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Which injuries are considered catastrophic?

When you sustain injuries in a car crash or other type of accident, the pain and suffering you go through undoubtedly feels pretty catastrophic to you. But do your injuries rise to the level of catastrophic ones? That depends on their precise nature.

Per Lawyer Monthly, personal injury attorneys, insurance companies and courts tend to limit the term “catastrophic injury” to one that seriously and extensively injures you, likely to the point of partial or total disability.


Keep in mind that “catastrophic injury” has no once-size-fits-all definition. Nor is there a list of such injuries on which all legal professionals agree. In general, however, the following types of injuries definitely qualify:

  • Traumatic brain injuries resulting in significant disability
  • Spinal cord injuries resulting in partial or total paralysis
  • Head or eye injuries resulting in partial or total blindness
  • Crush injuries resulting in amputation of one or more of your limbs
  • Body injuries resulting in severe internal organ damage
  • Burn injuries resulting in disfiguring scarring, especially of your face

Recoverable damages

Should you decide to sue the person who caused your catastrophic injury through negligence or wrongdoing, you can receive compensation for both your economic and noneconomic losses.

As their name implies, economic damages compensate you for your actual financial losses caused by your injuries, including the following:

  • Ambulance costs
  • Hospital and surgical costs
  • Rehabilitation costs
  • Prescription medication costs
  • Medical equipment, such as a wheelchair, walker, prosthesis, etc.
  • Lost wages

Noneconomic damages compensate you for your more subjective, but no less real, losses. Your physical, mental and emotional pain and suffering fall into this category, as does your loss of your enjoyment of life brought about by your injuries.