What Makes an Injury Catastrophic?
Posted By Todd Miner Law || Oct 18, 2018
Personal injury may be its own targeted practice area distinct from other fields of law, but personal injury cases themselves can involve a wide range of accidents, situations, injuries, and consequences for victims. This range is precisely why many in the legal profession choose to differentiate between some injury cases and those involving the most serious and severe losses. Typically, these types of serious personal injury cases are called catastrophic injury cases.
Although the term “catastrophic” is fitting in that it indicates more severe physical injuries, personal injury cases are classified as such in order to highlight the sudden, great damage and extreme misfortune they entail. This is particularly true when speaking of the unique concerns and setbacks victims and their families can face, in their personal lives and in their fight for compensation. Below, our Orlando personal injury lawyers at Todd Miner Law provide information about why catastrophic injury cases are worth a designation of their own.
Examples of Catastrophic Injuries
One immediate way to gain a better understanding of what makes an injury “catastrophic,” is to consider the common types of injuries they involve. Examples include:
- Skull fractures and traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Spinal cord injuries
- Paralysis injuries
- Amputation injuries, including loss of limbs
- Severe burn injuries
- Physical impairment or disfigurement
- Organ damage or loss of bodily function
- Sensory impairment, including loss of hearing or sight
- Severe / multiple broken bones and nerve damage
Scope of Impact on Victims
One obvious indicator that a case involves a catastrophic injury is in the scope of its impact. While any personal injury has the potential to impact the lives of victims, injuries which are catastrophic commonly affect the lives of victims in profound ways. This can include not only an extremely sudden and tremendous upheaval of their lives, but also the far-reaching and long-term, if not life-long, resulting consequences. Catastrophically injured victims can suffer tremendously painful injuries, often requiring serious medical intervention, multiple invasive procedures, long-term medical needs, and life-altering or permanent impairment that can have a significant emotional and financial impact as well.
In addition to the more sweeping impact catastrophic injuries have on the lives of victims is the impact they often have on their loved ones. Families in these cases can suffer in their own right due to catastrophic injuries. This is why many catastrophic injury cases often take the impact on victims’ families into account when awarding compensation for their emotional suffering.
Personal injury cases are intended to help victims recover financial compensation for the damages they incurred. In cases involving catastrophic injuries, the potential for substantial damages is overwhelming, especially in terms of financial losses. For example, catastrophic injury cases often involve large awards for damages such as:
- Medical treatment (i.e. emergency care, surgery, therapy, etc.)
- Future medical needs (i.e. projected expenses to care for long-term or permanent disabilities and pay for future medical treatment and medical monitoring, medical devices, medications, accommodative changes, and living assistance, among others)
- Lost income caused by missed work and / or temporary disability
- Lost future wages caused by reduced earning capacity (i.e. not being able to do the same work you once did, or not being able to work at all)
In addition to these economic damages, catastrophically injured victims also suffer immensely in terms of non-economic losses, or the intangible and emotional injuries they incur. This can include physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of quality or enjoyment of life, and other emotional consequences. While these types of damages are difficult to equate into monetary sums, they are an important part to account for when seeking full and fair compensation.
Legal Issues & Challenges
Because catastrophic injuries make for high stakes cases, there can be unique challenges and issues in a victim’s fight for compensation. These can include:
- Disputes – Substantial damages make catastrophic injury cases high stakes matters not only for victims and their families, but also for defendants and the insurance carriers which commonly represent policy holders in personal injury cases. Whether it’s a commercial business or an insurance company, defendants are often corporate powers with a financial interest in limiting how much money they pay victims. Unfortunately, this means corporations which put profits over people are more likely to challenge claims, dispute fault and liability, or dispute the value of damages being sought.
- The need for experts – Catastrophic injury cases often require the need for various experts, often because there is so much riding on a successful outcome and because the nature of accidents and injuries can be complex. This can include the need for industry experts who provide their opinions and testimony as to how an accident could have been prevented, and what standards exist in a certain profession that a defendant failed to meet. It can also include the need for medical experts who can provide insight into the nature of a victim’s injuries, why they are catastrophic, and what future medical needs may exist.
- Litigation – Catastrophic injuries can increase the likelihood of a case going to trial, especially when defendants and insurance companies raise disputes, fail to make fair settlement offers, or simply wish to delay and explore opportunities to escape or reduce their liability. As such, litigation may become the only way for catastrophically injured victims to make their stories heard, and have their cases decided by a jury. Personal injury cases are complex and challenging proceedings, and they demand the attention of experienced attorneys.
Todd Miner Law: Fighting for Seriously Injured Victims
Attorney Todd Miner and our firm have established a reputation for our ability to secure the results and compensation clients need during some of the most difficult times in their lives, including those created by catastrophic injuries. If you have questions about a potential case and how our firm can help you pursue the justice you deserve, call (407) 269-5877 or contact us online for a FREE and confidential consultation.