Catastrophic injury cases are different from other types of personal injury claims in a number of ways. For one, victims of catastrophic injuries often face unique challenges when it comes to returning to their pre-injury lives. Many are unable to return to work or earn a living for themselves and their families; others require full-time assistance with ordinary, everyday tasks. Depending on the nature of the injury, the cost of treatment alone can easily exceed hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars over the course of the victim’s lifetime.
What Is a Catastrophic Injury?
When discussing serious injury claims, it’s important to first define what makes an injury “catastrophic.” Simply put, these are injuries that are so devastating in nature, they completely alter the victim’s ability to return to his or her “normal,” pre-injury life. What constitutes “normal” depends on the unique factors involved, but may include things like the victim’s ability to work or earn a living, live on his or her own, take part in physical activities or hobbies, or even eat and drink on his or her own.
Some examples of injuries that are often categorized as “catastrophic” include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries, including paralysis
- Amputation, accidental or otherwise
- Hearing or vision loss
- Severe burns
- Major fractures/broken bones
- Serious soft tissue damage
- Internal organ damage
Note that this is not a comprehensive list. There is no set definition of a “catastrophic injury;” any injury that has significant physical and financial consequences for the victim and/or the victim’s family and loved ones may be considered “catastrophic.”
The True Cost of Catastrophic Injuries
While all personal injury claims have the potential to be complex, catastrophic injury cases are often particularly so due to the extensive physical, emotional, and financial damages—both current and future—typically associated with these types of injuries. When bringing a claim, victims and their families need to know that their costs, including all potential future costs, will be taken into account.
These costs may include:
- Emergency medical treatment
- Ongoing (sometimes lifelong) medical care
- Physical/cognitive rehabilitation therapy
- Pain management programs, including prescription medications
- Medical equipment, such as wheelchairs, walkers, etc.
- Necessary modifications (ramps, etc.) to a home or vehicle
- Lost income/wages, including future earnings
- Reduced or lost earning ability (disability)
- Pain and suffering, including emotional distress
- Treatment for trauma/mental health disorders, such as depression
- Loss of quality of life/enjoyment of life
Notably, many of the damages associated with catastrophic injuries do not have a set price tag, so to speak. Determining the value of someone’s quality of life, physical pain, or emotional suffering can be incredibly difficult and complex. Because of this, it’s critically important that catastrophically injured individuals and/or their loved ones work with an attorney who is highly experienced in these types of claims.
Choosing the Right Attorney
Your attorney should understand how the injury impacts you/your loved one and all aspects of your/their life, as well as how to build a case around both your current and future needs. Often, catastrophic injury lawyers work with teams of accident reconstructionists, economic experts, medical authorities, and other professionals who are well-versed in the myriad ways in which a catastrophic injury can affect the victim’s life, as well as the lives of his or her loved ones. When building a case, the testimony and expertise of these professionals is often crucial in determining the true lifetime cost of the injury, both literally and figuratively.
If you or someone you love suffered catastrophic injuries as a result of someone else’s negligent or wrongful actions, it’s important that you seek an experienced legal team to help you with your case. At Huffman & Huffman, we are proud to have spent more than 45 years serving countless families throughout Virginia, and we are prepared to help yours, too.
Contact us today to learn more about how we can assist you with your catastrophic injury case during a free consultation.