• JC Serrano

Severe Injuries, Disfigurement, and Suing For Damages

Updated: Apr 26

Filing a Case for Catastrophic Injuries


A catastrophic injury will entirely change the victim’s life, as well as those of the people around them. It may cause chronic pain and lifelong disabilities, reducing a person’s quality of life. When you carry permanent impediments from a severe injury, even simple everyday tasks can be complex.

employment attorney near me

Unlike the broad definition of Personal Injury, Catastrophic Injuries are specifically debilitating. Victims are unable to function due to their injuries’ seriousness, consequently affecting everything in their lives, on top of struggling with large medical bills.

Defining Catastrophic Injuries

The legal definition of a catastrophic injury varies by state, but it usually applies to a personal injury that causes one or more of the following:

  • Health issues that last a long time

  • Life expectancy is decreased

  • Permanent physical and mental disability

  • It’s impossible to get back to the quality of life the victim had before the injury occurred.

In terms of the damage’s scope and extent, a catastrophic injury greatly from a normal personal injury. A traumatic accident is one that results in a permanent change in your life as a result of an event. A personal injury lawyer can tell if your injury falls into this category, and can forward a case that merits more payable damages.

Specific Examples to Help You


The following are some of what’s considered catastrophic injuries:

  • Permanent disfigurement

  • Harm to internal organs

  • Severe burns

  • Injuries to the spinal cord that impair mobility (leading to full or partial paralysis)

  • Amputations that leave a person permanently disabled

  • Various forms of traumatic brain injury

These injuries can cause serious emotional distress and mental health problems. If you’ve suffered a traumatic injury, you will need long-term medical care, rehabilitation, or counseling, as well as ongoing personal assistance.


They will likely affect your capacity to work as well, or worse; it will leave you utterly incapable of getting employed.


What are the leading causes of Catastrophic Injuries?


Though a mere bike accident—with the right circumstances—can lead to severe physical and mental damages, several types of accidents are considered to be the usual causes. These accidents are customarily considered more serious compared to mere highway car collisions.


Here are examples:


Buses. Bus accidents have been known to cause serious injury and even death to passengers. Whether or not you are a passenger of a bus falling down a cliffside or colliding with another large vehicle or a pedestrian crossing the street just in time, incidents related to buses are pretty common and terrifying. Seat belts are still missing from many schools and tour buses, and the large space inside a bus causes passengers to be tossed around and critically injured in a bus crash. Buses have been known to catch fire after colliding with each other.

Trains. Since few trains (like buses) have seat belts, there is a high risk of serious injury or wrongful death. In rush hours, passengers tend to stand when there are no available seats and are generally vulnerable to any jolting motion. Trains also operate at full speed, so any sudden halts or crashes are bound to toss everyone around when it happens. Lacking safety precautions that are usually found in private vehicles makes the passengers more vulnerable to serious injuries.


Trucks. These large vehicles usually take longer to stop and weigh several times more than common private cars, posing a significant risk. Due to their large size, any collisions are bound to cause severe human and property damage. If a truck’s brakes stopped working and it barrels straight into a residential building, it’s bound to leave more significant damages to everyone else involved.

Planes and helicopters. Almost always, serious accidents or wrongful death occur when an aircraft or helicopter crashes. Dismemberment, brain injuries, spinal injuries, burns, and nerve injuries are common among those who survive a major aviation accident. Many plane and helicopter crash survivors need lifelong support and treatment, regardless of whether they were injured while traveling on a major airline, a small private plane, or a helicopter.


Faulty Medical Devices. Medical instruments are often used in surgeries, but these instruments may also be used inappropriately or off-label. If the devices malfunction, it is either the fault of the manufacturer or the operator or both.


Pharmaceutical blunders. Certain medications can be administered in untested, inappropriate, or off-label ways, resulting in birth defects, debilitating side effects, withdrawal symptoms, and various other undesirable outcomes.


Can a Pedestrian Accident Lead to Catastrophic Injuries?


A lot of pedestrian accidents actually lead to severe injuries. Pedestrians are more vulnerable in comparison to the negligent driver on a vehicle. Since pedestrian accidents often result in serious injuries, compensation is normally high. A traumatic injury, such as brain damage or paralysis, can necessitate compensation to cover the cost of long-term specialized treatment.

Here are the possible outcomes of serious pedestrian accidents:

  • Internal injuries

  • Wounds from piercings and lacerations

  • Disfigurement (amputation, burns, severe scarring)

  • Bone fractures

  • Knee, ankle, hip, elbow, and wrist injuries are all normal.

  • Back, neck, and shoulder injuries

  • Soft-tissue injuries (torn ligaments and tendons)

A Catastrophic Injury doesn’t even have to be from a vehicular accident at all—it could be caused by another person, faulty building construction, or a bicycle crash—as long as the victim or plaintiff experiences serious repercussions like the ones mentioned above. Pedestrian collisions sometimes result in severe injuries, even though the injuries aren’t life-threatening.


This can also happen in medical procedures (like surgeries) gone wrong, as well as doctors and medical professionals prescribing medicines that ultimately damage someone’s health and body permanently.


How Do I Prove It?


Catastrophic Injuries are usually very obvious. If you lost a limb or have suffered permanent scar burns due to an incident, then that is proof enough. What needs to be proven in court, though, is that the ill-effects you are experiencing are caused by someone else’s carelessness.


Proving Negligence the Leads to Injuries


The main principle in defining “negligence” is the failure to exercise reasonable caution. To win a personal injury case, a plaintiff or survivor and their personal injury lawyer must prove that the defendant in the claim was liable in some way that directly caused the alleged damages. It’s important to identify the breach of duty of care and include a thorough breakdown of all costs sustained as a result of the violation.


Note that a negligence claim doesn’t have to against one person or culprit. In cases of malfunctioning medical instruments, faulty and dangerous pharmaceutical products, poorly-constructed buildings, etc., the plaintiff can pursue a lawsuit with the company or contractor. Whether the court zeroes in on a single responsible individual (or group) depends on how the case will proceed.

One of the most critical aspects of securing full compensation is proving the other party’s liability in the case. The majority of accident and injury cases would hinge on demonstrating the negligence of the other party.


Your personal injury lawyer will warn you of any possible difficulties in the legal process. Personal injury claimants in California face a number of problems, including unpredictable liability among various parties and comparative negligence.

employment lawyers near me

What happens if there is more than one defendant?


Multiple parties are often held liable for a personal injury case. For example, if in train accidents, manufacturers, company owners, and the operating personnel might all be held accountable. The plaintiff and their personal injury lawyer must demonstrate that each defendant included in the case is partly responsible for the damages sought.

Although this can make settlement negotiations more complex and require more extensive evidence collection, the court normally decides how much each named defendant is liable for the plaintiff’s damages.

Your personal injury lawyer will explain how each defendant in your case will be kept responsible for their role in the incident. When the case goes to trial, and the judge determines that the defendants are both guilty or responsible on various levels, the defendants are jointly and severally liable for the plaintiff’s damages. During mediation talks, claimants generally negotiate between themselves to determine their fault percentages.


California law recognizes comparative negligence.

Comparative neglect may be a factor in a personal injury case in California. The word “comparative negligence” applies to circumstances in which claimants share some of the responsibility for the losses they claim to have incurred.


In automobile accident situations, this is a normal occurrence. When a plaintiff makes a lawsuit, the defendant will challenge liability and may even show proof that the plaintiff or accuser is partially to blame for the issue. Comparative negligence laws may influence the amount a plaintiff earns from a valid personal injury lawsuit.

California has a pure comparative negligence rule, which ensures that a complainant will still claim compensation for damages that they contributed to, although there is no minimum award amount.


Many states have changed comparative negligence legislation to bar claimants from seeking awards if their liability reaches half of the total damages, but California does not. Just a fraction of the cash reward is lost because of the plaintiff’s percentage of the blame.


In a personal injury case, if the plaintiff or accuser is found to be partly responsible for the damages sought, they should expect to lose a portion of the settlement.


What Are the Payable Damages Related to Catastrophic Injuries?

In addition to past and potential medical expenses, payable damages should include the victim’s income loss, loss of future earning ability, and the cost of dealing with the injury—compensation for pain and suffering, emotional distress, and subsequent loss of enjoyment of life.


When it comes to personal injury claims in California (and consequently Catastrophic Injuries), there are two forms of compensation: economic and non-economic damages.

Economic damages are ‘out-of pocket’ expenses, usually to do with money.

  • Medical bills for treating the injuries

  • Whether you pay them yourself, your insurance company pays them, or they are billed on loan.

  • Experts will need to carefully sum up what may be needed for long-term care.

  • Loss of property

  • Including vehicle, electronic devices, or anything of value that has been destroyed during the incident.

  • Lost Wage

  • From getting stuck in the hospital or hampered on your way to a paid workday/commission