What Is Considered a Catastrophic Injury?

Catastrophic Injury,Personal Injury | May 18, 2022

When an injury is severe enough to inflict long-term or permanent damage, it is referred to as a catastrophic injury. These are severe or extreme bodily injuries that cause major disability, debilitation or disfigurement. If you or a loved one suffered a catastrophic injury in an accident in Massachusetts, contact an attorney to help you understand your legal options. If someone else’s negligence caused the catastrophic injury, you may be entitled to financial compensation for a lifetime of damages.

The Legal Definition of Catastrophic Injury

For the purpose of a personal injury lawsuit, a catastrophic injury is one that will impact the victim for the foreseeable future, either permanently or for a significant amount of time. It can refer to an injury that causes the loss of an important bodily function, such as the ability to walk or talk, as well as an injury that is scarring or disfiguring. It is an injury so severe that it changes the victim’s life, such as by affecting his or her ability to work, enjoy the same standard or quality of living, maintain meaningful relationships with loved ones, and live independently.

Examples of Catastrophic Injuries

Catastrophic injuries can be caused by many different types of accidents in Massachusetts, including car accidents, truck accidents, serious falls, workplace disasters and intentional acts of violence. Catastrophic injuries refer to a relatively small group of injuries in personal injury law, including:

  • Broken bones
  • Compound fractures
  • Skull fractures
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Permanent brain damage
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Spine fractures
  • Paralysis 
  • The amputation of a limb or digit
  • Third-degree burn injuries
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • A substantial loss of sight or hearing

If you or a loved one is diagnosed with a catastrophic injury, you may be able to file a lawsuit against one or more parties for negligence. Negligence is the failure to act with ordinary and reasonable care (as a prudent person would in the same circumstances). If someone else caused or contributed to your catastrophic injury, that party may be financially responsible.

Are Catastrophic Injury Claims Treated Differently in Massachusetts?

Yes. In a car accident case in Massachusetts, catastrophic injuries give a victim the right to file a claim against another driver, outside of the no-fault system. Unless a victim’s injuries result in more than $1,999 in medical expenses or cause permanent and serious disfigurement, broken bones, or a loss of sight or hearing, a victim in Massachusetts must file a claim with his or her own insurance company after a crash, regardless of fault for the accident. Catastrophic injuries, however, permit a victim to file a third-party claim.

In addition, a claim involving catastrophic injuries is generally worth more than other claims. This is because case value is based on the extent of the victim’s injuries, how much the injury will impact the victim’s life, how much income the victim lost because of the injury and the cost of related medical care. All of these losses are greater when the victim has a catastrophic injury, meaning the value of the claim as a whole is also increased. 

Why You Should Hire a Lawyer as the Victim of a Catastrophic Injury

If you suffered a life-changing injury or are now the caregiver of a loved one with a catastrophic injury, contact a catastrophic injury lawyer in Massachusetts for legal assistance and advice. It is important to protect your rights by hiring an attorney, as an insurance company is highly likely to devalue your catastrophic injury claim in an effort to save itself money. 

Before you accept an insurance settlement, consult with an attorney about the true value of your case. An attorney will fight for the compensation that you need and deserve for a potential lifetime of medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. A lawyer will demand justice on your behalf during a catastrophic injury lawsuit.