A guide to recovering compensation after an eye injury caused by someone else’s negligence in Tampa
Although an eye injury might not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of a catastrophic injury, serious eye injuries can be particularly traumatic, often leading to significant vision impairment or blindness, impacting your ability to work, enjoy life and handle daily tasks.
At Lorenzo & Lorenzo, we’ve seen firsthand the devastation that an eye injury can bring. That’s why our experienced Tampa personal injury attorneys are committed to providing eye injury victims with the highest level of legal representation, ensuring that all necessary steps are taken to secure the compensation and support they deserve.
If you or a loved one has suffered a serious eye injury due to a car accident, a motorcycle accident, a slip-and-fall, or any other type of accident in the Tampa area, contact Lorenzo & Lorenzo today for a free consultation, and let us help you on your journey to recovery and justice.
The link between blindness and traumatic injuries
Traumatic injuries are unfortunately an all-too-common cause of serious eye issues, including blindness. In fact, according to a study in the National Library of Medicine, traumatic injuries are the cause of up to 40% of monocular blindness (blindness in one eye), affecting approximately half a million people worldwide.
Additionally, the American Academy of Ophthalmology reports that about 1 in 3 people who experience a serious eye injury never regain better than 20/200 vision in their affected eye. In the U.S., 20/200 vision or less in your better eye while wearing corrective lenses is considered legally blind.
What causes serious eye damage?
Serious eye damage can arise from a wide array of incidents, with each posing its own unique risks. Key causes include:
- Car accidents. The impact from car collisions can lead to eye injuries due to shattered glass, airbag deployment or blunt trauma.
- Motorcycle accidents. Motorcyclists face a higher risk of eye damage from debris, falls or direct collisions because motorcycles lack the protective shell of a car.
- Bicycle accidents. Cyclists are susceptible to eye injuries from collisions, falls or flying debris, given their exposure on the road.
- Truck accidents. Accidents with trucks often result in severe eye injuries due to their size and force. During collisions, the impact can cause shattered glass or even the spillage of chemicals if the truck is carrying hazardous materials, leading to serious eye damage.
- Slip-and-fall accidents. Falls can cause direct trauma to the eye, especially in environments with hard surfaces or sharp objects.
- Dog bites. Animal attacks, particularly by dogs, can lead to serious eye injuries if the face and eye region are targeted.
- Swimming pool accidents. Chemical burns from improperly balanced pool water or physical trauma in pools can lead to eye damage.
- Sports accidents. Professional and youth sports injuries involving the eyes can occur through direct trauma, such as being struck by a ball or collision with another player, leading to potential fractures, lacerations, or a blunt force impact to the eye area.
- Burns. Exposure to harmful chemicals or electrical accidents can cause significant eye injuries, including burns that can lead to vision impairment or loss.
- Nursing home abuse. In nursing homes, the elderly can be vulnerable to eye injuries from neglect or physical abuse.
- Violence and assaults. Physical altercations, including domestic violence, can result in direct trauma to the eyes.
Each of these scenarios carries a risk of varying degrees to the eyes, from minor irritations to severe, potentially vision-threatening injuries. Immediate medical attention is essential following any eye injury.
What is the most catastrophic injury to a patient’s eye?
The most catastrophic injury to a patient’s eye is typically considered to be a traumatic injury that leads to complete vision loss or necessitates the removal of the eye, known as enucleation.
Such injuries can result from severe trauma, which may involve penetration or rupture of the eye, extensive damage to the optic nerve, or severe burns (chemical or thermal).
These injuries irreversibly impact vision, either by destroying the eye’s structure, significantly impairing its function, or both. The loss of an eye not only affects vision but can also have profound psychological and social impacts on a patient, significantly affecting their quality of life.
Other common types of traumatic eye injuries include the following:
- Corneal abrasions. These occur when the surface of the eye (the cornea) is scratched. Symptoms include pain, redness and a sensation of having something in the eye. Although typically not severe, they can lead to infections if not treated properly.
- Orbital fractures. Trauma to the face can fracture the bones surrounding the eye (the orbit), potentially leading to double vision, sunken eyes or vision loss due to nerve damage.
- Traumatic iritis. This is inflammation of the iris (the colored part of the eye) caused by blunt trauma to the eye. Symptoms include pain, light sensitivity and blurred vision.
- Hyphema. This refers to bleeding in the space between the cornea and the iris. It can result from a hard hit to the eye and lead to increased eye pressure and vision loss.
- Retinal detachment. A severe blow to the eye can lead to the retina peeling away from its underlying layer. Symptoms include floaters, flashes of light, and a shadow or curtain over part of the field of vision.
- Globe rupture. This is a tear in the outer layers of the eye caused by blunt trauma and is a serious injury that can result in permanent loss of vision.
- Penetrating or perforating injuries. Caused by objects piercing the eye, these injuries can have severe consequences, including the risk of infection, cataract formation or even loss of the eye.
- Burns. Thermal burns, from heat or fire, and electrical burns can cause serious damage to both the external and internal structures of the eye.
When is eye injury an emergency?
Generally speaking, you should treat an eye injury as an emergency that warrants immediate medical attention in any of the following situations:
- Chemical exposure. If any chemicals, including household cleaners or industrial substances, come into contact with your eye
- Penetration or trauma. If your eye or eyelid is punctured, cut or hit with force, especially by a sharp or high-speed object
- Foreign objects. If a foreign object is stuck in your eye and cannot be gently rinsed out with water
- Sudden vision changes. If there are any sudden changes in your vision, such as blurred vision, double vision, or total vision loss
- Severe pain or discomfort. If you experience intense pain in the eye or are seeing halos around lights
- Redness and swelling. If you experience significant redness, swelling or discoloration, particularly if it’s accompanied by pain
- Light sensitivity. If you have an increased sensitivity to light, which could indicate a more severe underlying issue
- Bleeding or discharge. If you experience unusual bleeding from the eye or abnormal discharge
- Unequal pupil size. If your pupils are of unequal sizes or do not react to light as they normally would
- Flashes of light or floaters. If you experience a sudden appearance of flashes or an increase in floaters (small specks or lines that move across your field of vision)
- Burns. If you experience any thermal burns (from heat or light) or electrical burns to your eye area
If you experience any of these symptoms following an eye injury, it’s crucial to see a doctor or visit an emergency room immediately. Prompt treatment can be vital in preventing further damage and preserving vision.
What should you do if a penetrating eye injury occurs?
In the event of a penetrating eye injury, it’s crucial to take immediate steps to minimize damage.
Do not touch, rub or apply pressure to the eye, and avoid trying to remove any object that may be embedded.
Instead, gently shield the eye with a protective cover, such as a paper cup, to prevent further injury. It’s important to seek emergency medical attention right away, as such injuries often require professional treatment to preserve vision.
Additionally, you should refrain from taking medications like aspirin or ibuprofen, which could increase bleeding, and avoid eating or drinking in case surgery is necessary.
How much compensation can you get for an eye injury?
The amount of compensation for an eye injury varies significantly based on the specifics of the case, including the severity of the injury, its impact on your life, and the circumstances of the accident.
However, with that being said, compensation for eye injuries can be substantial, especially if the injury leads to long-term or permanent vision loss, affects your ability to work, or significantly alters your quality of life.
Types of compensation that you may be entitled to include the following:
- Medical expenses. This includes costs for immediate medical treatment, surgeries, medications, hospital stays, and any ongoing or future medical care related to the eye injury.
- Lost wages and lost earning capacity. If the injury impacts your ability to work, compensation can cover wages lost during recovery. If the injury affects your future earning potential, you may be compensated for that loss as well.
- Pain and suffering. This covers the physical pain and suffering caused by the injury, including the impact on your overall quality of life.
- Emotional distress. This is meant to compensate for the emotional suffering you experience from your injury, including anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- Disability or disfigurement. If the injury leads to permanent disability or disfigurement, you may be eligible for additional compensation.
- Costs of rehabilitation. This can include expenses for physical therapy, counseling, and any adaptive technologies needed due to vision loss.
- Loss of enjoyment of life. If the injury prevents you from enjoying hobbies or activities you used to participate in, you may receive compensation for this loss.
- Punitive damages. In cases where the defendant’s conduct was particularly egregious, punitive damages may be awarded to punish the wrongdoer and deter similar conduct in the future.
Because compensation amounts can vary greatly, it’s crucial to discuss your case with an experienced personal injury attorney who can estimate the value of your claim before accepting an offer from the insurance company.
What if I was partially responsible for the accident that caused my injury? Can I still recover compensation in Florida?
The short answer is yes. Florida uses a legal doctrine called modified comparative negligence when determining fault. Under this new system, the ability to recover damages in a personal injury lawsuit is contingent upon the degree of responsibility you bear for your own injuries.
In essence, if you’re found to be 50% or less responsible for the accident that caused your injury, you’re still eligible to recover compensation. However, the amount you can recover will be reduced in proportion to your degree of fault.
For example, if you were found to be 20% responsible for a car accident because you were talking on your phone when another driver ran a red light and hit you, your total compensation would be reduced by 20%.
In any accident that results in serious injuries, it’s advisable to consult an attorney as soon as possible so they can gather and preserve the necessary evidence to minimize your liability and maximize your compensation.
Get help from the experienced Tampa personal injury attorneys at Lorenzo & Lorenzo
If you or a loved one is suffering from a serious eye injury in Florida because of someone else’s negligence, it’s crucial to understand your legal rights and options.
At Lorenzo & Lorenzo, our skilled Tampa personal injury attorneys can investigate your case, gather evidence and negotiate with insurance companies to ensure you get the compensation you need for past and future lost wages, medical care, pain and suffering, and more.
Contact Lorenzo & Lorenzo today for a free consultation, and let our legal team guide you through your recovery and fight for your rights.
Aghadoost, D. (2014). Ocular Trauma: An Overview. Archives of Trauma Research, 3(2). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4139697/
Chen, A., McGwin, G., Justin, G. A., & Woreta, F. A. (2021). The United States Eye Injury Registry: Past and Future Directions. Ophthalmology, 128(5), 647–648. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ophtha.2020.11.026