According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of unintentional deaths either from general injury or motor vehicle accidents in the United States each year is more than 200,000.
For unintentional injury deaths alone, there are roughly 52 per year for every 100,000 people.
And those who aren’t killed in these types of incidents often suffer severe life-changing injuries. A whole subset of court proceedings has sprung up due to these types of cases, dubbed catastrophic injury law.
But what makes a personal injury catastrophic?
In the following article, we’ll define catastrophic injury, discuss which injuries tend to fall under this category, and look at how damages are calculated in some cases.
Catastrophic Injury Law Defined
There are several types of personal injuries, and although the term “catastrophic injury” is thrown around a lot, there is no legal definition. However, there is a general consensus.
A catastrophic injury is usually defined as a condition resulting from a life-altering event that prevents a person from performing or seeking “gainful” employment.
As a result of this injury, the individual is typically saddled with hospital bills, mounting debts, emotional trauma, and physical pain and discomfort. And unfortunately, these conditions usually occur comorbidly and extend into every aspect of their lives.
The physical repercussions of a catastrophic injury are usually obvious, but the impact on a person’s emotional and behavioral health is sometimes hard to calculate. A person’s injuries can often sever their extrapersonal relations due to a lack of mobility or communication skills, which furthers feelings of isolation and depression.
What Injuries Are Catastrophic?
Several situations can lead to serious personal injury and catastrophic injury. Here are just a few examples:
- Workplace accidents
- Slip and fall situations
- Medical malpractice
- Motor-vehicle crashes
And the following are some of the injuries that can lead to a loss of quality of life and gainful employment:
- Injury to the brain or spinal cord
- Injury to another of the body’s vital systems
- Neurological disorders
- Loss of vision or hearing
- Fractures and lack of mobility
- Burns that result in disfigurement
It should be stressed that the above list is a starting point, and it’s almost impossible to predict every situation or injury that could lead to a catastrophic injury declaration.
How Are Damages Calculated?
According to a leading South Carolina law firm, the Goings Law Firm, LLC, several variables can factor into a monetary award in a catastrophic injury case. Some of these include:
- Type of accident
- Were you at fault?
- Severity of injuries
- Was a party under the influence?
Losses in catastrophic injury cases are almost always more impactful than in your usual personal injury or property cases.
Don’t Go It Alone
Because of the amount of financial compensation at stake in these cases, defense lawyers will try to shift blame. They will look to prove the victim had some contributory negligence.
That’s why catastrophic injury law requires an experienced attorney. A lawyer familiar with guiding clients through this difficult and potentially lengthy process.
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