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What Classifies as a Catastrophic Injury?

Posted in Personal Injury on June 27, 2021

Injuries that result in long-term, life-altering consequences fall into the category of catastrophic injuries. A catastrophic injury may be a life-threatening injury or an injury that results in extensive functional deficits. Catastrophic injuries may or may not result in death or permanent disabilities.

Catastrophic injuries often require surgical treatment and extensive medical intervention. These injuries may not always result in permanent impairments, but the recovery could take months or years.

Examples of Catastrophic Injuries

Catastrophic injuries may impact one specific body part, or the injury could impact multiple functions and body parts.

Examples of catastrophic injuries include, but are not limited to:

The recovery period can be challenging. A catastrophic injury may require 24/7 medical care and/or personal care.

Victims that sustain catastrophic injuries may experience severe physical pain, emotional distress, and mental anguish. Some victims experience chronic depression and other emotional disorders as they learn to cope with a catastrophic injury.

Common Causes of Catastrophic Injuries

Accidents, violence, and intentional acts are common causes of catastrophic injuries. Negligence, errors, and other wrongdoing can also cause catastrophic injuries.

Examples of incidents that might cause a catastrophic injury include:

Many other incidents can result in catastrophic injuries. The question is whether the victim is responsible for their injuries or if someone else could be liable for the victim’s damages.

Who is Responsible for the Damages Caused by Catastrophic Injuries?

Personal injury claims involving catastrophic injuries often include significant damages. The cost of treating catastrophic injuries can be substantial. The person may lose months of wages.

Additionally, victims may continue to incur future damages, including ongoing medical and personal care as well as future lost wages and diminished earning capacity.

Identifying the party or parties liable for the person’s damages can result in compensation for these damages. The victim may also recover compensation for non-economic damages, including physical pain and suffering, mental trauma, decreased quality of life, and permanent impairments.

Many personal injury cases are based on negligence claims. Negligence is the failure to act with the same level of care as a reasonably prudent person. An accident victim would need to prove the legal elements of negligence to win their personal injury case:

  • Duty of care
  • Breach of duty of care
  • Causation
  • Damages

In other words, you would need to prove that the party who caused your injury owed you a duty of care and breached that duty of care. For example, doctors owe their patients a duty of care, drivers owe others on the road a duty of care, and property owners owe visitors and guests a duty of care.

A breach of the duty of care is conduct that is not considered acceptable or reasonable. For example, disobeying traffic laws would be a breach of the duty of care for a driver. Failing to repair broken steps could be considered a breach of duty of a property owner.

The jury decides whether the party’s conduct is negligent. If the jury finds the party was negligent by breaching the duty of care, the jury must also find that the breach directly caused the victim’s injuries and the victim sustained damages. If the victim did not sustain injuries or damages, there is no legal basis for compensation.

Do I Need a Personal Injury Attorney for a Catastrophic Injury Claim?

Because you must prove fault and liability to recover compensation for your injuries and damages, it can be wise to hire a personal injury lawyer to handle your case. A personal injury attorney has the resources and skills to conduct a thorough investigation to gather evidence. Complex personal injury cases may require experts to assist in the investigation, which the attorney can facilitate.

An attorney also assists you in documenting your damage. You need proof of your damages to recover maximum compensation. Therefore, your attorney will work with your physicians, medical experts, and financial experts to accurately calculate the value of your past, present, and future damages.

Additionally, your attorney ensures that all damages are included in your personal injury claim. If you rely on an insurance provider to tell you the value of a catastrophic injury claim, you will likely receive much less for your claim than your claim is worth.

Lastly, recovering from a catastrophic injury takes all of your effort. You do not need to worry about deadlines, investigations, and insurance companies. A personal injury lawyer takes care of all legal aspects of your case so that you can focus all your injury on recovering from a catastrophic injury.