There is no agreed-upon definition of what a catastrophic injury is, but generally speaking, an injury that affects the spine, the head, or the brain is considered to be a catastrophic injury, and an accident that causes such an injury is considered to be a catastrophic accident.
Are you – or is someone you love – at risk for a catastrophic injury? If you are injured catastrophically, what are your rights? Can you be compensated for the costs of a catastrophic injury? Are injury claims handled differently when the claims are for catastrophic injuries? Can a car accident lawyer help?
Typically, once an injury affects the head, brain, or spine, it is no longer considered a standard injury. The main causes of catastrophic injuries are sports accidents, slip-and-fall injuries, and traffic collisions. Still, almost any accident scenario can lead to a catastrophic injury.
WHAT IS A TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY (TBI)?
An impact to the head that disturbs natural brain functions can be the cause of a traumatic brain injury or TBI. These injuries are distinguished from brain injuries caused by infections or strokes, which are classified as “acquired” brain injuries (or ABIs).
Neurologists categorize traumatic brain injuries as mild, moderate, or severe. Most traumatic brain injuries are classified as “mild,” and most TBI victims improve in time. But in other cases, the impact of a traumatic brain injury that is categorized as “severe” can persist for a lifetime.
WHAT DOES IT COST TO TREAT A TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY?
Treatment for a traumatic brain injury – as you might guess – is costly. These are the typical, average costs to an individual TBI patient, according to the Brain Injury Association:
- Outpatient therapy: up to $1,000 per day (for a four-hour session)
- Residential rehabilitation: up to $2,500 per day
- Hospital-based TBI rehabilitation: up to $8,000 per day
A health insurance plan will usually cover a TBI victim’s initial treatment, but insurance coverage is usually limited for long-term treatment. Health insurance typically pays for inpatient rehabilitation for no more than six weeks. If you are a TBI victim, that is not going to be enough.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS AND EFFECTS OF TBI?
A variety of symptoms are associated with TBI, including nausea, dizziness, eating disorders, sleeping disorders, balance problems, and hearing difficulties. Severe TBI increases the victim’s risk of epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.
It is almost impossible to predict accurately what the long-term impact of TBI will be on any individual victim. Many TBI victims struggle with cognitive skills, concentration, and memory.
When a blow to the head happens, seek medical attention immediately. If it’s a mild traumatic brain injury such as a concussion, the patient will be tested and probably released, but a follow-up visit should be planned, and a patient must report new symptoms or any change for the worse.
WHAT SHOULD YOU KNOW ABOUT SPINAL CORD INJURIES?
Spinal cord injuries can be disabling, devastating, and sometimes permanent. About 12,000 new spinal cord injuries are reported annually, and about a quarter-million people are living with spinal cord injuries in the U.S.
A severe spinal cord injury is usually caused by a blow or impact to the spine that dislocates, crushes, fractures, or compresses one or more vertebrae. These injuries cause a reduction or loss of body organ function below the location of the injury.
A spinal cord injury damages ligaments, vertebrae, spinal discs, and/or the spinal cord itself. Spinal cord injuries frequently cause permanent disability and may require medical treatment that could cost more than a million dollars over a lifetime.
A spinal cord injury may not be immediately realized or detected. In the days and weeks after an accident there may be swelling, inflammation, bleeding, and fluid accumulating around or in the spinal cord.
If you sustain a spinal cord injury – or if you are not sure that you’re injured – it is imperative to seek medical attention immediately.
ARE THERE OTHER TYPES OF CATASTROPHIC INJURIES?
Losing an arm or a leg, losing your vision or your hearing, and suffering burn injuries or physical disfigurement – these may also be considered catastrophic injuries.
Burn injuries can happen suddenly and unexpectedly in virtually any scenario, but in the U.S. burn injuries are most often linked to electrical mishaps, kitchen fires, hot liquids, and exposure to dangerous chemicals.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, human error – meaning negligence – is behind almost all burn injuries in the U.S., and almost all burn injuries are preventable.
WHO IS LIABLE FOR CATASTROPHIC INJURIES?
If you become a catastrophic injury victim, learn more about the injury and about how other victims are dealing with their injuries. A number of organizations throughout Georgia offer support and resources to catastrophic injury victims and their families.
If you suffer any kind of catastrophic injury in the state of Georgia because another person was negligent, you are entitled by law to compensation for your injury-related medical expenses – for as long as you need medical care – and for your lost income and future lost earning capacity.
Liability for a catastrophic injury could be assigned to:
- a negligent or intoxicated driver who injures you
- a property owner who fails to repair hazards on a property, causing a catastrophic injury
- a product manufacturer who markets a defective consumer item
- any other party whose negligence results in a catastrophic injury
WHAT RECOURSE DO CATASTROPHIC INJURY VICTIMS HAVE?
If you or someone you love has suffered – or suffers in the future – a catastrophic injury in the state of Georgia, obtain medical treatment immediately.
If your injury was caused by someone else’s carelessness or negligence, speak immediately to an experienced Atlanta car accident attorney. Do not wait. The sooner you put an attorney on your case, the more likely it is that you will obtain the full compensation amount that you need.
HOW WILL A GOOD AUTO ACCIDENT LAW FIRM IN GEORGIA HELP YOU?
Your attorney will review the details of your case, determine which party is liable, and will work hard and aggressively to acquire the monetary compensation you deserve and need.
When you are the victim of a life-changing, catastrophic injury because someone else was negligent, an experienced car crash lawyer’s help is your right, but the first move – contacting the right attorney at once – is yours to make.