Personal Injury Law: What are Catastrophic Injuries?
Personal injury cases can involve a wide range of situations, accidents, injuries, and consequences for victims, which is why many in the legal profession may choose to differentiate some of the most serious cases based on the injuries they cause. Generally, these serious injury cases are referred to as catastrophic injury cases.
While the term “catastrophic” may be straightforward in the sense that these cases involve more severe physical injuries, it is used to group personal injury cases into a category that speaks to the unique concerns and challenges victims and families face. To help you gain an understanding of what makes catastrophic injury cases different from others and the unique challenges they can introduce, our personal injury lawyers at Clark, Fountain, La Vista, Prather & Littky-Rubin have put together the following information.
Common Types of Catastrophic Injuries
There are many types of physical injuries that can be considered catastrophic. Common examples include:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Spinal cord injuries
- Physical impairment/loss of sensory or bodily functions
- Permanent disfigurement
- Severe burn injuries
- Multiple broken bones or fractures
- Severe nerve or ligament damage
The Impact on Victims and Families
One of the most obvious indicators that a personal injury case involves catastrophic injuries is the scope of its impact on both victims and families. While there can be many difference types of injuries considered catastrophic, the term is generally used in situations where injuries have a substantial, long-term, and/or life-long impact on victims. This can include anything from the need for serious or multiple medical procedures and long-term medical treatment to permanent and life-altering physical impairment and disability.
In addition to the impact catastrophic injuries have on victims, they can also affect their families, who may also suffer as a result of their loved one’s physical injuries or impairment. This is why many cases involving catastrophic injuries, such as those involving paralysis, also take the impact on families into account and may result in compensation awards to a victim’s loved ones.
Catastrophic injury cases create the potential for extensive damages, both economic and non-economic. In terms of economic damages, catastrophic injuries can create profound financial losses, including those resulting from:
- Costs of medical treatment (i.e. surgery, therapy, medical devices, etc.)
- Future medical expenses (i.e. expected medical treatment, medical monitoring, assistive medical devices, assistive or daily care, accommodative changes, etc.)
- Lost wages caused by missing work / temporary disability
- Lost future wages caused by diminished earning potential (being unable to perform the same work you once did or work at all due to injuries)
These financial damages can be extensive, and in many cases may persist throughout a victim’s life. However, they often pale in comparison to the non-economic damages victims and their families may endure, including their considerable pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of quality or enjoyment of life, and more. Putting a price on one’s life and future after they have suffered serious or permanent injuries or disabilities can be difficult, but it is an essential part of accounting for the true scope of the impact these injuries have on victims and families.
Catastrophic injuries can create the potential for a few legal challenges when it comes to personal injury lawsuits and the pursuit of full and fair compensation. Examples of legal issues that may arise in these cases include:
- Disputes – The extensive damages involved in catastrophic injury cases not only make them higher-stakes matters for victims who depend on recovering full and fair compensation, but also for defendants and the insurance companies which frequently represent them. Insurance companies are corporations, and they have financial interests in limiting payouts to victims. Because catastrophic injury cases are high stakes matters that involve potentially large damages awards, insurance companies are corporate defendants may be more likely to raise disputes, including disputes that challenge their liability for an accident, raise arguments that a victim was partially at fault for causing their own injuries, or which challenge the value of damages being sought.
- Experts – Catastrophic injury cases commonly create a need for experts who can provide their opinions or testimony on critical facts surrounding the accident or injuries involved. This can include industry experts who can provide an opinion as to how defendants failed to meet accepted standards of their profession, and medical experts who can weigh in on the scope of a victim’s physical injuries and issues such as future medical needs.
- Trial – The high stakes involved in catastrophic injury cases also increases the potential for trial. When defendants and insurance companies fail to make settlement offers that meet the needs of victims, raise disputes, or otherwise want to escape liability, trial may become the only means for victims to bring forth their claims and let a jury decide the matter. Personal injury trials are challenging, and they demand the attention of proven lawyers who have the experience and resources to fight effectively on behalf of victims.
Fighting for the Seriously Injures & Their Families
Over the years, our legal team at Clark, Fountain, La Vista, Prather & Littky-Rubin has earned a reputation for our ability to tackle tough cases, including those involving serious and catastrophic injuries that result in long-term and permanent harm, extensive damages, and an elevated need for full and fair compensation. In fact, our experience and resources have enabled us to help numerous clients across the state when it mattered most, and recover over $1 billion in compensation on their behalves.
If you or someone you love has suffered a serious injury caused by the negligent or wrongful acts of another anywhere in Florida, our attorneys are available to review your case, explain your rights, and discuss how we can help address the issues at stake. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.