What is a Catastrophic Injury?
Catastrophic injuries are life-altering. They change your ability to live your life as you did up to the point of the injury. They might result in no longer being able to perform work duties, participate fully in romantic relationships, or engage in hobbies you once loved.
Catastrophic injuries can be direct or indirect. Direct traumatic injuries are caused by a direct impact, such as a car accident or other incident. Indirect catastrophic injuries are caused by exertion while performing an activity or as a result of complications from non-fatal injuries.
Examples of catastrophic injuries include:
- Injuries to the spinal cord
- Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)
- Severe burns
- Severely fractured or broken Bones
- Loss of limbs
It’s entirely possible for catastrophic injuries to be fatal.
Catastrophic Injuries are Life Changing
Even if a victim is able to recover from catastrophic injury, their lives are rarely ever the same.
For most people, catastrophic injuries require years of physical therapy, as well as ongoing treatment from doctors. Victims might need multiple surgeries and other types of follow-up treatment. Many will require in-home medical support or assistive devices, such as wheelchairs or breathing devices.
Whether or not you are able to eventually return to a life that “seems fairly normal” does not determine whether or not an injury is catastrophic. Any time an event causes an injury or injuries that leave you permanently disabled it is considered catastrophic. The same is true if a person suffers a fractured neck or traumatic brain injury, or experiences cardiac arrest.
Recovery might be possible or it might not, but it’s the severity of the injury and its potential long-term effects that determine whether it is catastrophic.
One of the determining factors is the amount of time and commitment needed to recover. Most people who suffer catastrophic injuries must be 100 percent focused on their recovery for months or year after the incident. Some people spend the rest of their lives adjusting to their injuries and never fully recover.
What Happens If I Suffer a Catastrophic Injury on the Job?
The workplace is one of the primary locations where catastrophic injuries occur. Anyone can be put in harm’s way while working, but some industries tend to expose workers to more risk.
For instance, people who work in law enforcement, construction, and trucking, and electrical workers, firefighters, and those who work with chemicals face an extremely high risk. Athletes also tend to be prone to catastrophic injuries, especially those affecting the brain, which is why the National Football League has put so much emphasis on concussions in recent years.
What am I Entitled to If I Suffer a Catastrophic Injury?
The support you receive, both financial and otherwise, varies depending on the circumstances of your injury. It can also matter if your own actions played a role in your injuries, but not in every case.
The good news is most people who suffer catastrophic injuries as the result of an accident or similar event receive some support.
A number of factors are considered when determining the compensation someone receives after suffering a catastrophic injury. For instance:
• Will future medical care be needed?
• Are future surgeries required?
• Will home healthcare support be needed?
• Are modifications to the home necessary?
• Are modifications to vehicles necessary?
• Will the injured receive Social Security Disability or private disability insurance benefits?
• How else was the victim’s life affected?
Every situation is different and catastrophic injuries must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.