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What Defines a Catastrophic Injury?

The aftermath of a car accident can leave you with anything from bumps and minor cuts to injuries that forever alter how you live your life and from which you never fully recover. You may even suffer an injury that requires life-long therapy and constant nursing care. From a legal standpoint, a catastrophic injury is not defined by the injury itself but rather from the expected outcome of the injury. If the nature of the injury would drastically alter the way the victim would work and/or live, or greatly diminish their quality of life or leave them permanently needing assistance then the injury is considered to be catastrophic, no matter what it was. Injuries that are fatal are also considered to be catastrophic although not all catastrophic injuries are fatal

Common Causes of Catastrophic Injury

Catastrophic injuries can occur in any number of ways, but some of the more common ways include:

  • Car accidents
  • Defective medical devices or drugs
  • Workplace accidents
  • Medical mistakes
  • Truck accidents
  • Construction accidents
  • Bicycle accidents
  • Sports and recreational activities
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Falls from a height

Examples of Catastrophic Injuries

A catastrophic injury can take many forms. Some of those forms include:


  • Traumatic brain injurycan result in cognitive dysfunction for the rest of the victim’s life. Difficulties with speech and language, emotional difficulties including wild and unprovoked mood swings, and the partial or complete loss of mobility in one or more of the extremities


  • Spinal cord injury – may result in partial or total paralysis of the victim, along with respiratory and circulatory difficulties, over or under-pronounced reflexes and spasms, chronic pain, and permanent or temporary loss of bowel and bladder control
  • Severe burn injury – can cause severe infections, the loss of one or more limbs, disfigurement, and life-long disability depending on the degree and location of the burns
  • Loss of limb – amputees face extraordinary emotional and physical challenges in their lives. Oftentimes this leads to major depressive episodes and suicide attempts later on
  • Ruptured kidney, bowels, spleen or liver – among other severe complications the immediate threat here is the massive internal bleeding that will occur potentially resulting in the loss of life



Lifelong Costs That May Come With a Catastrophic Injury

If you suffer from an injury that requires ongoing medical care or frequent hospitalization, then it may not be possible for you to work the job and put in the hours that you were before the accident. Costs like medicines, therapy, and daily home care can go through the roof and get out of hand very, very quickly. Some other costs that might come along with a catastrophic injury are:

  • Emergency medical expenses
  • Disfigurement
  • Continuing Medical Care
  • Emotional distress
  • Visiting nursing car
  • Pain and suffering
  • Medications
  • Diminished earning capacity
  • Physical and occupational therapy
  • Lost wages
  • Counseling
  • Costs to retrofit your home to accommodate a wheelchair or other necessary medical equipment
  • Medical equipment such as an oxygen tank, adjustable bed, or wheelchair

By no means is any of these lists comprehensive, but rather meant to demonstrate the wide range of injuries that could be termed “catastrophic” and the disaster that can result from such an accident.

If you have been in a car accident and suffered from any type of injury, it is important that you seek qualified legal representation as soon as you possibly can. We here at Los Angles Injury Group have a team of experienced personal injury attorneys who have years of practice handling these types of cases here in California. If you would like to speak to one of our hard-working attorneys regarding a free consultation after your car accident, then please give us a call at 310-954-7248 today.

Note for the readers: This post has been derived from the use of secondary sources and the information provided has not been independently confirmed. The photos depicted in these posts are not representative of the actual accident.  Any inaccuracies will be swiftly corrected once they have been brought to the site’s attention and all requests to remove posts will be honored.

Disclaimer: This post is intended to provide general information to our readers and to honor the victims of everyday tragedies. We do not wish to cause any disrespect and none of the information contained in this post should be construed to constitute legal or medical advice. Laws vary by jurisdiction and cases often turn on minor differences In fact. Do not rely exclusively on any of the information contained in this post and seek further assistance from a legal or medical professional, where necessary.

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