Sometimes a car accident injury is minor. It requires treatment, and it should be taken seriously, but it has no great, long-term effect on you. Sometimes, a car accident injury is life-changing.
Any injury that alters the course of your life can be labeled “catastrophic.” In this article, we will explore catastrophic injuries resulting from car accidents. We will help define what makes an injury catastrophic, and we will discuss your options if you suffer such harm.
MEDICAL DEFINITION OF A CATASTROPHIC INJURY
Medical professionals define catastrophic injuries as those taking place in the spine or brain. Certainly, anyone who suffers such trauma will be altered by the event.
Spinal injuries can affect your mobility. Major nerves that control your movements, including involuntary functions, run along the spine. A break or fracture in the spine can sever these nerves. Today, there are no means of repairing these broken nerves. When they are damaged, the sufferer will likely experience some paralysis.
Brain injuries can also have devastating effects on someone. They can lead to severe emotional imbalances, where the sufferer swings wildly between emotional states. In less severe instances, a brain injury can cause chronic depression and anxiety in the sufferer. At their most severe, brain injuries can affect cognitive function, leaving someone in a childlike or even a vegetative state.
In a bad car accident, spine and brain injuries can happen in many ways. Hit hard enough from behind, you could bend too far backward, causing spinal damage. If you are thrown forward or to the side, your head could connect with one of the many hard surfaces in a car, causing harm to the skull or brain.
LEGAL DEFINITION OF A CATASTROPHIC INJURY
Legally, a catastrophic injury depends on the person being injured. What may be a minor injury to one could be devastating to another. Imagine you are in an accident and, instinctively, you grab the wheel. As you are thrown forward, one of your wrists bends too far backward, pushed against the wheel. After receiving treatment, this wrist suffers some permanent damage. It doesn’t bend as far as it once did, and some movements are altogether lost.
Now think of your life. A less-mobile wrist may cause you small inconveniences. If you work in a warehouse, for example, you may still be able to move products with minimal impediment. Now imagine you are a professional guitar player. The slightest loss of wrist dexterity could forever ruin your career.
In legal terms, a catastrophic injury alters the course of your life, no matter how “minor” the injury seems. A broken toe could be catastrophic to a dancer. A broken thumb could forever change an artist’s life. Legally, there are no “minor” injuries when it comes to those that are catastrophic.
MEDICAL COST OF A CATASTROPHIC INJURY
Any injury can cost thousands of dollars to treat, no matter how minor. Catastrophic injuries, even those that don’t involve the spine or brain, can be particularly expensive. Any injury that causes a permanent disability, from your thumb to your skull, requires multiple doctor visits, surgeries, therapies, and so forth
The cost of a spine or brain injury is astronomical. Most spinal injuries cost over one million dollars to treat in just the first year. Brain injuries may require brain surgery, a costly and meticulous treatment. Sometimes they are caused by fractured or splintered skulls, and fixing that is enormously expensive.
COMPENSATION FOR A CATASTROPHIC INJURY
Given the enormous expense of these, you may have a difficult time getting your insurance company to cover the bill. Furthermore, your injury may create a need for lifelong care.
Take a spinal injury that leads to paralysis, as just one example. First, there is the expense of saving your life, requiring multiple surgeries and treatments. Then, every aspect of your life must be remodeled. You will need a disabled-friendly vehicle. Your home will need modifications in virtually every room. Getting around alone requires a wheelchair, which could be an expensive electric chair, depending on your need. You will also require continued, routing healthcare including doctor visits and prescriptions.
If your car accident was the result of a negligent driver, your only option for proper compensation may be a lawsuit. Using a preponderance of the evidence, you may win this suit, helping fund your medical needs for as long as you need it, maybe for life. You can be compensated for the medical expenses you already paid for plus those will continue to require.
For catastrophic injuries that change the trajectory of your career, you may be entitled to damages for your lost income. Furthermore, you could receive compensation for your loss of future income or potential income.
Catastrophic injuries create much pain and suffering, for which you can be compensated. Using complicated mathematical formulas, your attorney can ask for an amount of money aimed at repaying you for your misery. Of course, nothing can remove the pain of your life-altering harm, but this money can help make life easier as you transition to your new dynamic.
If the other driver was willfully harmful in their actions, or if they were egregiously negligent, you may also be entitled to punitive damages. This is extra payment foisted upon the defendant simply to punish them.
If you’ve suffered a catastrophic injury, please contact us today. We are here to help you get the justice and compensation you deserve. For a free consultation, call us at 918-492-7674 or fill out our online contact form.