The dictionary defines “catastrophic” as something that involves or causes sudden great damage or suffering. By extension, therefore, a catastrophic injury does extensive damage to your body and causes you substantial pain and suffering.
No statute or court case legally defines what constitutes a catastrophic injury. For purposes of filing a personal injury lawsuit, however, legal experts agree that to qualify as catastrophic, the injury must be a life-changing one that partially or totally disables you or grievously scars you for life.
Example catastrophic injuries
Common catastrophic injuries include the following:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries that result in partial or total paralysis
- Burn injuries that result in disfiguring scars
- Crush injuries that result in limb amputation
- Any injury that results in partial or total loss of vision
- Any injury that results in partial or total loss of hearing
Catastrophic injuries also include those that result in severe damage to one or more of your internal organs and those that kill you.
Catastrophic injury causes
While a natural disaster, such as a hurricane, tornado, flood, etc. can and usually does cause mass catastrophic injuries, individual catastrophic injuries generally result from one of the following:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Slip-and-fall accidents
- Workplace accidents
- Defective product accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Intentional torts, such as an assault, battery, etc.
Catastrophic injury lawsuits
When you suffer a catastrophic injury caused by someone’s negligence or wrongdoing, you have the right to sue that person and possibly the company for which he or she works, for monetary damages. Assuming you win your lawsuit, you can expect to recover both economic and noneconomic damages.
Economic damages represent those to which the jury can easily assign a value based on your receipts and fairly simple calculations. For instance, your economic damages include your past and future medical bills, past and future loss of income, etc.
Noneconomic damages represent intangible losses to which the jury has no objective way of assigning a value. For instance, your noneconomic damages include your pain and suffering, your loss of your enjoyment of life, etc.