What Classifies as a Catastrophic Injury?

There are many varying definitions of a catastrophic injury, depending on the circumstances and forum of an injured victim’s case. No matter the facts and circumstances of an injured person’s case, if he or she is seriously injured enough that he or she suffers from a long-term disability or a disfigurement/deformity, it is very likely that he or she has suffered a catastrophic injury.

Statutory Definitions of Catastrophic Injury

Federal law provides a statutory definition of “catastrophic injury” in 42 U.S.C. s. 3796b. The statute defines catastrophic injury as “an injury, the direct and proximate consequences of which permanently prevent an individual from performing any gainful work”.

Other Definitions of Catastrophic Injury

Outside the statutory context, a catastrophic injury is thought of as one that leaves the victim with permanent damage, or with severe short-term or with long-term impact on the victim’s functional capacity. In most cases, a catastrophic injury involves the loss of some vital part of your person, whether that part is physical (such as a limb) or mental (such as a loss of cognitive or speech function).

Categories of Catastrophic Injury

There are three main categories of catastrophic injuries: physical injuries, spinal injuries, and cognitive injuries.

Physical injuries involve permanent damage to or loss of some body party or body function. Examples of physical catastrophic injuries include severe burns, severe bone fractures, organ damage or loss, permanent damage to soft orthopedic tissue (tendons, ligaments, and muscles), amputation of extremities, or loss of bodily functions (such as respiratory function, digestive or bowel/bladder function, or sexual function)

Spinal injuries affect the spinal cord, which can impact bodily functions, mobility, or result in varying degrees of temporary or permanent paralysis.

Finally, cognitive injuries arise from traumatic brain injury. The most severe cognitive injuries can leave victims in a coma or vegetative state. Even a victim doesn’t suffer from an altered state of consciousness, he or she can suffer permanent difficulties with thinking, speaking, creativity, concentration, or behavior, leaving them unable to work or even unable to care for themselves on a daily basis.

How Catastrophic Injuries Affect Your Personal Injury Case

When you have suffered a catastrophic injury due to someone’s negligent or wrongful conduct, you deserve to receive maximum compensation in a personal injury claim. There are several reasons why a catastrophic injury should entitle you to maximum compensation:

  • As a general rule of thumb, the more serious the injury, the greater your medical expenses are likely to be. If you have suffered a catastrophic injury, you likely will require months, if not years of treatment to reach maximum medical improvement (the point where you will not improve with any further treatment). Even once you have reached that point, you may require permanent care, such as medication, mobility equipment, prosthetics, or home health care
  • When you suffer a catastrophic injury, you may be out of work for a very long time or may even be unable to return to work. As a result, you deserve to be compensated for your lost wages or lost earning capacity
  • Finally, a catastrophic injury can leave you with significant pain and emotional distress that you deserve to be compensated for

Contact a Linwood Personal Injury Lawyer to Discuss Your Catastrophic Injury Case in New Jersey

Did you or a loved one sustain catastrophic injuries in New Jersey? Don’t let the medical bills pile up while you wait for the negligent party or their insurance company to do the right thing. Right now, you need an aggressive personal injury attorney on your side, fighting to get you the compensation you need, want, and deserve. The skilled attorneys at The Law Offices of Richard A. Stoloff represent clients suffering from catastrophic injuries in Pleasantville, Hammonton, Somers Point, Ventnor City, and throughout New Jersey. Call (609) 601-2233 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation about your case. We have an office conveniently located at 605 New Road, 1st Floor, Linwood, NJ 08221, as well as offices in Philadelphia, PA.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.