Some accidents and injuries are easy to move past. Others may continue to affect your life months or years after the fact. If you have been injured by someone else’s negligence badly enough to suffer long-term effects, your injury may be considered catastrophic.
The severity of your injuries can have a significant impact on personal injury claims. Damages for these lawsuits are in part determined by how long it takes you to recover, and catastrophic harm may mean you never fully heal or return to your normal activities. Below, we discuss how catastrophic injuries are defined in personal injury lawsuits, provide examples, and explain how to pursue just compensation for your accident.
What Is a Catastrophic Injury in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
One definition of a catastrophic injury is in the US legal code: “an injury, the direct and proximate consequences of which permanently prevent an individual from performing any gainful work.” This is the definition used for permanent and total disability of public safety officers. According to this definition, any injury which directly and permanently prevents you from working again is considered catastrophic.
However, in personal injury cases, the term is used more broadly. There is no specific law on a federal or state level that defines catastrophic injuries in civil lawsuits. Instead, the term is used to describe injuries that affect vital parts of the body, lead to long-term or permanent disabilities, or otherwise reduce your quality of life for years or longer.
This allows personal injury attorneys to highlight particularly debilitating injuries and set them apart from less impactful accidents. The long-term or permanent nature of catastrophic harm is often grounds for pursuing significantly greater damages in personal injury lawsuits.
For example, one client of Reuben Donig suffered a broken hip and femur in a car accident. This required hip replacement surgery and more than a year in an assisted living facility for daily rehabilitation. On behalf of this client, Mr. Donig pursued damages from both drivers’ car insurance policies as well as Medicare. Due to the devastating nature of their fractured hip, Mr. Donig won $632,538 for this client to cover their medical costs, rehabilitation, and the pain and suffering of losing a year of their life. In similar cases, Mr. Donig has achieved settlements of more than $1 million on behalf of permanently injured clients.
Examples of Catastrophic Injuries
Catastrophic injuries can result from many kinds of accidents. Do not dismiss the potential of a personal injury claim just because you think the accident should not have been that bad. It is the resulting injuries, not the cause, that lead to a catastrophic classification. If your injuries permanently impact your quality of life, prevent you from returning to work, or lead to a long-term or permanent disability, the accident was catastrophic.
Examples of catastrophic harm from an accident include:
- Pedestrian and bicycle accidents: Pedestrians and cyclists are at serious risk if they are hit by a car. These road users have very little protection from motorized vehicles, which can make collisions devastating. The high speeds and hard surfaces involved in pedestrian or bike accidents can lead to catastrophic harm, such as brain injuries, severe fractures, joint damage, and paralysis. These issues may take years to heal or lead to permanent disabilities.
- Car accidents: Crashes can be just as dangerous for drivers and passengers. Multi-vehicle accidents often involve high speeds and torque, which can seriously damage the spinal column. Vehicle occupants may also be at risk of severe, disfiguring burns if accidents lead to engine fires.
- Slip and fall accidents: Slips, trips, and falls are often dismissed as minor accidents. However, they can lead to permanent disabilities if the fall is severe enough. For example, Reuben Doing has represented clients whose trip and fall injuries required significant surgeries to repair, including shoulder replacements, total knee replacements, and rotator cuff repairs. Falls can also lead to brain injuries, spine injuries, and fractures if they occur in the wrong place.
How to Pursue Compensation for a Catastrophic Injury
If your injury permanently affects your life, you may have suffered a catastrophic accident. You deserve fair compensation for the medical costs, financial losses, and pain and suffering caused by your injury. Here’s how you can pursue damages for the harm you’ve suffered.
- Consult with a qualified attorney. The most critical aspect of a successful claim is your attorney. An expert personal injury lawyer like Reuben Donig is essential to building your case, determining the value of your claim, and pursuing just compensation.
- Collect documentation. With your lawyer, gather information about your injury. Some details you will need include medical records regarding your immediate and ongoing treatment, bills and receipts proving the costs incurred by the accident, insurance claims and communications, and testimony from loved ones and medical professionals explaining how the accident has impacted your life.
- Choose your method of resolution. Litigation is not the only solution for resolving a catastrophic personal injury claim. Depending on your circumstances, you may also negotiate, attend mediation, or pursue arbitration. Your attorney will help you select the most appropriate resolution method and represent you throughout the process to maximize your potential damages.
Get Expert Help With Your Catastrophic Injury Claim
If you’ve suffered from a catastrophic injury, you have enough to worry about. You deserve to focus on healing and returning to your normal life, not fighting insurance companies or worrying about medical bills. At the Law Office of Reuben J. Donig, we are prepared to advocate on your behalf so you can pay attention to what matters most. We understand the challenges you face after your catastrophic accident. We have years of experience helping accident victims recover the compensation they need without unnecessary stress or lengthy legal battles. Get in touch today to learn more about how attorney Reuben Doing can help you pursue compensation through mediation, negotiation, arbitration, or litigation.