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Permanent injuries happen frequently. Unfortunately, these injuries can often have a profound effect on your life. Disfigurement, dismemberment, organ damage, and other severe injuries could persist for your entire life.
These injuries could impact both your ability to work and your quality of life. How do permanent injuries occur? Can you seek compensation for them? This guide will cover some of the most common types of permanent injuries that individuals face.
Almost any injury can cause lingering effects. But some injuries cannot be truly healed. Sometimes, this fact is evident from the nature of the injury alone, while other times, you may need a formal medical opinion to diagnose a permanent injury.
Some common examples of permanent injuries include:
Scars develop when the body rebuilds damaged tissue with collagen. This repairs the wound but can leave the skin:
Scars can happen after any type of skin damage that reaches the dermal layer under the epidermis. Scars are particularly common after:
Keloid scars are especially visible. These scars can cause permanent disfigurement and restrict movement due to the thickening and tightening of the scarred tissue.
Dismemberment occurs when you lose a body part. You might lose the body part to traumatic amputation, which happens when an accident severs the body part.
You could also sustain so much damage to a body part that doctors must perform an amputation to save your life.
For example, suppose that you get run over in a pedestrian accident. The impact could shatter bones and tear blood vessels. If doctors cannot repair the damage, they may amputate the limb to prevent you from bleeding to death.
Disfigurement occurs when your injuries cause a permanent change to your appearance. Disfigurement often occurs due to scarring.
However, it can also result from:
Even if plastic surgeons can reconstruct the structure of your face, you might not fully regain your original appearance after an accident.
Doctors have no way to repair severed nerves. Sometimes, the brain can remap signals to other nerves to restore some of the lost connections. But in most cases, doctors cannot cure a condition arising from severed nerves like paralysis.
Paralysis can result from spinal cord injuries. The spinal cord carries all of the nerves that connect the brain to the body. If your accident severed nerves in your spinal cord, you will likely suffer some paralysis.
The location of your injury will often determine where you experience paralysis. An injury to the lumbar spine in your back may result in paraplegia. With this condition, you will lose feeling and movement in your feet and legs. You might also lose bladder and bowel control.
An injury to the cervical spine in your neck can cause quadriplegia. You could lose feeling and movement in your body from the neck down, including your fingers, hands, and arms. In some cases, you might even lose control over your diaphragm, necessitating a ventilator to help you breathe.
Paralysis can also happen locally. A wrist injury could cause you to lose feeling and movement in your fingers and hand.
Some permanent injuries do not have any outward signs. For example, crushing injuries can cause tissue to die. This dead tissue releases toxins into your bloodstream that can result in kidney failure. Even though you may look fine on the outside, you will have lost the function of one or both of your kidneys.
Similarly, brain cells cannot regenerate. A traumatic brain injury can kill brain cells that are responsible for certain functions.
As a result, you could have permanent loss of functions like:
You can also lose the function of body parts. For example, muscle damage and atrophy can cause you to lose function in your arm.
Under some circumstances, chronic pain can be considered to be a permanent injury. That is, a body part could heal but still experience chronic pain.
For purposes of Social Security benefits, pain by itself is not a permanent disability. Instead, you need to identify a permanent injury or condition producing the pain to claim Social Security disability benefits. You will likely need a doctor’s opinion to identify the source of the pain, such as a nerve or brain injury.
For a personal injury or workers’ compensation claim, you will only need to prove a causal link between your original injury and your chronic pain to claim compensation.
The compensation you can seek for a permanent injury is usually significantly different from compensation for non-permanent injuries. Here are a few of the common kinds of compensation that injury victims claim:
New York uses a no-fault auto insurance system. This means your auto insurer will pay benefits after you are injured in a car accident. However, you can only receive $50,000 in benefits through your insurer.
If you can prove that you suffered a serious injury, New York excuses you from the no-fault system. At this point, you can seek compensation from the at-fault driver. The no-fault cap does not apply. You can also seek damages for pain and suffering.
Importantly, four types of permanent injuries qualify as “serious” under New York law:
If you suffer a permanent injury in a car accident, you could recover substantially more in economic damages and non-economic damages.
When you suffered an injury due to the negligence of a person or business, you can seek compensation. This compensation will cover your economic and non-economic losses.
When you suffer a permanent injury, you will likely have much larger economic damages. Your economic damages are calculated to cover your current and future medical expenses. Permanent injuries almost always require ongoing medical treatment.
Your economic damages include your future lost income and reduced earning capacity. If your permanent injury forces you to quit your job, take a lower-paying job, or cut your work hours, you can claim the income you will lose over the rest of your working life.
You could also claim substantial non-economic damages for a permanent injury. Non-economic damages compensate you for your diminished quality of life. A permanent injury could cause chronic pain and mental anguish. It could permanently deprive you of the activities you enjoy.
To discuss the compensation you can seek for your permanent injury, contact the Law Offices of Jay S. Knispel, LLC for a free consultation.
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