What is Catastrophic Injury?


Hundreds of thousands of personal injury cases are filed each year. These civil suits cover a  range of circumstances and traumas, from accidents on construction sites to defective products causing harm to the general public. However, a subset of these cases is recognized for the severity of the harm done and the long-term impact that harm has on the lives of those involved. They are referred to as “catastrophic injury” cases. 

So what qualifies as a catastrophic injury in the eyes of the law? And how does it differ from other types of personal injury? In this blog post, we’ll take a deep dive into what sets these cases apart and how survivors can start their journey to healing and restitution.

Catastrophic Injury, Defined

Legally, a catastrophic injury is defined as an injury with proximate and direct consequences that damage and prevent an individual from performing any type of work. To put it more simply, these are the kind of injuries that are completely, and often irreversibly, life-altering.

Catastrophic injuries typically involve physical trauma to the brain and/or spinal cord, but can include any physical trauma that has an impact on long-term and short-term functional abilities, such as:

  • Birth injuries
  • Para- or quadriplegia
  • Loss of hearing or sight
  • Nerve damage
  • Limb amputation
  • Crushing injuries resulting in damage to multiple organs

As you can probably imagine, the list of circumstances that can result in a catastrophic injury is almost limitless. Car accidents are some of the most common causes, but an injury of this magnitude can be sustained from something as simple as falling on a trampoline. It’s important to note that, regardless of how the injury happened, if it is serious enough to cause long-term issues with cognition and/or mobility, it could be considered a catastrophic injury.

What Makes These Cases Different?

What sets these cases apart from a standard personal injury case is the level of compensation being sought for the victim. A catastrophic injury is life-changing on so many levels and oftentimes leaves the individual with permanent damage. Survivors often accrue huge medical bills due to numerous surgeries and extensive rehabilitation regimens, and can potentially lose out on a lifetime of wages if they’re unable to work again. An experienced personal injury lawyer will fight for monetary restitution commensurate with the unimaginable expense and suffering involved. 

This goes not just for the person who suffered the injury, but also for their caregivers and dependents. Not only is it emotionally traumatic to have a loved one suffer through the initial event, but now the family must come to terms with the fact that their lives will likely never be the same. Unfortunately, catastrophic injuries typically affect survivors’ ability to function in everyday life and perform basic tasks like walking, talking, or even eating. A spouse or other family member may need to leave their current job to look after their loved one 24/7. When a spouse can’t quit or take a leave from their job, they may need to hire a caretaker. Either of these options can be a huge financial burden, so it is important to make sure that the family has enough funds to pay for the appropriate care.

Start Your Journey to Restitution After Catastrophic Injury

If you or a loved one have suffered a catastrophic injury, please schedule a free consultation with our team. While life may never be the same, you still deserve justice. You’re entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and emotional trauma. A lawsuit and settlement can be pursued for an accident that impacts even a single individual. Our firm has more than 125 years of experience litigating major personal injury cases. We have the resources to investigate your claim, hire the necessary experts, and get you the compensation you and your family deserve.

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