While the question of what type of injuries are considered to be catastrophic seems like a reasonable one to ask and an easy one to answer, the truth is that there is no single legal definition of a catastrophic injury. However, there are several definitions out there that are widely accepted in the legal and the medical world, and can easily be used to determine whether your injury falls under this umbrella, especially if it is a very serious or extreme injury.
The Definition of Catastrophic Injury
The most widely accepted definition of what entails a catastrophic injury states that the injury is such that it prevents the person from engaging in any form of work that allows them to support themselves or their families.
This sort of injury is easily considered to be catastrophic as it can cause a lifetime of lost wages for a person, as well as the benefits that go along with those wages. Instead, the person could find themselves buried under an ever-growing pile of medical bills. In some cases, additional costs to the sufferer will incur, such as training for any sort of new job they may be able to find. However, for many, gainful employment will never be found again.
Looking beyond employment, a catastrophic injury can have detrimental effects on other areas of a person’s life as well. This includes the ability to easily travel, exercise, take part in a favorite hobby, or in some cases, even the ability to care for themselves on a day-to-day basis. In these instances, a nurse may need to be hired to help a person bathe or use the bathroom or special equipment such as a wheelchair or hospital bed purchased.
In addition, catastrophic injuries can have an effect on a person’s mental health. Once healthy people may find themselves depressed or with constant anxiety as a result of their accident. This emotional pain can add to the long-lasting effects of physical pain.
What Counts as a Catastrophic Injury?
There is a multitude of injuries, in particular, that will cause severe damage to a person’s central nervous system and will absolutely count as a catastrophic injury. Some examples of these injuries include brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, eye injuries, shoulder injuries, foot injuries, back or neck injuries, severe burns – either from fire or chemicals, amputations of body parts, damage to internal organs, or anything that results in paralysis, paraplegia or quadriplegia.
While these are some examples that result in catastrophic injury, it is important to note that any injury resulting in physical trauma could be considered catastrophic, although some things tend to cause this more than others. This is especially true of motor vehicle accidents.
Other types of accidents that have a high rate of catastrophic injury include construction, swimming pools, pharmacy accidents, defective medical devices, and defects found in consumer products.
Hiring a Lawyer to Help You Through Filing A Lawsuit Pertaining to Catastrophic Injuries
If you happen to be the victim of one of these situations, it is important to remember that you have options. Especially in these instances where it can be confusing as to whether or not your injury is considered to be catastrophic, it is recommended to discuss your case with an experienced lawyer. Doing so can help to ensure you will be awarded as much money as possible in any lawsuit that may arise.
Instances of Negligence
In several states, including Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., the practice of pure contributory negligence is followed by the law. This is important to keep in mind, as this means that if the victim is found to be even a little bit responsible for their injuries in any way they are not able to seek compensation.
However, most jurisdictions follow the practice of pure comparative negligence. This means that victims are able to be compensated based on the level of fault they are found to have with the accident. For example, if the court decides an accident was 25 percent the fault of the victim, they can seek compensation for the other 75 percent.
As a result of all of this, you will want to find an experienced attorney who will be able to help you earn as much as you can from your lawsuit. This is especially true for those living in an area that falls under the practice of pure contributory negligence, as defense lawyers in these areas will work as hard as they are able to find the victim even a tiny bit at fault for the accident that took place. If they are able to do so, you as the victim will not be entitled to any damages.
Lawsuits Pertaining to Catastrophic Injury
Legal cases that involve this type of injury typically deal with a larger sum of money than normal personal injury cases. This is because, as a direct result of the accident, the person involved has had such an upheaval to their life that any small amount of money would simply not be helpful in making them whole again. It is not uncommon to hear about people in these cases being awarded several million dollars.
However, this does not mean they are suddenly rich. Once you take into consideration the loss of earnings for your entire life and add in the additional medical costs you now have to handle, as well as the physical and emotional pain you will be under, possibly for the rest of your life, these multimillion dollar winnings are simply enough to help offer financial stability for a short time while you learn to live a new normal life.
In truth, victims of these injuries would gladly give back all the money they have been awarded if it meant they would be able to go back to how they lived before the accident.
Catastrophic injuries can result from any number of accidents, taking away your ability to live a normal life or work in a job that will allow you to support yourself or your family. It is important to work with an experienced lawyer, as legislatures across the country are beginning to suggest fairly low caps being placed on “non-economic” damages. These damages include lost wages – both now and in the future, inability to enjoy life, depression, medical bills, and permanent disabilities.