WHAT IS A CATASTROPHIC INJURY?
It is generally understood that a catastrophic injury is one that severely injures a plaintiff and leads to long-term, if not permanent, disability and disfigurement. While there is no exact legal definition of “catastrophic injury”, they often entail a difficult recovery process, multiple surgeries, and possibly a lifetime of medical treatment. A plaintiff suffering a catastrophic injury may also be unable to return to work, either in his or her chosen field or any field at all.
One of the key factors in whether a personal injury is designated as “catastrophic” is the debilitating nature of the injury, and the extent to which that debilitation is expected to continue. If the injured person will be unable to perform all of life’s functions on a long-term basis, and will require some level of assistance (live-in care, for example), then the injury is likely to be deemed “catastrophic.”
Another key factor is the impact that it has on the life and livelihood of the victim. Long-term injuries that result in some level of permanent disability and prevent the victim from earning a living (in the same or similar line of work they were in pre-injury) will likely be considered catastrophic.
Catastrophic injuries are any injuries that have serious, long term effects on the victim. Catastrophic injuries in many instances also place a serious amount of stress on the victims family because of the need for constant monitoring or assistance for the rest of their lives, as well as a lifetime of rehabilitation and mounting medical expenses.
Some examples of injuries that might be considered “catastrophic” for purposes of an injury claim include spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries (TBI), injuries that result in partial or total paralysis, injuries that result in the loss of a limb, severe burn injuries, and injuries that result in disfigurement and significant scarring.
In every personal injury case, the injured person is entitled to damages — meaning compensation for all losses stemming from the injuries and their impact. Damages are not only much higher in a catastrophic injury case, but the facts and arguments needed to prove the extent of those damages are more complex, which is why discussing the case with an experienced attorney is crucial to the success of your catastrophic injury matter.