What Is a Catastrophic Injury?

Right off the top of your head, you may think of a catastrophic injury as an injury damaging your spine, spinal cord, or brain, and resulting in permanent harm. Actually, the definition is much broader and more basic.

According to Cornell Law School, catastrophic injury is “an injury, the direct and proximate consequences of which permanently prevent an individual from performing any gainful work.” (1) This definition covers a wide number of injuries.

Examples of Catastrophic Injury

You can experience many different types of catastrophic injury. These include:

  • Traumatic brain injury — Traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs suddenly, generally with a blow, bump, or jolt to your head. It can also occur when an object penetrates your skull. (2) People who survive a TBI can face effects “that last a few days, or the rest of their lives.” (3)
  • Spinal cord injury — Each year, roughly 17,000 people suffer a spinal cord injury. Usually, they have suffered trauma to their vertebral column. (4) “A spinal cord injury… often causes permanent changes in strength, sensation and other body functions below the site of the injury.” (5)
  • Paralysis — Paralysis means you have lost “strength in and control over a muscle or group of muscles.” Usually, paralysis is due to damage “along the chain of nerve cells that runs from the body part to your brain and back again.” (6)
  • Burn injuries — You can suffer burn injuries from fire, hot liquids or solids, friction, cold, radiation, chemicals, or electricity. All burn injuries damage your tissues (7)
  • Amputation — Amputation refers to the loss or removal of a body part, no matter the size. Sometimes amputation happens during or following a traumatic accident, such as a car accident or an industrial or occupational event. (8)

You can suffer an immediate amputation when a body part is severed or torn away in a catastrophic accident. Also, you could sustain a serious crush injury or burn from a traumatic event. Doctors might not be able to salvage your damaged body part. They might need to remove it surgically to save your life. (9)

If you or anyone you know has suffered a catastrophic injury, contact us for a free case evaluation.

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Causes of Catastrophic Injury

Catastrophic injuries can occur from many types of accidents. Some of these include:

  • Motor vehicle accidents — Every year in New York, thousands of people are involved in motor vehicle accidents. Daily, vehicle collisions number in the hundreds.
  • Public transportation accidents — Public transportation is not necessarily any safer than driving your own car. In fact, thousands of people in New York file personal injury lawsuits each year because they were hurt taking buses, trains, and subways.
  • Explosion — Explosions both above ground and below ground can cause multiple life-threatening injuries. You can be burned, hit by or penetrated by flying objects and debris, or thrown due to the blast.
  • Fire — In one year alone, over 40,000 fires occurred across New York City. You can suffer burns ranging from minor to severe, as well as lung damage and death.
  • Slip and falls — Hundreds of thousands of people end up in hospitals each year due to slip and falls. Debilitating fractures and head trauma are just two types of injuries occurring from falls.
  • Falling objects — Hundreds of people die each year from falling objects. People who work in certain industries, such as construction, face this very real danger every day. But passersby can also be seriously injured.

Legal Options

Negligence is “A failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances. The behavior usually consists of actions, but can also consist of omissions when there is some duty to act (e.g., a duty to help victims of one’s previous conduct).” (10)

Basically, someone can be considered negligent if they failed to act the way a reasonable person would have acted in a given situation. Negligence can mean doing something carelessly or recklessly without thinking of how those actions could hurt someone else. Negligence can also mean not doing something — not offering care or assistance — when most reasonable people would have. (11)

Hiring a Catastrophic Injury Attorney

If you were seriously injured because of someone else’s actions or inactions, you may have a case falling under the category of negligence. An experienced, reputable, personal injury attorney can help you evaluate your particular circumstances. You may be able to pursue compensation.

Negligence is a complex legal term. Hiring the right person to handle your personal injury case is critical.

Your selected attorney acts on your behalf and guides you through the legal process. Your attorney must prove the defendant had a duty to act or did not act, and the breach caused your injury. (12)

For a free consultation and more information about your legal options, please contact us today.

(833) 977-3437

How W&L Can Help

Weitz & Luxenberg was founded over 30 years ago to help people who were harmed by the actions of others. We have been handling personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits ever since.

Our firm is based in New York City, and we know our state statutes and laws inside and out, from top to bottom. More importantly, we have a proven history of winning.

Over the years, our firm has secured over $17 billion dollars on behalf of our clients. Here are a few examples of our successes:

  • $6-figure settlement – A woman suffered a catastrophic injury on an airplane when a suitcase from an overhead bin fell and struck her. She is not able to work and continues to experience cognitive difficulties, headaches, neck pain, noise sensitivity, sleep problems, anxiety, and fatigue.
  • $20.5 million verdict – A man was left confined to a wheelchair after he was severely injured in a hit-and-run vehicle accident. Our client had left work and was driving home when another driver slammed into his car full force.
  • $Multimillion settlement – A man in his 30s suffered catastrophic injuries. He fell 25 feet from an apartment building’s second-story walkway and landed on pavement. The accident might not have occurred if the building owner had followed New York City codes in keeping the premises reasonably safe.