A catastrophic injury is an injury so serious that it leaves the victim with permanent damage and life-long effects. Usually, these types of injuries happen suddenly, preventing the victim from being able to do anything to stop them from occurring.
According to US law, specifically 42 USC § 3796b, a catastrophic injury deals with “direct and proximate consequences that permanently prevent an individual from performing any gainful work.” Simply put, catastrophic injuries can ruin your entire life.
Examples of Catastrophic Injuries
Catastrophic injuries are usually broken down into three different categories; physical, cognitive, and spinal cord injuries. Physical injuries pertain to any damage to orthopedic function or tissue. This would include any burns, bone fractures, and amputations. Spinal cord injuries deal with anything affecting one’s spinal cord. The most common type of spinal cord injury is paralysis.
Cognitive injuries are the most costly and most challenging type to live with. This is because it deals with brain and neurological damage. This can impact one’s ability to work, walk, speak, see, hear, remember, and even from forming new memories.
Cognitive injuries are truly the most catastrophic of catastrophic injuries.
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Causes of Catastrophic Injuries
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), in the latest year of reporting, there were over 62 million preventable injuries that occurred in the US. 76.3% of those injuries occurred at home, 11% were sustained from a motor vehicle accident, and 8.7% were workplace-related. What causes a catastrophic injury is seemingly limitless. Almost any kind of freak accident can cause a catastrophic injury yet the most common causes include:
- Motor vehicle accidents (like cars, trucks, and motorcycles)
- Pedestrian accidents (like riding your bike or taking a walk)
- Boating accidents
- Workplace accidents
- Playing sports or other physical activities
- Slips and falls
- Medical malpractice
- Defective products
There are countless ways for someone to be a victim of a catastrophic injury. However, a personal injury lawyer from Boettcher, Divenney, Ingle, and Wicker (BDIW) who has experience and expertise in dealing with catastrophic injuries has your back. Your two main objectives when hiring a personal injury lawyer should always be; holding the at-fault party liable and securing the best compensation package you can. BDIW’s attorneys have over 65 years of combined legal experience, so we know how to achieve those main objectives successfully.
Impact on Other People in Your Life
Not only will you have to suffer the pain and loss that come with a catastrophic injury, but your friends and family will also be forever affected. Your relationship with them will no longer be the same, and some relationships may change for the worse.
You might lose friends because they either do not want to associate with you or because they do not know how to maintain the same level of friendship you once previously had. Your friends or family might become your caretaker if you are paraplegic or mentally disabled. Your spouse and kids could be largely negatively affected if you were previously the primary caregiver and breadwinner.
These adverse impacts from catastrophic injuries on other people in your life are key to what set apart catastrophic injuries from standard personal injuries. Suffering cuts and lacerations from a car accident will not cause your friends to leave you or your significant other to become your caretaker. This is because these are standard personal injuries and not life-altering catastrophic injuries.
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What Is Not a Catastrophic Injury?
Catastrophic injuries are severe and the consequences of them will follow you for the rest of your life. Other standard injuries may also be serious in their nature but will not permanently damage your body. For example, suffering whiplash from a rear-end accident may be severely painful but you can certainly recover from it (and recover rather quickly as well). Therefore this is not a catastrophic injury.
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Statute of Limitations for Catastrophic Injury Cases
Every personal injury case is going to involve a statute of limitations, a short timeframe as to when you are legally allowed to sue another party for damages. Even though catastrophic injuries may last you your whole life, you do not have your entire life to file charges against the at-fault party. You must file charges within the statute of limitations or else you may never receive the compensation that you are entitled to.
Every state has different laws pertaining to a statute of limitations on personal injury cases. Usually, the statute of limitations ranges from 2 to 4 years from the onset of the accident. In the state of Oklahoma, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is 2 years from when you sustained the catastrophic injury. Get in touch with a seasoned BDIW personal injury attorney as soon as you can so you do not have to worry about missing the deadline of when you can file a claim.
Compensation for Catastrophic Injuries
The overarching goal of a personal injury lawsuit is to be “made whole” after sustaining injuries from someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing. However, you can never be made whole after suffering from catastrophic injuries. No amount of money in the world will allow you to walk again, recover your eyesight/hearing, or bring back your ability to form new memories. It is still worthwhile to get with a personal injury attorney and file a personal injury suit.
This is because you can hold the at-fault party accountable for his or her negligence and recklessness. Plus, any amount of financial compensation can help with the substantial amount of money in medical bills, therapy costs, prescription drug costs, and so forth. Insurance can cover a large amount of your expenses but not all of it.
You will also have to deal with the cost of never being able to work and invidiously support yourself again, along with having altered (or even fractured relationships) with your friends and family. All of these negative outcomes (pain and suffering, medical bills, loss of work, and loss of consortium) of a catastrophic injury make hiring a BDIW personal injury lawyer and filing a claim against the at-fault party more and more irresistible.
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