What Is Considered a Catastrophic Injury?

| Jan 4, 2020 | Personal Injury

What Is Considered a Catastrophic Injury?

When someone else causes you harm, the amount of compensation you may receive can depend on whether you suffered a minor, serious, or catastrophic injury.

When fighting for full and fair compensation for catastrophic personal injuries, we recommend you talk with an attorney at Menzer Law Firm. Matt Menzer and his team are very experienced personal injury attorneys. For decades, Matt has successfully represented victims of accidents dealing with life-altering injuries.

By partnering with a Seattle personal injury lawyer, you can gain a full understanding of whether your condition constitutes a catastrophic injury in Washington and how that impacts your damages.

What is Catastrophic Injury?(Definition)

There is a distinct difference between a serious and catastrophic injury. Many types of harm caused by car accidents, truck accidents, slip and falls, and medical malpractice are considered serious because they lead to a great deal of pain and suffering and medical bills. But catastrophic injuries are more severe, life-altering, and life-threatening.

A catastrophic injury is one that leads to severe disability or disfigurement.

A disability is a physical or cognitive limitation that makes it difficult or impossible to work. It might be so severe that you require daily or round-the-clock assistance. Disfigurement is a significant negative alteration to your appearance.

This type of injury has long-term or permanent consequences in regard to your physical capabilities and your ability to work, live independently, participate in hobbies, have intimate relationships, and fully participate in your family and home life.

For example, a broken arm that is expected to heal fully can be a serious injury. A crushed radius and ulna accompanied by significant nerve damage and soft tissue injuries that will leave you with disabling y reduced motion and sensation in your forearm and hand can be a catastrophic injury.

Common Types of Catastrophic Injuries

The most common catastrophic personal injuries include:

  • Spinal Cord Injuries: Spinal cord injuries can be complete or incomplete, which refers to whether there is permanent or partial damage to the spinal cord. A complete spinal cord injury can lead to paraplegia or tetraplegia. The person is paralyzed from the injury site downward. The effects of an incomplete injury vary greatly in type and severity. A person suffering from a spinal cord injury will likely deal with the loss of sensation, loss of movement, sexual dysfunction, inability to control their bladder and bowel, and an increased risk of other medical conditions.
  • Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI): TBIs range in severity based on the Glasgow Coma Scale, which rates a person’s eye-opening, verbal, and motor responses, and results in a number of points between three and 15 points. The lower the score, the more severe the brain injury. A score between nine and 12 denotes a moderate head injury and a score of eight or fewer points is severe head trauma. Severe TBIs are associated with permanent cognitive and physical disabilities, behavior changes, a minimally conscious state, a vegetative state, coma, and even brain death.
  • Amputations: A traumatic or necessary surgical amputation can result in the loss of a hand, arm, foot, or leg. Recovering from an amputation can be traumatic in and of itself. First, the surgery site must heal, and it is at a high risk of infection. The victim of amputation will require physical rehabilitation for the use of the affected limb as well as relearn how to perform daily tasks. Amputees often suffer from psychological effects, including depression and PTSD. They also can suffer from phantom pain or phantom limb syndrome.
  • Severe Burn Injuries: There are four degrees of burns, with first-degree burns being the most superficial. Second-degree burns involve the epidermis and the dermis and look swollen, red, and blistered. Third-degree burns destroy the epidermis and dermis and may reach the subcutaneous layer. The area can look black and charred or white. These burns require extensive medical care. Fourth-degree burns go through the several layers of the skin and into the muscle and bone. All of the nerve endings are destroyed, and feeling is lost in that area. Third and fourth-degree burn victims face significant pain, risk of infection, disfigurement, and long-term physical limitations.
  • Internal Organ Damage: A serious accident can damage one or more internal organs, including the heart, lungs, liver, kidney, digestive system, reproductive organs, and others. Depending on the type and severity of the injury, surgery might be necessary to correct the issue. The organ may not function at its normal levels for a period of time or permanently. The organ may be too damaged to save, in which case the victim may be forced to live without an organ or require a transplant.

Did You or a Loved One Sustain a Catastrophic Injury?

If you are wondering whether your personal  injury constitutes a catastrophic injury in Washington, ask yourself:

  • Will you heal fully and regain all previous function and feeling in the affected body part, organ, or system?
  • Did you sustain a long-term or permanent physical limitation or disability and, if so, is that limitation enough to impact your ability to work or care for yourself?
  • Did you suffer a significant alteration to your appearance that impacts your quality of life, mental health, and relationships with others?

Let a Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Help You Pursue Damages

If you are dealing with a long-term or permanent disability or disfigurement, contact Menzer Law Firm through our online form or by calling (206) 903-1818 to schedule a free consultation. Matt Menzer and his team have decades of experience successfully handling serious, catastrophic and complex personal injury cases.

We will talk with you and review your medical records. Then, we can advise you as to the severity of your injury under the law and how this impacts the valuation of your personal injury claim.