Personal injury law provides people with the legal means they need to pursue financial compensation for injuries caused by another party’s recklessness or negligence. This is incredibly important for anyone who had to receive costly medical treatment for their injuries, but it can make an even bigger difference for people who suffer catastrophic injuries.
While many personal injuries can be very severe, catastrophic injuries are those that are the most severe. These injuries have long-term and life-altering consequences and often require surgical procedures to save a victim’s life. Catastrophic injuries are commonly caused by car and truck accidents, although these are far from being the only cause of these injuries.
Long-Term & Life-Altering Consequences
Personal injuries of all kinds can have lasting impacts throughout a person’s life. Moderate pain and discomfort, as tragic as it is in and of itself, is much less severe compared to the long-term and life-altering consequences associated with catastrophic injuries.
Listed below are some of the effects that a catastrophic injury can cause:
- Permanent disability, or loss of function
- Traumatic brain injury
- Spinal cord injury
- Loss of sight
- Loss of hearing
- Severe scarring or disfigurement
- Lifelong need for medication
- Lifelong need for special care or accommodations
- Need for prosthetics or assistive devices (like canes, wheelchairs, walkers, etc.)
- Loss of earning capacity (inability to work or work full-time)
Less Obvious Effects of a Catastrophic Injury
So far, the examples of the impacts of a catastrophic injury we provided are those that are relatively easy to associate with a particular accident. There are, however, less obvious effects that a catastrophic injury can have on a person’s life.
These can include the following:
- Memory loss
- Personally changes
- Mood swings
- Inability to concentrate
- Inability to manage one’s financial affairs
These “hidden” impacts of a catastrophic injury are often the effects of brain damage that someone sustained as a result of a traumatic brain injury caused by a severe accident. Although they can be harder to link to the accident than other injuries, swelling, bruising, and bleeding occurring in and around the brain can demonstrate that the accident was responsible.
Recoverable Damages for Catastrophic Injury Claims
When a catastrophic injury impacts a person’s life, they can sue the parties responsible for economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are those that have a discernable cost associated with them. They are also referred to as compensatory damages because their purpose is to compensate the accident victim for costs that they are now liable to afford as a result of the accident.
Economic damages can include the following:
- Medical bills associated with emergency transport, an emergency room visit, surgery, hospital stay, medication, physical therapy, and future medical treatment.
- Loss of income while recovering from an injury or because the injury prevents one from being able to return to work or earn an income in the future (loss of earning capacity).
- Property loss for any vehicles, personal items, or other property that was damaged or destroyed in the accident.
- Legal fees include all expenses associated with the personal injury lawsuit, which include attorney’s fees, time away from work, travel expenses, and others.
Non-economic damages, then, are those that account for a person’s injuries when an objective “cost” can’t be determined.
These are damages to compensate an accident victim for the following:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Physical impairment or disfigurement
- Loss of enjoyment (of daily activities and hobbies)
Sometimes, punitive damages are also awarded to accident victims. These aren’t intended to compensate a victim but to punish the defendant, typically when they caused the accident as a result of excessive recklessness or negligence, or if malice or willful disregard for the health and safety of others played a role.