When is a personal injury considered catastrophic?

personal injury

There is no such thing as a good injury. However, no one would argue that some personal injuries result in more life-altering challenges than others. It is also true that all injuries and medical procedures are “major” to the affected person. But some accident claims involve injuries so severe that insurance companies classify them as “catastrophic.”

personal injury
personal injury

When injuries are considered catastrophic

Catastrophic injuries often leave accident victims fighting disabilities for years, if not the rest of their lives. A catastrophic injury may also make it impossible for an accident victim to maintain gainful employment.

Catastrophic injuries are the worst type imaginable and often include the lost capacity or deformity of a particular part of the body. Common catastrophic injury types include:

  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Brain injuries
  • Amputations
  • Severe burns
  • Damage to internal organs
  • Contact with hazardous substances
  • Multiple bone breaks and fractures

Nothing about the victim’s life is the same in the days, weeks, or months following a catastrophic injury. Severe adjustments are necessary to regain the quality of life claimed by the injury.

Injury causes

Catastrophic injuries are often caused by freak accidents impossible to anticipate. However, there are some accidents that have proven more likely to result in catastrophic injuries than others. These accidents include:

  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Accidents at construction sites
  • Accidents that occur in or around swimming pools
  • Sports injuries
  • Injuries associated with defective pharmaceuticals

Damage claims

Catastrophic injuries will cause enormous loss to the victims and completely change the direction of their lives. These facts make it necessary for catastrophic injury claims to involve higher damage awards than most other personal injury claims.

It is common for a healthy person to read about a multi-million award received by an accident victim and see this as a financial windfall suggesting good fortune. But this money may only represent a portion of the lost earnings, medical expenses, physical pain, and emotional devastation experienced by the accident victim. The truth is that most accident victims would gladly trade the compensation they received to regain the life they were able to live before their catastrophic injury.

Family dynamics

A catastrophic injury will affect the lives of people other than the person involved in an accident. The lives of their families and friends will also change forever. It is not uncommon for family members to become drained or suffer emotional exhaustion when taking care of someone who suffers from cognitive or mobility issues.

The impact of a catastrophic injury to a loved one can also affect the finances of a family. This fact is especially most relevant if the injured person is a primary wage earner for the family. The financial impact is worse when a spouse or caregiver must work less to care for the injured person.

What to do after a catastrophic injury?

The majority of your focus should remain on your recovery after suffering a catastrophic injury. But you will also want to explore your options with an attorney if the injury you suffered is the result of someone else’s negligence.

The job you ask of your attorney will be a bit easier if you collect evidence and keep accurate records regarding your injuries and treatment. The injuries you suffer may make it difficult for you to maintain record keeping duties. When this is the case, make sure someone is keeping track of things for you.

Begin your documentation efforts by making sure your lawyer has a copy of all police and medical reports. Also, make sure your lawyer is aware of any witnesses and extenuating factors for your accident.

By: Irma C. Dengler

With a BA in communications and paralegal experience, Irma C. Dengler decided to combine her skills. In the past, when she was involved in proceedings of her own, she witnessed firsthand the weight of legal language. A convoluted terminology can easily disarm the average American. Therefore, she set off to empower her readers by making the law more accessible to them. Although she has covered all areas of civil and criminal law, insurance-related issues, and her area of specialty are personal injury cases.

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