A catastrophic injury is one in which the person has suffered such a severe injury they can no longer work. These types of injuries cause stress for the victim as well as other family members due to the loss of that person’s income and support as well as the financial burden it places on the family. In many cases, a person who has suffered a catastrophic injury needs assistance to make it through their day, and some require constant supervision.
Medical costs for testing, rehabilitation or surgeries may be ongoing during the lifetime of the patient. It is unfair for an accident victim to assume the costs of an accident in addition to physical pain and mental anguish.
What Are Catastrophic Injuries?
Catastrophic injuries can occur due to an accident or birth injury that severely disrupts the body. There are many types of catastrophic injuries, all of which require medical intervention. Some are seen more commonly and most can be linked to an auto accident.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Injuries to the spinal cord refer to trauma along the cord, the nerves of the cauda equina, which is at the spinal canal’s end. Spinal cord injuries can result in:
- Altered or loss of sensation, which includes the ability to sense touch, heat and cold
- Spasms or reflexes that are exaggerated
- Loss of the ability to move
- Pain caused by nerve damage
- Changes in fertility, sexual sensitivity and sexual function
- Problems coughing or breathing, which can contribute to a buildup of secretions in the lungs
- Paralysis can occur as a result of a spinal cord injury. The extent of paralysis depends on the location where the spine was severed. In paraplegia, the trunk, pelvic organs and legs are affected. Quadriplegia affects all the limbs and the torso, causing paralysis.
Severe burns that can result in catastrophic injury include third and fourth-degree burns. A third-degree burn destroys the outer layer of skin, called the epidermis, the under layer of skin, called the dermis, and extends into the tissues underneath. Fourth-degree burns are more severe, although painless due to destruction of the nerve ends. A fourth-degree burn continues even deeper and can cause severe damage to muscles, bones and tendons.
Severe burn injuries can also cause complications such as:
- Fluid loss, which can lead to shock
- Bacterial infection, which can cause sepsis, a dangerous condition that affects the bloodstream
- Ridges and scars that can affect mobility as well as having psychological and emotional effects
- Breathing problems cause by smoke inhalation if the burn was caused by fire
- Hypothermia because the individual’s body temperature has dropped
- Long-term joint and bone problems due to contracture of the skin, tendons or muscles
Traumatic Head Injury
Traumatic head injuries are often serious and commonly occur as a result of motor vehicle accidents. This type of injury may also result from falls, sports injuries, violence or explosions. They may appear as open or closed wounds.
Catastrophic injury after suffering a TBI can include the following complications:
- Infection: If the injury is an open wound, it can harm the brain’s protective tissues. This can let bacteria enter, causing meningitis, a dangerous disease that can lead to systemic infection or death.
- Seizures: Seizures may happen in the earlier stages of TBI or appear years later. Seizures that recur are referred to as post-traumatic epilepsy.
- Hydrocephalus: This complication, which causes fluid to build up around the brain, is a dangerous condition that increases swelling and pressure.
- Headaches: Severe headaches are frequent following a TBI. They can persist for months.
- Damage to blood vessels: Blood vessel damage in the brain may lead to blood clots, strokes or other serious complications.
- Vertigo: Vertigo can cause a distorted sense of movement, dizziness, vomiting and nausea, sweating, double vision and hearing loss.
State of Consciousness
In severe TBIs, the victim may be placed into an altered state of consciousness. While some of these states may improve over time, others may be permanent. The different states of consciousness include:
- Minimally conscious: A minimally conscious individual might show signs that they are aware of what is going on. Sometimes, this is a state that has progressed from a vegetative condition or coma. However, someone who is minimally conscious may never improve from that condition.
- Vegetative state: A patient in a vegetative state may make sounds and open their eyes and have reflex response. However, their brain damage may be widespread. Some conditions are permanent, while others may progress to a more awake state.
- Coma: Those in a comatose state are unaware of themselves or their surroundings and do not respond to stimulus. Coma indicates widespread brain damage. In time, the individual may progress to a vegetative state.
- Brain death: This occurs when the injury victim shows no brain activity. Brain death is irreversible, and the individual is often removed from life support, which stops the breathing and causes the heart to fail.
Amputations sometimes occur in accidents or are necessary because of extensive damage to the limb. Both physical and psychological harm can result from an amputation, and it can affect the person’s ability to find work or continue in a previous job. Rehabilitation is necessary after an amputation to allow the patient to become adjusted to the loss of a limb. At a later period, some amputees are fitted with a prosthetic device.
However, not all amputees are candidates for this. In addition to complications from an amputation such as pneumonia and deep vein thrombosis, psychological issues may arise that include:
- Suicidal thoughts
Damage to the eyes sometimes occurs as a result of an accident. Glass slivers or metal shavings, a chemical burn or puncture can severely damage the eyesight or cause blindness. In those over age 60, a fall is the most common cause of damage to an eye.
Birth injuries may be due to medical negligence on the part of the delivering physician or if the infant is placed in ICU and under oxygen. Misuse of birth assisting tools or missing the signs that the mother or fetus is under distress and responding inappropriately are ways that a fetus or newborn can be harmed. For example, the following list includes complications caused by lack of oxygen, which can occur either in the womb, during delivery or afterward:
- Cerebral palsy
- Epilepsy or other seizure disorders
- Speech or learning disabilities
- Hearing or visual impairment
- Behavioral problems
- Emotional problems
- Mental health issues
- Learning disorders
The Law Firm of David Azizi
When you’ve been in an accident, the last thing you need is the burden of choosing an attorney. David Azizi has been practicing personal injury law for over 23 years. During that time, he has helped numerous Angelenos obtain the compensation they need and deserve. Contact David at (800) 991-5292 to schedule a free case evaluation David will review your case, tell you your options moving forward and give you an idea of what your case is worth. You’ll understand why Super Lawyers calls David one of the top personal injury lawyers in the city. He wins 98 percent of his cases. Let David advocate for you, and spend time recuperating from your injuries.