What to Expect in a Catastrophic Injury Claim


In a nutshell, these victims can expect high medical bills and a final settlement. Catastrophic (life-threatening) injuries are expensive. The average economic losses in such situations, mostly medical bills, exceed $150,000. This figure does not include lost enjoyment in life and other noneconomic losses. When these cases go to court, they eventually settle out of court, at least in almost all cases. However, “eventually” can be a very long time.

A Columbia catastrophic injury lawyer addresses needs in both areas. Lawyers connect victims with doctors who charge nothing upfront for their help. Furthermore, attorneys usually negotiate with medical providers and convince them to reduce their bills. Once the medical bill issue is settled, attorneys turn their attention to negotiating with insurance companies. Well-prepared and tenacious lawyers almost always obtain maximum compensation in these cases.

Catastrophic Injuries and Medical Bills

Car crashes, which kill or seriously injure millions of Americans every year, cause most of the catastrophic injuries in South Carolina. The medical bills in these cases, and insurance company opposition to these bills, usually come in several categories:

  • Transportation: If a car crash occurs close to a large regional trauma center, emergency responders might dispatch a surface ambulance. But many times, car crashes happen in remote areas, and emergency responders dispatch much more expensive medevac helicopters. Insurance adjusters rarely approve transportation upgrades.
  • Emergency Treatment: When doctors evaluate victims, they usually aggressively intervene to address their catastrophic injuries. This intervention usually means multiple corrective surgeries. Insurance adjusters often claim that a more conservative, and less expensive, treatment approach would have been just as effective.
  • Follow Up Care: As victims recover, they usually rely heavily on prescription drugs and medical devices. Most people don’t realize how expensive these items are, since a group health insurance company usually pays most or all of the cost. Insurance adjusters often say that the doctor was overly cautious and the recovery period was unreasonably long.
  • Physical Therapy: Adjusters make the same basic argument in this final area of medical bills. Adjusters often use actuarial tables to approve PT (e.g. X injury in Y location means Z number of sessions). But not everyone responds to PT at the same pace.

Other catastrophic injury categories include falls and swimming pool drownings. A fall from as little as four stories above ground is usually fatal. Furthermore, a few minutes under the water’s surface usually causes a permanent and catastrophic brain injury.

Injury Settlements

We mentioned medical bill reduction above. A Columbia personal injury lawyer often makes such reductions part of an injury settlement. South Carolina has a very complex collateral source rule. In some cases, if Joe’s lawyer reduces his medical bills from $100,000 to $80,000, he might get to keep the extra $20,000.

Because of these complexities, meaningful settlement negotiations cannot begin until medical treatment is at least substantially complete and the final bills are mostly in.

Usually, catastrophic injury claims settle toward the end of the litigation process, during mediation. Since a third-party mediator ensures that both sides negotiate in good faith, civil mediation in South Carolina is about 90 percent successful.

Mediation follows discovery, which is an evidence exchange process. Therefore, if a case settles too early, the best evidence, and therefore maximum compensation, might be unavailable.

Connect with a Dedicated Richland County Lawyer

Injury victims are entitled to significant compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Columbia, contact the Marc Brown Law Firm. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters.