What Is Considered a Catastrophic Injury?
Suffering a catastrophic injury is undoubtedly one of the worst things that can happen to someone. It can leave you permanently damaged and have a devastating impact on your quality of life.
What Qualifies as a Catastrophic Injury?
Section 3796b of the US Code Title 42 defines a catastrophic injury as an injury which renders a person unable to work for the remainder of their life.
For instance, a catastrophic injury to the spinal cord can leave you paralyzed from the neck down, rendering you physically incapable of doing anything on your own. Similarly, an injury to your brain can result in a severe decline in cognitive abilities, which can prevent you from being gainfully employed ever again.
The most common types of catastrophic injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Injuries to the spinal cord
- Internal organ damage
- Severe burns resulting in permanent disfigurement
- Crush injuries
What Causes Catastrophic Injuries?
Motor Vehicle Accidents
When two motor vehicles collide with each other, the chances of one or more of the people involved sustaining catastrophic injuries is fairly high – especially if it is a high-speed collision or if one of the drivers happens to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Similarly, in any collision between a motor vehicle and a pedestrian, the risks of the pedestrian sustaining a life-threatening or catastrophic injury are extremely high. And if a person riding a bicycle or a motorcycle gets hit by a motor vehicle, they are likely to sustain catastrophic injuries as well.
Slip and Fall Accidents
If you accidentally slip and fall onto a hard surface, you might suffer catastrophic injuries like blunt trauma and multiple bone fractures.
If you work in construction, farming, manufacturing, or transportation, you are likely to be exposed to a number of safety hazards on a regular basis. Some of the common risk factors include working around or operating heavy machinery, working on slippery surfaces, working at a great height without adequate fall protection, and exposure to toxic chemicals.
The risk of sustaining a catastrophic injury is particularly high when you are not wearing personal protective equipment.
Medical Negligence or Malpractice
When a medical professional fails to diagnose and treat a serious health problem in a timely manner, misdiagnoses a condition, prescribes the wrong medication, or performs the wrong treatment, the possibility of the patient sustaining a catastrophic injury is very high.
What Are the Consequences of Suffering a Catastrophic Injury?
Most catastrophic injuries require a lifetime of treatment and rehabilitation, which can cost you a lot of money, even if you happen to have health insurance.
Some kinds of catastrophic injuries – nerve injuries in particular – can lead to chronic pain, which you will have to deal with for the rest of your life.
If your injuries result in a severe disability or loss of limbs, you will have to depend on a third party to perform your daily functions.
If you are fully or partially paralyzed as a result of an injury to your spinal cord or if you suffer a severe decline in cognitive abilities as a result of an injury to your brain, you might be unable to perform what are called ‘activities of daily living’, which include bathing, dressing, grooming, and eating.
The loss of income caused by a catastrophic injury can be enormous, especially if you get injured in the prime of your career. In some cases, your spouse might also have to quit their job in order to care for you, which can leave your household with little to no income.
Lastly, the emotional distress caused by a catastrophic injury can be devastating. Knowing that you will never be able to work, exercise, travel, or engage in your favorite activities ever again can cause you a lot of mental anguish, which can lead to clinical depression or anxiety disorders.
Who Is Liable for a Catastrophic Injury?
- The driver (motor vehicle accidents)
- The property owner (drowning accidents, slip and fall accidents, and other such accidents caused by their negligence)
- The product manufacturer (injuries caused by defective products)
- The employer, contractor, property owner, or the manufacturer (workplace accidents)
- The doctor (medical negligence or malpractice)
Generally speaking, you have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit against any third party whose actions contributed to the accident.
Catastrophic Injury Lawyers in El Cajon, California
If you or any of your family members have suffered a catastrophic injury in an accident, you need an experienced personal injury lawyer who is capable of building a strong case against the liable parties and recover sufficient compensatory damages for you.
The personal injury lawyers at Garmo & Garmo, LLP have successfully represented a number of catastrophic injury victims in Southern California over the past 20 years.
We can provide you with aggressive, high-quality legal representation and recover damages for your medical expenses, therapy, ongoing care, loss of income, and loss of consortium. Contact our personal injury lawyers today at 619-736-3935 for a free consultation.