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Catastrophic or Fatal Work Accidents


Any injury has the potential to affect a person’s life. Even something minor can upset daily routines or be the source of pain or discomfort. However, at the other end of the spectrum, there exists a classification of physical injury that is severe and life-altering. These are catastrophic injuries, and they affect the person for the rest of their life, requiring them and their families to make significant adjustments to how they carry on day to day, often doing the simplest of tasks. They live lives marred by disability, physical or mental impaired function, or chronic pain.

Every year California sees construction accidents, car wrecks, slip and fall accidents, and manufacturing incidents that result in catastrophic injuries. All of the incidents that result in this classification of injury tend to share the same characteristics:

  • The incident involved a reckless or negligent act, and
  • Some else was the fault

At the Law Offices of Hussain & Gutierrez, we work with clients who have been hurt on the job, including catastrophic injuries. We are committed to helping our clients get the compensation that they deserve. Our knowledge, skill, and experience in California Workers Compensation mean that you can rest assured your case will be handled with the professionalism and dedication you deserve.

We offer a free consultation for injured workers or family members who have lost loved ones in a work-related incident.


Under California law, American citizens and undocumented immigrants are eligible to receive compensation for a catastrophic injury.

The way that the term is defined is more by the result than the cause. The result, the condition caused by the injury, leaves long-term or permanent impairment or is fatal. The person loses bodily function or cognitive function, and their quality of life is severely impacted.

Some of the more common conditions from these types of cases include:

  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Amputation
  • Loss of a limb
  • Herniated disks
  • Spinal cord damage
  • Fractured bones or joints
  • Severe burns
  • Back injuries that require surgery
  • Paralysis
    • Triplegia
    • Paraplegia
    • Tetraplegia
  • Scars
  • Crushing head injuries
  • Job-related illnesses
    • Cancer
    • HIV/AIDS
    • Lung Disease

While medical intervention can often save the life of a person who has experienced a catastrophic injury, it usually does not restore their full mobility, cognition, and health. The person and their family must then find and establish a new normal, relearning how to perform daily tasks that most people take for granted, like buttoning a shirt or pouring a cup of coffee. Some are no longer able to do these things for themselves and must have someone help them with even the most basic tasks.

These things put a strain on relationships as family members must learn this new normal while acting as a caregiver to their loved ones. Often the person requires therapeutic maintenance, ongoing medical care, and sometimes in-home nurses or caregivers. This would present a significant financial strain on the person and their family, especially if they were the primary breadwinner.

If the incident results in death, the person’s family is left to figure out how to go on, manage financially, and learn how to cope without their loved one. If that person was the family’s primary or sole wage earner, it could take an even stricter toll on them.

In these cases, benefits are more important than ever. For many, it is a lifeline that is necessary.


California law recognizes that the liability for an accident someone else causes due to negligence is typically shared by more than one person. This means that several parties might share liability when a person is injured in an accident resulting from someone’s negligence.

Some of the more common cases where this is true include:

  • Vehicle accidents
  • Violent acts
  • Truck accidents
  • Product defects
  • Slip and falls
  • Construction accidents
  • Sports injuries

There is usually more than one person involved here, and they may all share some portion of the fault. This means that the hurt person may also have contributed to their injuries. That is a common claim when an employer is disputing a worker’s comp case.

This is also an excellent reason that you need a strong, experienced, knowledgeable lawyer on your side. At Hussain & Gutierrez, we are very diligent in investigating your incident, building your case, and providing a solid defense against claims like this. The negligent will often try to deflect responsibility by shifting blame onto the injured party. And if that person isn’t adequately represented, they can lose a lot.

Let us work to protect you and ensure that you get the compensation you are due.


The investigation and evidence gathering process for determining catastrophic injury cases. The insurance company for the employer will conduct their own investigation, but the person’s attorney will also investigate to build a strong case. That information-gathering may include:

  • Site investigation – They will examine the site of the accident or incident, which usually means going to the actual location, although sometimes it may mean looking at photographs. They will create diagrams, written statements and descriptions, and pictures.
  • Witness statements – Witnesses will be interviewed, and witness statements will be reviewed. In some cases, the investigation team may look for additional witnesses to corroborate the injury’s events before, during, and after.
  • Truck activity recording devices – Many companies that employ people to drive their trucks or vans will place activity recording devices in the vehicles. Truck drivers are also required to comply with specific regulations set forth by the DOT, and that action is recorded via electronic logging devices, black boxes, and paper logs.
  • Product retrieval – Defective products may be obtained for investigators to perform nondestructive testing. These products may be used for demonstrations in court for juries and judges and opposing counsel to show how they caused harm.
  • Equipment maintenance records – Companies that use the equipment for manufacturing, construction, and other tasks will often maintain maintenance logs. Investigators will examine these records to look for lapses in maintenance or repair, defects that were not addressed, and other areas that would indicate negligence on the company’s part.


Catastrophic injury cases have specific benefits that are typically awarded and some of the other benefits awarded in worker’s comp cases. These are designed to meet the unique needs who have experienced it.

  • Lifecare Planning – The first step in determining the types of benefits that are needed is to assess the person’s future and current needs for care, medical treatment, medication, medical equipment, doctor’s visits, therapies, and surgeries. A specialist may be used to help with this and will look at various areas of need, including:
  • Rehabilitation therapy
    • Physical therapy
    • Vocational rehabilitation
    • Speech therapy
    • Occupational therapy
    • Prosthetic devices
    • Home accessibility modifications
    • Assistive technologies
    • Adaptive devices
    • Transportation costs
    • Nursing care
  • Vocational rehabilitation – A severe injury can leave a person unable to return to their former line of work, so they must learn new job skills and explore possible employment areas, then help with finding, getting, and keeping a job.


Suppose you have sustained a severe injury while on the job that has severely impaired you. You probably have many questions and feel like you are facing a lot of uncertainty. It is a scary time. If you have lost a loved one to a work-related incident, you may feel like you are staring into a fearful, financially uncertain future. You might feel like you are alone.

We’re here to help. The catastrophic injury lawyers at the Law Offices of Hussain & Gutierrez offer compassionate assistance to handle your claim and ensure that you receive the total compensation that you are legally due. We will listen to you and work with you to build a strong case.

We’ll be there for you every step of the way. Call today for your free consultation. You can’t afford to wait another day.