In the world of personal injury, there is a wide range of accident types and a wide range of injuries that can result. There are soft tissue injuries and catastrophic injuries. What, however, is actually a catastrophic injury? While there is no precise definition for a catastrophic injury, we will provide insight into the meaning of this phrase.
What Is Considered to be a Catastrophic Injury?
A catastrophic injury is mainly defined by the impact it has on the injury victim. A catastrophic injury is one that leaves the victim with permanent damage to a vital part of his or her person. It can cause a person to lose the ability to retain gainful employment. It can mean the loss of a limb or the loss of the ability to walk. It can mean permanent brain damage. Essentially, a catastrophic injury has a substantial, permanent impact on the victim.
A catastrophic injury can involve physical injuries such as limb amputation or substantial burns. It can also mean bone fractures or damage to orthopedic function. A catastrophic injury may involve a spinal cord injury. Spinal cord injuries can not only be very painful but can also result in permanent mobility issues. There are also some types of catastrophic injuries that are cognitive in nature. This is when the injury has caused a person to sustain permanent brain damage.
Some more specific examples of what is likely to be considered a catastrophic injury include:
- Traumatic brain injury: Sustaining a traumatic brain injury can lead to cognitive dysfunction. A victim with a traumatic brain injury may have difficulty speaking as well as limited mobility, particularly in the arms and legs. Traumatic brain injuries can also lead to emotional processing difficulties in those that sustain them.
- Spinal cord injury: Injuries to the spinal column, whether it be the cervical, lumbar, or thoracic part of the spine, can cause things like total or partial paralysis. Spinal cord injuries can also lead to respiratory and circulatory issues.
- Loss of limb: When an accident leads to a limb being severed, or injured in such a way that requires the limb to be amputated, it can not only mean substantial physical pain and discomfort for the victim, but it can also have a severe emotional impact on both the amputee and his or her loved ones.
- Internal injuries: Injuries to internal organs can also be considered catastrophic depending on the severity. A rupture of the kidneys, spleen, or liver, for instance, which could lead to internal bleeding and prove life-threatening, would likely be considered a catastrophic injury.
All of these types of catastrophic injuries can require a person to undergo medical care and rehabilitation efforts far into the future. Victims may also require round the clock nursing care or in-home help aids. The expense associated with the sheer volume of medical care, follow-up medical care, and physical therapy as well as psychological counseling, mean that damages in catastrophic injury cases are often substantial, to say the least. It also means that insurance companies are more likely to throw the full weight of their resources at fighting payment of all that is owed.
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