Common Questions About Catastrophic Injuries

A catastrophic injury is a severe injury to the skull, spine, spinal cord, or brain that has a permanent, long-lasting effect on the victim. Unfortunately, catastrophic injuries can be a common result of car accidents, personal property injuries, or negligent acts.

If you or a loved one has sustained a catastrophic injury in Arkansas, contact an attorney at Minton Law Firm today by calling our Little Rock office at (501) 794-0001. You can also reach us by filling out the online form on our website.

What Is a Catastrophic Injury?

A catastrophic injury is defined as an injury that is the direct and proximate cause preventing the victim from performing gainful work. The injury prevents the victim from functioning as they used to, whether physically or mentally. Examples of catastrophic injuries include:

  • Serious brain injuries
  • Accidental amputation
  • Eye injuries
  • Severe burns
  • Spinal injuries
  • Neurological injuries

Some catastrophic injuries are harder to detect than others. A person may seem completely themselves after an accident but may suffer from mood changes, memory loss, inability to concentrate or handle affairs as they could before the injury. 

Similarly, a catastrophic injury with visible injuries may also have effects not visible to the eye. For example, a person with severe burns has a visible, physical injury but may also have underlying emotional trauma or injury to the muscle as a result of the burn—these invisible injuries are also considered part of the catastrophic injury. 

What Are Some Common Causes of Catastrophic Injuries?

Motor vehicle accidents are the most common causes of catastrophic injuries. These include motorcycle accidents, bike accidents, truck accidents, and multi-vehicle accidents. 

Other common causes of catastrophic injuries include:

  • Birth injuries
  • Fires
  • Medical malpractice
  • Pedestrian accidents
  • Slip and falls 
  • On-the-job accidents

What Does Recovery from a Catastrophic Injury Entail?

Recovery from a catastrophic injury is entirely dependent on the type of injury sustained. 

An example of a catastrophic injury is an accidental amputation. Recovery from an accidental amputation depends on the type of procedure and anesthesia used. In the hospital, the staff would change dressings and teach the victim how to change those dressings, while doctors monitor the recovery and prescribe pain medications. 

Physical therapy would begin shortly after the procedure, as well as practice with an artificial limb (if chosen by the victim). A wound may take four to eight weeks to heal. However, the physical and emotional recovery of losing a limb can be long-term. The loss of a limb may cause grief, phantom pain, long-term physical therapy, and require emotional support.

Another example of a catastrophic injury is a third-degree burn. A third-degree burn damages both layers of the skin, and can also damage the bones, muscles, or tendons. Injured skin has a high risk of infection and is usually treated with skin grafts. Skin grafts can be from another uninjured area of the victim’s body or skin taken from a variety of animals. Recovery of a burn continues long after a person leaves the hospital, with physical therapy treatments as well as emotional support.

Depending on the type of catastrophic injury acquired, your treatment and prognosis can range from mild and short-term to extensive and lifelong.

What Type of Medical Bills Are Incurred During a Catastrophic Accident?

Receiving medical attention after a catastrophic injury is crucial to recovering as best as possible. However, medical care is expensive. 

Examples of medical bills include:

  • Ambulatory services
  • Emergency room bills
  • Diagnostic tests including blood draws, x-rays, CT scans
  • Physician bills including surgeons and anesthesiologists
  • Ongoing physical therapy, occupational therapy, etc.
  • Therapy (physical and mental)

Of course, medical bills don’t encompass loss of income or loss of quality of life, which are also expenses that coincide with a catastrophic injury. They are, however, harder to quantify.

What Can Be Recovered in a Catastrophic Injury Lawsuit?

The types of damages that can be recovered in a lawsuit as a result of a catastrophic injury is dependent on the injury itself. However, a few common damages that can be recovered are:

  • Medical expenses, including past and future expenses due to the catastrophic injury
  • Lost wages, including past and future lost wages
  • Loss of quality of life
  • Pain and suffering

In some rare situations, punitive damages can be awarded by a judge or jury as well, in the event that especially egregious negligence occurred, or to discourage the defendant and others from engaging in similar acts in the future.

How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help Catastrophic Injury Victims

If you or a loved one has sustained a catastrophic injury due to someone else’s actions or negligence, you may be able to seek financial compensation by filing a personal injury lawsuit. Compensation allows you the opportunity to cover current and future medical expenses, loss of income, and pain and suffering to allow you to focus on your recovery. 

At Minton Law Firm, we’re dedicated to fighting for your rights so you can heal and move forward with your life. To schedule a free initial consultation with one of our lawyers, call our Little Rock office at (501) 794-0001 or fill out the online form on our website. You can also like and follow the Minton Law Facebook page for firm updates and legal resources.

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