How Do You Define a Catastrophic Injury?

The American Medical Association (AMA) defines a catastrophic injury as a severe injury to the spinal cord, spine, or brain.

Though, that definition is quite narrow — most people in the personal injury field use the term “catastrophic injury” more broadly.

If the victim suffered an injury that is likely to have long-term or permanent effects on their quality of life, they may have suffered a catastrophic injury.

catastrophic injury is not an official legal category. However, that is not to
say that the term is meaningless — quite the contrary, if you or your loved one
suffered a catastrophic injury and you are preparing to file a personal injury
claim, there are some important considerations that must be addressed.

Specific Examples of Catastrophic

injuries come in a wide range of different forms. Though, no matter the cause
or nature of the injury, all catastrophic injuries share an important
characteristic: these injuries have a dramatic, adverse effect on the life of the
victim and their family
. Some of the most common examples of
catastrophic injuries include:

  • Disfiguring burn
  • Internal organ
  • Concussions/traumatic
    brain injuries (TBIs);
  • Multiple, complex
    bone fractures;
  • Arm amputations;
  • Leg amputations;
  • Spinal cord
    injuries; and
  • Partial or total

Unfortunately, catastrophic injuries affect many people and families across the country every year. For reference, the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC) reports that around 17,000 people suffer catastrophic spinal cord injuries every year. Of course, many more innocent people suffer other types of catastrophic injuries.

What Makes Catastrophic Injury Claims

In many ways, catastrophic injury claims are similar to other personal injury claims — they are governed by the same basic liability rules, legal procedures, and filing deadlines.

That being said, there are also some key differences between personal injury claims involving catastrophic injuries and those involving mild or moderate injuries.

Most importantly, with catastrophic injury claims, the overwhelming majority of the victim’s damages will be in the form of future medical expenses, diminished earning capacity, pain and suffering, and loss of life enjoyment.

By nature, these damages are inherently challenging to calculate. Sadly, in practice, defendants and insurance companies will attempt to undervalue these damages.

With so much on the line, insurance companies are extremely aggressive in defending catastrophic injury claims. Make sure that you or your loved one obtains a settlement or verdict that accounts for future costs.

It is imperative that victims work with a catastrophic injury attorney who knows how to maximize financial recovery for future damages and non-economic losses.

Speak to an Experienced Catastrophic
Injury Attorney Today

At Fadduol, Cluff, Hardy & Conaway, P.C., our catastrophic injury lawyers are strong and compassionate advocates for injured victims and their family members.

For a free, strictly confidential personal injury case evaluation, please do not hesitate to reach out to our law firm today. With law office locations in Albuquerque, Hobbs, Lubbock, and Odessa, we represent clients in New Mexico, Texas, and North Dakota.


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