Suffering an injury is never pleasant, but in some cases, it can be life-altering and lead to significant damages, recovery time, and sometimes even a permanent decline in the victim’s quality of life. Personal injuries, generally, describe the injuries suffered by the victim in an accident or due to the negligence of another party. They can include such injuries as whiplash, soft tissue injuries, abrasions and cuts, broken bones, and even mental anguish.
According to the American Medical Association, a catastrophic injury is one that causes severe injury to the spine or the brain, though the legal definition of a catastrophic injury can be much broader, encompassing various severe and serious personal injuries. Some examples of catastrophic injuries include traumatic brain injuries, back and spinal injuries, paralysis, severe burns, the loss of limbs or amputations, and serious internal injuries.
Although a catastrophic injury is still considered a type of personal injury, there are several key differences between an injury that affects a person generally and one that is considered catastrophic. For example:
- The extent and severity of the injuries, and the length of time it can take to recover. Generally, a catastrophic injury will be one that is extremely severe, while a personal injury will be more minor. Because many catastrophic injuries often involve the head or spine, it can take significant time — and need to receive medical attention — for the victim to recover. Other catastrophic injuries can involve the loss of a limb, serious burns, or disfigurement, all of which require significant and lengthy care after the accident. By contrast, minor injuries often heal much more quickly.
- The overall amount of damages. As the need for medical care grows after a catastrophic injury, so do the costs associated with getting the help the victim needs. Damages after a catastrophic injury include the costs of doctor’s visits, specialist care, hospital stays, medical testing and imaging, rehabilitation and therapy costs, and prescription medications. Moreover, they include the loss of wages or income that the victim may experience as a result of being out of work, and even the loss of future earnings potential if they are unable to work after the injury. General damages, such as the victim’s pain and suffering, scarring and disfigurement, loss of consortium, and the loss of enjoyment of everyday activities are also common in catastrophic injury cases.
- The changes to the victim’s quality of life. A catastrophic injury vs. personal injury often results in lifelong changes, with the victim unable to enjoy many of the activities that they had previously been able to enjoy. They may also be out of work for a long period, and in some cases, may never be able to work in their current position again. They may need significant therapy and rehabilitation, and the general quality of their life may decrease substantially.
- The effects on the victim’s family and loved ones. The victim of a catastrophic injury isn’t the only person who experiences major changes in life after the accident — those who live with, care for, and care about the victim often find their own lives turned upside down, as well. Your loved one may need substantial assistance with daily tasks. Your family may no longer enjoy activities that you used to do together. Your time may be spent taking care of your loved one, causing great changes to your life.
- The effects on the case and the process of recovering compensation. While both catastrophic injuries and personal injuries are typically resolved during a negligence suit, there are some important differences. For starters, the level of preparation required in a catastrophic injury claim can be significant, and the claim will need to be proven with clear, convincing, and meticulous evidence. The testimony of expert witnesses will likely be required, and a catastrophic injury claim may take longer to negotiate or litigate than a more simple personal injury matter.
- The need for a knowledgeable and experienced attorney. A catastrophic injury lawyer can be essential in your case, as they can help negotiate with the other party and their insurance company toward a fair and reasonable settlement. Because these cases can quickly become complex, involve many different laws, and need to be proven through significant evidence, an experienced catastrophic injury lawyer can be invaluable during settlement negotiations and during your trial, if needed.
With over 35 years of combined experience, we have helped many clients with catastrophic injuries recover compensation, and our reviews from our clients and our track record speak for themselves. Our goal is to focus on your case so that you can focus on getting better.
We negotiate on your behalf towards a favorable settlement, and even when the other party or their insurer are not negotiating fairly, we can help file a lawsuit on your behalf and take your case to trial, if needed. If you have suffered a serious injury, contact the catastrophic injury lawyers at Johnson Garcia for a free consultation.