What Is a Catastrophic Injury?

What Is a Catastrophic Injury?

Catastrophic injuries are so disastrous that their effects leave the victim’s body permanently ruined. Brain damage (traumatic brain injury – TBI) and/or spinal cord injury which can cause mental incapacitation and physical handicap are two such catastrophic injuries. Many burn injuries may leave the victim physically altered and impaired. Other catastrophic injuries can produce serious internal organ damage, or loss of an arm or leg. Victims of the following types of accidents can suffer catastrophic injuries:

  • Car accidents
  • Workplace accidents
  • Commercial truck accidents
  • Bicycle accidents
  • Falls from heights
  • Sports and recreational activities
  • Construction accidents
  • Medical malpractice
  • Defective medical devices or drugs – including pharmacy mistakes.

Catastrophic injuries often require unusual amounts of financial compensation to the victim because …

  • The more serious the injury, the greater the number of surgeries the victim might require in order to return to a reasonable level of recovery.
  • The amount of needed rehabilitation may also be greater.
  • There may be a need for permanent use of a medical device or medication as a result of the injury. This may also involve costs to retro-fit the victim’s home to accommodate a wheelchair or other equipment and possibly the purchase of a special vehicle.
  • If the victim can no longer work after a catastrophic injury– or can no longer perform the work done before the injury – they may be entitled to compensation for their lost income.
  • Catastrophic injuries also may entitle victims to be compensated for emotional damage suffered from the needless accident.

Unlike minor injuries, many times catastrophic injuries will have a negative effect on the accident victim’s entire family. The disabled victim may not able to contribute to the household income. It is often difficult for the injured family member to help with even simple household chores. Many times the victim is so seriously injured that he or she is no longer able to offer physical affection to a spouse or play with their kids, or perform other simple life tasks that we usually take for granted.

Catastrophic injury damages requested by the injured plaintiff are likely to be substantial. As with other forms of personal injury lawsuits, they include significant economic damages, such as compensation for medical bills, lost income, out-of-pocket expenses, and replacement of property that was damaged or destroyed in the accident.

But compensation requested by the plaintiff-victim may also include significant noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering, loss of the victim’s ability to enjoy life, mental anguish, permanent disability, disfigurement, and loss of consortium. The value of noneconomic damages to those suffering catastrophic injuries is often much higher than economic damages.

In no-fault insurance states, like Kentucky, injured plaintiffs can bring a lawsuit in a vehicle accident only when their injuries are catastrophic. Kentucky also follows a “pure comparative negligence” system. This means that if the victim and the negligent defendant share responsibility for causing the accident, a percentage of fault is assigned to both parties. So if, for example, the value of the claim by the plaintiff against the defendant is $1 million, and the injured plaintiff was found to be 15 percent responsible for the accident, the plaintiff will receive 85 percent ($850,000) from the defendant.

If you’ve suffered a catastrophic injury and would like to speak to an attorney, contact Billy Johnson today to schedule a free consultation.

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