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What Is Considered A Catastrophic Injury?

Updated: Nov 24, 2022

A Definitive Guide On Catastrophic Injuries In California

As much as we wish it wouldn't happen, some accidents leave people with lasting, life-changing injuries. In cases like these, the stakes a high. There are more medical bills, immediate expenses, lost wages, and future financial and emotional losses. You need to get the best Los Angeles Catastrophic Injury Attorney when the stakes are this high.


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What Is A Catastrophic Injury In California?

Serious accidents frequently result in catastrophic injuries that permanently change a person's life. This could severely decrease their quality of life because it limits their ability to function in daily activities.


These injuries hurt the victim and have severe consequences for the victim's family. They may have to care for their loved ones for an extended period, in addition to experiencing their pain. As a result, the family's finances may be severely strained.


In addition, because catastrophic injuries cause significantly more pain and suffering, the victim is entitled to substantially more compensation than those who suffer minor injuries.


How Is "Catastrophic Injury" Defined?

In layman's terms, an injury is considered "catastrophic" if it considerably limits your capacity to live the life you had before the accident. Six conditions are typically regarded as "catastrophic":

  • Amputation of a limb is both physically and emotionally distressing. In addition, accidents typically necessitate significant recovery and rehabilitation for people who have lost limbs. Although prosthetic technology has significantly evolved in recent years, the adjustment phase is extremely difficult. An amputation can also result in infections, Phantom Pain Syndrome, and psychological discomfort.

  • Vision Loss. Working in potentially hazardous environments or doing potentially dangerous activities can harm a person's eyes or vision. In addition, there are numerous other causes of partial or complete vision loss, including traumatic head injuries, vehicle accidents, acts of aggression, and chemical exposure.

  • Hearing loss. Many people who work in noisy environments such as factories, construction sites, and assembly plants have hearing loss over time. Although constant use of ear protection might help avoid this, some extremely loud sounds can cause partial or total hearing loss. Hearing loss can also occur as a result of a severe head injury.

  • Injuries to the spinal cord. The spinal cord is a dense bundle of nerves that transmits messages from the brain to the rest of the body through the spine. The spinal cord is one of the most vital sections of the body, yet it cannot self-repair. Therefore, any damage to the spinal cord is permanent, and it can cause loss of sensation, function loss, or a combination of the two.

  • Injuries to the brain. A violent blow can damage the brain to the head, hypoxia, or chemical exposure. Because the brain is in charge of all of the body's processes, any harm to the brain will almost certainly have ramifications throughout the body. This can affect cognition, memory, and even the capacity to carry out daily chores.

  • Damaged Internal Organs. If an individual's internal organs are severely damaged, they may file a claim to recover the costs of treating or managing the resultant permanent ailment. Internal organ injury, medical malpractice during surgical treatment, infection, or intake of toxic drugs can result in this.

  • Death, fatal accidents. If a catastrophic injury results in death, the surviving family or estate representative can file a wrongful death claim instead of a personal injury claim.

It's important to remember that despite it being an apparent life-altering injury, the defendant's insurance provider or lawyer might still try to reduce the suffering you or your loved one had incurred. Therefore, to have the best chance of collecting your losses in the form of compensation, you should get legal guidance from an experienced catastrophic injury lawyer.

Common Catastrophic Injury: Brain And Spinal Cord Injuries


Brain and spinal cord injuries are the most deadly and severe sorts of catastrophic injuries. If even minor damage is done to either of these vital body parts, the victim may have instant difficulties and irreversible repercussions.


Because the nerves in the spinal cord and the neurons in the brain are so slow to recover, injury to the brain and spinal cord is usually irreversible.


The following are some of the long-term effects of a traumatic brain injury (TBI):

  1. Impediments to speech

  2. Loss of memory

  3. Learning and developmental disabilities

  4. Anxiety, distress, and emotional instability

  5. Losing control of certain biological functions

  6. Deafness, blindness, or other forms of sensory loss.

Damage to the spinal cord can cause permanent paralysis, which can be partial or total. A spinal cord injury victim will experience a more significant case of paralysis depending on how far up the lesion occurred due to the order of the nerves and spinal discs. For example, a wound to the head of the spinal cord might result in quadriplegia or full-body paralysis.


Other Types: Birth Defects, Injuries


Many birth injuries are avoidable. On the other hand, doctors are not always forthcoming when they make a mistake. If a doctor fails to behave safely, serious consequences may arise.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10,000 children with Cerebral Palsy are born in the United States each year. Congenital CP refers to CP caused by brain injury that occurred before or during birth. When a newborn is deprived of oxygen during delivery, birth trauma can result.

If your child suffered a birth injury as a result of prolonged or difficult labor, the attending physician's failure to detect an umbilical cord around your child's neck, the inability to perform an emergency C-section promptly, the failure to detect unfavorable fetal vital signs, or any other questions about a birth injury your child suffered, contact a California Catastrophic Injury Attorney.

Which Types Of Accidents Are Most Likely To Result In Catastrophic Injuries?


Catastrophic injuries can occur in any situation. However, some accidents have more unfavorable outcomes than others. The following are examples of accidents that potentially result in catastrophic injuries:

When you or a family member is involved in one of these accidents, the medical bills and lost income can be substantial. As a result, you should contact a Los Angeles Catastrophic Injury Attorney right once.


What Are The Immediate And Future Effects Of Catastrophic Injuries?


Catastrophic injury impacts are immediate, persistent, and frequently long-term for the person and close family members. Victims of traumatic brain injury (TBI), severe spinal cord damage (SCI), burns, and other catastrophic injuries must adjust to drastic life changes.


Our Top Catastrophic Injury Attorneys In Los Angeles know what the fallout of these injuries and losses can do to victims and their families. The following are some of the issues that a typical victim and family will face:

  • Medical expenses. Hospital bills, routine doctor visits, physical and occupational therapy, medical equipment, in-home care, and other costs may be included. If the injury is permanent, the victim and family must budget for significant annual out-of-pocket payments.

  • Past and future loss of earnings. The victim will almost certainly lose their job and may be unable to work at all. In addition, to give care, a close family member will frequently cease working.


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  • Pain and suffering. Physical discomfort can develop from any form of severe damage, including paralysis, which has a slew of unpleasant side effects. The trauma of the occurrence and the losses that follow it may cause emotional agony and suffering to the sufferer. The entire family is affected by pain and sorrow.

  • Overall reduction of the quality of life. Disabilities can stop a profession, social position, family relationships, and other aspects of life. A seriously damaged person may lose the capacity to help around the house and provide emotional support. A parent may be unable to care for a child, and a spouse may not provide their partner with the same level of affection and companionship.

And while you might see the same list of consequences for all types of accidents, catastrophic injuries are particularly debilitating. There is no coming back from a catastrophic injury.


What Are The Damages and Compensation For Catastrophic Injuries In California?


The value of a claim is determined by the jury evaluating the number of damages suffered by the plaintiff. With sufficient evidence, such as:

  1. Pay stubs

  2. Invoices

  3. Billings

  4. Receipts

Economic damages such as lost wages from missing time at work, property damage, and medical expenses are straightforward to prove. A good California Catastrophic Injury Lawyer will know how to conduct their own investigations and get the needed evidence while you and your family focus on recovery.

However, non-economic losses are more difficult to establish.

The severity of the plaintiff's injuries will usually determine the amount of pain and suffering awarded by a jury. For example, a plaintiff who spent a specific amount of money on medical bills to treat a catastrophic injury may need to recuperate for several years or longer. Because the plaintiff is likely to be in constant agony, discomfort, and loss of range of motion throughout that time, the jury will likely award significantly more in pain and suffering damages.

While there is a definitive rule for determining these damages, it is safe to anticipate that pain and suffering damages will be several times greater than the plaintiff's stated medical expenses.

In some circumstances, determining the plaintiff's economic damages is more complex. For example, the jury will consider whether the plaintiff will require multiple subsequent recovery procedures such as:

  1. corrective procedures

  2. long-term physical therapy

  3. rehabilitation

  4. occupational therapy

  5. or any other form of long-term medical treatment.

Calculating the Value of Lost Future Earnings

Unless the injured party can competently testify as to what they would have earned, an economist or an expert in employment and pay will be hired to determine a fair but equivalent computation of their earnings.


This computation method takes into account several elements, including:

  1. the plaintiff's real wages at the time of the incident

  2. their prospects of promotion

  3. their life expectancy at the time of the accident

  4. overall economic patterns

  5. the injured party's profession and its prospective trends

The injured party is also entitled to compensation if the harm is severe enough to be unable to pursue their intended career. The amount that would have been earned, minus the amount that the injured party will receive from any new occupation—if that is even a possibility—should be reflected in the number of payable damages.


As mentioned, an economist's expert witness testimony will be required to prove how much would have been made. A multitude of criteria is evaluated while considering whether or not an injured individual should pursue a job or position in a specific industry.


Witnesses (close friends and relatives) who know the injured plaintiff's plans and how far they have achieved them are obviously significant. It doesn't matter if the victim was working on a commission or preparing for a pop-up sale as long as there's evidence of potential earnings that have been hampered by accident.

You are strongly advised to reject an insurance company's settlement offer if you have more significant injuries or are still suffering from the consequences. Instead, find a top-rated catastrophic injury attorney who will pursue your interests in the case.

What Are Pain And Suffering Damages?

Physical pain and suffering and mental pain and suffering are the two categories of pain and suffering.

The pain and suffering experienced by the victim due to their actual physical injuries are referred to as physical pain and suffering. It comprises the claimant's current emotional anguish and discomfort and the negative consequences that the defendant's negligence is anticipated to cause in the future.

The claimant's mental pain and suffering result from their physical injuries, but they are more of a side effect. Mental anguish, emotional misery, loss of enjoyment of life, fear, anger, shame, worry, and shock are all examples of mental pain and suffering. Any negative emotion that an accident victim experiences due to having to endure the physical pain and stress of the accident is referred to as mental anguish and suffering.


Anger, despair, loss of appetite, lack of energy, sexual dysfunction, mood swings, and/or sleep difficulties are all examples of severe mental pain and suffering. However, post-traumatic stress disorder can be caused by much more extreme mental pain and suffering.


Like physical pain and suffering, mental or emotional pain and suffering include the repercussions that the sufferer has already experienced and the mental pain and suffering that they will almost certainly experience in the future.

That said, it is important to remember that pain and suffering damages are considered to be "intangible" damages. Unlike your economic damages, you don't have receipts and invoices to quantify the exact amount of money tantamount to the suffering you experience after the accident. You will need a prescreened California Attorney For Personal Injury who knows their way around Personal Injury Cases and is skilled enough to argue for your current and future security.

How Long Will It Take For Me To Get Compensation In California?


As a victim or a loved one of a victim of a catastrophic injury, you will definitely be curious as to when your claim will be resolved. Every day you go without receiving proper remuneration is a day you are financially strained.

Unfortunately, there's no way to know how long it'll take to achieve a reasonable settlement for your claim. Even in simple cases with no complicated liability issues, it can take several months for the insurer to finalize a settlement deal.

However, catastrophic injury claims will simply slow down the process. In addition, the much more compensation necessary will make the insurance company even more unwilling to recognize any responsibility.


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However, with the help of an expert, prescreened California Attorney For Personal Injury, you may be able to persuade the insurance to both avoid blame and offer a fair settlement sum. Reaching this middle ground in negotiations can help move the entire process ahead more quickly and smoothly.

Some Personal Injury Cases in California don't even reach a trial. Your waiting time might be significantly reduced if your lawyer convinces the insurance provider to settle without taking things to court. However, when you have to take things to court, it is best to have the assistance of a California Catastrophic Injury Attorney before the process even begins.

California's Statute of Limitations for Catastrophic Injuries


The statute of limitations for most personal injury cases is two years from the date of the claimant's injury. After two years, the court can dismiss any further lawsuits before they can be heard.

However, if the injury was not immediately apparent, the statute of limitations may be theoretically extended. In such circumstances, a qualified catastrophic injury lawyer in California may be able to argue that the statute of limitations for your claim should begin when the injury was found rather than when it occurred. However, because catastrophic injuries are frequently severe enough to be discovered immediately, you might want to pursue it soon after the incident occurs.

Regardless of who's to blame for your injuries, you won't get the compensation you deserve if you fail to file claims while you or your loved ones are fully aware of the deadlines.


What If The Accident Is Fatal And Leads To A Wrongful Death?


The death of a loved one is a painful experience. It's difficult to cope with the loss of a family member due to someone else's carelessness or negligence. However, the surviving family members have the right to file a wrongful death claim if this occurs.

It is known as wrongful death when a person dies due to negligent, deliberate, or wrongful acts or omissions. Careless driving, assault and/or battery, death caused while performing a crime, vehicular manslaughter, manslaughter, or murder are examples of such acts.


Cases of Catastrophic Injury and Wrongful Death


After a catastrophic injury, the injured individual files a personal injury claim against the at-fault party, seeking compensation. The damages for which they may be entitled to claim compensation include the following:

  1. Medical costs

  2. Past and future wages lost

  3. Pain and suffering

The survivors of the victim file a wrongful death claim against the person thought to be responsible for the death, seeking compensation for the following:

  1. Medical costs

  2. Expenses for a funeral

  3. Future household earnings lost

  4. Loss of benefits

  5. Loss of a relationship, comfort, and care.

The amount of compensation for catastrophic injuries is determined by the severity of the injuries. By definition, a catastrophic injury is severe, and the resulting compensation could be substantial. In addition, if the injured individual will be disabled for the remainder of their life, the settlement must consider that.

An injured person cannot expect the at-fault party to correct the situation. Instead, as with medical malpractice, the injured person may be presented with defenses intended to make them appear at fault for their own injuries.

In a wrongful death action, the wounded victim's family will almost certainly face stiff opposition, mainly if the at-fault party is a company.

Filing A Survival Action


A survival action may be filed alongside a wrongful death claim if the person does not die instantaneously. The victim's estate files a survival action case, and any estate beneficiary is entitled to a part of the recovery.


In most circumstances, compensation can be given for the loss of one or more of the following:

  1. Any future profits have a community property interest in the victim's spouse.

  2. Family members suffered other financial losses and might have been entitled to benefits if the victim had not died.

  3. Relationships with spouses or domestic partners are lost for the victim (which in turn is a loss of love, companionship, comfort, care, assistance, protection, affection, culture, and moral support)

  4. The victim can no longer care for, train, educate, or guide their children or stepchildren.

  5. Between the time of the accident and the time of death, the victim's agony and suffering and 'out-of-pocket' expenses like medical fees and wage loss are all incorporated into survival compensation.

If this seems too confusing or you are unsure whether your case meets the qualifications for any of the above claims, you should seek legal advice from a qualified California Catastrophic Injury Lawyer.


What's The Difference Between Wrongful Death Claim And A Survival Action?


A wrongful death lawsuit seeks restitution for the deceased person's family members. Meanwhile, a survival action is launched on behalf of the deceased's estate to seek compensation for the victim's losses, such as medical costs, agony, and suffering.


In a survival action, punitive damages to punish the perpetrator may be sought. However, except in rare instances, punitive damages are not allowed in wrongful death lawsuits.


In California, survival actions and wrongful death cases are sometimes filed jointly.


What Is The Statute Of Limitations For Wrongful Death?

In most circumstances, the statute of limitations in California for filing a wrongful death action is two years from the date of death. There are, however, exceptions that allow for greater or less filing time.

California permits three years from the date of the accident to file a wrongful death claim, including medical malpractice. However, if the harm that caused death was not known immediately and was only discovered after the event, you may be given more time to file a claim.

In circumstances involving government agencies and employees, special rules apply. For example, a wrongful death lawsuit against a California government agency or employee must be filed within six months of the person's death.

The critical aspect to remember is that statutes of limitations are complex. In some situations, the time restriction for filing a wrongful death action in California can be as short as six months. As a result, it's vital to get the assistance of an expert Wrongful Death Attorney as soon as possible and have the attorney begin examining your claim before the statute of limitations runs out.

In your case, a qualified California Attorney For Personal Injury can decide how the wrongful death statute of limitations applies.

How To File For A Personal Injury Settlement?

If an individual or company is to fault for the accident and injuries, you are entitled to compensations/payouts for medical bills, damages, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Negotiating with a supplier of insurance or another institution can be difficult and time-consuming.


In addition, due to a lack of experience, you may receive a lower settlement than the accident and injuries justify. Using the services of a qualified lawyer will assist you in receiving the compensation you are entitled to.

Personal injury claims can become highly complicated and involve multiple people or defendants. As a result, several insurance companies, as well as legal counsel, are frequently affected.

The following points will be discussed with you by your catastrophic injury lawyer:

  1. Obtaining all incident reports or evidence, such as accident reports, photographs, video, and eyewitness testimony.

  2. Assuring that a qualified medical expert reviews the medical records.

  3. Calculating the total damages with the help of medical and economic experts.

  4. Negotiate a fair settlement/compensation with the insurance company and all parties involved, or take your case to trial to guarantee you are fairly compensated if necessary.

Consult With The Best California Catastrophic Lawyer Today!


What would you do if you were involved in a terrible accident? If you had permanent, disfiguring damages that impede your everyday life? Contacting a catastrophic injury lawyer as soon as possible is the right thing to do. During your recovery, it will keep you from agreeing to unjust compensations.


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