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According to the American Medical Association, a catastrophic injury is a severe injury to the spine, spinal cord, or brain, and may also include skull or spinal fractures. By law, “catastrophic injury” means an injury, the direct and proximate consequences of which permanently prevent an individual from performing any gainful work.  These are debilitating injuries that have a life-long impact. Catastrophic injuries are usually caused by the negligence, carelessness or recklessness of another individual.

Catastrophic Accidents

When the stock market crashes or a world-wide pandemic hits, it is also considered a catastrophic event.  However, these things we cannot control.  What we can control is how well you live the rest of your life after a catastrophic injury.  Injuries to your brain, neck and spinal cord are serious.  They can result in the inability to move certain parts of your body, including legs, arms, hands. It can include an injury which may affect your ability to see or speak.  Even worse, it may affect your thought process and ability to form cohesive ideas.    For some of these injuries, the effects may not be noticed immediately.  Some injuries remain latent until a later time.  That is why it is critical to get medical attention immediately, even if you do not think you have a visible injury. No matter the circumstances, if you have suffered long term injuries that may change your  life forever and create an inability to work or caused a deformity, you have suffered a catastrophic injury.


Generally, catastrophic injuries come in these three different types: physical injuries, spinal cord injuries, and cognitive injuries. Physical injuries can include amputation, burn injuries, severe fractures and organ damage. Spinal cord injuries are injuries that exclusively affect the spinal cord, creating permanent mobility issues for survivors. Cognitive injuries are among the most costly, emotionally and financially, of catastrophic injuries. Cognitive injuries arise from brain damage that takes away a person's ability to work, speak, or form new memories.  Let;s take a look in more detail at some examples below.

  • Traumatic brain injury can result in life-long cognitive dysfunction, abnormal speech and language, and limited ability to move their arms and legs.
  • Spinal cord injury can result in partial or complete paralysis, respiratory and circulatory problems, exaggerated reflexes and spasms, chronic pain, loss of bowel and bladder control.
  • Severe burn injury can cause infections, limb loss, disfigurement, and permanent disability depending on the location and extent of the burns.
  • Limb loss in an accident can cause tremendous physical and emotional challenges for the amputee and his or her loved ones.
  • Ruptured kidneys, spleen, liver or bowels from a car crash or other accident can cause internal bleeding, which can be life-threatening.


These injuries can be caused by various different methods.

  • Car accidents (Vehicular accidents account for 43% of catastrophic spinal injury in the United States)
  • Workplace accidents
  • Truck accidents
  • Bicycle accidents
  • Falls from height
  • Sport and recreational activities
  • Construction accidents
  • Medical mistakes
  • Defective medical devices or drugs


Although compensation does not have the ability to heal a person it does have the ability to make that healing process more manageable.  You can seek compensation for a variety of reasons in the case of a catastrophic injury.


First, your injury could have resulted in costly medical bills.  Surgeries and regular doctor visits as well as extended rehabilitation which may be required. A life-long home care nurse may also be required. These bills can quickly add up.   However, stress is never a good component of the healing process.  It is important that you’re able to focus on your health while your attorney seeks out your compensation.  


Secondly, you may have lost work time.  An event like this may cause you to be out of work for a period of time or could be so severe (as most catastrophic events are) that you are unable to return to work ever again.  It is important that your compensation matches your lost wages and potential lost income.   Your attorney will also have the right resources to calculate the proper life long compensation for an injury that is so severe you can never go back to work again.  It is easy to get wrapped up in an initial settlement but it’s important that you are taken care of for the rest of your life. 


Last but not least there is the underlying emotional component.  A major event like this will cause stress to you and your family.  Taking care of a physically impaired or disabled person can be taxing on the family, especially when it comes on so suddenly.  If you are not in a position to hire a full time care-taker then the responsibility will fall on family members. This is both a financial and emotional burden.  It may even require a family member to stop working completely to focus on full time care taking. 


The above is just a short overview of what it means to suffer from a catastrophic injury.  There is still much more to be considered.  These details require a professional attorney who specializes in personal injury to handle.  Allow the Drake Law Firm to handle this sensitive situation on your behalf.  You’re safe with Drake.  You may reach us HERE






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