Catastrophic Injuries After an Accident

Catastrophic Injuries After an Accident Car accidents, truck accidents, and falls are among the leading causes of preventable injuries, which can result in long-term or permanent disability, significant physical impairment, extensive medical treatment, or death. These life-changing injuries, known as catastrophic injuries, often happen suddenly and leave a lasting impact on the injured person’s ability to live a normal life. If you or a loved one suffered catastrophic injuries in an accident, you face extensive medical expenses and loss of income due to the inability to work in the same capacity as before your accident if at all. Depending on your accident, you may recover financial compensation for your damages. An experienced catastrophic injury attorney can review your case in a free consultation to determine if you can obtain compensation.

What Are the Common Causes of Catastrophic Injuries After an Accident?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), unintended injuries send 24.2 million people to emergency departments each year and kill about 225,000 people annually. Motor vehicle accidents and falls are among the leading causes of injury-related deaths. Common causes of catastrophic injuries include:
  • Car crashes
  • Truck accidents
  • Boating accidents
  • Drunk driving accidents
  • Premises liability accidents, including slip and fall accidents
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Pedestrian accidents
  • Bicycle accidents
  • Defective products
  • Workplace or industrial accidents
  • Sports and recreational activity accidents
  • Acts of violence

What Are Some Catastrophic Injuries?

These catastrophic injuries leave a significant impact not only on the injured person but on their families:

Brain injuries

Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are among the most common catastrophic Injuries. A TBI occurs when significant force to the head or body damages the brain. This can result in a range of symptoms, including memory loss, and difficulty with speech and coordination. In severe cases, a TBI can lead to a non-responsive state, coma, or death.

Spinal cord injuries

Another common catastrophic injury damages the spine. A spinal injury can result in paralysis, loss of sensation, loss of bodily functions, and a reduced ability to move and perform daily activities.

Burn injuries

Some burns cause catastrophic, life-altering injuries. Fires, explosions, or exposure to chemicals can cause significant pain, scarring, disfigurement, and a reduced ability to perform daily activities.


The most immediate impact of amputation is physical. Depending on the location and the extent of the amputation, a person may feel pain, discomfort, and difficulty performing daily tasks. They may also require extensive medical treatment and rehabilitation to adjust to their new physical limitations or to learn how to use a new prosthetic.

Scars or disfigurement

Catastrophic injuries often result in permanent scars or disfigurement. Visible scars on the face, neck, or hands can embarrass a person and affect their ability to get a job and live a fulfilling life. These injuries can cause more emotional pain to young people and women.

Disease or Illness

Exposure to hazardous materials, such as asbestos or benzene, causes some catastrophic illnesses or diseases, like mesothelioma or leukemia.

Loss of Sight or Hearing

Motor vehicle accidents or falls can cause blindness, deafness, and difficulty communicating. This can dramatically affect a person’s quality of life and ability to function normally.

What Are the Long-Term Consequences of Catastrophic Injuries?

Catastrophic injuries not only leave a physical impact on accident victims, but significant financial and emotional impacts. Many people who suffer from catastrophic injuries require expensive, ongoing medical care and rehabilitation. If the injured person cannot work, they may incur income losses and financial hardships. Victims of catastrophic injuries and their family members may experience grief, anger, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and general worry about how they will manage this change for the rest of their lives. To mitigate the impact of these life-changing injuries, victims need a strong support system. This may include family members and friends, as well as medical professionals and rehabilitation specialists. In addition, they may need legal assistance to receive the compensation and support they deserve.

What Compensation Can Catastrophic Injury Victims Recover?

Many serious injuries that cause permanent or extensive injuries result from another person or party’s negligence. If you or your loved one suffered catastrophic injuries in an accident caused by another person's wrongdoing, you may seek compensation for your damages. You and your family may recover compensation for:
  • Immediate and future medical expenses, including rehabilitation, medical devices, Prosthetics
  • Lost income
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of companionship
  • Humiliation and loss of reputation
After you or a loved one suffered catastrophic injuries in an accident, the insurance company may offer you a quick settlement. You should never accept an offer from an insurance company without first speaking to a personal injury lawyer. Catastrophic injuries require long-term and sometimes life-long treatment and the emotional and financial impact may exceed your expectations. A lawyer knowledgeable about catastrophic injuries can determine the true extent of your damages.

How Much Is My Personal Injury Claim Worth?

Accidents that cause catastrophic injuries affect the lives of victims and their families for years, if not for the rest of their lives. These serious injuries almost always require extensive medical treatment, including surgeries, physical therapies, medical devices, prosthetics, long-term nursing care, and other support services. If the injured person contributed financially to the household but can no longer work in the same capacity, if at all, the entire family will feel the financial impact. They will likely experience physical and emotional pain and suffering. How much financial compensation you may get for your damages is often based on:
  • The scope and seriousness of your injury
  • If the injury is permanent
  • The type of treatment and care you need now and in the future
  • Your ability to work after the accident
  • The income you lost due to your injuries
  • The extent of your accident-related pain and losses
  • The reliability of the evidence you can present
  • The ability you have to live the life you wanted
  • The willingness of the insurance company to provide you with the compensation you need
  • Your patience as your attorney works your case through the legal system

How Do I Prove Negligence in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Most injury claims require accident victims to establish the other party’s negligence, such as in car accidents or slip and fall accidents. You need a personal injury lawyer who can prove the four elements of negligence:
  • Duty of care: A person has a legal obligation to avoid harming others.
  • Breach of duty: A person must take reasonable care or act as a reasonable person would in similar circumstances.
  • Causation: A person’s breach of duty causes another person harm.
  • Damages: Damages refer to the losses suffered due to the harm caused by the defendant’s breach of duty.
Generally, when someone acts carelessly or recklessly and injures another person, under the legal principle of negligence, the reckless individual must pay for the resulting damages to the injured person, such as medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering.

Who Can Be Held Liable in a Catastrophic Injury Claim?

Some examples of liable parties in catastrophic accidents include:
  • Negligent car, truck, rideshare, or delivery drivers
  • Drunk drivers
  • Vehicle owners who let an irresponsible person drive their car
  • Trucking companies
  • Delivery driver parent companies
  • Manufacturers or retailers of defective products
  • Property owners, managers, and tenants whose neglectful acts lead to accidents such as slip and falls

What Is Florida’s Comparative Negligence Standard?

Comparative is a principle courts use to reduce the amount of damages an injured person can recover based on their percentage of fault in the accident. Under Florida’s modified comparative negligence standard, the court will not allow you to recover damages if you are more than 50 percent at fault for your injuries. Insurance companies will often blame you for your accident, so call a catastrophic injury lawyer near you to protect you from this tactic.

What Is the Deadline for Filing a Catastrophic Injury Lawsuit?

Florida gives you two years from your injury to file a civil lawsuit against the at-fault party, with a few exceptions to this rule. For example, a court may extend the statute of limitations for service members on active duty who cannot appear in court. Failure to meet this deadline could mean you can no longer recover compensation for your damages. A catastrophic injury lawyer will ensure you don’t miss any important deadlines for filing your case. The two-year statute of limitations applies to third party civil lawsuits, not claims you make to your insurance company. If a car accident injured you or your loved one, contact your car insurance provider as soon as possible after the accident to review the policy terms. That way you don't miss any important time requirements if the relevant policy has a claim filing deadline. Whenever you speak with an insurance company, never give them too much information and never admit fault. Instead, let your personal injury attorney deal with the insurance company.

What if My Loved One Died From a Catastrophic Injury?

Catastrophic injuries can take a person’s life, if not immediately, months or years later. If your loved one dies from an accident-related injury due to another person’s negligence, you may have grounds for a wrongful death claim. A qualified survivor, such as a spouse or minor children, may recover financial compensation for damages a loved one suffered after the injury and before their death, such as:
  • Medical expenses
  • Diminished spousal relationships
  • Pain and suffering
  • Funeral and burial costs
You may also recover compensation for:
  • Financial support
  • Companionship
  • Protection
  • Guidance
  • Grief and sorrow
  • Mental pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress and suffering
The statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim is two years from the person’s death. Filing a claim after this deadline will prevent the deceased’s family from recovering compensation.

How Can a Catastrophic Injury Attorney Help Me?

If you suffered catastrophic injuries in an accident by the negligent acts of another person or party, you deserve to be made whole. To do that, an experienced catastrophic injury lawyer can:
  • Provide you with legal support and determine the best legal course of action to take.
  • Investigate your accident and secure the evidence needed to prove your damages.
  • Determine the full extent and value of your damages.
  • Identify all liable parties from which to seek compensation.
  • Bring in medical or accident scene experts who can substantiate your claim.
  • Go head-to-head with insurance companies to negotiate a settlement that covers all your damages.
  • If your attorney cannot strike a fair settlement with insurers, your lawyer can file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires.
  • Represent you in court should your personal injury case go to trial.
Talk with a personal injury attorney in Tampa near you to get a free consultation and find out how best to proceed.

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James Wayne Holliday Author Image

James Wayne Holliday

James Wayne Holliday has been practicing law since 1995. He has been named as a “Best Attorney” Lifetime Charter Member in Florida, an honor awarded to less than one percent of the nation’s lawyers.

Mr. Holliday has earned a reputation as a relentless trial lawyer because of his outstanding work ethic and thorough preparation of his cases for trial.

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