Is my injury considered catastrophic enough to qualify for an injury claim?

Two weeks ago an SUV ran a red light and barreled straight into your Camry. Luckily the driver of the SUV wasn’t going extremely fast, but the force was enough to give you severe whiplash. At least that was what you thought at the time. After a few days of neck pain, you decided to go to the doctor and learned that you may have suffered a severe spinal cord injury.

After conducting multiple tests and dozens of diagnostics, your doctor discovered a small tear in your lesser occipital nerve (at the base of the skull). He assured you that, although painful, the tear was small enough that it should heal on its own without causing any permanent damage.

In light of this news and the medical costs you have incurred, you decide you want to pursue a legal claim for the injury. The problem is you’re not sure if it is severe enough because the effects will not be permanent. Does the severity matter? What makes an injury eligible for catastrophic injury compensation?

Determining If Your Injury Is Catastrophic

The American Medical Association defines catastrophic personal injuries (CPIs) as severe injuries that affect the spine, spinal cord, brain or normal function of the body. CPIs are becoming alarmingly frequent throughout the United States, according to the Center for Disease Control. Americans suffer millions of accidental injuries each year and approximately 20,000 of them are considered catastrophic and life-altering.   

These injuries include:

  • Severe spinal cord injuries: any type of injury that leaves you partially or completely paralyzed. These include tetraplegia, paraplegia, quadriplegia, spinal bruising, partial severing of the spine or nerve damage surrounding the spine.
  • Traumatic brain injuries: any type of brain damage can be considered catastrophic since the brain is the command center for your entire body. Therefore, if part of the brain becomes injured, your entire body can be affected. In addition, permanent brain trauma can have debilitating effects on your future, causing permanent cognitive issues as well as motor function disabilities.
  • Amputations: when a limb is amputated, it not only results in phantom pain, but it also limits your mobility and creates body function disabilities for the rest of your life. Because of this, any type of amputated limb is considered to be catastrophic.
  • Sensory injuries: when an accident causes the loss of sight or hearing, your life can become severely disrupted. As a result of the extreme impact the sensory loss will have on your future, these types of injuries are labeled catastrophic.
  • Second and third degree burns: severe burns are considered catastrophic not only because they can cause cosmetic scarring and disfigurements but because they can also cause nerve and muscle damage.

Filing Your Claim

Although catastrophic injuries have specific determining qualifications, this doesn’t mean that if you aren’t paralyzed you can’t file a claim. If you’re injured in an accident beyond the severity of harmless bumps and bruises, you may be eligible for compensation. Call us today for a free consultation, review of your rights, and discussion of your claim options. We have nearly 30 years of experience working with insurance companies and arguing on behalf of injured clients, and that experience will help make sure you get the justice your injuries deserve. Call 703-691-5919 now to see how we can help you.  

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