According to the 42 United States Code §3796b, “‘catastrophic injury’ means consequences of an injury that permanently prevent an individual from performing any gainful work.”
In essence, a catastrophic injury is one that leaves you forever unable to work to earn a living as you always have. These types of injuries typically occur as a result of physical damage to the brain and/or spinal cord, causing significant short- or long-term impacts on your functional abilities.
Sustaining a catastrophic injury means that you lose a critical part of who you are, whether it be a limb, your walking capabilities, or the ability to form complete thoughts. Overall, if your injuries are severe enough to be long-lasting and debilitating or cause you to sustain some sort of deformity, you have suffered a catastrophic injury.
Catastrophic Injury Types
There are three general types of catastrophic injuries, including:
- Physical injuries
- Damage to orthopedic function or tissues
- Spine injuries
- These injuries exclusively impact the spinal cord, producing lifelong mobility problems for survivors.
- Psychological injuries
- These injuries are some of the most damaging. They come about as a result of brain damage that eliminates or weakens your ability to work, speak, or form new memories.
According to the Law, Catastrophic Injuries Must Result in Significant, Lifelong Harm
In a court of law, whether an injury is considered catastrophic or not typically depends on who suffered the injury and the effects of the harm on the individual’s life.
For instance, if you are a single mother with three children and you sustain a severe head injury in a car accident that leaves you unable to work or care for your kids at home, the injury would likely be considered catastrophic in terms of the impact on your life.
In another example, if you are a professional athlete and you break both of your legs in a sports accident, and the strength and stability of your knees never return to pre-accident function, your injuries would likely be considered catastrophic.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit for Catastrophic Harm
As you may know, the value of your personal injury case is typically determined based on the nature and severity of your injuries. In this way, the more damage your injuries have caused to your life, the more compensation you can expect to recover in damages. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the evidence needed to prove the severity of your damages may also be more complex and elaborate than a standard personal injury case.
The reason for this is that you are likely just beginning a long initial recovery process, which may necessitate a lifetime of required medical treatment. The attorneys on both sides of the aisle must have a solid understanding of the particular medical care that is currently required as well as any necessary future medical treatment. The needed medical care will help determine the value of the case so that an injury settlement can be negotiated that is adequate for all involved parties.
Most of the time, medical and financial experts play a major role in determining the required course of care, the estimated costs of that care, the economic effects of your inability to earn a living, and other elements of economic losses.
Additionally, your pain and suffering, psychological distress, and other subjective types of losses must be determined using your own testimony as well as medical expert testimonies from doctors and mental health care providers.
If you’ve suffered a catastrophic injury as a result of another’s wrongdoing, you may be owed compensation. Our attorneys want to see that you receive the money you deserve. Don’t delay—reach out to our office right away to learn how we can help.