What is considered a catastrophic injury?

brainWhile a substantial number of Americans fall victim to different types of injuries each year, some injuries may be classified as catastrophic. These devastating injuries not only affect the people who are made to live with them on a daily basis, but they also transform the lives of the caretakers, who dedicate their lives looking after their injured loved ones. Whether a person has received significant brain trauma from a truck accident or paralysis from a slip-and-fall accident, their lives will never be the same.

Catastrophic injuries defined

A catastrophic injury changes the course of a person’s life, as it may cause brain damage, loss of sensation or movement, or a reduced ability to communicate. These injuries can range in severity; however, many involve extreme trauma, permanent disability, and even reduced longevity of life. A catastrophic injury may impact a person’s ability to work or have children, and will significantly alter their ultimate quality of life.

A shuttle bus driver recently underwent surgery to amputate his left leg above the knee and to repair his right leg after he was pinned between two buses while working at the Portland International Airport. According to KPHO News, the man was putting luggage into the back of his vehicle when another shuttle came up behind him. As the driver of the second bus exited his vehicle, it began to roll forward. Although he reentered the vehicle and tried to stop the rolling bus, he accidently applied the gas pedal, sending the bus lurching into the back of the victim. The catastrophically injured man has filed a $10 million lawsuit against the employer of the negligent shuttle bus driver.

Types of catastrophic injuries

Although catastrophic injuries represent a broad range of injuries, many of them can be grouped into the following:

  • Spinal cord injury may result in paraplegia, paralysis of the legs and lower body, or quadriplegia, paralysis of all four limbs, depending on where the injury occurred along the spinal cord.
  • Brain injury may cause varying degrees of brain damage, as well as blindness, deafness or memory loss, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Traumatic brain injuries are responsible for many neurological disorders as well.
  • Accidental amputation occurs when a person immediately loses their limbs from a traumatic accident. A person may receive a serious injury that requires surgical amputation of their limbs after the accident occurs.
  • Severe burns can come from motor vehicle or motorcycle accidents or a fire caused by another person’s negligence.

In addition to the physical pain and suffering, catastrophic injuries often involve severe mental trauma, such as depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder, as people attempt to deal with the aftermath of a tragedy.