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Which injuries qualify as catastrophic?

When a car crash or other traumatic event leaves you injured, laid up in the hospital, and unable to work, you may well view the whole experience as catastrophic. However, for purposes of filing a personal injury lawsuit against the party or parties whose negligence or wrongdoing caused the crash, you need to know which injuries qualify as truly catastrophic.

NeuLife, an accredited rehabilitation center in the Desert Southwest, advises that while no legal definition exists for what constitutes a catastrophic injury, the term is widely used to describe a severe, life-changing injury from which you may never fully recover.

Catastrophic injury examples

In general, severe injuries of the following types qualify as catastrophic:

  • Spinal cord injuries that result in paralysis of part or virtually all of your body and require you to use a wheelchair to get around
  • Traumatic brain injuries that result in a radical impairment of your vision or hearing, up to and including total blindness or deafness
  • Crush injuries resulting in the necessity to amputate one or more of your limbs
  • Severe burns that leave disfiguring scars
  • Any injury that requires ongoing rehabilitation and physical therapy after your hospital release

In addition to the above, severe damage to one or more of your internal organs can qualify as a catastrophic injury if it dramatically diminishes your quality of life.

Catastrophic injury causes

Perhaps not surprisingly, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of catastrophic injuries in the United States. Other major causes include workplace accidents, particularly construction accidents, sports injuries, falls, medical errors and defective products, devices and drugs.