What is Considered a “Catastrophic Injury?”
When an accident or other event results in an injury, it can often be upsetting and costly to deal with. While all types of injuries are valid and important to prevent, some catastrophic injuries can be life-altering and require long-term care to recover from or manage. Understanding what makes an injury catastrophic and how these events can happen, can help the public know what legal options are available if they are ever impacted by a catastrophic injury.
Injuries can happen at any point in our lives for a variety of reasons; however, some injuries are caused by the negligence or fault of others. When this occurs, these parties must be held legally accountable for the resulting personal injury damages, especially if the injuries sustained are found to be catastrophic. But what makes an injury catastrophic?
Generally, catastrophic injuries are the most severe kinds of injuries and they can affect the spine, brain, or head to the point that the victim can remain in a coma and/or suffer long-term disability. Injuries like this are typically classified as catastrophic when they happen suddenly and without warning, leaving the victim with life-altering impacts. Despite these injuries being able to occur at nearly any time in a person’s life, catastrophic injuries most often happen as the result of:
- Car, truck, motorcycle, and bus accidents
- Boating accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Sports accidents
- Workplace accidents
- Fire and explosion accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Defective products
There are a variety of types of injuries that can be considered catastrophic, each with many potential causes. The most common types of catastrophic injury include:
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) occur when the brain is impacted by a force, is deprived of oxygen, is shaken rapidly, is subjected to rotational force, or is penetrated by an object. While all instances of TBI have the potential to be serious, some can be much more severe than others. TBI-related injuries can be fatal or greatly impact a person’s cognition, thinking, memory, emotions, sensations, and more. While some cases of TBI can be treated and sometimes lead to a victim’s recovery, in many instances these injuries can cause permanent disability requiring long-term care and preventing the injured party from returning to work and enjoying their life as they did prior to the incident that caused harm to their brain.
Spinal Cord Injuries
One of the most devastating types of catastrophic injuries is spinal cord injury. When a spinal cord injury occurs, the spinal cord is impacted with force, sometimes as the result of a vertebral fracture. This specific injury disrupts the spinal cord’s ability to send messages between the brain and the rest of the body. In these cases, the result is often paralysis from the site of the injury down – paraplegia – or even full quadriplegia. One of the most devastating aspects of spinal cord injuries is that they are very often permanent and leave victims impacted for life.
Limb Amputation Injuries
Losing a limb is a devastating, life-changing injury that many accident victims deal with. These events are tragic and leave those impacted reliant on medical assistance for the most basic tasks of daily living. While prosthetics and physical therapy can help aid in restoring one’s quality of life after an injury that leads to limb amputation, nothing can be done to restore those limbs after a severe accident. Crush injuries are a common cause of amputations.
Burn injuries are among the most painful types of injuries to deal with. There are many types of burns, including friction burns, thermal burns, radiation burns, and chemical burns, among others. Burns are also classified by degree, with the first degree being superficial and only affecting the outermost layer of skin, and fourth-degree – the most severe – impacting all layers of skin as well as bones, muscles, and tendons. These injuries can be life-threatening and cause long-term mobility and disability issues. Not only that, but depending on the severity of the burns, they can leave victims disfigured and potentially in need of multiple rounds of surgeries to repair the damaged flesh.
Skull Fracture Injuries
Fractures to the skull are often catastrophic. These injuries are recognized as such due to the potential for injury to the brain and/or spinal cord. Additionally, treatment for skull fracture injuries is incredibly risky and generally requires specialized surgery conducted by a surgeon trained in such matters, as a small error could result in further injury or disability.
California Catastrophic Injury Lawyers
Survivors of catastrophic injuries are often left with long-term, lifelong impacts they must deal with each day. No matter if a victim has lost a limb, suffered some type of paralysis, or been severely burned, their lives are forever changed often due to the negligence of another party.
Across Northern California, the award-winning personal injury attorneys of Curtis Legal Group have earned millions of dollars in awards and settlements for our clients. Because the impacts of catastrophic injury cases are often severe, it’s important to have the knowledge of experienced legal counsel willing to fight to get you the compensation you need. If you or someone you know has experienced a catastrophic injury at the hands of a negligent individual or company, we can help.