LAWYERS FOR SERIOUS & CATASTROPHIC INJURIES
Feifel Gualazzi has vast experience assisting victims who have sustained some of the most catastrophic and serious injuries, including brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, amputations and fractures. Serious and catastrophic injuries impact not only individuals but their families as well. We are here to assist both, especially in those early and confusing days following injury.
The road to recovery is a long one, and we are here to assist you every step of the way, often beginning with the early days in hospital. Legal expertise in the area of catastrophic injuries is vital to achieve proper compensation. Catastrophic injuries pose unique challenges to any legal team and it is important to trust that your legal team is aware of just how to properly protect your rights and ensure you receive proper compensation for your injuries.
Serious injuries include:
- Catastrophic Injuries
Catastrophic injury has a special meaning and definition in law. The AMA (American Medical Association) 4th Edition definition is utilized in Ontario. An injured victim can be catastrophically injured if the person after an accident has a GCS (Glasgow Coma Scale) of 9 or under for a reasonable period of time or has a 55% whole body impairment. One can also meet the definition of being catastrophically impaired if a person has a severe emotional or psychological injury and has either a marked impairment on one or more of four spheres including work adaptation, activities of daily living, social functioning or concentration. Other tests apply based upon the GOS (Glasgow Outcome Scale) Class 5 for extreme impairment and special considerations are given to children. The percentage of a brain injury, other physical injuries, and emotional or psychological injury from a marked impairment can be added together to determine if the injured person has a 55% whole body impairment.
The determination of catastrophic impairment is extremely important because if the injured victim meets the definition, the insurance company responsible to pay no-fault accident benefits must pay up to $1,000,000 of medical-rehabilitation benefits for the injured person’s lifetime. In addition, if a person is determined to be catastrophic, housekeeping is paid for life, income benefits are paid for life, attendant care is payable up to $6,000 per month and is payable for life up to $1,000,000, which is over and above the $1,000,000 for medical-rehabilitation benefits.
- Brain Injuries (Head Injuries)
Visible injuries are easy for others to notice; however, in the case of a brain injury, this is not always the case. The “invisible” injury can be the most devastating injury for the victim and the family.
Brain injuries, sometimes referred to as the “invisible injury,” are often characterized as mild, moderate or severe. They are perhaps the most misunderstood and misdiagnosed injury but yet often have a devastating impact on not only the survivor but as well the survivor’s family and friends. Even a so-called “mild” brain injury, which is a misnomer, is a totally inadequate description of an injury that can prove to be life-altering for the injured person. Our team has represented numerous brain-injured individuals which include both adults and children. Depending on the degree of the injury, numerous healthcare professionals located both within the District of Algoma and outside of the District of Algoma come together to truly bring a team approach with the law firm being but one part of a much larger team to assist in the recovery of the victim and to integrate that individual to the greatest extent possible into society. One of our goals is to provide a lifetime of financial security in order for the survivor to have lifelong support with all possible resources that may be available.
We at Feifel Gualazzi recognize that our paramount consideration and goal is to assist in formulating a team of specialists from a wide spectrum of disciplines and professions so that the maximum recovery and quality of life can be achieved for our client and their family.
Numerous professionals, depending on the unique situation of each case, will be considered which would include catastrophic case management, individual rehabilitation plans, transferable skills analysis, job coach with vocational evaluations and labour market surveys, future care costs analysis, exercise program, anger management, independent living assessments, speech language pathologist, speech therapist, full-time tutor & assistance at both the elementary & high school level, attendant care, parenting courses, assessments with an audiologist, sleep clinic assessments, assistive devices & home modifications for possibly a new home, recreational therapy, assistance of a personal support worker & rehabilitation support worker and counselling with a social worker or psychologist with expertise in acquired brain injuries.
Children who have sustained an acquired brain injury could be attended by pediatric neurologist, pediatric psychiatrist, assessment by a neuropsychologist with expertise in dealing with infants & children, life skills assistance, assistive equipment for learning along with occupational therapy, development of an individual education program (IEP), assistance of an educational assistant, vocational assistance, cognitive aids and financial planner to provide money management.
The resolution of a claim involving an individual who has an acquired brain injury, and especially when dealing with children, is an extremely lengthy process. Our team strongly believes that a claim should never be resolved until our client has made the best possible recovery. When dealing with children, very often significant changes occur when the child enters the teenage years and becomes a young adult, which can result at that time in a severe change in personality, anger and other issues as a result of the brain injury.
It may be many years before a claim involving an individual who has sustained an acquired brain injury is resolved and indeed there may be situations where it is in the best interest of the survivor not to resolve the claim at all. Our goal is that once maximum recovery has been achieved through the assistance of the numerous healthcare professionals and other team members involved in the rehabilitation and integration of the injured person into society, final assessments will be obtained such as a future care cost and reports from an accountant/actuary and economist in order to properly quantify the injured person’s needs for the rest of his or her lifetime.
At that time, most often a structured settlement is obtained, which will provide an annuity for the lifetime of the injured person by paying monthly tax-free monies to the injured person or their representative to cover that individual’s potential losses for loss of income, pain and suffering, attendant care, ongoing treatments and medications, counseling, case management, and all other expenses that may occur during the lifetime of the injured person. With children or with an individual who is under a disability, there may be involvement by the office of the children’s lawyer through the public guardian/trustee. Court approval must be obtained to make sure that the settlement and resolution of the claim is truly in the best interest of the injured child or person under disability.
The District of Algoma is fortunate to have excellent resources available for individuals who have sustained an acquired brain injury. Information can be obtained from the Brain Injury Association of Sault Ste. Marie and District at 127-31 Old Garden River Road, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, P6B 5Y7, telephone number 705-946-0172; fax number 705-946-0594. Assistance can also be obtained from Karen McKinley, BSW, RSW/social worker/case coordinator of the Trauma Program with the Sault Area Hospital, 969 Queen Street East, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, P6A 2C4, telephone number 705-759-3434, ext. #5536.
- Spinal Cord Injuries (Quadriplegia & Paraplegia)
The spinal cord is extremely fragile, and damage to it as the result of a motor vehicle accident can result in paralysis, either paraplegia or quadriplegia. Paraplegia involves the lower portion of the body and the legs, and quadriplegia involves both arms and legs and usually the body. The degree of paralysis is dependent upon the area of the damage to the spine; the higher the injury means the greater the paralysis.
Becoming paralyzed as a result of a motor vehicle accident is life altering for the victim and the family. Feifel Gualazzi has extensive experience with spinal cord injury victims. The road to recovery is a long and complicated one that will require many health care and medical specialists along the way.
To lose a limb as a result of an accident has extensive lifestyle ramifications. We have experience dealing with the insurance companies in respect of the modifications which will undoubtedly need to be made to a vehicle, home, workplace, etc. We work to ensure all are done in a timely manner so that you may return to your home and to the most normal life possible.
[Glossary of Terms]