What Classifies as a Catastrophic Injury?
Gregg Hollander | May 14, 2021 | Personal Injury
Catastrophic injuries are physical injuries that have an increased risk of resulting in permanent impairments or disabilities. These injuries are traumatic and may be life-threatening. A catastrophic injury can have a substantial impact on a person’s ability to perform daily activities.
In most cases, catastrophic injuries require a high level of medical care and treatment. A person may be in the hospital for weeks and require months of therapy to recover.
A person may not sustain permanent impairments from a catastrophic injury, but it could take years to regain full functions. During that time, the person may experience chronic pain and extreme emotional distress and mental anguish.
Examples of Catastrophic Injuries
Any injury could be considered a catastrophic injury if it is serious enough.
Examples of catastrophic injuries include:
- Spinal cord injuries, including paralysis
- Traumatic brain injuries, including permanent brain damage
- Blindness and deafness
- Severe burns and disfigurement
- Loss of limbs and amputations
- Internal organ damage and organ failure
The above injuries require a high level of medical care and personal care. In some cases, a person may require 24/7 care for the rest of their lives.
What Causes Catastrophic Injuries?
Almost any accident can result in catastrophic injuries.
Common accidents that cause catastrophic injuries include:
- Motor vehicle accidents, including crashes involving cars, pedestrians, commercial trucks, bicyclists, and motorcycles
- Construction accidents and workplace injuries
- Slip and fall accidents
- Boating accidents and injuries
- Sports and recreational activities
- Nursing home abuse and neglect
- Defective products
- Dog attacks
- Medical malpractice
- Negligent security
Negligence is the common factor in catastrophic injury accidents. You can hold a negligent person financially liable for damages caused by a catastrophic injury.
Proving Liability for a Catastrophic Injury
In most cases, you must prove negligence to recover damages for a personal injury. Negligence is the failure to act as a reasonable person would have acted in the same or similar situation.
The legal elements of a negligence case are:
- The person owed you a duty of care
- That person breached the duty of care
- The breach was a direct cause of your injuries
- You sustained damages because of the breach
You must establish each of these elements to prove your negligence case. If you cannot prove one or more of the elements, you cannot recover compensation.
A personal injury lawyer will investigate the cause of your injury and gather evidence proving negligence. Your lawyer will also document your damages to calculate the correct value of your losses.
What Damages Can You Recover After a Catastrophic Injury?
The damages in a catastrophic injury case tend to be high. The cost of medical care and personal care can total hundreds of thousands of dollars. The loss of income can also be substantial because it could take months to recover from the injuries.
If the person sustains a permanent impairment, the value of the claim increases substantially. In addition to the loss of income, medical and personal care is valued over the person’s lifetime.
Damages that you can recover for a catastrophic injury include:
- Medical bills and the cost of personal care
- Physical pain and suffering
- Loss of income, including decreases in earning potential
- Mental and emotional distress and trauma
- Permanent impairments and disabilities
- Disfigurement and scarring
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Decreased quality of life
- Other out-of-pocket expenses and financial losses
The value of your damages depends on the facts of your case. If you share responsibility for the accident, your damages could be reduced by your percentage of fault.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit for Catastrophic Injuries
The Florida Statute of Limitations gives you four years from the date of your injury to file a lawsuit seeking damages for catastrophic injuries. If a person dies from their injuries, their family members have two years to file a wrongful death claim.
It is always best to consult a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after an accident or injury. You could have less or more time to file a claim.
A lawyer monitors the deadlines to file claims and lawsuits while they investigate the accident. The lawyer also handles all matters related to your case, including communications with insurance companies and other parties. Having a legal team handle your claim means that you can focus on healing and getting back to your regular routines and activities.