According to the medical field, a catastrophic injury occurs in the cranium or spine. This is a reasonable definition. Such injuries often have lifelong consequences, sometimes permanently damaging the sufferer.
Legally speaking, however, the term “catastrophic injury” has a much broader definition. By the standards of personal injury law, any injury that alters the course of your life could be labeled “catastrophic.”
Catastrophic Injuries Can Appear Minor
Imagine someone using a faulty saw and losing the tip of their index finger. For anyone, this would be a serious and painful injury. It would require surgeries and physical therapy for the person to regain the use of their finger.
Once the injured party is fully recovered, they may have to spend the rest of their lives without the tip of their finger. Some people see this as a minor injury and a slight inconvenience. In many circumstance, this is a fair assessment. If the injured party is a teacher, dancer, or retail worker, losing the tip of their finger might not be a big problem.
Losing part of your finger could also have a huge impact on your life. Imagine this person is a professional guitar player, surgeon, or someone who does fine repairs on electronics. For them, losing part of their hand could destroy their career. At best, they would need time to relearn their craft. This results in huge loss of income, as this re-education could take years.
Even if an injury seems minor, it could be labeled as “catastrophic” when it affects someone’s career path.
Catastrophic Injuries Can Be Extraordinarily Expensive
If you suffer a spine or head injury, your medical costs can be in the millions of dollars. Most spinal injuries cost over $1 million in the first year alone, with each subsequent year costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. Any time an injury results in paralysis or a loss of cognition, the injured requires lifelong treatments, medical devices, therapies, and so on.
Even an injury like the one described above can be costly. Losing just a bit of your finger requires surgery, multiple doctor visits, and some physical therapy. These treatments add up.
In our system, money means survival. If an injury severely affects your finances, it could be legally defined as catastrophic.
Compensation for a Catastrophic Injury
If you are injured due to someone else’s negligence, you deserve financial compensation. Because their impact on your life is more severe, catastrophic injuries often result in higher amounts of damages. The amount you receive directly correlates to your loss.
You may be entitled to reimbursement for your massive medical bills. Your loss of income can be repaid, along with the loss of any future income. Catastrophic injuries often affect your employment, so in this regard, your compensation could be quite large.
Catastrophic injuries also come with a great deal of pain and suffering. Your attorney can calculate how long and how badly you suffered, and they can demand extra damages for this misery.
You may also be entitled to punitive damages solely designed to punish the negligent party for their behavior.
If you’ve suffered an injury that has severely impacted your life, contact our firm today for help. We can give you a free consultation, review your case, and help guide your next steps. Our number is (602) 483-6114, and you can reach us online.