St. Louis Catastrophic Injury Lawyer

When you or a person you love experiences a catastrophic injury, your whole world turns upside down. It affects everything – your physical health, your emotional health, your finances – and the impact is life changing.

Navigating your new normal can be frustrating and exhausting. Our experienced, compassionate catastrophic injury attorney understands the weight you’re carrying. We know the outcome of your case could affect the rest of your life; it’s a responsibility we don’t take lightly.


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What is a Catastrophic Injury?

A catastrophic injury is a severe injury that affects your day-to-day life. There is no strict legal definition of what makes an injury “catastrophic.” It can be any trauma that results in significant lifelong suffering, long-term medical needs, or permanent disability.

Catastrophic injuries have a ripple effect that impacts entire families. They may leave a breadwinner unable to work, putting the family in financial distress. Family members often give up jobs or education to become full-time caregivers. The loss of independence creates stress that can lead to anxiety and depression.

When establishing your claim, we take all these things into account. We present the court not only the impact on the injured person’s life, but the impact to their family’s life as well.

Establishing liability for a catastrophic injury

Catastrophic injuries are tragic, but they are not always grounds for legal action. To make a personal injury claim, there must be someone you can reasonably hold responsible for the trauma.

In some injuries, such as a lightning strike, there is no liability. The incident is tragic, but it is no one’s fault. Sometimes the victim might be partially or completely to blame for their own accident.

You can only make a claim against someone who did something wrong, leading to injury. Usually, the issue is negligence. That means they had a duty to keep you safe, and they violated that duty.

Types of catastrophic injury

Catastrophic injuries may present all at once, or their effects may slowly develop and worsen over time. As new physical and logistical challenges appear, we help our clients to cope with them and with the emotional trauma left in their wake.

We take a long view, beyond our client’s current pain. We work with medical and life care experts to ensure your needs are met for the rest of your life.

Common types of catastrophic injuries include:

  • Spinal injuries – Damage to the spine can permanently harm the nervous system, leading to pain, paralysis or loss of control over bodily functions. Spinal injuries can be caused by accidents or by undiagnosed medical conditions.
  • Traumatic brain injury – Traumatic brain injuries are often caused by a blow to the head. Effects of brain injury may reveal themselves slowly over time.
  • Hypoxic and anoxic brain injury – Hypoxic brain injuries happen when the brain receives too little oxygen. Anoxic brain injuries happen when the brain gets no oxygen at all. Long-term effects can include seizures, cognitive impairment, personality changes, and poor judgment.
  • Amputation – Almost half the amputations in the U.S. every year are due to trauma such as vehicle or workplace accidents.
  • Back and neck injuries – Back and neck injuries often result in chronic, but not life-altering, pain. Severe injuries, however, can significantly impact the ability to live a normal day-to-day life.
  • Burns and electrocution – Burns and electrocution injuries can lead to multiple, painful treatments. Even after recovery, victims may be left with scars and nerve damage.
  • Wrongful death – There is no more serious personal injury case than one in which a person’s life was lost.
  • Paralysis – About 1 in 50 people in the U.S. live with paralysis.
    • Paraplegic paralysis involves partial or total loss of function or feeling in the legs and feet, lost balance and dexterity, and incontinence.
    • Hemiplegic paralysis is the loss of feeling and function on either the right or left side of the body and is usually caused by a brain injury such as a stroke.
    • Quadriplegic paralysis can involve all four limbs and may even affect a patient’s ability to breathe or carry out other basic organ functions.
  • Organ damage – Damaged organs might never recover their full, pre-injury levels of function. This could impact a person’s ability to take part in many of the activities they enjoyed before being injured.
  • Vision loss – Losing any of the five senses is traumatic. Vision loss, in particular, affects every aspect of the injured person’s future life.
  • Disfigurement – Not all chronic pain is physical. The mental and emotional trauma of a disfiguring injury also demands compensation.
  • Birth injuries – Children can suffer lifelong complications from the trauma of a difficult birth.

What Causes a Catastrophic Injury?

Anything that can cause injury has the potential to cause a catastrophic injury. In our experience, these are the most common causes of severe harm.

  • Vehicle accidents – According to the National Safety Council, about 4.8 million people were seriously hurt in car accidents in 2020.
  • Medical malpractice – Serious medical errors are one of the leading causes of accidental death in the United States.
  • Work accidents – The most common causes of workplace injuries are exposure to dangerous substances and environments (including environments that don’t protect workers against infectious diseases like COVID-19), overexertion (such as repetitive stress or lifting injuries), and slips, trips, and falls.
  • Birth injuries – Improvements in prenatal care have reduced the rate of birth injuries in recent years. Children hurt as they leave the womb can have lifelong medical problems.
  • Defective products – Millions of people are hurt each year by defective products. Home furnishings and fixtures alone account for nearly 3 million injuries a year.
  • Fires and explosions – Fires and explosions can do a lot of damage with little warning. Injuries might include burns, blast injuries and smoke inhalation.
  • Falls – Falls are the top cause of accidental injury in the U.S. Half of all accidental deaths in the home are the result of a fall.

Types of Catastrophic Injuries

Catastrophic injuries result from damage to the nervous system:

Hypoxic & Anoxic Brain Injury

A hypoxic brain injury is caused by a decrease in the supply of oxygen going to the brain. An anoxic brain injury happens when there is no oxygen going to the brain. Hypoxic and anoxic brain injuries occur under a variety of circumstances, including auto accidents, medical procedures, birth trauma, defective respirator equipment and explosions.

Traumatic Brain Injury

The effects of a brain injury can be sudden and dramatic, or they can be subtle and appear only with the passing of time. A closed head injury can cause what is commonly referred to as a TBI, or traumatic brain injury, whose symptoms may not fully present themselves at first and become more pronounced over time. Cognitive difficulties, memory loss, changes in personality, and loss of reasoning ability and judgment are very common. Brain injury victims can suffer severe emotional effects as well. We’ll work closely with medical experts, including brain injury specialists and neuropsychologists, to document the extent of the injury and its effects.

Spinal Cord Injury

The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that runs from the stem of the brain down the back and ends at the L1-L2 vertebrae in the spine in an area known as the subarachnoid space. The spinal cord is protected by the bones of the spine known as vertebrae that are designed to flex and move and at the same time offer protection to the spinal cord.  At each level of vertebrae, nerves shoot out from the central cord and run to various parts of the body so that they can carry the electrical impulses from the brain to the various muscles and organs of the body. Trauma can injure the central cord and often results from severe truck or auto accidents, falls from heights, and workplace accidents.  There can also be processes within the body that can damage the spinal cord, such as an undiagnosed infection or abscess that is allowed to grow and impinge on the cord.  Our team investigates the causes of your injury to help you earn the compensation you deserve. We’ll also monitor your physical condition and medical prognosis in order to ensure your access to the treatment and rehabilitation services you need for the greatest physical recovery possible.


Approximately six million people live with paralysis. Paralysis is caused by damage to the spinal cord which carries electrical signals from the brain to all parts of the body through the peripheral nervous system. An injury to the central nervous system can be categorized as “complete” where no electrical signals are getting through and results in complete paralysis below the level of the injury to the cord. It can also be an “incomplete” injury where some electrical signals are able to go through resulting in diminished range of motion and sensation. An injury to the spinal cord which affects your body’s ability to function or move results in paralysis. Paralysis falls into one of three general categories:

Paraplegia is a paralysis of the lower body or legs that usually results from injury to the spinal cord in the lumbar or thoracic region of the spine. It can involve partial or total loss of function in the legs, loss of sensation, balance and dexterity as well as bowel and bladder incontinence.

Hemiplegia is the loss of function on either the right or left side of the body. Rather than trauma to the central cord this is often caused by compromised blood flow in the brain as seen in a stroke.

Quadriplegia is a paralysis caused by trauma to the cord in the upper thoracic or cervical spine. This is the most severe form of paralysis as it can involve all four limbs and even affect the patient’s ability to breathe. Some victims of quadriplegia need to use a mechanical ventilator to allow them to breathe.

Our personal injury attorney can help the victims of paralysis cope with emotional damages and newly presented physical and logistical challenges. We work with medical experts and other professionals to help us recover the compensation that our clients deserve. Life care planners lend professional expertise to identify all of the lifelong needs of the client as we prepare to present a claim for compensation for someone who has suffered partial or total paralysis.

Closed Head Injury

To casual observers, a car accident victim with a mild head injury might appear to be fine after a period of time. After all, there are no noticeable scars, bruises or lacerations. Nonetheless, the victim might complain of dizziness and display disorientation, suffer from short-term memory loss, depression or personality changes. All of these can be signs of a closed head brain injury caused by what appears to be minor trauma.

Recovering from a Catastrophic Injury

One factor that makes an injury “catastrophic” is its long-term impact. You may never completely recover from your pre-injury lifestyle. But you deserve the highest quality of life possible. Our attorney is dedicated to helping our clients achieve a comfortable life in which all your needs are met, now and in the future.

Economic damages

Catastrophic injuries are expensive. They may leave you unable to work, making the costs that much more unmanageable. We work with medical experts and life care planners to identify what your injury has cost you so far and what it will cost you in the future. Those are the costs we fight to recover for you.

Often our clients have not even thought of long-term needs our life care planners point out. Our thorough approach makes it more likely your needs will be cared for far into the future. Needs such as:

  • Past expenses, including medical bills
  • Past wage loss
  • Anticipated future expenses such as
    • Medical care
    • Medical devices like wheelchairs, prosthetics or a hospital bed
    • Adaptive devices such as shower rails and wheelchair ramps
    • Adaptive vehicles like a wheelchair-accessible van
    • In-home skilled nursing care
    • Supervised care for a patient unable to care for themselves, relieving the pressure on the family to be round-the-clock caregivers
    • Reduced or lost future income
    • Loss of services like lawn care or housework you previously did yourself and now need to hire for
    • Funeral and burial expenses

Non-economic damages

Your injury’s toll is far more than financial. It’s hard to put a price tag on non-tangible harm like pain and depression. But these are very real damages, and you deserve to be compensated for them:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Disfigurement
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

How We've Helped Our Clients

Our team has won millions of dollars in settlements for victims of serious brain injuries. Learn more about the compensation we’ve earned for our clients.

Boxdorfer v. Lason – 4 million dollar settlement

The police report blamed our client when he collided with a commercial truck. However, the report indicated a St. Louis City metro bus was also involved and we were able to track down witnesses who were on the bus and turned the case in our client’s favor.  The trucking company paid 4 million dollars to our paralyzed client.

Callahan v. Cardinal Glennon Hospital – 16 million dollar Jury Award

Our client was a young man who contracted polio after being given the vaccine. He was paralyzed for life and we took the case to trial and obtained the highest verdict ever upheld by the Missouri Supreme Court in a medical negligence action.  This case is still cited by courts for the law we made.

What Past Clients Say

The team at Fernandez Law has experience handling wrongful death, truck accident, and medical malpractice cases. See what some of our clients have to say below:

I was referred to Mr. Fernandez by a family member who is an attorney, for assistance with my elderly mother's claim for injuries resulting from an accident involving an 18-wheeler. He was direct, honest, and very kind as he spoke with my mother, helping her to understand what his work would entail. An obviously talented negotiator, he presented appropriate research to support the claim for my mother's injuries and it settled with an offer that brought the case to a quick resolution. I would highly recommend Mr. Fernandez and his colleagues Jessie Eiler, J.D., Associate and Kim Zimmermann, Paralegal, all who worked as a team to bring the case to a conclusion. Well done!

When facing a legal crisis, you want Gonzalo Fernandez at your side! Like many others, I never envisioned being a defendant. However, once so named, I was directed to St. Louis’ premiere defense attorney to champion my cause. Gonzalo Fernandez proved to be competent, prudent and aggressive and successfully saw that all charges against me were dropped. If you find yourself in a similar crisis, don’t hesitate, call Gonzalo Fernandez immediately. I’m glad that I did!

- Randall

Contact Us Today

Although nothing will compensate for the physical and emotional pain and suffering caused by a catastrophic brain injury, we’re ready to listen to your story and help you receive the compensation you’re entitled to. To set up a free consultation with our attorney, call 314-433-9131 or fill out to form below.


Schedule a Free Case Evaluation