How To Assess a Catastrophic Injury Lawsuit

June 13, 2023

Any injury can seem devastating, especially when you are hurt in an accident or injured due to someone else's negligence or bad actions. However, some injuries are severe enough to cause permanent disability and change your way of life forever, such as a traumatic brain injury or a spinal cord injury. These injuries that permanently affect the way you must live your life are known as catastrophic injuries. 

If another person or company caused you to suffer a catastrophic injury, you deserve to receive compensation for your life-changing medical issues. Experienced catastrophic injury attorneys can help you to win the compensation you deserve. In this guide, we will explain catastrophic injuries, how they are assessed, and how to find the right catastrophic injury law firm to help you seek compensation for your medical bills, loss of income, and pain and suffering.

What Is a Catastrophic Injury?

When is an injury considered to be catastrophic? Because personal injury laws can vary from place to place, there is no universal legal definition for the term "catastrophic injury." 

However, catastrophic injuries are commonly considered to be those that cause serious, permanent physical damage to the body from which full recovery is not possible. These injuries, which are often caused by some type of accident, tend to have a severe effect on the victim's quality of life and/or their ability to work. Often, when catastrophic injuries occur due to someone else's negligence or intentional bad acts, the victims decide to file personal injury claims against the at-fault parties, seeking both economic and non-economic damages.

Different Types of Catastrophic Injury

The various types of catastrophic injuries include:

  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Limb amputation
  • Birth injuries
  • Extensive or severe burns
  • Neck injuries
  • Partial or total paralysis
  • Partial or total loss of sight
  • Partial or total loss of hearing
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
  • Neurological damage
  • Crush injuries
  • Facial injury causing deformity
  • Permanent disfigurement
  • Eye injury
  • Nerve damage
  • Severe organ damage
  • Mesothelioma or other work-related illnesses
  • Multiple bone fractures

Common Causes of Catastrophic Injury

Just as the types of catastrophic injuries can vary, so too can the types of incidents that cause such severe injuries:

  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Workplace accidents
  • Pedestrian accidents
  • Sports accidents
  • Trampoline accidents
  • Boating accidents
  • Medical malpractice
  • Fires and explosions
  • Bicycle accidents
  • Violent crime
  • Horseback riding accidents
  • Falls from heights
  • Defective products, medical devices, or drugs
  • Toxic substances
  • Construction accidents

How Catastrophic Injuries Are Assessed

Catastrophic injury lawyers assess the amount of damages they seek for clients based on a number of criteria:

Wages and Other Income Lost

Suffering from a catastrophic injury can lead to the temporary or permanent loss of the victim's income, the loss of professional opportunities as a result of the victim's disabilities, and the decline in the victim's earning power. 

Amount of Pain and Emotional Distress Experienced

When you endure a catastrophic injury, you may be entitled to receive compensation for the resulting pain and suffering, including mental anguish.

Medical Care You Need or Have Undergone

Catastrophic injuries can lead to considerable medical expenses. You may require life-saving medical treatment, surgery, adaptive medical devices, and ongoing medical care. If your catastrophic injury occurred due to someone else's carelessness or bad actions, you should not be responsible for paying for this medical care. 

Some of the medical care for which you may deserve compensatory damages:

  • Pain management treatment
  • Physical therapy
  • In-home nursing care
  • Other ongoing medical services
  • Future expected medical expenses
  • Installation of specialized medical equipment in your home

Out-of-Pocket Expenses for Medical Treatment

Even if you have health insurance, there are always out-of-pocket expenses involved with medical care. If someone else causes you to suffer a catastrophic injury, they should be held responsible for paying these expenses, which can include:

  • Prescription co-pays
  • Doctor visit co-pays
  • Deductibles
  • Hospital bills
  • Ambulance fees
  • Surgery costs
  • Laboratory fees
  • Doctor bills

Loss of Consortium

When it comes to catastrophic injuries, the victim is not the only person who suffers. Such injuries often have a devastating impact on the victim's loved ones, especially their spouse. Loss of consortium is a legal term used to describe the effect a catastrophic injury has on the victim's relationships. In Pennsylvania, the victim's spouse can file a loss of consortium claim for the loss of the companionship and services of the injured spouse. 

Loss of consortium damages compensate the uninjured spouse for the deprivation of:

  • Emotional support and care
  • Comfort
  • Love and affection
  • Companionship
  • Sexual relations and intimacy
  • The ability to have children together
  • Society
  • Services such as caring for children and household chores

Loss of Hearing, Sight, or Overall Quality of Life

After a catastrophic injury, it can be highly distressing to deal with some of the necessary changes in the way you live your life. You may have to become accustomed to functioning without your sight or hearing. You may not be able to care for yourself or your dependents. You may no longer be physically able to work, drive, perform everyday tasks, or enjoy your favorite recreational activities. All of these adjustments lead to a diminished quality of life. 

The court typically considers several factors when quantifying the diminished quality of life, including:

  • The victim's age
  • The victim's educational and work background
  • The severity of the victim's injuries
  • Whether there is any disfigurement
  • The effect on the victim's happiness, comfort, mental and emotional health, and overall wellbeing 
  • The future consequences of the injury
  • The nature of the activities the victim can no longer perform

Find the Best Personal Injury Attorney for Your Claims

If the negligence, carelessness, or intentional misconduct of someone else has caused you to suffer a catastrophic injury, you should speak with a personal injury lawyer who has significant experience with catastrophic injury cases. We can assist you with assessing the fair amount of compensation you should be awarded when filing a catastrophic injury lawsuit. 

Contact the skilled, experienced team at McEldrew Purtell today to get started.