An injury becomes catastrophic when it takes away your ability to work. This definition holds up no matter what state you live in because it is part of the United States Code (USC). Under USC §10284, a catastrophic injury is:
“An injury, the direct and proximate consequences of which permanently prevent an individual from performing any gainful work.”
Some states have different definitions, but usually, state statutes are more inclusive. For example, a facial injury may not prevent someone from performing any job, but it might prevent an actor or fashion model from fulfilling the duties of their occupation, so many states designate the injury in question as catastrophic.
In Georgia (opens a PDF called ‘Demystifying Catastrophic Designations’), catastrophic injury claims depend on medical records, an employee’s education level, and their work history for the past 15 years – including job titles and physical requirements for each job. If an injury is severe enough to disrupt someone’s career, it will likely be deemed catastrophic.
How Are Catastrophic Injuries Different?
Because catastrophic injury cases occur when someone can no longer work, they often have higher payouts than standard personal injury cases. Not only do successful catastrophic injury claims yield many of the same damages as personal injury claims, but they also compensate the plaintiff for a lifetime of lost income and medical expenses.
Relevant damages in a catastrophic injury case may include:
- Medical bills – now and in the future
- Missed wages
- Lost future earning potential
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- And more
The goal of a catastrophic injury claim is to take care of you for the rest of your life because catastrophic injuries permanently prevent you from working. You should be able to recover all the resources you need to adapt to a disability and take care of yourself and your family. While you will never be able to live the same life you lived before the accident, a successful settlement or verdict can help ensure your life is comfortable.
How Do Catastrophic Injury Claims Work?
Once your doctor diagnoses your condition and gives you a prognosis, you should file a catastrophic injury lawsuit with the help of a local attorney. Your doctor’s opinion will be one of the most important parts of your claim, and your lawyer will help you represent your career and translate your economic and non-economic losses into monetary terms.
Usually, your attorney will issue a demand letter on your behalf. From there, the at-fault party or their insurance company may offer you a settlement. The first offer may not be enough to meet your needs, so your lawyer will negotiate. Although most personal injury cases are settled outside of court, catastrophic injury cases frequently involve significant amounts of money, so you need an attorney who will be ready to fight for your rights in court.
At Douglas, Leonard & Garvey, P.C., our team of experienced trial lawyers have represented thousands of clients in court over the past 20 years, and we can represent you, too.
Call us at (603) 288-1403 or contact us online to put more than 140 years of combined experience on your side, and rest assured, we will always put your interests first!