What is Catastrophic Injury?

What is Catastrophic Injury?

We hear a lot of plaintiff lawyers in car accident cases. What about the defenses’ perspective?  The first issue involves the service of a catastrophic-injury matter. Essentially, the timing of service dramatically impacts the response to the Complaint. Timing is critical because a plaintiff may be able to delay service, making it more difficult for the defendant to respond to the Complaint.

For instance, if there is a court that pushes all cases for a trial within a year, service can be effectively delayed for 60 days. With the 75-day summary-judgment statute, a business attorney San Diego must know the timing from the outset. A catastrophic case must be responded to immediately, not only with a responsive pleading but also with discovery, to identify the nature and scope of the claimed damages. Moreover, unique to the catastrophic case is that there must be a great emphasis on damage discovery.

Typically, the Nakase Law Firm, Inc., a San Diego car accident attorney will focus on the liability phase and delay discovery as to damages. But with a catastrophic case, damages must be a primary focus of the immediate investigation. Any delay to damage discovery can impair the defense position on the issue.

The defense perspective is mainly different from the plaintiff’s perspective. Not only is there typically a detailed budget provided to the carrier (when available) concerning what the future course would likely entail, there needs to be a discovery plan in place at the outset of the representation. Written discovery through interrogatories, requests for admission, and production demands must be immediate. Although professional courtesy dictates reasonable extensions, this cannot be delayed for an extended period in a catastrophic case. Moreover, subpoenas must be rapidly issued once the responses are obtained to those healthcare providers identified in the answers to discovery. Any lengthy postponement regarding responses or the issuance of subpoenas creates a growing problem for the defense. Catastrophic cases are essentially expert dependent on the extent of the damage analysis. The reason is an enormous disadvantage if the plaintiff is allowed to challenge the defense experts for not having enough information or reading thousands of medical records two hours before their deposition. Other than the typical interrogatories, the focus must be on scheduling the independent medical examinations.

Under general car accident law, One area that could and likely will be subject to dispute involves the degree and extent of the examination, particularly mental examination break downs ere is going to be a dispute, i.e., whether the plaintiff team can have a representative present, or whether there will be testing must be resolved rapidly.

A significant advantage of a plaintiff team is the apparent control over their client. For instance, in important cases in which the mental health of the plaintiff is an issue, the plaintiff’s attorney can have their client sits for the armor of mental examinations with the primary concern being cost but not time.

For the defense, the plaintiff’s attorney can try to try to block extensive examination and testing as invasive or excessively damaging to the plaintiff. I wish frankly I had kept every letter from one of my worthy adversaries which reads something along these lines: “Your clients have already destroyed Ms. Smith’s life; now you want to do it again with two days of testing? No chance.” However, depending on the type of case, the defense must pursue such recourse when evaluating whether such testing may advance the defense position.

Expert retention and preparation The role of the experts is obviously of critical import. Two separate experts will likely be considered in assessing and determining the future and past loss damage claim: the vocational rehabilitation expert and the forensic economist.

Further, the defense will utilize the services of case-specific experts regarding the purported liability and causation and consider the possible retention of a life-care planner.

As to the retention of an economist, the defense’s determination is potentially different than that of a plaintiff’s expert. A defense economist can hurt the defense case if their report ends up numerically similar to the plaintiff expert. However, from the defense perspective, the economist and the relationship to the plaintiff’s firm sheds light on a potential posture. Suppose an economist reconnects with the plaintiff’s firm is well-known to the defense. In that case, it is typically likely that the economist retained by the plaintiff may have a more extensive purported damage calculation. This may further increase the defense’s desire to obtain its economist.

To that end, from the defense perspective, depositions of the plaintiff expert should predate the defense experts. A plaintiff’s report is relatively constant: an evaluation of past and future loss; however, the defense opinion will likely attempt to challenge the plaintiff’s conclusions. 


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