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A Catastrophic Injury Changes Your Life

There is no specific amount of damage that must occur, or a minimum percentage of the body affected, for an injury to be deemed catastrophic. Yet its definition is in some ways quite simple: An injury is catastrophic when it permanently changes how someone lives their life.

Types of Catastrophic Injuries

A catastrophic injury is a personal injury that usually happens in a flash as the result of an accident.

These injuries can be physical and/or mental in nature:

  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Severe Burns
  • Amputations
  • Crushed Limbs
  • Paralysis/Spinal Cord Injuries
  • Internal Bleeding
  • Blindness
  • Deafness

Leading Causes of Life-Changing Injuries

Catastrophic injuries can happen at work, in the home, at sea, in the air, and on the road. They can be caused by improperly maintained equipment, substandard safety protocols, the carelessness of others, and more.

Alaska has a reputation for some inherently dangerous workplaces, like deep sea fishing vessels, oil rigs, and petrochemical plants. Industrial accidents are not uncommon. In fact, in the 1980s Alaska was identified as the state with the highest traumatic occupational fatality rate in the country. Alaska’s safety record has improved since that time, but the state remains home to many high-risk industries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the state is second only to Wyoming in workplace fatalities.

Here are some of the leading causes for Alaska’s workplace accidents:

  • Limbs getting caught between moving pieces of equipment
  • Falls from significant heights
  • Exposure to harmful substances
  • Struck by object or equipment
  • Electrical shock

Catastrophic injuries also happen away from the workplace. Many of these are the results of car crashes. Statistics in 2016 show that 6% of all crashes involved alcohol and resulted in 86 major injuries and 38 deaths. The No. 1 cause for vehicle collisions in Alaska is distracted driving. Not driving properly for weather conditions and reckless driving are also leading causes of crashes.

Damage Limits

Compensatory damages come in two forms, economic and noneconomic. Alaska has imposed no limits on the amount of award for economic damages, such as medical bills, lost wages, and physical therapy. Pain and suffering, considered noneconomic damages, are capped for some cases at $400,000 or $8,000 multiplied by the person’s life expectancy. In cases of permanent physical impairment or severe disfigurement, the cap is increased to $1 million or $25,000 multiplied by their life expectancy.

Punitive damages, in cases of willful or gross negligence, can be considered by the courts but may not exceed $500,000 or three times the amount of compensatory damages. Punitive damages are considered in a separate proceeding from compensatory damages. This amount could go as high as $7 million or four times the amount of compensatory damages if it is determined that the defendant’s conduct was motivated by financial gain and they were aware that injury would result.

Alaska has laws regarding “comparative negligence” in accidents. Damages can be reduced based on the plaintiff’s percentage of fault in the accident.

State-imposed time limits, known as statutes of limitations, identify the maximum amount of time that can pass between injury and filing a claim. The statute of limitations for a personal injury or wrongful death case is two years.

Take Action After Being Injured

If you have suffered a catastrophic injury, I can zealously advocate for the compensation you deserve. These painful injuries will affect how you live your life and could mean you are no longer able to work. I will evaluate the circumstances of your injury and fight to hold those responsible accountable.

Contact my firm today by phone at (888) 295-6566 or by using the online form.