What Is Considered a Catastrophic Injury?

A term you might hear during your personal injury claim is catastrophic. Not all personal injuries are catastrophic; instead, this word has a legal connotation specifically reserved for injuries of a certain caliber. If your injury qualifies as catastrophic, your claim might be worth more money. The defendant may owe you greater compensation for your related damages and losses. Understanding catastrophic injury law could be an important part of your case.

When Is an Injury Considered Catastrophic?

In general, a catastrophic injury is one that will permanently affect you. With a catastrophic injury, you might have lifelong disfigurements, physical scars, emotional trauma or disabilities. It may not be possible for you to ever fully recover from a catastrophic injury. You could require long-term nursing or live-in care, medical attention, therapies, rehabilitation, surgeries, or follow-up procedures for life.

It is important to make the distinction between a normal injury and a catastrophic one for a few different reasons. In a no-fault state, the only way to file a lawsuit is if you have a catastrophic injury. Otherwise, no-fault insurance laws mandate you to contact your own insurance company to work out a settlement instead of going to court. Even in a fault-based state, identifying a catastrophic injury could lead to better compensation for your losses.

Find out whether you have an injury that qualifies as catastrophic in the eyes of insurance companies and the civil courts by going to a doctor right away after an accident. A physician can diagnose your injury, ascertain its severity, determine its cause and give you records to document the injury. Keep all records related to your accident and injury for use in your claim later. Keep an injury journal documenting your personal feelings, discomfort, embarrassment and struggles as well. This could demonstrate to others how the injury has impacted your life.

Common Examples of Catastrophic Injuries

Catastrophic injuries can happen in many different circumstances: car crashes, workplace accidents, construction zone accidents, falls, intentional acts of violence or due to medical malpractice. No matter the cause, a catastrophic injury could make you eligible for significant financial compensation from the at-fault party. The defendant in your case may owe you substantial recovery for your past losses, as well as foreseeable future damages connected to your permanent injury or disfigurement.

  • Multiple-bone fracture
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Paralysis
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Permanent brain damage
  • Severe burns
  • Traumatic amputations
  • Loss of vision or hearing
  • Organ damage, rupture or loss of function
  • Neurological disorders
  • Disabling illnesses such as cancer
  • Fatal injuries

Unlike minor injuries, catastrophic injuries often affect a victim’s entire family. If you have a catastrophic injury such as paralysis, for example, your family members may become your caretakers. You might also miss out on opportunities and experiences such as picking up your child or having a physical relationship with your spouse. Your loved ones could be eligible for recovery for the losses they also suffered because of your permanent injury.

What Is Your Case Worth?

For the most part, a catastrophic injury claim will be worth more than a minor injury claim. You may be eligible for past and future damages, including lifelong medical care, as well as damages for what your family endured. In a minor injury case, on the other hand, you may only qualify for the present costs you have faced. A catastrophic injury claim may also qualify for greater pain and suffering damages due to the immense emotional toll these injuries can take.

Hire a Kansas City catastrophic injury attorney if you think your injuries are catastrophic. A lawyer will have the resources and legal experience to fight for fair compensation for catastrophic injuries. Without an attorney, you might not recognize how much your claim is worth – exposing you to the risk of settling with an insurance company for less than you deserve. If a recent injury has significantly impacted your life, contact a lawyer for a consultation about a potential catastrophic injury claim.