When Is a Personal Injury Catastrophic?

catastrophic injury

Any injury is an inconvenience, but some injuries are more serious than others. In fact, some can create serious consequences in nearly every space in your life. Physical damage to emotional trauma to mounting medical bills is often classified as catastrophic personal injury, but what defines that term? Are there different types of catastrophic injuries?

A Closer Look at the Definition

A catastrophic injury is tough to define because it can mean several different kinds of injuries. Typically, all catastrophic injuries have a few things in common.  If your injury is considered catastrophic, it usually will leave you with a permanent disability. Often, it will have severe consequences for at least one of the major systems in your body. It may even leave you incapacitated. Additionally, it may impact your ability to work in the future.

The Types of Catastrophic Injuries

All kinds of injuries can be considered catastrophic if they meet the definition, but some are more frequently categorized this way than others. Head injuries are almost always regarded as catastrophic, as are those involving the neck or spinal cord. These injuries are so severe that they change the course of a person’s life, so they certainly fall into this category.

Any injury that results in amputation or serious internal injuries is typically classified as catastrophic as well because of the level of medical care recovered and the long recoveries that are so frequently required by patients who experience them. Additionally, if there are multiple bone fractures that mean long recovery times or serious burns that cause long-term scarring or disfigurement, they are usually called catastrophic injuries.

Finally, any time an injury causes the loss of any of your senses, it falls under this class of injury.

Understanding the Causes

Catastrophic injuries don’t result from a single cause. They can be the result of several things. Car accidents routinely involve catastrophic injuries, especially when they’re the result of a driver who was either distracted or impaired. Likewise, when a pedestrian and a vehicle collide, the pedestrian is usually catastrophically injured. Slip and falls can result in this type of injury as well. Other common causes of these injuries are medical malpractice and work-related accidents when employers haven’t properly trained an employee or maintained their equipment.

Compensation: You Need Proof

The severity of these injuries means they’re often brought to injury attorneys to ensure fair compensation, but proof is required to make that happen. In a catastrophic injury case, you have to be able to prove that the injury was due to someone else’s negligence. Often, the only way this can be proven is to show that the individual who caused the injury “owed you a duty of care” – and failed to meet that duty.

That means you have to prove that they should have been acting in a way that would not have injured you. If they did, indeed, have that duty of care, and they didn’t work to protect you when they should have, the court will typically award you substantial compensation, but it’s not easy for a judge to make that leap. Often medical records are required in these cases, as well as testimony from a doctor involved.

Additional testimony may be required to show that the injury has changed the way you live your life, and you’ll have to make changes to your life as a result of the injury in the future. Compensation usually covers the needed ongoing medical treatment, the cost of the emotional trauma, and lost earning capacity. While some states do have damage caps on personal injuries, catastrophic injuries usually fall outside those damage limitations.

Ensuring You Get What You Deserve

Catastrophic injuries change peoples’ lives every day, and the compensation involved is designed to help you deal with the changes and medical bills you will face in the years to come. The only way to make sure that you’re compensated fairly, though, is to work with an attorney who has dealt with catastrophic injury cases in the past. You’ve already faced a tragedy. Make sure your legal representation ensures you’re compensated for that tragedy in the future.