What Makes an Injury “Catastrophic”?

When is an Injury Considered Catastrophic?

Any injury caused by the negligent actions of another person or entity has the potential to upend your life. You may experience difficulty going to work or doing activities with your family, and the bills and other expenses related to your recovery will likely disrupt your finances for some time. While these challenges are stressful for you and your loved ones, your condition is generally expected to improve over time as you heal. Unfortunately, catastrophic injuries can leave victims’ futures much more uncertain.

But what exactly differentiates a severe injury from a catastrophic one? A knowledgeable Philadelphia personal injury attorney can provide insight into how catastrophic injuries are defined and how victims can recover compensation for their damages. Our legal team takes pride in helping catastrophic injury victims seek justice for the harm they’ve suffered. If you have questions about whether your own accident resulted in catastrophic injuries, do not hesitate to reach out to our law firm today for a free case evaluation.

Is There a Legal Definition for Catastrophic Injuries?

Pennsylvania does not have a specific legal definition for what qualifies as a catastrophic injury. Generally, an injury is considered catastrophic if it involves the loss of an essential bodily function, is anticipated to be long-lasting, and permanently prevents the person from holding gainful employment.

In most personal injury cases, the determination of whether an injury meets the standard of being classified as “catastrophic” is based on the opinions of medical experts who have examined the victim to ascertain the extent of their injuries.

What Are Common Catastrophic Injuries?

There are a wide variety of catastrophic injuries possible, but what they all have in common is life-altering damage to the victim’s body. This damage can be physical, but it can also involve negative impacts on a victim’s cognitive abilities that can severely hamper their quality of life and ability to work. Examples of catastrophic injuries include:

  • Amputation
  • Birth injuries that result in life-long physical or neurological damage
  • Loss of limb function
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
  • Spinal cord injuries, including paralysis
  • Severe or widespread burns
  • Nerve damage
  • Chronic lung damage or other organ damage
  • Sudden vision or hearing loss stemming from an accident
  • Strokes or other brain damage that limits cognitive functioning or communication abilities

How Do Catastrophic Injuries Happen?

Sadly, there are an alarming number of ways that victims can suffer a life-changing injury. Every accident has the potential to cause significant damage, but the risk of a catastrophic injury increases as the forces involved in the accident become stronger. Some common causes of catastrophic injuries are:

  • Medical malpractice, including surgical mistakes
  • Explosions and fires
  • Workplace accidents, especially involving heavy machinery
  • Electrocutions
  • Car accidents
  • Commercial vehicle accidents
  • Pedestrian accidents
  • Bicycle accidents
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Defective product accidents
  • Dog bites
  • Premises liability accidents

How Long is the Statute of Limitations in Pennsylvania for These Cases?

A statute of limitations is a state law that defines how long a victim has to begin legal action for an incident. For most catastrophic injury cases in Pennsylvania, you must file a lawsuit within two years of the injury or when the victim should have become aware of the injury. Minors who suffered catastrophic injuries may have until their 20th birthday to file a claim.

There may be other rare circumstances that can extend the timeline. Still, it is vital to remember that you can lose your opportunity to seek compensation if you do not file within the statute of limitations. Insurance claims usually involve significantly shorter filing deadlines as well. Sometimes, you may have as little as two weeks to make a claim. It is crucial to contact an experienced catastrophic injury lawyer as soon as possible to begin the claims process and protect your legal rights.

What Damages Are Catastrophic Injury Victims Entitled to?

A catastrophic injury affects every aspect of your life and can cause challenges for the ones you love. The situation can be particularly frustrating when the injury occurs due to a preventable accident. If you have suffered a catastrophic injury from someone else’s careless actions, you are entitled to recover compensation for the losses you’ve incurred.

Damages are awarded for financial losses in catastrophic injury lawsuits, but the emotional and mental harm you’ve experienced is also considered when calculating fair compensation. Typically, as the severity of the injury increases, so does the monetary compensation. Damages that a skilled catastrophic injury lawyer can seek on behalf of victims include:

  • Lost wages
  • Current medical bills and future medical expenses
  • Loss of future earning capacity
  • Damaged property replacement or repair
  • Accessibility upgrades to your home and vehicles
  • Expenses for help with daily tasks, such as cleaning, child care, and more
  • Counseling and therapy costs
  • Rehabilitation bills
  • Cost of in-home nursing
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment in life
  • Loss of consortium
  • Scarring and disfigurement

How Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Help You?

If you are dealing with the aftermath of a catastrophic injury, the last thing you have the energy for is fighting legal battles. You deserve to recover full compensation from those responsible for your injury without the stress of meeting filing deadlines and keeping track of court dates. Our compassionate Philadelphia catastrophic injury lawyers are here to fight for your legal rights, so you and your family can have a brighter future. Contact our office today to learn how we can put our years of experience to work for you.

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