A catastrophic injury is an injury that takes a long time to heal or produces permanent loss of body functions. Accidents are some of the leading causes of injuries, but most of these injuries will resolve within a short period. However, if the accident is severe, you can suffer serious injuries or death. Some of the accidents that can result in catastrophic injuries will include truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, and pedestrian accidents. If you or your loved one suffers a catastrophic injury resulting from the negligence of another party, you are entitled to compensation. Getting compensation in a personal injury claim can be quite complicated. Therefore, it would be wise to seek legal representation from San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm.

Overview of Catastrophic Injuries

A catastrophic injury is a severe injury that has a long time effect on you. Most of these injuries take a long time to heal and are likely to leave you with a partial or permanent disability. Some injuries are evident after an accident, while others are difficult to detect. Therefore, it is crucial to seek medical attention as soon as you get into an accident. If you suffer significant injury as a result of negligence, you can file a personal injury claim against the liable party.

Types of Catastrophic Injuries

Accidents are prevalent on California roads. Besides the damage that occurs on the vehicles from these accidents, involved parties are likely to suffer catastrophic injuries. The following are some of the most common types of catastrophic injuries which result from serious accidents:

Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injury is an injury to the head that affects the way your brain functions. Most brain injuries result from serious automobile accidents. A brain injury occurs when blunt force is applied to the head and shakes up the brain. Also, sharp objects penetrating your skull could pierce the brain, causing severe injury.

When you get into an accident, your head will be moved forward and suddenly backward. This can cause trauma to the skull and result in brain injury. Also, when your head hits the steering or other hard surfaces, you will suffer substantial injuries.

Traumatic brain injury can have a wide range of psychological and physical effects. Damage to your brain could be mild, moderate, or severe. Sometimes, brain injury is not easy to detect after an accident. This is because a physical wound is not needed for a brain injury to occur. Symptoms that would indicate the presence of a brain injury after an accident include:

  • Severe headache

  • Fatigue and drowsiness

  • Insomnia

  • Loss of consciousness

  • Dilation of the pupils

  • Loss of coordination

  • Seizures

If you suffer trauma to the head after an accident, it is crucial to seek medical attention as soon as possible. This will help ensure early detection and treatment. Traumatic brain injury takes a long time to heal and sometimes doesn't resolve. These injuries are likely to affect your daily life. If you suffer traumatic brain injury from an accident that resulted from negligence, you are entitled to compensation for the damage.

Spinal Cord Injuries

The spine is a very vital part of the body that controls multiple functions. An injury to this part of the body is often catastrophic. Spinal cord injury occurs when blunt or sharp trauma is applied to the ligaments, discs, and tissues surrounding the spinal cord. When you get into an accident, your body may be hit by hard objects inside or outside of the vehicle.

Also, when a sharp object penetrates your body, your spinal cord could be severely damaged. Injury to the spinal cord could be mild, which resolves with treatment. When the accident and trauma are too much, your spinal cord could be completely severed. When injury to the spine spreads downwards, your nervous system could be damaged. This will affect your motion function below the point of injury.

The impact of spinal cord injuries on your life will depend on the severity of the trauma. Depending on where the trauma occurred, a spinal cord injury ay results to:

  • Paralysis - This is where you lose motion function from the point of injury downward. Being paralyzed after a spinal cord injury is a common occurrence and can significantly affect your daily life

  • Difficulty in breathing - When injury to the spinal cord curs near the lungs, you may have difficulty in breathing and shortness of breath

  • Pain - Whether the damage to the spine is permanent or temporary, such damages will cause severe pain both physically and emotionally

  • You may lose bladder and bowel control - The spinal cord controls multiple functions, including the bladder and bowel. When the spine is damaged, these functions will be affected

When you get into an accident, ensure you seek decal treatment immediately. This is because spine injury could develop a few days after the accident. Damage to this part of the body could leave you depending on other people to do simple tasks for you. If you are involved in an accident and suffer injury to the spinal cord, you are entitled to compensation.

Severe Burns

When you think of accidents, burn injuries do not often come to mind. However, when gas or oil comes in contact with your skin during an accident, you will suffer severe burns. The skin is the largest organ in the body, which regulates numerous activities in the body. The severity of the wounds is categorized based on the skin surface that is burnt. Burns could either be:

  • First-degree burns where only the outer layer of the skin is damaged 

  • Second-degree burns which cause damage to the epidermis and dermis leaving you with blisters

  • Third-degree burns which are severe and reach the innermost areas of the body causing the surface to be charred

Burn injuries are excruciating, and you may spend quite some time nursing the wounds. Also, these wounds predispose your body to other injuries. Besides the physical pain, burns can damage your appearance, causing you low self-esteem. If you suffer significant burns resulting from another person’s negligence, you can file a compensation claim against them.

Internal Organ Injuries

Damage to the internal organs is one of the most catastrophic injuries you can suffer after an accident. If these injuries are not treated on time, they can result in death. When your body comes in contact with a hard surface, you can suffer internal bleeding. Sometimes there is no physical injury. Thus, it is not easy to detect such lesions.

Also, when a sharp object penetrates the body, it can pierce your liver, spleen, heart, or other organs. Due to the shock you experience after an accident, you may not feel any pain. Therefore, it is crucial to get checked by a doctor, even when there are no physical injuries.


Amputations are one of the most challenging consequences to deal with after an accident. An amputation can occur medically after the damage of the limb or during an accident. In most cases, severely broken bones can cause a medical amputation. Amputation is likely to change your life entirely since it is an unexpected occurrence. It is more devastating if you suffer an amputation from an accident resulting from negligence.

Amputees may need to learn how to use prosthetic limbs or use crutches for the rest of their lives. The physical and emotional pain that accompanies the procedure of amputation is so immense. 

Causes of Catastrophic Injuries

There are several ways through which catastrophic injuries can occur. The most common cause of these injuries are accidents which cause a substantial impact on your body. Catastrophic injuries may result from any of the following circumstances:

Car Accidents

Car accidents can be especially devastating, depending on the type of accident and speed at which the car was traveling. The most common types of car accidents include a head-on collision, rear-end car collisions as well as rollover accidents. Also, roof crush accidents and single-vehicle crashes can be quite fatal, depending on the circumstances. When the vehicle is driven recklessly, or the driver is operating under the influence of drugs, serious accidents will likely occur.

Head-on collisions, in particular, will cause a massive impact on your body from the shakeup in the vehicle. This will result in severe bodily injuries or even death. If you suffer catastrophic injuries from a car accident, you can file a personal injury claim against the liable party to seek compensation.

Truck Accidents

Trucks are cumbersome vehicles, and impact with smaller vehicles will result in catastrophic injuries. These accidents often occur on highways or interstates where traffic is heavy. Trucking accidents are a result of fatigued drivers due to the long periods of work. Sometimes unqualified drivers and overloading of cargo can also be a contributing factor to these accidents.

At high-speed trucks carrying flammable materials could explode and cause severe burns and other catastrophic injuries. If you are involved in a truck accident, several parties may be liable for these accidents. By filing a personal injury claim against these parties, you can get compensation for your injuries. Also, if your loved one dies from catastrophic injuries, you can get compensation for the wrongful death.

Pedestrian Accidents

Some drivers do not adhere to pedestrian rights of keeping the right distance. Failure of a driver to stop for pedestrians to pass can cause the vehicle to hit the individual. Pedestrian accidents often result in catastrophic injuries. This is because of the massive impact between the car and your body. Also, when a car hits you, you may fall on the ground causing more injuries.

Most pedestrian accidents result from driver inattentiveness, driving under the influence of drugs and failure to yield the right way. When children or elderly individuals are involved, pedestrian accidents could result in death.

Motorcycle Accidents

Although motorcycle accidents are not common, they often result in catastrophic injuries. This accident can either happen when a motorcycle loses control rolling over and hitting an obstacle. Also, the bike may get hit by another heavy vehicle. In both cases, there will be a direct impact between hard surfaces and the motorcycle occupants.

Motorcycle accidents can be caused by lane splitting or failure of the cyclist to adhere to lane regulations. Also, cars making wrong turns can cause a collision with the motorcycle, causing you severe injuries. Sometimes road hazards and failure of motorcycle parts can contribute to this accident. Depending on the nature and cause of the accident, you can identify the liable parties and file a compensation lawsuit against them. If you or your loved one suffers catastrophic injuries from a motorcycle accident, it would be wise to seek guidance from a personal injury attorney.

Compensation Benefits in a Catastrophic Injury Personal Injury Claim 

Immediately after getting into an accident, it is essential to seek medical attention. Accidents that result in catastrophic injuries are often fatal. Some lesions are easily detected, while others may require specialized medical care. Besides ensuring early detection of injuries, seeking medical care will help gather evidence for the compensation claim.

After seeking medical attention, you can file a personal injury compensation claim against the party liable for your injuries. After a severe accident, it may be difficult for you to gather evidence. Therefore, it would be wise to contact your attorney as soon as possible. Your injury attorney will help collect valuable information that may help in your case.

If you are successful in the personal injury claim, you will receive the following compensation benefits:

Medical Bills

When you seek medical attention immediately after an accident, you will be required to cover your medical bills. This is because the liable party will not be quick to admit responsibility for your injuries. There are several methods through which you can cover your medical bills. However, using medical insurance coverage is one of the most convenient ways.

When using this form of payment, the medical provider will not charge you more than the insurance can cover. If you do not have medical coverage, the law will require hospitals to give you a reasonable discount so that you can cover the bills. Also, you can decide to pay for your treatment on a medical line. Medical practitioners operating on a lien basis are paid with the proceeds of the claim.

However, it is crucial to understand that if the bills exceed what you get after the compensation claim, you will cover the balance from your pocket. Catastrophic injuries take a long time to heal and will see you spend a lot of time in hospital. Also, you will incur high costs in medical bills. If you suffered the injuries from a negligence accident, you are entitled to compensation for the medical bills. 

When you get treatment after an accident, it is crucial to ensure that all injuries are documented, and the records are well kept. Your medical records are one of the most significant pieces of evidence in a personal injury claim. Guidance from a personal injury attorney in your compensation claim would help you accrue maximum benefits for your injuries.

Lost Wages

Lost wages would be the amount you would have earned if you did not suffer catastrophic injuries. This could be in the form of a regular salary, commissions, bonuses, overtime pay as well as income from self-employment. Catastrophic injuries leave you with extensive injuries or even permanent disability. This is likely to keep you away from work as you nurse the wounds, and sometimes it would be difficult to return to your regular employment.

After an accident, you have two years to claim compensation for lost wages, after which your claim could be dismissed. When seeking compensation for lost wages, you will be required to show proof of the amount you lost. Some of the ways through which you can prove lost wages include:

  • A lost wages letter - You will get a lost wages’ letter if you have regular employment. The message contains the terms of your job, including when you started to work, the number of hours you work and the amount of payment you receive per hour. This will help give a rough estimate of what you would have earned at the time you were nursing the injuries

  • Tax returns and pay stubs - If you are not able to obtain a lost wages letter from your employer, you can produce your past tax returns and pay stubs. By requesting these documents from the internal revenue service, you can prove lost wages

  • Lost self-employment income - Before you are compensated for the amount lost in self-employment income, you need proof of what you would have been earning. You can establish lost self-employment income using tax returns and billing statements of previous years

If your income is high and complicated to calculate, a forensic expert may be required to help calculate lost wages.

Lost Future Earning Capacity

Lost earning capacity is the loss of your ability to work and earn money in the future. Most catastrophic injuries make it impossible for you to return to your job. This is due to the loss of physical and mental body functions. However, it is essential to understand that you do not need to suffer a permanent disability for you to receive these benefits. As long as your injuries haven't been resolved by the time you receive compensation, you are entitled to payment for lost future earning capacity.

Lost earning capacity could include your regular monthly salary, vacation and sick days, overtime pay and commissions. Also, if you are self-employed, you will receive compensation for lost future self-employment income. Proving lost future earnings could be severe since the loss has not occurred yet.

Some of the factors that will affect the amount you receive in future earnings include:

  • The duration your injuries are expected to last

  • Whether or not you will ever be able to return to your regular job

  • Your age and life expectancy

  • The number of years you have before you retire

  • The terms of your employment 

  • The nature of your income and how much you used to earn before the injuries

  • Your health before the injuries - In most cases, your health records dating five years back may be considered when determining the amount of compensation you get.

Pain and Suffering

Pain and suffering are one of the non-economic damages where physical injury is not required. When you suffer catastrophic injuries, you will experience a lot of pain when nursing the wounds. Also, extended stays in hospital and extensive treatment procedures can cause you immense suffering. There is no specific method to calculate pain and suffering. Therefore, the jury uses its judgment to determine the amount you deserve.

Physical injury is not necessary when it comes to compensation for pain and suffering. However, suffering injuries that result in permanent disfigurement and result in high medical bills will increase your chances of getting compensation for pain and suffering.

Wrongful Death

Most catastrophic injuries are likely to result in death while you are undergoing treatment. If your loved one dies from devastating injuries, you can file a wrongful death claim against the party liable for the injuries. You have two years to prove inability and recover compensation in a wrongful death claim.

Proving liability in a wrongful death lawsuit could be complicated since the individual involved is not around to testify. Therefore, it would be wise to enlist the help of a competent personal injury attorney.

Find a Personal Injury Attorney Near Me

Catastrophic injuries include head and brain injuries, Spinal cord injuries, amputations, and internal organ injuries. These injuries take a long time to heal and may cause you to stay a long time in hospital. Also, you are likely to incur hefty medical expenses when treating the injuries. Fortunately, if you suffered injuries from a negligent accident, you are entitled to compensation.

By filing a personal injury claim in California, you can get compensation for medical bills, lost wages, as well as future earning capacity. If you are pursuing a personal injury claim for a catastrophic injury, you will require competent legal guidance. At San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm, we work hard to ensure you receive maximum compensation for your injuries. If you are in San Diego, CA, contact us today at 619-478-4059.