Catastrophic Injury vs Personal Injury: What’s the Difference?

Anytime somebody sustains an injury caused by the careless or negligent actions of another individual, they should be able to recover compensation for their losses. However, no two personal injury cases are the same, and the victims in these cases can sustain various types of injuries. Some of these injuries are considered catastrophic. Here, we want to discuss the difference between what some would call a “normal” injury and a catastrophic injury when it comes to personal injury cases.

Understanding most personal injury cases

Most personal injury cases are serious enough that they warranted some kind of claim on insurance or even a personal injury lawsuit. These injuries happen in a wide variety of ways, including car accidents, motorcycle accidents, pedestrian and bicycle accidents, workplace accidents, slip and fall accidents, defective product incidents, dog bites, and more.

When these incidents occur, it is not uncommon for an injury victim to sustain the following types of injuries:

  • Whiplash
  • Mild traumatic brain injuries (concussions)
  • Severe strains or sprains
  • Lacerations or puncture wounds
  • Minor bone fractures
  • Road rash
  • and more

This is by no means a list of all injuries that can occur that lead to a personal injury case, but this gives you a general idea of the types of injuries that can arise. However, catastrophic injuries can be much more devastating.

What is a catastrophic injury?

There is no single definition of what a “catastrophic injury” is, but we can generally define these injuries as those that leave the victim permanently disabled and prevent them from gaining employment or enjoying a standard quality of life. In most cases, injuries defined as catastrophic affect a person for the long-term or even for the rest of their life. Some of the most common catastrophic injuries in personal injury cases include the following:

  • Spinal cord injuries with paralysis
  • Amputation injuries
  • Severe traumatic brain injuries
  • Severe burns

Unlike most personal injury cases, catastrophic injuries are also more likely to adversely affect the victim’s entire family. The person who suffers from the catastrophic injury will likely not be able to contribute to the household, whether with their income or daily services. In many cases, a person who suffers from a catastrophic injury will need lifelong assistance and medical care. This can significantly shift household burdens onto other family members.

Do you need an attorney?

In general, you should speak to a Seattle personal injury attorney anytime you or a loved one have sustained an injury caused by another person, whether the injury is catastrophic or not. An attorney will be able to help the injury victim and their family members recover the compensation that they need. This could include coverage of all medical expenses related to the injuries, lost income and benefits if a victim cannot work, general household out-of-pocket expenses, pain and suffering damages, loss of personal enjoyment damages, and more.

An attorney has the legal knowledge and resources available to conduct a full investigation into the cause of the injury and will handle all negotiations with other parties involved in order to obtain maximum compensation on your behalf.