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What Is a Catastrophic Injury Case in Personal Injury Law?

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What qualifies as a catastrophic injury?
By Ashley Amerio

Personal injuries are the unfortunate accidents that come unannounced and leave pain, loss, and misfortune for the victim in its wake. Personal Injury law encompasses all accidents, injuries, and their aftermaths for victims and their loved ones, which is why the most serious of those cases have been termed catastrophic injury cases.

Personal injury claims with catastrophic injuries come with unique challenges, especially when it comes to proving the effects of the accident on the current and future life of the victim. Adding a catastrophic injury to the case vastly increases the injured party’s claim for compensation.

In this article, we have explained what exactly a catastrophic injury case is, whether your injury qualifies for one, and how much settlement you’re liable for in claims involving catastrophic/severe injury.

What Qualifies as Catastrophic Injury?

Personal injuries of severe magnitude – loss of limbs, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, 3rd- and 4th-degree burns, organ damage, bone fractures, paralysis, facial scarring or disfigurement, and loss of eyesight are known as catastrophic injuries. Mainly caused due to negligence, these injuries leave the victim permanently disabled, in need of extensive medical care, and unable to maintain the same quality of life for themselves and their families.

While there is no one definition of catastrophic injuries, most laws agree that a victim of catastrophic injuries cannot maintain their pre-injury lifestyle. That means they have to endure a financial hit and can no longer work, earn, and provide a safe future for their families.

Amputation, blindness, and paralysis mean there is no going back to normal for the victim. Severe brain injury, spinal cord injuries, and burn injuries can require multiple future surgeries and prolonged or lifetime therapeutic or rehabilitative care. Furthermore, in the cause of trauma and brain injuries, there may be no way to recover from these injuries; the injured party might never regain consciousness or total mental capacity.

Apart from the physical symptoms, the mental strains of a person subjected to a catastrophic injury are multi-folds. Anxiety, depression, memory loss, personality changes, learning disability, emotional scarring, and trauma can render the injured party unable to earn enough money to pay for their medical expenses.

Even if the prognosis is favorable, the path to recovery is full of difficulties. Setting up treatment plans with healthcare specialists, surgeons, physical therapists, psychologists, and more might be needed to achieve a better quality of life than what’s left after the accident. It is not just the victim who suffers in this case; their entire family goes through a terrible ordeal too. Hospital visits, stay, change of schedules, finding new jobs, relocating, and following up with the law enforcement agencies, are just some of the troubles caused to the victims’ families.

Therefore, it is essential to select a law firm specializing in handling catastrophic injury claim cases to secure the financial future of the injured party and their family. An experienced lawyer can make all the difference when making or breaking your case in the claims court.

Do You Have Grounds for a Claim?

Catastrophic injuries have grounds to receive higher monetary compensation than a typical personal injury claim, owing to the simple fact that the injurer has suffered too much; they require more money to compensate for medical treatments, loss of employment, and future repercussions the injury might have caused them.

It’s not just that; personal injury law allows the injurer to claim the projected future costs of medical, physical, and mental treatment, loss of potential income, and the value of pain, emotional trauma, and the lack of ability to enjoy life as usual.

But the question is, do you qualify for the claim?

If you have suffered catastrophic injuries due to the negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct of a third party, and they could have reasonably prevented that, you might be eligible for financial compensation. A drunk driver or a driver using their phone would be liable for damages if they caused a catastrophic car accident while driving.

In many cases, when a person has suffered from a catastrophic injury, their condition might prevent them from filing a claim by themselves. Luckily, the law doesn’t stop their family members from filing the same suit on their behalf.

Children under 18 experiencing a catastrophic injury have their parents, older siblings, or legal guardians file the compensation claim. For adults who cannot pursue the case, their spouse or another family member can file the catastrophic injury claim on behalf of the injured.

According to the statute of limitations, the claim has to be filed within three years of the incident causing the injury for adults. In exceptional circumstances, for example, when some catastrophic injuries do not become apparent at first, this limit can be increased depending upon the mental condition of the injured.

If you’re unsure whether you qualify for a claim, book an appointment with Ashley Injury Lawyers, and they can guide you according to the elements specific to your injury claim.

What Is a Catastrophic Settlement?

Because insurance companies limit their losses, most catastrophic injury claims are settled out of court. It might seem farfetched, but some of the claims get settled even before the lawsuit is filed, while others settle before a trial begins. The insurance companies ensure they won’t be fined exorbitant amounts and can reach a settlement with both parties involved by settling out of court.

The tendency to settle the cases out of court is not limited to the insurance companies alone. The victims of auto accidents have the same incentive. They usually have to settle for the lowest amount of policy limits purchased by the automobile driver because that’s the only compensation available.

In case of catastrophic injury caused by medical malpractice, using a defective product, or unsafe conditions in a construction site or any other commercial premise, the insurance policy limits are more likely to result in a cushiony settlement.

Adequate insurance does not always favor the victim. A dispute may arise as to whose negligence caused the accident that resulted in the catastrophic injury. The jury’s decision gets challenging to predict if the victim turns out to be partly at fault. In this case, the victims are encouraged to settle for a slightly less amount than what the jury would have awarded them had they not been at fault at all.

Catastrophic injury lawyers specialize in filing claims to receive maximum compensation for their clients. The lawyer works to reach a settlement that can allow the victim to improve the quality of their life as best as they can after suffering through that terrible ordeal. The financial compensation does not have the power to restore their health as it once was. Still, it can provide them with the comfort they rightly deserve in the present and for the future.

The monetary compensation you are offered after settling or winning a catastrophic injury case is known as damages. If these damages are not presented to you in a lump sum payment, you might be offered a structured settlement. A structured settlement is an arrangement where the personal injury claimant receives injury settlement in multiple installments instead of once. This can only happen if both parties agree on the payment schedule and other details.

What Types of Compensation Are Likely in a Catastrophic Injury Case?

For victims suffering from lack of mobility incurred by a catastrophic injury, their personal injury lawyer will ensure the settlement covers the cost of a wheelchair that can get them around. This differs from case to case, but the injured party might be eligible for a battery-operated vehicle or expenses to make their home wheelchair-friendly by installing ramps and easily accessible entrances. Additional benefits could include vocational rehabilitation to find new modes of earning.

The catastrophic injury settlement will aim to receive the money necessary to maximize the patient’s comfort for severe brain damage and spinal injuries victims who cannot leave their beds anymore. The costs of hiring a home nurse to aid in day-to-day tasks or charges for a special care facility for round-the-clock care could be part of the settlement too.

It comes down to the lawyer and teams of experts from various professions to determine the complete impact that particular catastrophic injury would have on the injured party’s life. Doctors, life care planners, mental health professionals, rehabilitation experts, finance professionals, contractors, and accessible housing specialists are a few professionals whose combined reports will paint an accurate picture of the loss suffered by the victim and the costs and facilities required by the same to lead a good quality of life in future.

A catastrophic injury victim cannot only claim the economic damages (healthcare, medical expenses, and other apparent costs), they are also entitled to the damage caused by the pain and suffering resulting from the injury caused by someone else’s negligence.

These damages are a way to compensate for the physical pain and emotional distress the injured experiences as an aftermath of the life-altering incident. It is meant to bring them relief during recovery and make up for the lack of enjoyment from life due to the loss of ability to keep sexual relations, socialize, participate in activities they once enjoyed, and raise their family.

The non-economic damages are not as easy to calculate as the economic damages. Even though no money can help accidental victims overcome emotional distress, it can certainly help them look up ways to lead a comfortable life.

A catastrophic injury lawyer with extensive experience filing settlement cases will consider multiple factors while evaluating physical pain and permanent damage damages. One of the major ones is the reaction of the jury and the estimated amount of compensation that could be awarded for the same injury.

How Can We Help You?

If you or your loved one have been severely injured in an incident, you might be wondering – How much money do I need to get by to survive in this condition?


You must understand that if you have suffered an injury, filing a claim on your own can result in loss of the reasonable settlement you deserve. If you only pursue a personal injury claim, you might limit the compensation you receive.

The rehabilitation, care, and treatment are expensive. With 50 years of combined experience, the trial attorneys of Ashley Injury Lawyers are your best bet when it comes to filing claims for personal injury settlements. We have helped victims of auto accidents, motorcycle accidents, truck accidents, dog bites, slip and falls, nursing home abuse, and neglect with multiple successful cases by filing claims and receiving settlements.

Our teams of trial attorneys have spent careers raising voices for those who were woefully wronged. We understand the pain injury victims go through every day. When you trust us, we take matters into our hands; letting you rest and regain your health is our priority while fighting on your behalf to win you the settlement you need and rightfully deserve.

 In the opposite scenario, some people might be offered a sum as means of settlement by the party at fault, and they’ll accept it, thinking it’s nothing short of a windfall for them. Still, they might not understand that 24/7 medical care is costlier than they are calculating. Plus, they can be compensated for the mental and physical distress, so why not make their lives easy and let the professionals care about this matter for you?

Our team of personal injury attorneys and paralegals is passionate about fighting for the justice and compensation you deserve. 

 If you live in Sacramento, Roseville, Granite Bay, Rocklin, Folsom, Lincoln, and throughout the Northern California region and have been injured, contact Ashley Injury Lawyersfor a free consultation and case evaluation.

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