What is a Catastrophic Injury & What to do if You or a Loved One is Injured

A catastrophic injury is “an injury whose direct and proximate consequences permanently prevent an individual from performing any gainful work.” (Title 42, US Code § 3796b) Catastrophic injuries may go beyond this definition to also include severe injuries that lead to long-term disability or disfigurement.

Often, catastrophic injuries are identified by the ramifications of the injury and the severity of its outcomes. These injuries have devastating, long-term effects which can cause the victim to lose a hard-sought career, the ability to support him or herself and a family, and years of wages and benefits.

The victim’s well-being may also be affected as injuries of this magnitude can prevent him or her from doing any kind of work, from traveling or enjoying personal interests and hobbies. Severe injuries may also increase mental health issues, like anxiety and depression, and possibly require lifelong medical care.

The impact of a severe injury can cause significant stress and grief for the victim’s family. From substantial medical bills and management of care to the possibility of required supervision or long-term assistance, catastrophic injuries can be challenging for families to bear alone.

Examples of catastrophic injuries or illnesses include:

  • Brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Severe burn injuries
  • Amputations
  • Multiple bone fractures
  • Organ damage
  • Loss of eyesight or hearing
  • Any injury that causes serious, permanent damage or disability

The causes of a severe injury can vary, but many are due to car accidents, negligence, failure of another to follow safety rules, dangerous or defective products or drugs, construction accidents, falls, medical mistakes or workplace accidents.

Speaking with an attorney as soon as possible after a serious injury occurs will ensure your best interest is protected. Your attorney should be able to negotiate with insurance carriers to resolve your medical bills, utilize experts to testify about your health and medical needs, obtain greater compensation to cover your long-term costs, and assess your present and future needs.

Catastrophic injury cases are complex and effects of the injury persist long after the accident. Like all personal injury lawsuits, the victim is entitled to compensation for expenses related to his or her injury and medical treatment, but severe injury claims may also encompass the victim’s pain and suffering incurred by the injury. Assuming the at-fault party’s insurance company will provide the right level of compensation for your current and future needs will likely lead to disappointment and possible financial difficulty down the road.

If you or a loved one are seriously injured, it is imperative to consult an experienced attorney, like those at Lepley, Engelman, Yaw & Wilk, LLC. Our experienced attorneys will be able to identify the important facts about your claim, whether it qualifies as a catastrophic injury, and consider your financial needs to make a successful claim.

Check out other articles by Lepley, Engelman, Yaw & Wilk


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