Catastrophic injuries often occur due to a sudden trauma, but this is not always the case. A catastrophic injury can also occur due to medical malpractice, for example, which can be a much slower process. What makes an injury catastrophic is that it causes you to lose a vital part of your person, as a personal injury lawyer can explain. This may mean the loss of a body part, a loss of function, or mental incapacitation. A permanent disability such as these can prevent you from performing gainful work, which is another key to defining a catastrophic injury.

What Are Some Examples of Catastrophic Injuries?

Catastrophic injuries fall into three general categories: cognitive injuries, physical injuries, and spinal cord injuries. A cognitive injury is one that affects your ability to think. These typically result from traumatic brain injuries and can range in severity. As a result of a traumatic brain injury, you may lose your ability to form new memories or communicate with others through speech. These and other cognitive deficits can prevent you from working.

Physical catastrophic injuries can affect multiple areas of the body. Accidents that cause organ damage and amputation are examples of physical catastrophic injuries. Catastrophic physical injuries can also include severe fractures or burns, as well as an injury that negatively affects your orthopedic function.

Spinal cord injuries are separate from physical injuries because they cause a very specific type of damage. The spinal cord relays nerve signals from your brain to the other parts of your body. If your spinal cord becomes severed or otherwise permanently damaged, it disrupts the path of the nerve signals, resulting in partial or complete paralysis. Depending on where the damage to the spinal cord occurs, the paralysis can affect two limbs or possibly all four.

Who Is Liable for a Catastrophic Injury?

There are many different kinds of accidents that can result in catastrophic injuries. Some common examples include motor vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, and slip-and-fall injuries. The person responsible for the injury, i.e., caused it through either negligence or willful misconduct, is typically held liable. So, for example, if the injury is a result of medical malpractice, a health care professional can be held liable, while someone who did not obey the rules of the road may be liable for a motor vehicle accident. You may be able to hold the owner of a property responsible for a premises liability case, such as a slip and fall, if he or she was negligent in mitigating the fall risk or sufficiently warning you of it.

Catastrophic injuries can have complex causes. Contact a law office if you need help determining whom you can hold liable.