What Is Considered a Catastrophic Injury?


A catastrophic injury can happen on the job, while driving a car, or when doing something generally safe such as going for a walk or doing chores at home. What makes an injury catastrophic? For one, it is life-changing; a victim’s life is never the same as before the injury occurred.

Catastrophic injuries are permanent. The victim often cannot care for themselves, let alone return to their job. Extensive medical treatment and care are required, which results in substantial costs and changes in quality of life.

Causes of Catastrophic Injuries

Examples of some common causes of catastrophic injuries include car, truck, or bicycle accidents, falls from heights, construction accidents, and injuries from sports and recreational activities. Medical mistakes and defective medical devices or drugs can lead to catastrophic injuries as well. A workplace injury can be catastrophic as well.

Types of Catastrophic Injuries

  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI): Caused by a blow to the head or penetrating head injury, a TBI can lead to permanent disability, including paralysis, speech difficulties, frequent headaches, noise/light sensitivity, and problems with memory, sleep, or emotional state.
  • Spinal cord injury: Often results in partial or complete paralysis. A spinal cord injury can also increase the risk of heart/blood flow problems, blood clots, respiratory difficulties, and trouble speaking and swallowing. Chronic pain, spasms, and loss of bowel and bladder control may also result.
  • Burn injury: Severe burns can result in disfigurement, infections, a loss of feeling and mobility and, in the worst cases, loss of limbs. Extensive burn injuries often result in long-term hospitalization and medical care. Victims often require major surgery.
  • Loss of limbs: “Traumatic amputations” can result directly due to the injury or must be done in an uncontrolled environment to save the victim’s life. In these cases, severe bleeding and infections are likely. An amputation of any type can exert a significant physical and emotional toll.
  • Organ damage: A catastrophic accident can cause damage to internal organs such as the kidneys, bowels, liver, spleen, and others. Internal bleeding often results, and survival depends on fast and advanced medical care. Oftentimes, ruptured, crushed, or severely damaged organs have live-threatening consequences.

Other effects of catastrophic injuries include:

  • Need for prosthetics, canes, walkers, and wheelchairs
  • Lifelong personal assistance and facility or in-home accommodations
  • Permanent scarring/disfigurement
  • Loss of sight
  • Loss of hearing
  • Pain and suffering

Impact of a Catastrophic Injury

Victims of severe injuries must often undergo surgery, assuming they are strong enough. Sometimes multiple surgeries are required. Physical therapy is often needed. A brain or other traumatic injury to the body may require cognitive or occupational therapy. Pain, personality changes, seizures, and many other symptoms may result from a catastrophic personal injury, which require medication, perhaps for the rest of the person’s life.

The costs of such an injury include medical bills, which can be financially overwhelming for most families. Lost wages are another consideration. Since these injuries are permanent, the victim often can’t return to work and support their own financial well-being, let alone pay their medical bills. The cost of 24/7 live-in care must also be considered. Even if a family member provides care, they may have to leave their job, and thus lose their income that helped support the household.

The Law Offices of Jacob Emrani Can Help

If you or a loved one has suffered a catastrophic injury, financial compensation can help cover the cost of its effects. Our Los Angeles personal injury attorney has obtained millions of dollars in damages for our clients. Contact us at 888-952-2952 for a free case consultation.

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