Brian White | December 5, 2022 | Personal Injury
A catastrophic injury is the most serious injury you can sustain short of a fatal injury. Although a catastrophic injury can command a large compensation award, asserting such a claim is fraught with unique difficulties and challenges.
What Are Catastrophic Injuries?
There is no universal catastrophic injury definition. A catastrophic injury takes away something that is fundamental to your life–such as your ability to walk, move, or even think. The damage is typically long-term or permanent, with grave consequences to your ability to pursue your occupation or live a normal life.
Types of Injuries That Are Frequently Catastrophic
Following are some examples of injuries that frequently result in catastrophic consequences:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Spinal cord injuries
- Severe burns
- Disfigurement and large-scale scarring
- Multiple broken bones
- Damage to internal organs
- Injuries that require long-term medical care
- Injuries that render you occupationally disabled (unable to make a living)
This is not an exhaustive list of the types of catastrophic injuries that can occur.
Types of Compensation Available for Catastrophic Injuries
Texas courts routinely award several different types of damages to personal injury victims, including the forms of compensation described below.
Medical Expenses and Out-of-Pocket Costs
Texas law entitles you to full compensation for your medical expenses, including:
- Doctor’s visits
- Hospital stays
- Lab work
- Deductibles and copays
- Prescription and over-the-counter medications
- Medical equipment
- Alterations to your home and vehicle
- Rehabilitation and physical therapy
- Nursing home care
- At-home nursing care
- Child care
- Help with bathing, dressing, and other daily activities
- Incidental expenses, such as travel expenses if you seek out-of-town medical treatment
All of these expenses must be reasonable and necessary to qualify for compensation.
You obviously can’t work while you are in the hospital or in bed recovering at home. You are entitled to compensation for the wages you would have made if your injury had not occurred.
You can also claim compensation for sick and vacation leave. Standard compensation for sick leave and vacation leave equals the amount of money you would have made if you had worked those days. The rationale behind allowing payment for sick and vacation leave is that claiming these off days depletes the reserve you might need for other occasions.
Calculating lost wages gets more complicated if your income is variable. This might be the case if your pay comes from sales commissions, for example, or if you are a self-employed freelancer.
Psychological harm falls into the category of non-economic damages. These damages might include:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Emotional distress
- Damage to personal relationships (“loss of consortium”)
- Other intangible losses
Non-economic damages frequently amount to the majority of a personal injury claim.
Most injury victims wait until they reach Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) before they file a personal injury claim. MMI is the point in treatment where your doctor does not expect your condition to improve any further.
Usually, that means a full recovery, but sometimes it leaves room for permanent disability. If you cannot return to work because of your injuries, you have an occupational disability.
If you have an occupational disability, your lost wages will continue indefinitely into the future. You need to include all of these future damages in your claim because if you don’t, you won’t be able to come back and ask for more money later.
Calculating the value of an occupational disability can get fearsomely complex—in fact, you might need an expert to help you calculate and prove the magnitude of your losses.
Contact a Houston Personal Injury Lawyer for Help With a Catastrophic Injury Claim
Catastrophic injuries typically involve large compensation claims. You can be sure that the other side will fight hard to avoid paying if for no other reason than the sheer magnitude of the claim. This state of affairs calls for the assistance of a qualified Houston catastrophic injury lawyer.
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