What Is A “Catastrophic” Injury?

Personal injury law hinges on the idea that when you hurt someone, that person is entitled to some form of compensation. This doesn’t mean that every accident or injury is grounds for a lawsuit, but when an injury results in lost wages or hospital bills, the injured party is victimized a second time, this time by financial setbacks.

Some injuries are so severe that the toll they take on a person’s well-being and quality of life is ultimately immeasurable. Known as “catastrophic injuries,” these injuries leave the survivor with irreversible damage and disability, often severely restricting the activities that the survivor can continue doing.

Understanding and Defining “Catastrophic” Injuries

In most contexts, catastrophic injuries are ones that affect the brain and spinal cord. These injuries are often far-reaching in their devastation, affecting the survivor’s cognitive functioning, emotional states, and behaviors. Catastrophic injuries often leave their victims paralyzed, sometimes completely.

For purposes of a personal injury lawsuit, however, there are other types of injury which may also be considered catastrophic:

  • Injuries resulting in amputation. Losing any part of your body will cause some amount of disability, even if you’re not paralyzed. Conditions requiring amputation are generally recognized to be among the most severe. This also includes accidental imputations.
  • Widespread burns. A burn can be excruciatingly painful, and sometimes the pain can last years after the incident that caused the burn. Many burn victims also become permanently disfigured, which can become a serious obstacle to social and occupational functioning. But burns can also cause other disabilities, like the loss of sensation or movement at the burn site.
  • Permanent damage to vital organs. A severe accident may cause internal organs to rupture, leaving the victim with life-threatening complications. In cases where the victim survives the organ damage, an organ transplant and lifelong medications are often required afterward.
  • Bone fractures. While these are generally not thought of as catastrophic, they can qualify in the most severe cases. Some people develop chronic pain syndromes after an accident, and these can be disabling and difficult to treat.

If you or a loved one has a lasting impairment after an accident, you may have a catastrophic injury. An experienced personal injury attorney like Katherine can help you take the first step towards moving on with your life, and getting the compensation that you’re owed. For a free consultation, just give us a call, email, or text message at your convenience.