Apr 30, 2024 Michael M. Day Law Firm

What is a Catastrophic Injury?

When an injury from a car accident, slip and fall, criminal attack, or other incident is considered a catastrophic injury, it drastically changes the life of not only the victim but also their entire family. It is important to ensure that victims receive compensation that is sufficient to provide for a wide array of future needs that can be difficult to anticipate without experience. Those affected also deserve compensation for the emotional anguish, pain, lost opportunities and broken dreams.  

To receive full and fair compensation, it will be necessary to prove the extent of a catastrophic injury, the causes, and the full impact of the injury. An experienced injury attorney knows how to prove these factors, but it is helpful for those affected to understand when the injuries in a case can be considered catastrophic and deserving of focused effort and knowledge.

A Catastrophic Injury is Life-Altering

To appreciate the impact of a catastrophic injury, first consider the word “catastrophic.” It refers to something that causes or involves great damage or suffering. A catastrophic injury is a serious physical injury that requires substantial medical treatment and has a significant impact on the victim’s ability to function and continue with the quality of life they enjoyed before the injury. In many cases, catastrophic injuries leave permanent effects, but in some instances, the victim may eventually recover after years of treatment and therapy.

Catastrophic injuries frequently affect the brain or spinal cord, but they can be centered in other parts of the body as well. Accidents involving vehicles such as trucks and motorcycles often result in catastrophic injuries because victims suffer impact at high speed in a collision with a much bigger, heavier vehicle.

Traumatic Brain Injuries

Traumatic brain injuries frequently turn out to be catastrophic in nature, and the severity is not always immediately apparent. An impact can lead to bleeding in the brain and swelling that can later profoundly affect brain function. When injuries to the brain occur immediately on impact, they are sometimes called primary injuries. Injuries that develop later due to the reaction to the impact of the skull against an object or the impact of the brain internally against the skull are sometimes called secondary injuries even though they may have more severe and lasting effects than the primary injuries.

In accidents, victims often suffer diffuse axonal injuries that cause widespread damage to white matter in the brain. A fall or the impact of a collision can cause twisting or tearing of the bundles of axons that connect various parts of the brain. These injuries disrupt connections in the brain and cause the release of chemicals that cause further damage to brain tissue. Even if a victim recovers from these injuries, the process is long and slow.

Traumatic brain injuries can cause difficulty with performing basic tasks and prevent victims from working, driving, reading, and many other activities that most people take for granted.

Spinal Cord and Back Injuries

When an accident, fall, or other incident causes damage to an individual’s spinal cord, this can impact motor function throughout the body. Paralysis is a common result. The victim may lose both sensation and the ability to control parts of the body or may retain one aspect without the other. When someone suffers paralysis in all four limbs and their trunk, the condition is known as quadriplegia. An injury near the top of the spine can often lead to this type of injury. When an injury occurs lower on the spine, it may lead to paraplegia, which involves loss of sensation and motor function from the waist down. Any type of paralysis can have a drastic impact on the victim’s life as well as the lives of family members who have to help make up for lost abilities.

When vertebrae are fractured in an accident, pieces of bond often explode into spinal tissue, tearing ligaments as well as nerves and the spinal cord. The victims of back injuries often suffer debilitating pain that increases over time, leading to a deteriorating quality of life.

Severe Burns

Burns are some of the most painful and disfiguring catastrophic injuries. Because of the trauma, victims often suffer emotional scars that, like the physical scars, never heal. Many victims feel the need to hide for the rest of their lives.

Organ Damage

The human body is a complex organism, and when one organ is damaged and cannot function properly, it can impact the functioning of the body as a whole. Organ damage can prevent an individual from living a full life, requiring constant monitoring and care.

Amputations and Crushed Limbs

Like severe burns, injuries that crush or amputate limbs lead to disfigurement as well as loss of bodily function. Crush injuries often damage cells that remove sodium and release calcium and potassium into the body, which can lead to kidney failure and heart damage.

Valuing a Catastrophic Injury

When an individual suffers a catastrophic injury that could have been prevented if the person responsible had only exercised reasonable care, that individual should receive compensation to make up for all the ways the injury has harmed their life in the past and the impact on life expected for the future. There is no way to put an accurate monetary value on the suffering that a catastrophic injury causes. However, based on legal precedent, an experienced injury attorney can determine the amount that insurance companies should pay based on the circumstances.

Michael M. Day Fights for Maximum Compensation for Victims and Their Families

While no amount of money can erase pain or restore lost health, obtaining fair compensation can provide for future needs and provide a sense of justice. At Michael M. Day Law Firm, LLC, we stand up to insurance companies and fight for the right damage award to reflect all the losses our clients experience after motor vehicle accidents, falls, animal attacks, daycare abuse, criminal attacks, and other injury situations. For a free consultation to learn what your claim may be worth, contact us now.