How is a Catastrophic Injury Different from a Personal Injury?

medical catastrophic injuryCatastrophic injuries have a number of definitions both legally and medically. These injuries fall under personal injuries but under specific guidelines. For an injury to be considered catastrophic in New Jersey, it must cause severe debilitation or permanent injury that requires lifelong care. In 42 USCS § 3796b, these effects are defined as injuries that are the “direct and proximate consequences of which permanently prevent an individual from performing any gainful work.”

In layman’s terms, these injuries are permanent and prevent a worker from returning to their employment. In most cases, the effects will also prevent or interfere with basic activities of daily living (ADL). These injuries impact the total quality of life an individual can enjoy as a direct result of injury.

Examples of Catastrophic Injuries

There are few injuries that don’t interfere with ADL to some degree. However, most are temporary and have lesser effects. With catastrophic injuries, the effects are deeper and typically last a lifetime. Due to the complex nature of a catastrophic injury, there are often other claims involved such as premises liability and products liability that relate to the injury. Examples of the injuries include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
  • Burns
  • Wrongful death
  • Loss of sight or hearing
  • Crush injuries
  • Amputations
  • Serious multiple fractures
  • Electrocutions
  • Internal organ damage
  • Spinal cord damage

These injuries can also come as a result of medical care, as opposed to workplace injuries. Commonly, medical-related catastrophic injuries include:

  • Paralysis from a physician’s failure to identify spinal cord damage
  • Stroke after a physician fails to identify a compromised airway
  • Stroke and brain injuries from improperly administered anesthesia
  • Permanent neurological injury after a doctor fails to deliver an oxygen-deprived baby
  • Deafness from excessive antibiotic exposure
  • Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) due to compression injuries or surgical mishaps

The victims of catastrophic injuries have up to two years from the date they should have known, or reasonably should have known, they suffered such an injury to file a claim in the state of New Jersey. Calculating the damages in such a case can be complicated and is based on:

  • Modifications to the home, automobile or office to accommodate the victim
  • Lifelong medical costs
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Reconstructive and plastic surgery
  • Lost income, along with a diminished future earning capacity
  • Prostheses
  • Treatment services from urgent care and hospitals
  • Pharmaceutical treatments
  • Rehabilitation: physical, vocational and occupational

You deserve compensation to help heal and get your life on track. We can help. Contact our team at Bochetto & Lentz today for legal counsel.

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