What is a Catastrophic Injury?

Man's hand rolling wheelchair wheel

Defining what a catastrophic injury is can depend on who you’re asking. According to the American Medical Association, a catastrophic injury is a severe injury to the spinal cord, spine, or brain. However, according to the U.S. Justice System, legally within code 42 USC § 3796b, it states that a “catastrophic injury” means consequences of an injury that permanently prevent an individual from performing any gainful work.”

There are many different definitions throughout different groups and associations. Even the NCAA has its own definition for a catastrophic sports injury. So the question remains, how does a court decide if someone has a catastrophic injury? There’s no black and white answer. If an injury is debilitating or life-altering, there’s a chance the injury may be categorized as catastrophic.

How Does a Court Decide if an Injury is Catastrophic?

The court will use the legal definition of a catastrophic injury, meaning that if the person cannot perform “any gainful work,” they can categorize the injury as catastrophic. This would include injuries that are permanent, life-altering, and due to negligence.

Some examples of these life-altering injuries are:

  • Birth injuries

  • Nerve damage

  • Neurological issues

  • Severe burns

  • Chronic pain

  • Loss of senses; deafness, blindness

  • Brain or head injuries

  • Amputation

If you or someone you love has been affected by a catastrophic injury, it’s easy to understand how day-to-day life can change. Whether the injury has been present since birth or anytime after, these are serious injuries that require life-long care and adaptations to make life more comfortable.

While a court will help determine the type of injury, to win a case, the court will also need to be able to be proven that the injury occurred out of negligence. Simply speaking, negligence means the carelessness of another party. There are four elements of a negligence claim. You can read more about negligence from Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute here.

Why Should I Speak to a Lawyer After a Catastrophic Accident?

A catastrophic injury may leave you or your family unable to live life the same way ever again. As the definition of a catastrophic injury means ‘life-altering,’there will be things that need to change and be adjusted to accommodate the best quality of life for the remainder of the injured’s life. Factoring in the hard cost of physical therapy, adaptive equipment, ongoing medical treatment, and items such as wheelchairs, ramps, communication devices, adaptive vehicles, and more may be difficult to include in your budget.

Speaking with a lawyer can help you determine if a lawsuit is the best next step. Sometimes people think they don’t want to sue, or they don’t want to deal with having to go to court, but it’s crucial to think about your financial future. Life may look different moving forward, and if you deserve compensation for your injury, it’s best to speak to a lawyer. They can help determine the proper amount of compensation to request to help you live a comfortable life.

In addition to the hard costs of medical equipment and treatment, your lawyer may also speak to you about pain and suffering and a loss of quality or enjoyment of life. If you or a loved one’s life has been changed forever, you may be able to receive compensation to help you cope with the injuries.

Choosing Loscalzo & Loscalzo

When you choose to contact Loscalzo & Loscalzo, you can expect to speak with a team of experienced attorneys. President & Attorney Anthony Loscalzo has been in practice for over 50 years. He has extensive experience in personal injury cases, and you can expect strong legal representation having him on your side. All of our clients can expect to receive a level of personal attention, legal guidance, and dedication that is unparalleled.

If you or someone you know was recently injured, contact Loscalzo & Loscalzo, P.C. at (646) 846-4776 to discuss your case with one of our personal injury attorneys today.