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What Makes an Injury Catastrophic?

According to the Oxford dictionary, the adjective “catastrophic” can indicate one of the following:

  1. Involving or causing sudden great damage or suffering.
  2. Extremely unfortunate or unsuccessful.
  3. Involving a sudden and large-scale alteration in state.

Per these definitions, almost every accident and injury could be catastrophic, but the legal determination of a catastrophic injury focuses more on the 3rd meaning of the word. If someone was capable of working and maintaining a certain quality of life before their accident and is unable to do so afterward, for instance, their injury may be considered catastrophic – legally.

Catastrophic Injury: Legal Definition

For an injury to be legally catastrophic, it must “permanently prevent an individual from performing any gainful work.” This definition is established by United States Code Title 42 § 3796.

While each state has its own laws and adjustments, this federally defined term usually indicates severe injuries to the spine, spinal cord, or brain that result in permanent disabilities, paralysis, or other complications.

Amputation and disfigurement are often included in catastrophic injury law, as well, due to the life-changing nature of these injuries and the abilities they take away. Without both hands, for example, a farmer may not be able to tend to their farm. Similarly, a model or actor may not be able to work after being disfigured.

What if the Injured Person Doesn’t Work?

Although U.S. Code focuses on “gainful work,” those who work as homemakers for their families are also entitled to legal protection. A successful lawsuit can help full-time homemakers account for their injuries and losses by hiring cooks, cleaning people, gardeners, and a household manager.

Parents can also file catastrophic injury lawsuits on behalf of their minor children. These claims can compensate families for lost earning potential and help them afford the resources they may need to care for their children after catastrophic injuries.

How Can I Confirm My Catastrophic Injury?

If you’ve been seriously injured and you are unsure whether your injury is considered catastrophic, you should speak with an experienced attorney right away. At Lauri J. Goldstein & Associates, PLLC, our legal team has 70 years of combined experience and a history of successful recoveries.

We also offer free consultations and 24/7 availability. If you have a catastrophic injury case, we will not hesitate to fight for the compensation you deserve.

Get started today by calling (866) 675-4427 and scheduling your free case review.