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What Makes an Injury Catastrophic and How Does it Affect My Claim?

Sustaining an injury as a result of a car accident is not only debilitating and stressful but also expensive and time-consuming. Any injury can feel catastrophic, but when it comes to filing a personal injury lawsuit, there are exclusive and precise conditions that must be met in order to classify an injury as catastrophic.

We’ll discuss what makes an injury catastrophic, common causes of catastrophic injuries, and the kind of compensation you could receive with a catastrophic injury designation.

What Does a Catastrophic Injury Entail?

Florida Statute 960.03 defines a catastrophic injury as:

“…permanent impairment constituted by: Spinal cord injury involving severe paralysis of an arm, a leg, or the trunk; Amputation of an arm, a hand, a foot, or a leg; Severe brain or closed-head injury…; Second-degree or third-degree burns on 25 percent or more of the total body surface or third-degree burns on 5 percent or more of the face and hands; Total or industrial blindness…”

In simpler terms, a catastrophic injury is one that leaves the victim with permanent and life-long damage. This type of damage often prevents the wounded party from earning a living and carrying out basic activities like eating, bathing, and dressing.

Catastrophic injuries are unique in personal injury cases based on a few factors:

Long-term damage: Catastrophic injuries, by their very nature, are physically debilitating and have life-long repercussions. This can include partial or total disability, loss of a bodily function such as hearing or vision, permanent disfigurement such as scarring and amputation, and physical and cognitive insufficiencies such as reduced mobility and weakened memory. In order to determine the “permanent impairment” designation as per Florida Statute 960.03, relevant health and economic experts must collaborate to determine the injury’s long term medical and financial effect.
A more challenging legal process: A catastrophic personal injury lawsuit can be long and arduous. As a result of higher stakes and greater potential compensation, there is more likely to be a dispute from the defendant. Because the defendant and the insurance company want to pay as little as possible, a competitive case should be expected. Likewise, defendants are more likely to use expert defense attorneys to help them protect their assets. That’s why it’s so important in a catastrophic personal injury case that you have an experienced personal injury attorney by your side.

What Leads to a Catastrophic Car Accident Injury?

An estimated 30–40 percent of all motor vehicle accidents end with a catastrophic injury designation. There are a few reasons why car accidents so often result in devastating injuries. Here are a few:

Distracted driving: If a driver is texting, talking on the phone, grooming, reading, or participating in anything that diverts them from the road, they may get into a high impact crash.
Drunk driving: Drunk drivers are responsible for an estimated 29 deaths per day.
Speeding: There are several reasons why a motorist might drive above the speed limit—they may be unaware of the posted limit, face social pressures, enjoy the thrill, or be in a hurry—but in any case, speeding is one of the top causes of catastrophic injury.
Reckless or aggressive driving: If a driver is blatantly disregarding the safety or property of others—perhaps by changing lanes too quickly, failing to abide by basic cautionary measures, or breaking traffic offenses—they’re putting themselves and others at greater risk of suffering a catastrophic injury.
Fatigue: More than 13 percent of all car accidents that result in a severe injury are a consequence of drowsy driving.

Calculating the Damages in a Catastrophic Personal Injury Case

The damages in a catastrophic injury case fall into two categories: economic and non-economic.

Economic damages: Determining economic damages involves outlining the compensation that is required to make up for all physical and material reparations, including medical bills, prescriptions, physical therapy, property damage, transportation costs, and lost earnings.
Non-economic damages: This type of compensation is harder to determine, but includes all costs related to intangible losses such as emotional trauma, PTSD, and psychological pain.

A professional attorney—with the help of medical, psychological, and economic professionals—will be able to help determine the amount of money you’re owed by the at-fault party.

Consult a Trusted Catastrophic Injury Attorney in Boca Raton

If you’re facing a catastrophic injury as a result of a car accident, contact Baker Legal Team. Robert B. Baker is a trusted and Board-Certified trial attorney with more than 30 years of experience helping injured car accident victims get the compensation they deserve.

We understand that recovering from a personal injury can be a challenging and emotional experience. Robert has recovered millions of dollars for clients throughout his career and will personally handle your catastrophic injury case. Give us a call at (561) 320-000 or complete our contact form today!

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