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What Makes an Injury Catastrophic?

Woman with long somewhat dark hair lays on her back as she is inserted head-first into an MRI machine as the technician stands by, looking at the patient

If you’ve been seriously injured, you may wonder whether your injury classifies as catastrophic.

Read on to learn what makes an injury catastrophic.

Catastrophic Injury Defined

According to 42 U.S.C. § 3796b, “‘catastrophic injury’ means consequences of an injury that permanently prevent an individual from performing any gainful work.”

Said simply, an injury is catastrophic when it’s so serious that its impacts cause you to sustain permanent damage.

Sustaining a Catastrophic Injury

If you endure a catastrophic injury, you lose a crucial part of your person, whether it’s your limb, walking capabilities, or facility to construct a complete thought.

Most catastrophic injuries are the result of physical harm to the brain and/or spinal cord. This damage can have significant short- and long-term impacts on your functional capabilities.

Most catastrophic injuries tend to fall under one of the following three categories:

  • Physical injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Cognitive injuries

Physical Injuries

Catastrophic physical injuries include the following:

  • Amputation
  • Severe burns
  • Severe fractures
  • Organ damage
  • Orthopedic function damage
  • Orthopedic tissue damage

Spinal Cord Injuries

In order for a spinal cord injury to be catastrophic, it must exclusively impact the spinal cord and cause permanent mobility complications.

Cognitive Injuries

Cognitive injuries come about as a result of brain damage and impact your ability to work, speak, or create new memories.

Costs Associated with Catastrophic Injuries

There are always significant costs associated with catastrophic injuries. If you sustain a catastrophic injury due to the negligence of another person, you may be able to collect compensation for the following:

  • Medical expenses - The more severe your injury is, the more expensive your medical expenses will be. You may need to endure surgeries or rehabilitation. You may need to use a medical device or medication for the rest of your life due to your injuries.
  • Lost wages - If you sustain a catastrophic injury, it is unlikely that you’ll be able to immediately return to work. That means you could be entitled to compensation for your lost wages.
  • Emotional harm - Enduring an accident that caused you to sustain catastrophic injuries can be very traumatic. You may be entitled to compensation for any emotional damage you incur as a result of the accident.

Not Only the Injured Person is Impacted

If you sustain a catastrophic injury, it’s likely that your entire family will be impacted in one way or another. You’ll probably need someone to care for you while you’re recovering from your severe injuries.

It can be very emotionally challenging to care for someone with mobility or cognitive impairment. Your spouse or another family member may need to leave their job in order to devote themselves to your full-time care.

If your spouse or family member is unable to stop working in order to care for you, then you’ll need to be able to afford to hire a caregiver, which can be very costly.

We’re Here to Help

If you’ve sustained a catastrophic injury as a result of another person’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. Don’t allow the negligible party who hurt you get away with their negligence. You deserve to be compensated fairly for the pain you’ve endured so that you can become whole again.

Our attorneys at Whiting Hagg & Dorsey, LLP are highly experienced in the area of catastrophic injury law, and we have helped hundreds of other people, just like you. Let us help you, too. Don’t wait—contact our office with your case right away.

If you or a loved one are dealing with a catastrophic injury, our lawyers at Whiting Hagg & Dorsey, LLP may be able to help you receive the settlement you deserve. Give us a call at (605) 519-6136 or fill out an online contact form.