Catastrophic Injury Law

A catastrophic injury is life-altering and/or permanent. In legal terms, a catastrophic injury means “consequences of an injury that permanently prevent an individual from performing any gainful work.” For the most part, a catastrophic injury leaves someone suffering for the rest of his or her life. Also, that means he or she would be on permanent disability, and be titled to compensation. A victim’s family may need to constantly supervise or assist the injured person, as well as pay rehabilitation and medical bills.

Types of Catastrophic Injury

There are many circumstances that could lead to a catastrophic injury, some of which are sudden. For instance, a disruption to the central nervous system, spinal cord injuries, severe burns, could all be classified as catastrophic. Accordingly, here are the most common:

  • Serious head trauma
  • Accidental amputation
  • Severe burns
  • Multiple bone fractures
  • Eye, shoulder, foot, back, or neck injuries
  • Organ damage
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Neurological disorder leading to paralysis, paraplegia, or quadriplegia

The Law Surrounding Catastrophic Injury Cases

If an intentional act, or negligence, or a dangerous/defective product caused an injury, a personal injury lawsuit will be the best claim. The amount of liability plays a huge part in the overall settlement, future quality of life, and medical care of a catastrophic injury sufferer. For instance, here are some of the compensations that a good personal injury lawyer can recover:

  • Lost wages
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Mental anguish
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of future wages
  • Permanent disability
  • Medical bills

Legislation throughout the United States have imposed caps on “non-economic” damages for medical malpractice, which can be low. So it’s important to have a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer on your side, to help determine if an injury is “catastrophic” in nature. In most states, the cap is between $250,000 to $750,000.

Real-Life Catastrophic Injury Payouts

To give you an example of a catastrophic injury payment, here are some real-life examples.

  • A construction worker who suffered severe brain injuries after falling from a scaffold was awarded $27 million.
  • A pilot and passenger of an airplane that was not properly maintained were awarded $11.3 million each, after a crash. The pilot suffered third degree burns on 40% of her body. The passenger also suffered third-degree burns, as well as respiratory and orthopedic injuries.

Liability in Catastrophic Injury Cases

A defendant found liable for a plaintiff’s injury will be required to pay damages to “make the plaintiff whole.” That is to say, to pay for all pain and suffering, loss of quality of life, and medical bills resulting from the injury. The payouts are much larger than less severe injury cases, but also more complicated and harder to prove. For instance, someone at the beginning stages of recovery might not be seen as “catastrophically injured,” but might face a lifetime of specific medical care. In this case, a medical expert would have to testify to what treatments will entail in the future, how expensive they’ll be, and how long they’ll last.


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