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What Are Catastrophic Injuries from a Legal Point of View


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Under the legal definition of catastrophic injuries, you could describe them as a major impact on a system in the body. It means that catastrophic injuries limit, restrict, or impair the proper function of the spinal cord, brain, urinary tract, respiratory system, GI tract, or skin.

When you or a loved one suffers a catastrophic injury through no fault of your own, you may have a right to pursue legal action. Again, each state will have specific laws related to this.

Catastrophic Injuries Significantly Impact the Victim’s Life and Future

In the case of a catastrophic injury, one’s life quality drops severely. It may impact the lives of the family as well. The catastrophic injury may lead to premature death, or it may result in a permanent and life-changing disability.

Some of the things impacted by catastrophic injuries include:

  • Cognitive abilities
  • Speech
  • Sensations
  • Mobility, etc.

In cases where the cause of the injury wasn’t your fault, you may want to speak with an attorney from your city or state. For example, an Indiana personal injury lawyer can help you understand how negligence laws apply in your state, how your state’s modified comparative negligence rules apply in your case, and what you need to know about some damage caps if applicable to your situation. Catastrophic injuries are common in serious vehicular accidents, construction accidents, fires, exposure to dangerous chemicals, animal attacks, etc. You need a specialized attorney for any specific case to obtain fair damages.

What are Examples of Catastrophic Injuries

Think of anything that might severely impact the life of a loved one, such as:

  • Extreme burns
  • Brain injuries
  • Multiple fractures
  • Neurological disorders
  • Amputated limbs
  • Paralysis or spinal injuries
  • Blindness
  • Internal organ damage, etc.

Catastrophic injuries will prevent the individual from living a happy life. They may not be able to attend school, work, or function in everyday society.

What Does This Mean for a Person?

You can often seek higher compensation in the case of an accident resulting in catastrophic injuries. However, the medical bills will cost much more than a common injury, and you will suffer much more for longer.

You may require surgeries and rehabilitation after an injury of this nature. After a catastrophic injury, you may need a medical device or expensive medication. Your lawyer will fight for health recovery, lost wages, and the emotional damage you suffered after such an injury.

In many cases, after a catastrophic injury, the family will need to pursue legal compensation because the injured person is simply incapable of it. However, with the help of a reputable attorney, the family can initiate a wrongful death lawsuit, too – if the catastrophic injuries led to someone’s demise.

How Much Can You Receive for a Catastrophic Injury?

The average settlement for catastrophic injuries ranges from $20,000 to $75,000. In some cases, the cost will go much higher than that. Let’s take some examples of different types of injuries:

  • High quadripalegia — $5.162 million
  • Low quadripalegia — $3.772 million
  • Paraplegia — $2.524 million
  • Incomplete spinal cord injury — $1.725 million

These are just examples. Depending on your state’s laws and your lawyer’s abilities, you could get a fair amount of money to help you live your new life to some degree of satisfaction.

The Definition of Catastrophic Injury Depends on the State

The actual definition of a catastrophic injury will depend on the state. For example, Indiana defines a catastrophic injury as a severe bodily injury that impairs your ability to live independently for at least a year. In New York, a catastrophic injury is a severe bodily injury whose effects are expected to be long-term or permanent.


In a common injury, you will eventually make a full recovery, but you won’t make that recovery with a catastrophic injury. That defines the difference between the two types of injuries. Beware of underestimating your medical condition and current/future bills after you were in an accident. Insurance companies will likely fight your catastrophic injury claim knowing they will have to pay large settlements.

Having a good lawyer on your side to protect your rights matters the most in cases like this because you need qualified legal representation in all cases to obtain a satisfactory settlement.

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