Personal Injury Legally Classified as “Catastrophic”
There are times whether an incident led to what might be classified as “catastrophic”. This issue is relevant for several reasons, including how a claim is paid out and what damage caps might be imposed by law on the total claim.
Let’s take a look at what is considered a catastrophic injury and why the issue can end up being so critical to how a case unfolds.
Defining a Catastrophic Injury
From a legal perspective, catastrophic injuries are ones that deserve a higher level of compensation than the standard or regular-type personal injury case. They are still technically personal injuries, but they meet a threshold for higher damagers. The logic behind providing additional compensation to victims who’ve been catastrophically injured is simple: They’re going to suffer more, and they’re also going to need more money to compensate for medical help, lost wages and other issues.
Medically speaking, a catastrophic injury is one that leaves a person:
In need of life-long care or special accommodations;
With a permanent disability;
Severely disfigured, deformed or scarred;
Totally incapable of continuing to make money at their profession.
In some ways, it’s easier to think about what does NOT count as a catastrophic personal injury. For example, an individual involved in a slip-and-fall accident at a store might break their forearm trying to brace themselves during the fall. Barring unusual circumstances, we tend to expect a broken forearm to heal very well.
Conversely, there are severe injuries a person can expect to never recover from. While not close to an exhaustive list, these include:
Brain damage that leaves them comatose
Spinal damage that limits their ability to walk
Injuries that result in loss of sexual function
Injuries to body parts critical to doing their work
If it is an accident that happens in the scope of your employment, there are special considerations. First, it’s worth noting that the relationship between the disability and your work has to be already established. It can’t be aspirational. In other words, you can’t claim damages from not being able to perform a hypothetical job that you one day wanted to have. You need to be employed.
Further, there has to be evidence that you’ve been at least recently employed in the line if work you claim. For example, a computer programmer who suffered serious destruction of their hand that limited their ability to type would have pretty solid grounds for seeking compensation above the standard personal injury claim.
Other cases where a person might claim a catastrophic injury include a:
Defective makeup product that scarred their face;
Workplace accident that left them paralyzed;
Pharmacist’s error that led to them suffering severe digestive tract damage
By only pursuing a personal injury claim, you may actually be limiting the compensation you’ll obtain. Many states have maximum levels of recovery, called damage caps in place on the damages that can be awarded in injury cases, but virtually all of these rules include exceptions for catastrophic injuries.
How Much Money Will I Need to Get by For the Rest of My Life?
For anyone who has been severely injured in an incident, that's the question that should be at the front of their minds and proceeding decisions... In many situations there may be a structured settlement; a version of an annuity which we be paid out over the course of time so that all of the funds comport with the on-going needs of the injured person. This will require an analysis of what annual needs might be as well as the changes in circumstances, such as changes in the residence -- ramps for wheelchairs, kitchen and bedroom modification including furniture and bathroom adaptions that may need to be done immediately.