What Is a Catastrophic Injury?

By  //  July 17, 2021

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A catastrophic injury is one that has proximate and direct consequences and leaves an individual permanently unable to perform any gainful work. This injury is so serious that it leaves a victim with permanent damage.

These injuries are usually done to the spinal cord or brain and these injuries have long-term and severe short-term impacts on functional capabilities. This type of injury means that you can lose a vital part of you, whether it’s the ability to form a thought, walk, or losing a limb.

An accident that results in a catastrophic injury can result in a lawsuit. With the help of a catastrophic injury lawyer, you can be compensated for the harm that has been done to you. Catastrophic injuries need compensation because the more serious the injury, the greater the medical expenses and the more likely you will be out of work. 

Common Causes of a Catastrophic Injury

There are a number of different causes of catastrophic injuries. Some examples can include defective drugs or medical devices, construction accidents, medical mistakes, falls, bicycle accidents, workplace accidents, truck accidents, and car accidents. 

Examples of Catastrophic Injuries

There are many different injuries that can be caused by carelessness, recklessness, or negligence.

Traumatic Brain Injury: This injury can mean lifelong abnormal speech, the limited ability to move legs and arms, emotional difficulties, and cognitive dysfunction. 

Spinal Cord Injury: This injury can mean complete or partial paralysis, circulatory and respiratory problems, exaggerated spasms and reflexes, loss of bladder control, and chronic pain.

Cognitive Injuries: These injuries can be some of the costliest of all catastrophic injuries. These come from brain damage that takes away your ability to form new memories, speak, or work. 

Severe Burn Injury: This type of injury can cause permanent disability depending on the extent and location of the burns, disfigurement, infections, and limb loss. 

Limb Loss: When there is a limb loss, it can cause emotional and physical challenges not only for the amputee but also loved ones. 

Ruptured Liver, Spleen, and Kidneys: These organs that rupture can cause internal bleeding, and this can be life threatening. 

Costs Associated with a Catastrophic Injury

If you have a catastrophic injury that needs a long period of hospitalization or ongoing medical care and you aren’t able to work or care for your needs, the expense can be enough to ruin your finances. Some of these expenses include emergency medical expenses, nursing care, occupational and physical therapy, medical equipment, the cost to retrofit a home, medications, counseling, lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional distress, disfigurement, and diminished earning capacity. 

One of the challenges of a catastrophic injury is how the effects persist long after the accident. For example, someone who suffers from a spinal cord injury may also develop some respiratory problems after the injury. Someone who suffers a traumatic brain injury might appear normal physically but has memory loss, cognitive difficulties, or headaches that can make it hard to hold onto a job and maintain their quality of life. 

The person who suffered from the catastrophic injury isn’t the only one who is affected. The family life is also changed, and it can be physically and emotionally exhausting to provide for a family member with cognitive or mobility limitations, especially when the changes happen abruptly after an accident.

A caregiver may also need to provide 24-hour care and leave employment so a household can lose more than just the income of the injured person. A family member is going to have to decide if it is worth it to leave his or her own employment in order to provide care to the victim. 

Calculating Damages after Catastrophic Injuries

Pain and suffering are often awarded after a catastrophic injury. This is the compensation for the overall loss of happiness and comfort that you may have after a severe injury or accident. It’s best to work with a lawyer and financial expert to not only determine what your expenses are going to be today but also for the rest of your life.

These are economic damages, such as medical bills. You also will need to figure out what future treatments could cost. Additional medical care may be needed for other injuries that result from this one injury, such as additional surgeries. It’s also necessary to calculate how much income you may lose over your lifetime if you aren’t able to work. Non-economic damages are other losses, including pain and suffering, that don’t have a specific monetary value.

What Should You Do after a Catastrophic Injury?

After a catastrophic injury, it’s first necessary to focus on immediate recovery. If the injury was caused by someone’s negligence or an accident, you should get a personal injury lawyer. These injuries are going to involve extensive financial losses and medical costs. Even if the accident is covered by insurance, severe injuries such as catastrophic ones are going to be more than the policy limits. The only way to get the funds you need is to pursue legal action.

Once you find a personal injury lawyer, you should maintain records. If you aren’t able to do this due to your injury, ask a family member or friend to help. You want to have documentation for aspects of recovery that aren’t going to be documented by hospitals or doctors. You should keep track of every expense you have related to the accident. These records are going to be necessary when your lawyer calculates damages.

You aren’t going to be expected to investigate the accident, especially after you have suffered from a severe catastrophic injury. This is going to be your lawyer’s role, but you may need to help as part of the process. There are documents that you can provide, as well as expenses and damages, in order to help your case.