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What Is Considered a "Catastrophic" Injury?


An injury of any severity can greatly disrupt your life, cost you considerable amounts of time and money, and cause significant pain and stress. So what makes an injury be considered “catastrophic?” Catastrophic injuries can occur in many types of accident, but there is one main difference between personal injuries and catastrophic injuries. An injury is considered to be catastrophic if it will have a permanent effect on the victim’s lifestyle.

Catastrophic Injury Effects

A lasting effect on the victim’s life can include a full or partial disability, but it also can include disfigurement and scarring. The injury has permanently changed the way the victim lives their life, which can mean many things. They may no longer be able to work due to a disability, or may not return to their former position and may need to find a new job they can perform. They may have extensive scarring, lost limbs, or other disfigurements, which drastically change the way they feel about their appearance and causes distress.

The Costs of Catastrophic Injuries

When you look at the settlement and verdict amounts won for catastrophic injury cases, the numbers can seem astronomical. There’s a good reason for these incredibly high amounts, however. Emergency medical treatment to save the victim’s life is often extensive and very expensive. In addition to the initial treatments and procedures, they will often require life-long care, medications, in-home assistance, disability accommodations and much more, while also losing their income and earning potential. Victims of catastrophic injuries are being compensated for a lifetime of care, missed opportunities, emotional pain, and more.

In addition to a lifetime of expensive medical care, there are dozens of other small losses the victims will face throughout their lives. This can include medication costs, the expense of retrofitting their home to accommodate them or the expense of moving elsewhere, the costs of an accessible vehicle or transportation services, the fees of in-home care providers or errand services. It is also highly likely that the victim will lose their source of income. If they are no longer able to work, or cannot earn the same pay they did before, it is fair to be compensated for these costs.

The above expenses are all important and easy to quantify with bills, receipts, pay histories, and other documentation, but what about other damages that are harder to attach a number to? Mental trauma, emotional anguish, pain and suffering, and the value of a lost lifestyle are all damages resulting from the accident, but there are no bills attached to them. These are known as general, or noneconomic, damages, and you can be compensated for them.

Typically, noneconomic damages are calculated using a multiplier. This means that the total of you economic expenses will be multiplied by a number between 1 and 5, depending on the severity of your injuries. This is also used in general personal injury cases, though the multiplier of a catastrophic injury case is typically closer to 5 times the total.

If you’ve been critically injured in an accident, it’s important to seek the help of an experienced personal injury attorney. Your lawyer will be able to navigate the complexities of your case and advocate for your needs. It is their job to handle the hard work of your case so that you can focus on your recovery.

At The Law Offices of David Henderson, my team is dedicated to fighting for your rights after a catastrophic accident. I am an Anchorage personal injury attorney who has won multiple million-dollar verdicts for my clients. I can help you fight back and get the compensation you deserve.

Contact my firm today. Call (888) 295-6566, day or night.