An injury is catastrophic if it permanently prevents an injury victim from performing any gainful work. Catastrophic injuries leave serious, long-term effects on their victims, and can leave them suffering from permanent disabilities for the rest of their lives. Because victims may need constant supervision or assistance for the rest of their lives, as well as a lifetime of rehabilitation and medical bills, catastrophic injuries can put a great degree of stress on victims and families alike.
Common injuries that result in catastrophic consequences include:
Below, we’ll take a more in-depth look at some of these injuries and explore a few of the ways that victims can seek legal recovery.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
A traumatic brain injury is caused when an external mechanical force causes brain dysfunction. This is normally caused by violent blows or jolts to the head, causing the brain to move back and forth inside the skull. Because the brain heals differently than other body parts, the effects of traumatic brain injury can be very difficult to overcome, if at all.
The prognosis of a traumatic brain injury will depend to a large degree on its seriousness. Diuretics, anti-seizure drugs, and various coma-inducing drugs can often treat mild brain injuries. However, more serious injuries often require surgery to remove blood clots and repair skull fractures. Regardless of the injury’s seriousness, most traumatic brain injury patients will need to undergo some form of rehabilitation, which can involve psychiatrists, occupational therapists, speech and language pathologists, and even vocational counselors if injuries damage work abilities.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries result from damage to the vertebrae, ligaments, or disks in the spinal column or to the spinal cord itself. Sudden and traumatic blows to the spine that fracture, dislocate, crush, or compress one of the vertebrae often cause these injuries. They can also arise when spinal columns are abruptly cut or severed, such as from gunshot or knife wounds. Injuries, however, can also result from non-traumatic causes such as arthritis, cancer, inflammation, infections, or natural disk degeneration. The most serious spinal cord injuries can result in tetraplegia, paraplegia, and triplegia, which can significantly alter the rest of the victim’s life.
Amputation is a violent trauma that can occur from a cut or a tear. An accidental amputation usually involves the fingers, though it can also claim entire limbs. An amputation may be complete (having the entire body part completely removed or cut off) or partial (having a greater portion of the body part removed, though keeping part of it attached to the rest of the body). Depending on which limb is accidentally amputated (and whether doctors are able to reattach it), amputations can severely compromise the victim’s ability to work.
Of the different forms of burn injuries, the most severe, third degree burns, reach into the fat layer beneath the skin, causing burned areas to appear charred black or white. Third degree burns can cause the skin to look waxy or leathery, destroy nerves, and cause numbness. These burns always require emergency medical attention and can lead to serious, long-term scarring, or even death.
Legal Recovery for Catastrophic Injuries
Depending on the accident’s cause, victims of catastrophic injuries can pursue several options to recover compensation. If you suffered a catastrophic injury in an accident that you suspect was the result of negligence, you should have an attorney conduct an investigation to identify any responsible party or parties. If your accident occurred at work, your most likely option would be to go through the workers’ compensation system. If your accident occurred outside of work—for example, in a car accident—you may recover compensation by alleging the other driver’s negligence. If your injury was caused by a product—for example, your coffee maker exploded and gave you third degree burns—then a product liability action would be your best option. Occasionally, you may recover compensation from multiple parties. A competent personal injury attorney can evaluate the merits of your individual situation and recommend the best courses of action.
Contact a Philadelphia Personal Injury Attorney
If you suffered an injury that will leave you permanently disabled or unable to seek gainful employment, one of the methods outlined above may help you recover compensation. The attorneys at the Levin Firm are experts at representing victims of all types of catastrophic injuries, including traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, burns, and others. All of our cases at The Levin Firm are based on a contingent fee agreement, which means that you only pay us if we win. Contact the attorneys at the Levin Firm for a free consultation through our website or at (215) 825-5183. We will evaluate your case and advise you of your best options.
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