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What is a Catastrophic Injury?

We have all been injured at one point or another, whether it was a broken bone or strained muscle, but our bodies are complex systems that often heal after medical treatment and rehabilitation. After a period of rest and recovery, most people can return to work and experience their pre-injury quality of life once more.

However, not everyone is that fortunate. Our personal injury attorneys have represented many accident victims who must live the rest of their lives in an altered condition.

Below, we discuss the various types of catastrophic injuries, their prognoses, and why it’s vital that you are able to recover maximum possible compensation in the wake of such an injury.

Types of Catastrophic Injuries

A catastrophic injury is an injury that fundamentally changes an individual's ability to work and engage in normal recreational activities. It is often accompanied by depression and anxiety flowing from the loss of abilities and independence. Catastrophic injuries can take a variety of forms, including the following:

Physical Injuries

These include amputations, severe burn injuries, multiple bone fractures, organ damage, vision impairment or loss of vision, and any other damage related to orthopedic function or tissue.

Spinal Cord Injuries

Injuries to the spine can lead to paralysis, which can permanently render one incapable of being able to walk, speak, or move specific muscles.

Cognitive Injuries

Severe injuries to the brain are often the most costly types of injuries and often have the greatest emotional impact on accident victims. Often called traumatic brain injuries, or TBI for short, these may take away one’s ability to work, speak, or form new memories.

Common Causes of Catastrophic Injuries

Accidents are unpredictable, but some situations lead to catastrophic injuries more than others. Unfortunately, they often occur due to another’s negligence or carelessness, or even willful conduct. Listed below are potential causes of catastrophic injuries:

  • Motor vehicle accidents, especially with large trucks (aka, big rigs)
  • Sports accidents
  • Construction site accidents
  • Pedestrian accidents
  • Drunk driving accidents
  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Medical malpractice
  • Defective products
  • Violent crimes
  • Dog bites

Long-Term Effects of Catastrophic Injuries

Catastrophic injuries often leave individuals unable to perform work and enjoy life the way he or she did before the accident. Due to the severity of this injury, individuals must deal with a lifetime of effects, including the following:

  • Emergency medical expenses
  • Hospitalizations
  • Rehabilitation facilities or skilled nursing facilities
  • Continuing medical care
  • Visiting nursing care
  • Medications
  • Physical and occupational therapy
  • Counseling
  • Medical equipment such as a hospital bed or wheelchair
  • Lost wages
  • Diminished earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress

Types of Damages Available

If you, a friend, or your loved one has experienced an accident that resulted in a catastrophic injury, you may be compelled to file a personal injury lawsuit.

This is only normal, as the medical bills and other incidental expenses associated with catastrophic injuries are tremendous. Still, beyond that, you will also have to deal with a loss of earnings, as well as your “human loss” in the form of pain and suffering. It’s important to keep in mind that surviving a catastrophic injury may mean that you must live off the settled money for the remainder of your life.

The types of damages vary based on the circumstances of the injury and the laws of the state. In general, personal injury damages include the following:

Compensation for the cost of medical bills from the injuries

The cost of medical treatment, rehabilitation, physical therapy, and hospital stays can become quite costly, especially in cases involving a catastrophic injury where lifelong care is needed. The medical portion of the damages should cover these expenses and future costs.

Incidental expenses

Incidental costs for an unexpected injury can increase rapidly and add up over time. These costs may include tangible medical supplies or equipment, including medical transport. In a situation where there is a catastrophic injury, the costs for these items can be quite substantial.

Lost wages or loss of earnings

Compensation for lost income includes payment for any work the victim had to miss because of the injury or treatment of the injury. Furthermore, if the victim is unable to work permanently due to the injury, compensation will include the lost wages that he or she would have made over the course of a lifetime.

Pain and suffering

Compensation can be rewarded for damages that aren’t necessarily the result of a direct financial loss, such as pain and suffering. These damages are typically awarded in significant injuries.

Emotional distress

We often see these accidents result in emotional ramifications. Generally, emotional distress must be proven with psychiatric records or with a diagnosis, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

Wrongful death

A wrongful death lawsuit will be filed by the family members of the victim who passed away due to the accident or injury caused by someone else’s negligence.

Loss of consortium

Loss of consortium is to compensate spouses for the loss of the relationship of the victim.

Punitive damages

Punitive damages are rewarded to victims, but the goal is to punish the defendant for their egregious behavior. This is to deter other entities or individuals from making the same wrongful mistakes.

From a financial, legal, and emotional standpoint, a catastrophic injury can be devastating. The implications go much further than the injury itself, and it can affect one’s work life and relationships with loved ones.

That is why our catastrophic injury attorneys at Caputo & Van Der Walde LLP are passionate about holding negligent parties accountable for their actions and seeking damages on behalf of our clients. We understand that no monetary amount can completely repair the damage done to an individual or family, but it does help ease the financial burden.

We have recovered millions in catastrophic injury cases, and we’re ready to fight for you too. Contact Caputo & Van Der Walde LLP at (800) 900-0863 for a free case evaluation.