What is Permanent Impairment in a Motor Vehicle Accident Case?
Car accidents vary in severity, as do the injuries that are caused by them. What happens when your injuries are so severe that you will never completely recover? Is there compensation available to you through insurance or the courts that will cover the expenses that you are going to be facing for the foreseeable future?
Understanding Permanent Disability
Permanent impairment, also known as permanent disability, is defined as the loss or limiting of function in a body part that can neither mend on its own or be repaired through the use of modern technology. It is very important when either seeking a settlement from the insurance company or recovering damages through a personal injury lawsuit that your permanent impairment is established and included in the damages. The reason for this is so that you can obtain enough money to cover the care and expenses that your injury will create throughout your life.
Types of Permanent Disabilities Suffered After an Auto Accident
Some permanent physical impairments are visible, such as the loss of a limb. However, others — such as a brain injury that produces cognitive defects although you are physically healthy otherwise — are harder to pinpoint. It is often necessary to prove that your injury is permanent through testimony from your doctor or other medical professionals. Types of permanent physical impairments that car accident victims suffer from include:
- Paralysis: As explained by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, paralysis is the loss of muscle function in a part of your body that is caused when something disrupts the messages between your brain and your muscles. Paralysis can be complete or partial and can occur in one or both sides of the body. A number of secondary conditions can result from paralysis, including loss of bowel, bladder, and sexual function, pressure sores, and respiratory complications.
- Amputation: Amputation is the removal of part or all of a limb or extremity, including an arm, leg, hand, foot, finger, or toe. Amputations are sometimes performed on car accident victims due to the severity of the injury to the limb. Below-the-knee leg amputations are the most common amputation procedures performed.
- Brain Injuries: More than half of all traumatic brain injuries are caused by car accidents. A traumatic brain injury occurs when any force fractures or penetrates the skull or causes the brain to collide with the skull. Severe brain injuries may require long-term care, as well as rehabilitation services to help with balance, coordination, and re-learning how to do daily activities.
- Spinal Cord Injuries: Spinal cord injuries include damage to the spinal column, spinal cord, vertebrae, ligaments, or discs. The severity of the injury is determined by whether there is any movement, feeling, or control of the limbs. A complete spinal cord injury is one where all motor and sensory function are lost below the injury, while an incomplete spinal cord injury is one where some sensory or motor function exists beneath the injury. Paralysis from a spinal cord injury includes tetraplegia (also known as quadriplegia), where the arms, legs, trunk, hands, and pelvic organs are all affected by the injury; or paraplegia, where all or part of the trunk, legs, and pelvic organs are affected by the injury.
Consequences of Permanent Disabilities
Having a permanent impairment can impact every part of your life and can result in the need for lifelong assistance with daily tasks. Some of the considerations you and your attorney must make when establishing a value for your case include:
- In-home assistance or care
- Future rehabilitation, therapy, and pain management that may extend years beyond the current medical bills you’re facing.
- Lost income and loss of future earning capacity if your injury renders you unable to work or unable to do the job that you had before the accident.
- Loss of enjoyment of life due to your permanent disability making it impossible for you to take part in the activities you enjoyed before the accident.
- Loss of companionship if your injury prevents you from enjoying social activities or having a physical relationship with your spouse.
Following a car accident, insurance companies are often quick to offer low-ball settlements for injuries that were caused by those who have policies with them. However, those settlements are seldom fair and fail to take into consideration the permanence of your injuries. An experienced personal injury attorney like Whalen Hersh can help you to understand the importance of considering your future needs when making your claim so that the additional expenses created by permanent impairments are covered. For your personal injury case involving a permanent disability, contact Whalen Hersh today.