In the aftermath of a serious accident resulting in catastrophic injury, it’s crucial that you obtain representation from a personal injury lawyer who has experience handling catastrophic injuries.
Accidents that cause catastrophic injuries can be life-changing in a shattering way, wreaking havoc on your mental health, career, family, quality of life, and interpersonal relations—in sum, your ability to take care of yourself, see to your needs, provide for your family, and enjoy life the way it was before the injury occurred.
The identification and consideration of all these harms—as well as an appreciation of how they interact—is crucial to securing adequate compensation for what you’re experiencing now, and might endure in the future, either as a direct or indirect consequence of your accident.
Your damage claim must be thoroughly researched in order to address comprehensively your compensation for long-term medical care, physical and vocational rehabilitation, pain and suffering, lost wages, quality of life, and more.
A catastrophic injury lawyer will have the experience and resources to navigate large-scale, complex litigation against negligent drivers, business conglomerates, healthcare corporations, government, as well as any other negligent entities.
Also bear in mind that an integral part of the business model for insurance companies is paying you the smallest possible compensation. Catastrophic injury attorneys leverage their professional knowledge of insurance company tactics to protect your legitimate interests.
What follows are some FAQs about catastrophic injury claims:
What’s the definition of a catastrophic injury?
What’s the difference between the “nature” vs. “outcome” of a catastrophic injury?
Can a death be litigated as a catastrophic injury?
Are catastrophic injuries necessarily permanent?
What are some types of catastrophic injuries?
What kinds of accidents are considered catastrophic injuries?
What type of damages can you receive for catastrophic injuries?
Who’s responsible for a catastrophic injury?
What are spinal cord injuries?
What’s traumatic brain injury?
What’s meant by “lost income?”
What’s meant by “medical expenses?”
What’s meant by pain and suffering?
What’s meant by “quality of life?”
How is a catastrophic personal injury case different from other kinds?
What’s the cost to hire a catastrophic injury lawyer?
1. What’s the definition of a catastrophic injury?
Catastrophic injuries can be categorized in two ways: by their “nature” and their “outcome” (see source.)
By nature. Broadly speaking, this is a medical way to talk about the consequences of catastrophic injuries: how they might affect the gastrointestinal, urinary, respiratory, circulatory, excretory, reproductive, or central nervous systems. The usual emphasis is on the affected body part(s). E.g. “a severe injury to the spine, spinal cord, or brain.”
By outcome. This is the legally-driven way to talk about catastrophic injuries. Here, the emphasis is on the anticipated consequence of the injury: does it severely change the way you work or live; and/or does it make you more vulnerable to other injuries or diseases?
2. What’s the difference between the “nature” vs. the “outcome” of a catastrophic injury?
This is a crucial distinction.
When it comes to achieving adequate compensation for a catastrophic injury, it’s important to discuss it in terms of outcome, not in terms of nature. Consider this as an example:
The loss of a pinky—while tragic—might fall short of “catastrophic” for a person who earns his or her living as a professional forklift operator. But if that person were a surgeon, a professional pianist, or even a keyboardist, then the life-altering impact is much more severe and patently catastrophic.
Or consider quality-of-life issues. If the aforementioned forklift operator were also an accomplished amateur guitarist who could no longer play as well (if at all) because of losing a finger, then the negative outcome attributable to the injury is more severe—and it must be considered when evaluating and negotiating compensation.
3. Can a death be litigated as a catastrophic injury?
Yes. A catastrophic injury can be a fatal accident, wherein compensation is being sought for the deprivation of support and/or companionship by a spouse, child, relative, or some other person significant to the deceased.
4. Are catastrophic injuries necessarily permanent?
No. An injury might not be permanent (by nature) but nonetheless, be catastrophic (by outcome) (see 2). For example, if an injury takes months or years to heal, the impact on your mental health, career, family, quality of life, and/or interpersonal relations might be of such immense consequence as to be considered catastrophic.
There are also cases where the forward impact of the injury is unpredictable, which must be considered in achieving compensation.
These complex considerations together make up one of the chief reasons you should contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after experiencing a severe accident.
5. What are some types of catastrophic injuries?
Because injuries are considered catastrophic according to the severity of their respective outcomes as opposed to their respective natures (see 2), there’s no collective medical or legal definition. Some typical injuries that can be catastrophic by outcome include but aren’t limited to extensive burns; limb loss; brain trauma, spinal cord injury; or injuries causing paralysis, disfigurement, and/or significant scarring.
6. What kinds of accidents are considered catastrophic injuries?
Catastrophic injuries are neither described nor categorized by the types of accidents that might have led to them. Considered legally, it’s not the case that only certain accident types can lead to catastrophic injury. The outcome of the injury makes that determination (see 2).
Some examples of accidents that might cause catastrophic injury include automobile and motorcycle accidents, workplace mishaps, defective products, toxic substances, birth injuries, and injuries due to fire or other disasters.
7. What type of damages can you receive for catastrophic injuries?
The type of catastrophic injury, its cause, and many other factors can profoundly affect the kind and size of compensation to which you’re entitled.
Damages for catastrophic injuries should minimally include medical costs (current and future), compensation for lost income (temporary or permanent), loss of household services, costs for additional care, quality-of-life issues, incurred pain and suffering, and shortened life span, and others.
In addition to monetary consideration for the damages described above, some courts in certain jurisdictions will award additional compensation to the injured party. These “punitive damages” are meant to punish the responsible party if the court determines that extreme negligence was the cause of the accident.
8. Who’s responsible for a catastrophic injury?
If you’ve suffered a catastrophic injury caused by an intentional act, failure to act, negligence, or a defective product, you likely have cause of action for personal injury. It’s important to remember that there might be more than one person or entity responsible for your injuries.
For example, in the case of medical malpractice, culpability might be shared by the diagnosing physician, operating surgeon, and the medical facility. So it’s important that all three be cited as defendants in your case.
9. What are spinal cord injuries?
Spinal cord injuries that cause either para- or quadriplegia are one of the most common catastrophic injuries. Specialized medical and therapeutic care is often a lifelong necessity depending upon the severity of the injury. There’s also a mental health component in the aftermath of a spinal cord injury, with depression being common.
Typically caused by a significant blow (or deep cut) to the back, these injuries involve damage to any part of the spinal cord, or the nerves at the end of the spinal canal, causing permanent loss of strength, sensation, and function below the site of the injury.
Treatment that can help spinal cord injuries include drugs (to reduce symptoms), surgery (to stabilize the spine), as well as rehabilitation and assistive devices; but spinal cord injuries cannot be cured (see source).
10. What’s traumatic brain injury?
A blow to the head—often caused by a sports injury or bicycle/car/pedestrian accident—can result in traumatic brain injury (TBI). Depending upon the severity, TBI can manifest in debilitating cognitive and/or emotional disabilities.
In severe cases, victims might lose speech/language or need to be retaught simple tasks like toothbrushing and self-feeding. These catastrophic consequences can impact entire families. E.g., in some cases, TBI victims lose the ability to recognize friends, relatives, and immediate family.
Immediate or delayed symptoms might include confusion, blurry vision, and difficulties with concentration. Treatment includes rest, medication, and surgery (see source).
11. What’s meant by “lost income?”
If you were earning an income prior to a severe accident that you no longer can due to a catastrophic injury from that accident, then you’re entitled to damages for that monetary loss. This involves assessing your annual income at the time of (and prior to) the accident and then multiplying that figure across your life expectancy (in years) since the accident, with consideration for inflation, promotions, etc.
12. What’s meant by “medical expenses?” (see source).
Medical expenses refer to the present and future costs for diagnostic tests and procedures, medical treatments, surgeries, nursing care, medicines, therapies, ambulance services, etc.
This requires an itemized account of each and every healthcare specialist you’ll need to see, how often you’ll need to be seen by such specialists, and what each of them will charge.
Medical expenses also include any prescribed medical supplies, devices, or in-home support services; any dental treatment required as a result of bodily injury; and/or the cost to live in a private or state‑run care facility.
13. What’s meant by pain and suffering?
Pain and suffering refer to the physical discomfort and emotional stress you might suffer from a catastrophic injury. These are called “non-economic damages.”
In many states, the term “pain and suffering” includes all nonpecuniary damages, which consist of any “loss of enjoyment of life” that’s reasonably attributable to your inability to participate in activities that brought you pleasure before the accident happened. (see source).
Typically, specialists such as neurosurgeons and psychologists will project what the rest of one’s life will be like in the aftermath of a severe accident. This includes loss of function, impact on social and sexual relationships, reliance on others, emotional difficulties, etc.
14. What’s meant by “quality of life?”
This is a highly subjective term that’s nonetheless a significant consideration in determining compensation for victims of catastrophic injury. It’s the degree to which an individual is healthy, comfortable, and able to partake in (as well as enjoy) life events. In healthcare, quality of life is a multidimensional concept that includes a person’s emotional, physical, material, and social wellbeing (see source).
15. How is a catastrophic personal injury case different from other kinds?
In a “typical” personal injury case, there are cost parameters that are generally accepted for your obtaining full medical recovery, a return to work, and resuming your quality of life. But it’s quite the opposite in catastrophic personal injury cases. A full medical recovery is not possible, so many more complexities are under consideration. Among them:
The lifelong impact of the catastrophic injury must be quantified in both monetary and quality-of-life terms
So must the compensation for current and future medical costs
The accident must be thoroughly investigated to establish liability, often across multiple people and entities
The impact of decreased life expectancy must be addressed
Such multifaceted requirements dictate the involvement and testimonies of various medical, financial, and rehabilitative specialists who aren’t usually part of a typical (i.e. non-catastrophic) personal injury case, which adds significant complexity to obtaining adequate compensation for you.
16. What’s the cost to hire a catastrophic injury lawyer?
Galindo Law doesn’t charge any upfront or out-of-pocket fees. We’re only paid a percentage of the compensation we’re able to secure for you. So by working with Galindo Law, you incur zero financial risk—with nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Contact Galindo Law today if you or a loved one has been severely injured in an automobile collision, slip-and-fall mishap, by a defective product, a workplace incident, as a result of medical malpractice, a daycare event, an animal attack, or any other circumstance that results in severe pain and suffering.
Remember that proper compensation for pain and damages consequent to a catastrophic injury is your right. You’re not asking for charity. You deserve to be adequately compensated for your loss.