
When the negligence of a medical professional or the wrongdoing of another has caused you or someone you care about to suffer a catastrophic injury, you need all the assistance you can get. When a catastrophic injury leaves you without the ability to work and with tremendous medical bills, a medical malpractice claim may be your only option.
Heimberg Barr LLP attorneys will not only develop a compelling case which proves the negligence of another in causing your injury, but will also fight for compensation which will cover the ongoing medical expenses, home health care, and the loss of income caused by the injury. Senior Partner Steven Heimberg is both a physician and an attorney. He and Partner Marsha Barr-Fernandez bring over 50 years of experience successfully fighting for those injured because of medical and other negligence. Put this powerful legal team to work on your behalf.
Heimberg Barr LLP has been repeatedly recognized for their standout achievements and dedication to the practice of law. The firm was named the #1 Medical Malpractice firm by The National Law Journal and was honored as Top Tier attorneys in Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury by Best Lawyers and US News and World Reports. Partner Steven Heimberg has been named The Los Angeles Trial Lawyer of the Year, Lawyer of the Year in 2017 by Best Lawyers and The Wall Street Journal in both Personal Injury and Medical Practice and has been named Top 100 California Trial Lawyer for the ten straight years. Among other awards, Marsha Barr-Fernandez has been named Super Lawyer by the Los Angeles Magazine for nine years and Top 100 California Trial Lawyers for four consecutive years.
California medical malpractice attorneys protecting the catastrophically injured
Living with a catastrophic injury is difficult. Choosing the best L.A. medical malpractice lawyer for your needs should not be. Contact Heimberg Barr LLP to schedule a free consultation if you have sustained a catastrophic injury because of medical or other negligence. Heimberg Barr LLP represents clients in all of California. You can reach the firm at (213) 213-1500 or complete the contact form today.