What is Considered a Catastrophic Injury?

May 22, 2023

Some injuries are so severe that they can affect every aspect of a person’s life. There is a big difference between a concussion and a severe traumatic brain injury that leaves cognitive or physical disabilities, and defining catastrophic injuries involves looking at these degrees of severity. Here, we want to examine some of the injuries most commonly classified as “catastrophic,” explore what makes them so severe, and discuss steps individuals can take if they are harmed by the actions of another.

Most Common Catastrophic Injuries

When you think of injuries and the word “catastrophic,” it’s likely that a severe injury comes into mind. The truth is that catastrophic injuries are just that – much more severe than a typical injury would be. In personal injury law, the word “catastrophic” is used to describe an injury that leads to lifelong consequences, usually in the form of a major cognitive or intellectual disability.

Catastrophic injuries occur in the same ways that any other type of injury occurs, but the outcome is certainly different. Some of the most common types of injuries that could be considered catastrophic include:

This is not a complete list of what could be considered a catastrophic injury, but this does give an understanding of what types of injuries are considered incredibly severe.

Long-Term Impacts of a Catastrophic Injury

Catastrophic injury victims typically need extended medical care, medical devices, prosthetics, permanent in-home assistance, or some other type of long-term help.

A catastrophic injury can affect one area of the body or multiple entire bodily systems. These injuries can damage the central nervous system, and they can affect the gastrointestinal, circulatory, respiratory, excretory, reproductive, and urinary tract systems as well. Catastrophic injuries can affect every aspect of a person’s day-to-day life, particularly their physical movement.

These injuries can lead to cognitive disabilities as well. We typically see cognitive changes with injuries that affect the brain in some way. Often, this disruption in brain activity occurs due to a traumatic brain injury, but other types of catastrophic injuries can also affect cognitive ability. For example, individuals who experience major infections or any type of oxygen or blood loss could also sustain brain damage, no matter where the injury actually originated in or on the body.

It is very likely that a catastrophic injury victim will need care for the rest of their lives, and this must be taken into effect when considering compensation.

What if Another Person Causes the Injury?

Individuals who sustain catastrophic injuries caused by the negligence of another party should be able to recover compensation for their losses. Either through an insurance settlement or a personal injury lawsuit, victims should be entitled to economic and non-economic damages, which can include the following:

  • Medical bills
  • Long-term in-home assistance
  • Payment of household out-of-pocket expenses
  • Lost wages if a victim cannot work
  • Property damage expenses
  • Physical pain and suffering damages
  • Emotional and psychological pain and suffering damages

We encourage you to reach out to a skilled personal injury lawyer in Martinsburg if you have any questions about your particular injury claim.


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