If someone is injured in such a way that immediate, significant wounds are suffered, or wounds that are never expected to fully heal, medical journals and legal cases will refer to them as catastrophic injuries. It is not uncommon for someone who is catastrophically injured to become disabled for life or debilitated for many years, depending on the injury. However, there is nothing about a catastrophic injury’s definition that makes them rare, and many are actually unfortunately common.
What is a Catastrophic Injury?
An injury is defined as “catastrophic” when it is severe and often life-altering, causing significant physical or mental impairment that results in long-term or permanent disability. Catastrophic injuries typically have a profound impact on an individual’s ability to perform daily activities, can hinder their ability to have gainful employment, and can prevent them from enjoying a normal quality of life.
Different types of catastrophic injuries include:
- Spinal cord injuries that cause paralysis or chronic pain.
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) that cause vegetative states or learning disabilities.
- Amputation of entire limbs or portions of a limb.
- Permanent disfigurement in a publically viewable body area, such as the face.
- Burn injuries that cover large portions of the body, causing discomfort or pain.
Due to the severity and long-lasting consequences of these injuries, individuals often need extensive medical treatment, ongoing rehabilitation, and substantial support systems to cope with the physical, emotional, and financial challenges they may endure.
Common Causes of Catastrophic Injury
Situations or accidents that tend to cause catastrophic injuries to varying degrees include:
- Car accidents: A violent car accident can be absolutely devastating to all parties involved, even when they use all safety equipment available. Whiplash, a neck injury that causes severe pain and may never fully fade, is quite common in rear-end accidents.
- Trucking accidents: Commercial trucks and tractor-trailers operated negligently place great hazards on the highways for all other vehicles. The result is often a truck accident that causes catastrophic injuries to drivers in smaller cars.
- Motorcycle accidents: People who ride motorcycles are statistically much more likely to suffer a catastrophic in a low-speed collision than those in automobiles. This probability skyrockets at higher speeds.
- Construction accidents: Workers in the construction industry and other fields with heavy equipment can be catastrophically injured in most accidents, such as a scaffolding collapse. It is the duty of the foreman and the construction company to ensure the utmost safety is being exercised at all times at a construction site.
- Dangerous drugs: Some catastrophic injuries are not immediate but develop over the course of many years instead, such as debilitations and illnesses caused by dangerous pharmaceuticals. Big pharma companies can be held accountable for putting drug users in unreasonable danger, especially if there is evidence of a lack of testing before the drug was placed on the market.
Catastrophic Injury Statistics
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), in 2021, 62 million people experienced non-fatal, preventable injuries and sought out medical attention. All of these injuries cost the United States roughly $1,255.4 billion to treat. Unfortunately, many injuries resulted in death, with a rate of 67.8 deaths per 100,000 people, which is an 11.9% increase from 2020. From 2020 to 2021:
- Home deaths increased 13%
- Motor vehicle deaths increased 11%
- Public deaths increased 10.5%
- Work deaths increased 8.8%
Paying for a Catastrophic Injury
Catastrophic injuries are often expensive to treat, and if they affect the individual long-term, it’s likely going to pose a financial burden for the rest of their life. This leaves individuals and their families questioning how they’ll pay for extensive medical treatment and ongoing care.
Catastrophic injury insurance is specialized coverage that provides financial support in the event of catastrophic injury, helping cover medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, and other related expenses. Should you decide to file a claim with your insurance, it’s advised to consult with an experienced catastrophic injury lawyer for help through the process to ensure all necessary documentation and evidence is provided.
In some instances, out-of-pocket costs are unavoidable. However, this does not mean you are not without options for financial assistance. Government programs like Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) can help by providing monthly benefits to those with qualifying disabilities. If the injury occurred while working, the individual may also be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
When a catastrophic injury is the result of another person’s negligent or wrongful action, it’s crucial to take action by filing a personal injury claim. Working with a skilled catastrophic injury attorney can help you gather evidence, assess the damage, and pursue compensation. Of course, navigating the complexities of such a case requires expertise with a reputable law firm to gain the necessary support and advocacy to seek the financial resources you deserve.
What Factors are Considered in Determining the Value of a Catastrophic Injury Claim?
When looking to take legal action after experiencing a catastrophic injury, there are several factors taken into consideration when determining the value of a claim. These factors include:
- Extent & severity of injury
- Permanence of disability, impact on daily functioning, and anticipation for long-term care
- Incurred economic damages, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and future earning capacity
- Non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of consortium
- Age of the injured person and overall life expectancy
- Liability of the responsible party
- Jurisdiction in which the claim was filed
- Expertise of legal representation
Catastrophically Injured? Contact Our Attorneys Today
People who suffer catastrophic injuries in Missouri can turn to The Simon Law Firm and our St. Louis personal injury attorneys for trusted legal counsel and representation. For more than 20 years, we have been standing up to the toughest of defendants and securing major case victories. To date, we have collected more than $1 billion in settlements and verdicts for our clients through successful recoveries.