Understanding the Catastrophic Injury: A Tutorial

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Understanding the Catastrophic Injury: A Tutorial

Any time you’re involved in an accident or event that results in an injury, it’s serious business. Some injuries, however, are designated as catastrophic: the effects of the injury are so severe that they could affect your life in a long-term or permanent way.

Truly catastrophic injuries are usually the result of a serious accident, such as:

  • A collision with another car
  • A fall from a height, like off a scaffold
  • Exposure to chemical or toxic agents
  • Medical or surgical malpractice
  • A violent blow to the head

In many cases, catastrophic injury victims can no longer support themselves, and may need life-long medical assistance in order to survive. On top of this, it may be impossible for some victims to return to work, which can increase the financial burdens on a family.

What kinds of injuries are catastrophic?

Catastrophic injuries are determined by severity. The following injuries, therefore, would be designated as catastrophic:

  • Partial or full paralysis
  • Permanent loss of hearing or vision
  • Losing a limb
  • Permanent scarring or disfigurement
  • 3rd or 4th degree burns
  • Any potentially fatal illness that is left undiagnosed or misdiagnosed
  • Permanent brain damage which results in the loss of cognitive or motor skills
  • Any injury which results in a coma
  • Any injury which results in the need of medical equipment (such as a ventilator) to survive
  • Any injury which results in death

Injuries like these are life-altering – not only for the victim, but for the families and caretakers. The medical expenses are necessarily higher than those associated with other types of injuries, and the emotional toll it takes on both victims and their loved ones is impossible to assess.

Catastrophic injury lawsuits are also more complicated than “average” personal injury lawsuits – and they’re made more difficult because of the caps put in place by lawmakers. In Tennessee, the most amount a person can claim in non-economic damages (such as pain and suffering) is $750,000. The state is effectively saying that the ability to walk, to see, to breathe on one’s own is worth $750,000 – even if you’ll spend the rest of your life dealing with a permanent disability.

If you sustained a catastrophic injury, choosing the right lawyer is key to recovering the most compensation you can. Please call us if you have any questions.