Catastrophic Injury Defined

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February 4, 2019

What Constitutes a Catastrophic Injury?

Catastrophic Injury Defined


Catastrophic injuries are those that are permanent in nature, life threatening, or require invasive treatments such as surgeries or life-long care plans. The law does not distinguish between catastrophic injuries or otherwise ordinary injuries. Some examples of catastrophic injuries include traumatic brain injuries, fractures. Other known examples are severe burns, internal organ damage, loss of limbs, paralysis, among others. All of these are injuries which require extensive care, or in some cases, for the remainder of a client’s life.

A catastrophic injury will likely result in an increase in economic and non-economic damages. Since they can be life-threatening or permanent in nature, the longer they require treatment increases the health cost that may be awarded.

What Are Some of the Ways that a Person Can Be Catastrophically Injured?

In general, catastrophic injuries can occur in a number of ways. Catastrophic injuries can occur at the workplace, you can sustain burn injuries, loss of limbs, loss of fingers, and injuries of that nature at the workplace. In addition, you can sustain head injuries or fractures at the workplace as well.

Similarly, catastrophic injuries can occur in general premises liability cases.

A slip and fall, for example, will or can result in a catastrophic injury. In some cases, slip and falls inflict ligament tears, fractures, or things of that nature which may require surgeries or extensive treatment.

Another way that a catastrophic injury can occur is in a car accident or truck accident. A lot of times, these are seen in highway accidents, but may also occur in a simple rear-end accident, depending on the force and nature of the accident.

Catastrophic injuries can also occur in pedestrian accidents and bicycle accidents. In fact, catastrophic injuries are seen more often in these types of accidents because of the lack of protection, whereas a car that has airbags, in a pedestrian accident or a bicycle accident, you are not protected by such devices.

There’s a number of ways these injuries can occur. Elevator accidents, escalator accidents, criminal assault cases wherein there is a negligence claim for failure to provide adequate security. Other examples consist of burn accidents, medical malpractice, dangerous drug cases, among others. Catastrophic injuries are seen more often than the name implies.

Are Catastrophic Injuries Always Permanent?

Catastrophic injuries are not always permanent–you can have an injury that is life threatening in nature. For example, organ damage, internal bleeding, bleeding of the brain, injuries of that nature, after being resolved, may not produce a permanent injury, but are still catastrophic in nature given that they are life threatening and severe.

That said, typically, catastrophic injuries will be permanent, and lingering symptoms and extensive care may be necessary or may happen with respect to permanent catastrophic injuries.

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