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Federal law defines a catastrophic injury as one which permanently prevents an individual from working. Depending on the nature of the injury and whether you can prove another individual responsible for causing it, you may be entitled to compensation.
A Trenton catastrophic injury lawyer could help guide you through the legal process. New Jersey state law provides avenues to bring a civil claim for damages, and our experienced personal injury attorneys could put you in the best position to pursue your legal claim.
Bringing a Negligence Claim for a Catastrophic Injury
The most common type of legal claim that a plaintiff can bring for a personal injury, including catastrophic ones, is one based on negligence. Negligence is the legal standard that allows a plaintiff to bring a suit against a defendant for damages because he or she acted recklessly or carelessly.
New Jersey courts require plaintiffs to prove the following elements of legal negligence to be eligible for damages:
- The defendant had a duty to act reasonably under the circumstances
- The defendant breached his or her duty of care
- The breach was a cause in fact and proximate cause of the accident which
- The plaintiff suffered physical or financial damages as a result of the accident
In general, a civil court would consider what a reasonable person would have done under the same or similar circumstances. If a defendant did not act like a reasonable person and caused an accident as a result, he or she may have been legally negligent, and a Trenton catastrophic injury attorney could work to pursue appropriate damages from him or her on behalf of an injured plaintiff.
The Importance of Proximate Cause and Cause in Fact
In a catastrophic injury case, you must show that the defendant’s actions were a cause in fact and a proximate cause of your injuries. Cause in fact is the requirement that the defendant’s actions caused the damage and no other factor was a cause. Stated another way, you would not have been injured but for the defendant’s negligent act.
In addition to cause, in fact, the defendant’s breach of duty must be a proximate cause of your injury. Proximate cause means that the accident in question was a foreseeable outcome of the defendant’s negligence. If an injury is so unpredictable or bizarre that it was not foreseeable, the proximate cause may not be present.
Whether the harm stemming from an accident was foreseeable can be critical when the resulting injuries are extreme. A catastrophic injury lawyer in Trenton could have the expertise necessary to help prove this aspect of your claim.
Potential Recoverable Damages
To recover civil compensation, a plaintiff must show he or she suffered real damages, or costs, due to the defendant’s negligence. You may claim two types of injuries in a civil case: compensatory damages and punitive damages.
Compensatory damages are the direct damages that the plaintiff has suffered. These include both pain and suffering and financial costs, such as medical bills and loss of income.
In addition, the court may award punitive damages in rare cases explicitly to punish the defendant. Under New Jersey Revised Statutes §2A:15-5.12, the plaintiff may claim losses up to five times more than the compensable damages awarded or $350,000, whichever is larger. However, courts usually only grant punitive damage if the defendant acted grossly negligent or intentionally. For more information about punitive damages, reach out to a knowledgeable lawyer.
Call a Trenton Catastrophic Accident Attorney Today
Severe injuries can burden families with enormous financial strain due to lost income, in addition to the stress and pain that accompanies a severe injury. Fortunately, the legal system offers numerous options for those who have suffered a catastrophic injury to pursue compensation.
A Trenton catastrophic injury lawyer could put you in the best position to advocate for your claim. Time is of the essence for considering your legal options, so call today to learn more about yours.