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What’s a Catastrophic Injury?

Accidents happen every day. They can leave you with simple bruises and scrapes that heal quickly, or you may suffer an injury that you may never fully recover from. When this happens, it is known as a catastrophic injury. You can suffer a catastrophic injury almost anywhere, from driving in your car to walking across the street.

Understanding what qualifies as a catastrophic injury can help you move forward and could help you decide if you need to seek legal advice. Keep in mind that a catastrophic injury lawyer will prioritize the victim’s recovery while protecting their rights.

What Is a Catastrophic Injury?

A catastrophic injury is one that leaves someone with permanent damage and may be an injury to the brain, spinal cord, a burn, or any other injury that leaves someone permanently injured. Common causes of catastrophic injuries include:

  • Assaults
  • Automobile accidents
  • Bicycle accidents
  • Construction accidents
  • Defective products
  • Falls
  • Fires
  • Medical errors
  • Recreational activities
  • Sports
  • Workplace accidents

Loss of Limb

Losing a hand, foot, leg or arm can be devastating. The loss of an arm in someone who uses their arms for work each day could mean they are no longer able to perform their job duties. The loss of a limb is also extremely emotional, which could lead to psychological problems in the future.

Ruptured Organs

A common catastrophic injury that occurs in car crashes as well as falls from great heights is ruptured organs. A ruptured spleen can be life-threatening due to blood loss, and it is an injury that is often overlooked as the symptoms may not seem severe.

Often, the person is unaware of the spleen injury until they have already lost a significant amount of blood. After an accident, you could also suffer ruptured kidneys, liver, or bowels, which are also life-threatening conditions.

Severe Burns

A severe burn can cause more than scarring as it is possible that someone who suffers a severe burn could actually lose a limb. Burns to the arms and face may cause permanent disfigurement, while a burn across a joint could result in mobility issues. Because scar tissue after a burn is tighter than healthy skin, if someone is burned over a joint, they may be unable to move the joint properly.

Spinal Cord Injury

Damage to the spinal cord can lead to partial or full paralysis, requiring someone to be in a wheelchair or need other medical devices to get around. Depending on where the spinal cord is damaged, the person could suffer from respiratory and circulatory problems as well as chronic pain, exaggerated reflexes, spasms, and loss of bladder and bowel control.

Traumatic Brain Injury

One of the most common types of catastrophic injury is a traumatic brain injury. Damage to the brain can cause cognitive dysfunction which may last throughout a person’s lifetime. Traumatic brain injuries can lead to abnormal speech, limited ability to move and emotion difficulties. A person who suffers a traumatic brain injury may also develop epilepsy, depending on where the injury occurred in the brain.

Costs of Catastrophic Injuries

Catastrophic injuries can be extremely costly as you may have to spend a significant amount of time in the hospital. You may also need care at home for the rest of your life. You will have to pay for emergency expenses, continued nursing care, medications, therapies, medical equipment, and more. You may also need special medical equipment and counseling. If you are unable to work, you may be concerned about how you will meet your financial obligations as well.

If your catastrophic injury was caused by someone else’s negligence, such as a car accident in which you were not at fault or an accident on the job, you may want to reach out to an attorney. You may be able to get compensation that can help you with these expenses.


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