“Serious personal injury” has several different meanings in Nebraska legal matters. It is worth speaking to a lawyer as soon as possible if you suffer any injury with long-term or permanent effects due to the negligence of another.
A personal injury attorney at Hauptman, O’Brien, Wolf & Lathrop will strive to understand the seriousness of your injuries and accurately quantify the damages to which you are entitled. This may include compensation for your losses to date, as well as any damages you will face in the future.
If you or someone you love has sustained a serious personal injury, our attorneys can help. Call Hauptman, O’Brien, Wolf & Lathrop at (402) 241-5020 today for a FREE case review.
How Is Serious Personal Injury Defined?
Nebraska law defines the related term “serious bodily injury” as follows:
“Serious bodily injury shall mean bodily injury which involves a substantial risk of death, or which involves substantial risk of serious permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any part or organ of the body”– Nebraska Revised Statute 28-109
This statute refers specifically to the Nebraska Criminal Code, not civil matters like personal injury. However, the definition does provide a helpful framework for determining what makes an injury serious in other legal contexts.
What Qualifies as a Serious Injury?
In general terms, a serious personal injury is often thought of as a catastrophic injury. While there is no statutory definition in Nebraska for “catastrophic injury,” these injuries are generally understood to result in prolonged or permanent impairment and/or scarring and disfigurement. In extreme cases, a catastrophic injury may also put the victim’s life in jeopardy.
Examples of a serious injury include:
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Spinal Cord Injury
- Amputation or Loss of a Limb
- Severe Burn Injury
- Compound and Complex Bone Fractures
- Internal Organ Damage
- Loss of Vision or Hearing
A personal injury attorney will take multiple factors into account when evaluating the seriousness of your injury. This includes the nature and severity of the physical harm, the long-term impact on the plaintiff’s life, and the full extent of current and future damages.
It is important to consult a personal injury attorney who can assess the specific circumstances. An experienced lawyer will be able to determine what evidence is needed to prove the seriousness of your injuries. This may include medical records, expert witness testimony, and more.
What Does a Serious Injury Look Like?
No two injuries are exactly the same. Some people are able to make a complete recovery following a serious accident, while others suffer injuries that change their lives forever.
Serious injuries tend to have a few things in common:
- The pain and other symptoms associated with the injury are long-lasting, if not permanent.
- Extensive medical treatment is typically required, both immediately following the injury and afterward.
- Recovery from a serious injury will usually reach a point where further medical intervention will not result in additional improvement. This is known as “maximum medical improvement.”
- Ongoing care is generally necessary—often for the rest of the victim’s life.
- Victims generally lose the ability to work and/or live on their own.
Furthermore, damages tend to be much higher in a serious personal injury case than they are in cases where the victim partially or fully recovers. This is due to the expenses associated with treating a serious injury, as well as the substantial loss of income and earning capacity, pain and suffering, and other losses.
Although every case is unique, the following examples illustrate what a serious injury generally looks like:
Whether it occurs due to a blow to the head (often seen in car accidents) or as a result of oxygen deprivation (commonly seen in medical malpractice cases), brain damage should always be taken seriously. A serious brain injury may result in the following:
- Cognitive impairments, such as memory problems, impaired reasoning, difficulty with concentration, and altered thinking abilities
- Physical limitations such as weakness, paralysis, loss of coordination, etc.
- Emotional and behavioral changes, including mood swings, irritability, depression, anxiety, and even changes in personality
- Speech and language difficulties
- Changes in sensory perception, including vision and hearing problems
- Seizure disorders
- Coma; the prognosis for coma patients is uncertain until consciousness is regained
The specific symptoms and consequences of a serious brain injury can vary widely depending on the location and extent of the damage, as well as the victim’s age and overall health. Both moderate and severe brain injuries can result in long-term consequences affecting one’s quality of life and functional abilities.
Read More: How Do I Know If I Have a Brain Injury?
Paralysis is the most serious outcome associated with an injury to the spinal cord. Depending on the location and severity of the injury, paralysis from the waist down (paraplegia) or neck down (quadriplegia/tetraplegia) may be irreversible.
Other circumstances where a spinal cord injury is typically considered serious or catastrophic include:
- Loss of sensation and/or altered sensory perceptions in the affected areas of the body
- Significant mobility limitations (i.e., being able to walk but requiring the use of a wheelchair or other mobility aid)
- Loss of the use of one or more limbs
- Disruption of normal bowel and bladder functions
- Respiratory difficulties (associated with high cervical spinal cord injuries)
- Muscle spasticity and atrophy in the affected areas
- Chronic pain due to nerve damage and musculoskeletal issues
Spinal cord injuries can also lead to serious complications such as infections, pressure sores, and changes in blood circulation. Furthermore, the psychological impact of a spinal cord injury can be profound, resulting in significant mental and emotional challenges.
Read More: What Are the Grades of a Spinal Cord Injury?
Third-degree burns are the most serious type of burn injury, damaging all layers of skin as well as underlying tissue. Serious burns can have long-lasting physical and psychological effects, including:
- Permanent scarring and disfigurement
- Reduced mobility due to contractures (the tightening of skin and tissues) that limit the range of motion
- Increased vulnerability to infections
- Nerve damage resulting in changes in sensation and function
- Emotional and psychological trauma
Serious burn injuries often require significant rehabilitation to regain function and mobility. In severe cases, complete recovery may not be possible.
Read More: Are Burn Injuries Permanent?
Get Help with Your Personal Injury Claim
A serious personal injury is difficult to manage on your own. In addition to the physical, financial, and psychological ramifications, the legal aspects of a personal injury claim involving serious or catastrophic injuries can be extremely challenging,
Hauptman, O’Brien, Wolf & Lathrop has been repeatedly voted the #1 personal injury law firm in Omaha. We are also the most experienced; our attorneys have been practicing personal injury law for a combined total of more than 230 years.
We are staunch advocates for those who have been injured by the negligence of others. Our firm understands the obstacles those with a serious personal injury face in trying to recover fair compensation. We have the knowledge, experience, and resources to overcome these hurdles and fight for the optimal result.
Contact Hauptman, O’Brien, Wolf & Lathrop today for a FREE case review. Our personal injury attorneys serve clients in Omaha, Sarpy County, and all of Nebraska, as well as neighboring Iowa.