When Is Personal Injury Considered Catastrophic?

A catastrophic injury refers to the most severe type of personal injury a person can suffer from as the result of another person's negligence. Common types of catastrophic personal injuries include spinal, brain, or head injuries that leave a person in a coma or with long-term disability.

When a personal injury is catastrophic, it can significantly impact your claim. This is especially true for workers compensation claims, which is why it's important to contact an experienced workers comp attorney in these situations.

How are catastrophic injuries defined?

In personal injury cases, only 4% to 5% of cases go to trial and 95% of claims are typically settled pre-trial. However, catastrophic injuries are defined differently than typical personal injuries. To be defined as catastrophic, an injury needs to affect the spine, head, or brain.

Spinal damage can cause paralysis that's either temporary or permanent. Head damage can temporarily or permanently impair the senses including sight, hearing, and speech. Head trauma and brain trauma are separate in these instances. Although brain damage doesn't always lead to disability, it can have serious outcomes including neurological impairments.

While there are working definitions for the legal and medical fields that provide an assessment and categorization for catastrophic injury claims, it can be challenging to prove. This is because the primary distinguishing factor is the consequence of the injury. That means a personal injury that caused brain damage may not be considered catastrophic if the consequences of the damage aren't catastrophic.

What are the damages in a catastrophic injury case?

Damages refer to compensation for expenses caused by a collision or other incident. Those who suffer from catastrophic personal injuries are often entitled to a greater number of damages than those who suffer standard personal injuries. This is because medical expenses and at-home care costs are typically greater.

Damages may be recovered in a catastrophic injury case for the following:

    • Future and previous medical bills that have been accrued by the injured party
    • Loss of wages or other earnings due to the injured party's inability to work because of the injury
    • Emotional anguish or distress the injured party has experienced or is currently experiencing

If you've suffered from catastrophic workplace injuries due to unsafe business practices, it may be in your best interest to contact a workers comp attorney. To schedule a consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney today, contact the law offices of J Harris.


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