When Is An Injury Considered Catastrophic?
An injury is legally considered to be catastrophic when it either disrupts the functioning of the central nervous system or leaves a victim with long-term and severe effects and impairments. Some examples of catastrophic injuries can include:
- Spinal cord injury;
- Traumatic brain injury;
- Skull fracture;
- Spinal fracture;
- Severe burns;
Any of the above injuries can completely change the lives of accident victims in an instant. Victims are often left paralyzed or facing other physical or cognitive dysfunction, which can affect every aspect of the rest of their lives.
What Is A Scalding Injury?
A scalding injury is a type of burn that results from “wet heat” as opposed to “dry heat.” Some substances that can cause wet heat intense enough to scald someone include water, steam, and other hot liquids such as coffee or soup. While this type of burn may not seem as serious as a burn caused by fire, scalds tend to damage deeper levels of skin than dry burns, may take a longer time to heal, and also may result in greater scarring.
Like other types of burns, scalding injuries are classified as first, second, or third degree burns. First degree burns are relatively superficial as they only affect the outer layer of skin. However, scald injuries can affect a large area of skin and treatment may be required for pain control and infection prevention. Second degree burns are more serious as they can damage deeper layers of skin and can cause blisters and some scar tissue. Third degree burns are the most severe type of burn as they damage all layers of skin and can affect some other tissue and nerves, as well. This level of burn requires emergency treatment, can have many complications, and can leave substantial scarring.
Treatment for Catastrophic Injuries
- Transportation in an ambulance;
- Emergency trauma care;
- Time spent in the intensive care unit (ICU);
- Admittance to the hospital;
- Extended stay in the hospital;
- Surgery and often multiple procedures;
- Medical equipment, including wheelchairs and prosthetics;
- Physical therapy;
- Occupational therapy;
- Home health care;
- Time in an assisted living facility;
- Ongoing pain management and other medications.
Of course, the above are only some examples of the many facets of treatment that may be required after a catastrophic injury.
The financial expense of such medical treatment can quickly rise into the millions of dollars and, as treatment may be required for years to come, medical costs may only keep growing. In addition to the overwhelming costs of treatment, catastrophic injuries almost always prevent a victims from working, at least for an extended period of time but often permanently. This can result in years and years of lost potential earnings, depending on the age and capabilities of the victim.
Furthermore, while facing the loss of professional capabilities and the stress of ongoing medical treatment, victims of catastrophic injuries also must deal with pain and suffering resulting from their severe injuries. Victims also often experience significant loss of enjoyment of life due to the impairments they not have, as well as psychological injuries because of their condition.
Treatment for Catastrophic Injuries
Treatment for catastrophic injuries can be extremely costly in expense, time, and energy. Many victims of catastrophic injuries find that their lives will revolve around treating and managing their injuries, at least for an extended period of time following their accident.
Your Rights As a Victim
If you have been the victim of a catastrophic injury, the law gives you certain legal rights to financial recovery under certain circumstances. Specifically, if another party caused your injury through negligent or intentional acts, you have the right to hold that party liable for the tangible and intangible costs of your catastrophic injury.
The first challenge in your case will be to identify the responsible party and sufficiently prove that they were negligent in some way. Examples of negligence can include a drunk or distracted driver or a company that sold a dangerous product or pharmaceutical.
You must demonstrate that their act caused your injury in order to prove negligence.
Once negligence is established, you will have to prove the extent of both your past losses and your future estimated losses. Because the losses of victims of catastrophic injuries can be so significant and ongoing, it often requires the testimony of medical, occupational, psychological, and economic experts to calculate the full value that you deserve to recover.
There is often a significant amount of money at stake in personal injury claims arising from catastrophic injuries. If you have suffered a permanent disability or nervous system dysfunction because of your accident, consult with an experienced catastrophic injury attorney to discuss your options. Call the Johnston Law Firm to schedule a free initial consultation today.
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