No car accident ends well, but some have more devastating outcomes than others. Sometimes, severe collisions end in catastrophic injuries. Catastrophic injuries are exactly what they sound like – serious injuries that cause significant damage or suffering. The effects of a catastrophic injury are usually disastrous for the injury victims. The most common examples of catastrophic injuries are traumatic brain injuries, broken bones, and spinal cord injuries.
Injury victims often face permanent disability, long-term pain and suffering, and overwhelming medical bills. Moreover, catastrophic injuries might prevent people from being able to work and require life-long or extended rehabilitation and medical treatment. In severe cases, the injured person might even require surgery.
In addition to changing the course of a person’s entire life, catastrophic injuries often leave people and their families with financial stress and emotional suffering. It can feel like an eternity while trying to get your life back in order after a car accident. However, by understanding what a catastrophic injury is and what to do after suffering one in a car accident, you can get the compensation you deserve.
What Is Considered a Catastrophic Car Accident Injury?
Catastrophic injuries are not always immediately apparent. (Car Accident Injuries that have Delayed Symptoms.) Therefore, when assessing catastrophic injuries, you need to ask two questions:
- How severe is the injury?
- And what is the likelihood the injury will lead to permanent damage?
If you have a very severe injury that causes any of the following, you most likely have a catastrophic injury:
- Internal organ damage
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Struggle with communicating
- Unable to take care of yourself
- Cannot return to work due to injuries
What Are The Different Types Of Catastrophic Injuries?
Any injury could become catastrophic if it’s severe enough. Sometimes, even minor injuries that don’t receive immediate treatment can turn into catastrophic injuries.
Or, it’s possible for a medical complication that causes typical injuries to develop into permanent impairments. The worst type of catastrophic injuries are:
- A lost or amputated limb
- Loss of vision
- Any other permanent disability
Here are the three most common catastrophic injuries that result from car accidents:
Severe Burns Injuries
Burns are extremely painful. Severe burn injuries can leave victims permanently disfigured. Fire is the most common cause of severe burns after a car accident. While rare, fires happen in the most severe collisions. Burn injuries can also result from a passenger being ejected from the car and getting road burn.
Burns are categorized by four degrees and sometimes leave injury victims permanently disfigured.
The least severe of burn injuries, first-degree burns only affect the outer layer of the skin. For example, after a car accident, first-degree burns usually result from skin rubbing the seatbelt. As a result, your skin becomes exposed and becomes a minor burn injury. First-degree burns are painful and may take a few days to weeks for the victim to heal.
Second-degree burns are much more dangerous than first-degree burns. Second-degree burns affect the skin’s outer and inner layers. They usually take several weeks to heal. If you sustain a second-degree burn, you may need skin grafting.
Third-degree burns will be more severe than first and second-degree. These burns destroy the entire outer layer and penetrate the skin’s innermost layer. Sometimes third-degree burns can even cause damage to nerves. As a result, it’s common for third-degree burn victims to need surgery and ongoing therapy.
The most severe level of burn injury, fourth-degree burns, invade all layers of the skin. They extend to nerve tissues and muscles and can cause bone damage. Sometimes, fourth-degree burns can lead to fatalities or require extensive treatment like surgery. The highest degree of a burn injury can also result in lost ability to function and chronic pain. Finally, fourth-degree burns leave victims without feeling in the area due to destroyed nerve endings.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Car accidents are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries in the US for younger individuals (falls are the leading cause for older people.) In addition, trauma to the vertebral column can lead to spinal cord injuries. Spinal cord injuries are classified as complete or incomplete.
A complete spinal cord injury can result in the victim losing all motor and sensory functions below the injury level. About half of all spinal cord injury incidences are complete. A complete spinal cord injury affects both sides of the body equally. A contusion, bruise, or other trauma to the spinal cord usually causes the loss of function. As a result, the trauma compromises blood flow to the injured part of the spinal cord.
An incomplete spinal cord injury will allow injury victims to still have some functioning below the injury level. However, an incomplete spinal cord injury might cause someone to lose their ability to use one side of the body more than the other.
Spinal cord injuries often result in permanent damage and loss of movement and sensation for the injury victims. In the most tragic circumstances, one might spend the rest of their life in a wheelchair or need a ventilator. It’s not uncommon for people to need lifetime care after a severe spinal cord injury.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Traumatic brain injuries are a major cause of death and disability. Blunt force trauma to the head can cause a traumatic brain injury. When the brain experiences a forceful impact, it can swell or bleed. The bleeding or swelling can cause profound damage to the brain tissues. Injury victims with traumatic brain injury often need to spend years in therapy and rehab. Furthermore, after suffering a brain injury, some will need to re-learn how to do basic functions like walking, talking, and taking care of themselves. The worst traumatic brain injury cases will lead to permanent damages that result in life-long cognitive and physical impairment.
Can I Sue or Bring a Lawsuit After Suffering a Catastrophic Injury in Colorado?
Yes, you can sue after suffering a catastrophic injury from a Colorado car accident. If you can prove that the other driver’s negligence caused the accident and consequently led to your injuries, you may have a valid personal injury claim. You may be eligible to recover for certain damages like:
- medical costs
- lost wages
- pain and suffering
- severe impairment of body functions
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment in life
- Mental and emotional anguish
- Loss of consortium
- Permanent disfigurement
How Do I Prove A Catastrophic Injury Claim?
Catastrophic injury claims are a nightmare for insurance companies. That’s because they result in high payouts for injury victims and their claims. As a result, insurance companies almost always try to deny these claims initially or undervalue them. For this reason, it’s imperative to work with a skilled, experienced Denver Catastrophic Injury Lawyer.
What Evidence Do I Need to gather for a personal injury claim?
If the insurance company is challenging and tries to deny your claim, you’ll need strong evidence to support your claim. Even if that’s not the case, it’s best to have solid evidence to support your injury claim. Some evidence your attorney may help you gather for your case include:
- Medical documentation and records
- Eyewitness testimonies
- Police reports
- Property and car repair costs
- Security or surveillance footage
- Dashcam footage
- Police reports
Contact a Denver Personal Injury Lawyer Today
You will get peace of mind knowing you have the best legal professionals in the area fighting for you. We will help you hold the liable parties accountable while you focus on recovering. In addition, we are not afraid to go to trial if we need to get you a fair settlement.
Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation, or call 720-500-HURT.