Overview of Catastrophic Injuries in Maryland Personal Injury Cases
While any type of injury can be painful, certain types of bodily harm lead to more intense physical, emotional, and financial consequences for the victim. According to the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research, of which the University of Maryland is a research partner, catastrophic injuries are defined as those that cause:
- Permanent severe functional disability;
- Serious head, neck, or spinal cord trauma not accompanied by permanent disability; or,
- Death, after a short period of suffering.
Whether due to a car accident, slip and fall, medical malpractice or other factors, the related medical complications are extensive. Many victims will experience permanent disability and must rely on others for their care. With the loss of independence comes depression, anger, anxiety, guilt, and other issues. Shortened life expectancy is common, and some victims may never fully recover.
Classifying Catastrophic Injuries
When an injury has a serious impact on at least one of the human body’s major systems, or is incapacitating, it may be considered catastrophic. Examples include:
- Head and Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI): The consequences and long-term effects of these injuries depend upon which part of the brain suffers trauma. The lobes of the brain that enable problem solving abilities, motor skills, vision, memory, and sensation may be damaged.
- Spinal Cord Injuries: The brain controls the body, but the spinal cord delivers the messages that drive functionality. Interruptions in messaging means the body’s systems do not receive essential information they need. A violent blow can damage vertebrae, ligaments, and other delicate tissues of the spinal cord. Victims often suffer temporary or permanent paralysis and may never walk again.
- Amputations: The loss of an arm, leg, or finger is considered catastrophic because it impacts your quality of life. You may not be able to enjoy favorite activities or earn an income. Tasks that require dexterity may become difficult or impossible, so caretakers must take on these responsibilities.
- Damage to Internal Organs: In a particularly violent impact or accident, there may be trauma to the heart, lungs, stomach, and other internal organs. Any bleeding is life-threatening.
- Loss of Sight or Vision: Sight and hearing are essential senses, and they are your connection to the world around you. Losing either of these vital functions limits how you can take in valuable information.
How Serious Injuries Happen
Catastrophic injuries can be caused by any type of accident that involves negligence. However, serious bodily harm may also result from intentional conduct. Criminal acts may also have devastating consequences, including attacks, aggravated assault, attempted murder, shootings, and other offenses. In this type of situation, criminal charges may lead to imprisonment for the offender. They do not compensate victims for the extensive losses the endure.
Whether caused by negligence or intentional misconduct, you may be able to recover compensation for catastrophic injuries caused by:
- Car, Truck, and Motorcycle Accidents: Motor vehicle crashes top the list when it comes to serious physical injuries. For many residents that must travel to and from work, shopping, errands, and other activities, the risk of being involved in a traffic collision is higher than skydiving.
- Pedestrian and Bicycle Accidents: Even when you are not in a motor vehicle, you face threats from others on the road. Though you may use sidewalks, bike paths, and exercise caution at intersections, other motorists may not. Because you are more vulnerable and unprotected when walking or riding, pedestrian and bicycle accidents often lead to catastrophic injuries.
- Slip and Fall Incidents: Maryland property owners have a duty to keep the premises safe from hazards that create a risk of harm to guests and visitors. When they do not make proper repairs or inspections, dangerous conditions can cause accidents. Unsecured railings, broken staircases, and failing balconies often result in serious accidents.
- Medical Malpractice: You trust your physician with your life, but healthcare providers can make mistakes. Some of the most horrific cases of catastrophic injuries are the result of medical malpractice. Operating on the wrong patient, performing surgery on the wrong body part, and leaving a medical device inside a patient are the most disturbing. However, failing to diagnose cancer or delaying a diagnosis can also lead to catastrophic injuries.
Compensation for Catastrophic Injuries
The severity and nature of injuries are the driving force behind damages in a personal injury case, which are intended to compensate you for the losses that you endure. With catastrophic injuries, the losses are much more considerable. Victims are faced with:
- Astronomical bills for medical treatment, including surgery, physical therapy, pain medication, and ongoing care;
- Expenses for counseling, which many victims of catastrophic injuries require to cope with their lives;
- The costs of medical equipment, such as a wheelchair, hospital bed, lifts, scooters, and other gear;
- Expenses related to renovating a home to accommodate specialized medical equipment; and,
- Lost wages and diminished earning capacity, since catastrophic injuries may lead to temporary or permanent disability.
Plus, many victims of serious injuries struggle with losses that can not be determined by dollar value. These non-economic damages may include:
- Emotional anguish;
- Pain and suffering;
- Losses based upon relationships with a spouse, children, parents, and other family members; and,
- Many others.
You may have substantive rights to seek compensation for your losses if you are the victim of catastrophic injuries due to someone else’s negligence. The first step is filing a claim with an insurance company, which will typically be reluctant to pay for your damages. If you can not reach an appropriate settlement with an insurer, you may need to file a lawsuit in court against the responsible party. The stakes are high in catastrophic injury cases, especially considering the high amount of compensation involved.
If You Need Legal Help, Consult with one of our Baltimore County, MD Catastrophic Injury Lawyers for Free
If you or a loved one suffered catastrophic injuries due to another person’s misconduct, you need knowledgeable, experienced legal representation. Please contact our Baltimore offices to schedule a no-cost consultation. We can review your situation and tell you more about what legal remedies may be available to you.