- January 4, 2018
- Car Accidents
Broken bones, concussions, whiplash – many Asheville residents have fallen victim to these types of injuries in car accidents. While these injuries are serious and can require physical therapy and surgery, most car accident victims experience a full recovery. But if you or a loved one experienced an injury that will likely result in a permanent disability, you probably have questions about what you should do in both the short term and the long term. Often called catastrophic injuries, this type of injury is the most serious non-fatal injury people can suffer in a car accident.
This article is the first in our personal injury blog series on catastrophic car accident injuries. In this post, we’ll answer the question, “What are catastrophic injuries?” Later articles in this series discuss the effects of catastrophic injuries on victims’ lives; the most common catastrophic injuries victims suffer; and what damages car accident victims can seek to recover after suffering catastrophic injuries.
What are catastrophic injuries?
The legal term “catastrophic injury” is based on the American Medical Association’s (AMA) definition of this type of injury. These injuries have permanent effects on victims, leaving them unable to return to their normal activities or to enjoy their life as they did before they were injured. The AMA definition of catastrophic injury pertains specifically to severe injury to the central nervous system – that is, the spine, spinal cord, brain, or skull. Personal injury attorneys tend to include any injury that leaves a victim permanently disabled, such as severe burns or loss of limbs.
Motorcyclists, pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists involved in commercial truck accidents are among the most common victims of catastrophic injuries. These injuries often occur during high-speed or T-bone car accidents; accidents involving people and vehicles with little to no protection from harm; or accidents involving massive vehicles like transfer trucks. The extreme forces and lack of safety features in these situations often inflict major trauma on the people involved.
What are some of the permanent effects of catastrophic injuries?
Injuries are deemed catastrophic when they result in permanent disability or loss of use of a body part. Some of the possible consequences of catastrophic car accident injuries include:
- Loss of mental capacity
- Loss or impairment of sight, hearing, or other senses
- Amputation or loss of limbs
- Chronic pain, often requiring medication
- Permanent damage to organs such as the kidneys, requiring transplant or frequent treatment
People with a permanent disability resulting from a car accident often cannot return to work, leaving their household without their income. Permanent conditions such as brain injuries, chronic pain, and sensory impairment leave victims unable to perform many basic tasks such as self-care or maintaining their homes, so family members often have to step up to care for their loved one at home, causing the loss of even more of their household’s income.
What medical care do victims need after a catastrophic injury?
Car accident victims who suffer disabling injuries need lifelong care, often from multiple specialists. You may need a variety of services, depending on your injuries. Catastrophic car accident treatment often includes:
- in-home healthcare, either round-the-clock or during the day while your loved ones are at work or in school
- home medical equipment such as wheelchairs, ramps, chair lifts, hospital beds, or other devices to make your home more accessible
- a service animal, if you suffered sensory loss or impairment
- physical or occupational therapy to help you recover some of your abilities to move or care for yourself
All of these services impose enormous expense, and your insurance, Medicaid, or Medicare copays may be too much for you and your family to pay. If you have no health insurance, you may struggle to get the care you need. Some services like EMS, chiropractic, and service animals are not covered by health insurance, even though they are all necessary services. These costs make it even more difficult to adjust to your circumstances after a catastrophic injury.
Navigating your way through a personal injury lawsuit becomes more complicated when you suffered severe or catastrophic injuries in a car accident. When you become disabled after a car accident, you may need to seek compensation for lost income potential or other damages that can be difficult to prove. In addition, your condition may worsen or change over time, requiring you to prove that new symptoms or complications are a direct result of the accident.
Talking about your case with an experienced personal injury attorney may answer some of your most urgent questions, such as how to get medical debt paid after an accident. At this critical time in your life, a skilled, experienced personal injury attorney can advise you on many aspects of your case, from getting the medical care you need if you can’t afford it to talking with insurance adjusters. In addition, your attorney can take over investigating your case, allowing you to focus on your health. Contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation with our personal injury team.