Catastrophic Injury Lawsuits: How to Sue the Negligent?

by | Mar 15, 2024 | Disability, Personal Injury, Workers Compensation | 0 comments

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What if a mishap changes your fate and leaves you with life-changing injuries?

Such injuries that leave an individual in permanent pain and suffering are called catastrophic injuries. This blog would take you in depth to catastrophic injury lawsuits.

What are catastrophic injuries?

What is considered a catastrophic injury? The National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research in the United States divides catastrophic injuries into three categories based on the three possible outcomes: death, severe functional impairment that is permanent, and severe head or neck trauma that is temporary.


As per 42 USC § 3796b, the legal definition of a catastrophic injury is an injury with “direct and proximate consequences” that “permanently prevent an individual from performing any gainful work.”

Legally speaking, injuries to any region of the body can be considered catastrophic when they have long-lasting, long-term effects, despite the fact that certain definitions of catastrophic injuries specifically mention damage to the brain or central nervous system.

The six activities of daily living (ADL)—bathing, dressing, eating, using the restroom, continence, and transferring—are often included in the definition of a catastrophic injury in the context of insurance.

What are the common catastrophic injuries?

The following are some of the major catastrophic injury examples:

  • Amputation
  • Traumatic Brain injury
  • Loss of hearing or sight
  • Internal organ damage
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Severe burn injuries
  • Paralysis
  • Cerebral palsy and other birth injuries

What causes a catastrophic injury?


Catastrophic injuries may be caused anytime anywhere like non-catastrophic personal injuries. Even a slip and fall can result in catastrophic injuries under certain circumstances. Hence, it’s not the cause, but the aftermath that changes a mishap into a catastrophic injury.

Let’s check out some of the most common catastrophic injury causes

  • Car accidents
  • Workplace accidents
  • Accidents on the oil field or drilling rig
  • Maritime or offshore accidents
  • Falls
  • Sports and recreational activities
  • Construction accidents
  • Medical errors
  • Defective medical devices or drugs
  • Trucking or 18-wheeler accidents

What is the difference between a catastrophic and non-catastrophic injury?

Because the typical personal injury victim experiences a non-catastrophic injury, it is crucial to distinguish between an ordinary personal injury and a catastrophic one. Catastrophic injuries are defined differently by different authorities in the United States. The US federal government states that an injury is not considered catastrophic unless it stops you from ever working again.

The majority of definitions of catastrophic damage place a strong emphasis on long-term impairment, loss of your capacity to work, and the degree to which you need help to carry out simple daily duties.

In simpler terms, non-catastrophic personal injuries make a full recovery, whereas catastrophic personal injuries reach the Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI).

MMI is the term used to indicate that a patient’s physical condition and response to medical treatment has reached a stage where it cannot be improved by further treatments. The present impairment and restriction will continue throughout the lifespan of the individual. This can necessitate ongoing nursing care or the requirement to stay in a facility for therapy.

The length of time it takes to reach MMI in catastrophic injury cases might vary depending on the injury and the level of trauma the body experiences throughout the event.

What do you do after a catastrophic injury?

If you are able to move, make sure you’re as secure as you can be and breathe deeply to keep yourself composed. Try to leave the area and analyze the injuries.

No matter what, the first thing you should do is call the police after making sure you are safe. These findings may serve as an important piece of evidence to support your case in addition to providing you with the assistance you require.

If the incident happened at work, strictly adhere to the company’s reporting requirements. Reporting the accident would help you in the future, especially when you proceed with a catastrophic injury workers comp.

Take photos at the accident scene if at all possible. Take pictures of the area and any circumstances that may have contributed partially or entirely to it.

Getting medical care for your injuries could make a big difference in how quickly you recover from them. You may want to seek medical attention and contact emergency services to help you document the incident and your injuries.

Catastrophic injuries may not exhibit critical signs or symptoms immediately after the accident. Even with multiple fractures or internal bleeding, the victim may not feel the pain. Why do severe injuries not hurt at first?

Your body attempts to shield you from the shock of an auto collision by releasing an abrupt surge of adrenaline. This hormone triggers the “fight or flight” reaction when you are in danger in order to protect you from injury. As a result, following a collision or a mishap, there is a propensity to presume that we are fine if we don’t notice any blood or feel any broken bones and we can move reasonably normally. It is important to realize that the adrenaline rush could be hiding far more serious wounds, particularly those to the neck and back.

Can you recover from a catastrophic injury?

Whether you suffered the damage and are trying to figure out how to live your life again, it might feel hard to heal from.  A catastrophic injury is intricate and has lasting ramifications. It is uncommon for a catastrophic injury victim to entirely heal because these wounds are frequently irreversible.

Although it is nearly difficult for a catastrophically injured victim to recover, there are a number of treatments that could greatly enhance your health. It is possible to recover from a catastrophic injury with long-term, all-encompassing strategies like physical therapy, occupational therapy, psychiatric counseling, and pharmaceutical management.

For those who have suffered from catastrophic burn injuries may need many reconstructive procedures to deal with their appearance. A prosthetic device may be fitted to victims who had amputations after catastrophic accident injuries to help them move better and coordinate.

What is a catastrophic lawsuit?

Catastrophic injuries may have a variety of effects on your personal injury claim. Catastrophic injury lawsuits frequently settle outside of court, but nevertheless, if you were severely hurt as a result of someone else’s (or a business’s) negligence, you have the right to claim compensation.

These may have an impact on the compensation you are eligible for when filing a catastrophic injury claim for personal injury as well as how you recover damages for car accidents in no-fault jurisdictions. In states with no-fault insurance, a plaintiff can only file a lawsuit following an automobile accident if their injuries are severe.

A plaintiff in a catastrophic injury litigation must demonstrate not only that they were injured catastrophically but also that these injuries were caused by the defendant’s actions. Making a strong case on his own might be challenging for the claimant. A skilled catastrophic injury attorney could aid him in creating a case for compensation.

Legal Grounds of Catastrophic Injury Lawsuits

The following are the major elements used against the defendants in a catastrophic injury lawsuit.

  • Insufficient safety precautions
  • Hazardous product flaws
  • Absence of cautionary labels or signs
  • Operator negligence
  • Negligent intent professional negligence
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Disregard for safety regulations

You should receive a larger amount of money to compensate you for the catastrophic injury because your losses are greater. In contrast to regular injury claims, catastrophic injury claims typically do not have an extended time deadline in normal situations. Catastrophic injury lawsuits must be filed within a certain time frame, before the local statute of limitations expires.

The length of time it takes a person to recover from a catastrophic injury might vary depending on the injury and the level of trauma the body experiences throughout the event. These elements have a greater influence on certain cases, if the person cannot think or retain counsel before beginning the recuperation phase.

The attorney retained to represent a client who has suffered a catastrophic accident typically needs to manage all legal proceedings and assist the client for the duration of the claim. A catastrophic injury lawyer should work along with accountants, actuaries, and other financial specialists to estimate the expenses of the victim, not just for the present, but for the rest of his life. This is one of the first steps in estimating damages for catastrophic injuries lawsuits.

When you suffer catastrophic injuries, you experience more substantial damages. You may have more pain and suffering, as well as higher medical bills, ongoing medical expenses and a lifetime of lost wages.

A catastrophic injury case is likely to involve significant damages. They are likely to contain medical costs, lost wages, out-of-pocket expenses, and property damage, just like other types of cases. They may also contain considerable noneconomic losses including pain and suffering, a diminished quality of life, mental anguish, lifelong disability, disfigurement, and loss of consortium. Because the injuries are so severe, the noneconomic damages may be worth more.

Punitive damages may also be granted to you by a court to punish the person or entity who brought about your severe injury.

To establish how much the at-fault party should pay you in compensatory damages, the judge in your case will consider your medical costs, the estimated cost of your future medical care, and your current and future lost wages.

What is catastrophic disability benefit?

Without sufficient recompense, the victim of catastrophic injuries and his or her family could experience unmanageable physical, mental, and financial problems. Catastrophic disability insurance is a type of disability insurance that replaces income up to 100% of the time the insured person is permanently disabled, functionally impaired, or otherwise unable to work, or until they typically reach retirement age.

The Catastrophic Disability Benefit (CAT) supports the deserved victims with some extra financial support so that they can hire help and pay for things that aren’t covered by their health insurance. When used in conjunction with the base policy benefit and other disability coverage, the CAT option is a boon for the victim’s lost income.

What does catastrophic coverage cover?

Only the most severe diseases that render the insured unable to conduct everyday jobs and activities are covered by catastrophic disability insurance. It mainly covers

  • Substantial cognitive impairment, as determined by a medical evaluation, such as a serious decline in mental capacity as a result of a disease or injury.
  • A total loss of at least one sense, such as speech, dual-ear hearing, or dual-eye sight
  • The inability to utilize both hands, both feet, or both hands and both feet as a result of a sickness or injury.

Pre-existing conditions may not be covered by catastrophic insurance, which also typically has an elimination period. Typically, the elimination period begins on the day when your diagnosis makes you incapable of working.

The spouse or other family members of a catastrophic injury victim also suffers, finding it tough to provide physical care to the victim and balance the financial needs simultaneously. If the accident involved a fatality, the deceased’s family members may also be able to pursue a wrongful death claim. It is crucial to make sure your rights are upheld and you get the full amount of compensation you are entitled to in catastrophic injury lawsuits.

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MedLegal360 is a specialized author in medical-legal matters, providing clear, authoritative insights on healthcare legislation and personal injury litigation for professionals and the curious.

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