Dealing With Permanent Disabilities After An Accident

By Nicholas Strom

Some accidents are worse than others. Tragically, some accidents result in permanent injuries that an accident victim will have to deal with for the rest of their lives. This blog post will provide information and considerations for someone injured who will suffer from injuries for the rest of their lives.

What constitutes a permanent injury?

Permanent injury is irreversible harm to an injured person. This typically means a part of an injured person’s body is limited in a way that current technology cannot repair. This can also be damage to the brain which impairs cognitive function. Often, a permanent injury is going to involve chronic pain or discomfort for the rest of the injured person’s life. A permanent injury may also prohibit someone from working in their career. For instance, a surgeon whose hands are injured in an accident will not be able to perform surgery. A personal injury attorney will help recover the amount of compensation for this type of permanent injury.

What can a victim with a permanent injury recover in an accident case?

There are several categories a person with permanent injuries can seek to recover. These include but are not necessarily limited to medical bills, lost wages, future medical and related bills and pain and suffering.

The first concern most injured people have, whether permanently injured or not, is how will they be able to afford medical treatment? With permanent injuries, in particular medical bills can be extremely high. An injured person can seek recovery of medical expenses from the at fault driver. If the injured party uses insurance to pay for medical bills, the insurance company will need to be reimbursed for what it spent on the injured party’s care. Hopefully, the injured person can rest more easily knowing they have the ability to recover medical bills from the at fault driver.

Another potential for recovery for a permanently injured person is lost wages. As explained above with the surgeon example, if an injured person is not able to return to a career, they can seek compensation for future earnings. Calculating future earnings can be complicated. There are several factors that go into calculating future earnings, and an expert witness may be needed to make this calculation. Often, an expert witness will look to past earnings of the injury victim, comparable salaries of others in the field and the geographic area the injured person works. With future injury calculations, there is some estimation. The injured person will need to recover their lost wages in the original lawsuit and will not be able to seek additional lost wages later. It is important to work with an attorney and potential expert to recover as much future lost wages as possible.

Similarly, future medical and related bills will involve estimation and likely an expert witness. For example, if the permanently injured person needs in home care or has treatment the rest of their life it is impossible to know how much treatment will cost in the future. Future medical treatment can be vastly more expensive than at the time of settlement or jury verdict or it could cost a lot less with technological advancement. Working with an attorney and an expert witness, for instance, a life care planning expert, will allow the permanently injured person to come to the best estimate of what future bills will be.

Pain and suffering is another portion of recovery a permanently injured person can try to recover in an accident case. Pain and suffering is subjective and it is different for every person. Usually, pain and suffering is a multiple of the medical bills. For example, if an injured party had $25,000.00 in medical bills they may request $50,000.00 in pain and suffering, two times the medical bills. Every case is different, and an injured party should work with an attorney to calculate the amount of pain and suffering but this is a general overview of how the system works. Needless to say, with a permanent injury medical bills and pain and suffering will be significantly higher than a minor accident.

What if the at fault driver does not have sufficient insurance?

Someone reading this blog is likely thinking about how expensive a permanent injury case is and wondering what happens if the at fault driver does not have enough insurance. This is a valid concern. Most individuals have insurance policies ranging from $25,000 to $250,000.00. That will likely not be enough to cover a lifetime suffering from a permanent injury. The good news is there are additional avenues for recovery and ways individuals can protect themselves.

If the at fault driver’s insurance policy is not enough, then an injured party can go after the at fault driver’s personal assets. This can be complicated by state collection exemptions. Every state is different, but in general states exempt certain property from collection, including personal injury cases, in order to not leave a debtor destitute. Still, the individual may have assets in excess of the state exemptions and the injured party can go after those unprotected assets.

Individuals can protect themselves by having sufficient Underinsured Motorist Coverage and Uninsured Motorist Coverage. These policies allow an injured party to pursue their own insurance company if the at fault driver’s coverage is insufficient to cover all of the injured person’s damages. These policies are usually the same amount as the insured party’s liability coverage so it is important to work with an insurance professional to make sure you have adequate insurance. Having enough insurance on your own insulates you from a careless driver who is either not insured or does not have enough insurance.

It is worth noting that the vast majority of permanent injury accidents occur when there are entities involved, which usually have high levels of insurance. For example, in the vehicle context permanent injuries more often occur when a commercial truck hits a passenger vehicle. Force equals mass times acceleration so more mass usually means more force. A large, well insured truck is more likely to cause a permanent injury than a regular vehicle. Still, permanent injures can occur in a variety of situations so having sufficient insurance you can rely on is the best policy.


Sadly, sometimes accident victims suffer permanent injuries. It not something people want to think about, but it is a reality that has to be dealt with. The first thing to do is verify you have enough insurance on your own to help take care of the high cost of future injuries. Anyone suffering a permanent injury through the fault of another should contact an attorney to see what can be done to address the costs of an accident.

Fowler St. Clair handles personal injury cases and is here to help. If you have any questions about the legal process or think you may have a case you can always reach out and one of our trusted team members can discuss your potential personal injury case free of charge.