What is Considered a Catastrophic Injury in North Carolina?

What is Considered a Catastrophic Injury in North Carolina?

Have you suffered an injury in an accident? You may have come across the term’ catastrophic injury’ either when researching personal injury law or looking into your insurance policy. While there is no language that dictates what can be considered a catastrophic injury under North Carolina law, it is nonetheless important to understand the distinctions of catastrophic injuries. Depending on your policy from the insurance company provider, catastrophic injuries may or may not be covered in the fine print.

When discussing catastrophic injuries, images of victims paralyzed by car accidents, stricken with cancer after exposure to toxic chemicals, or suffering brain damage after a slip and fall come to mind. What is considered a catastrophic injury is typically something that is permanent and forever life-altering. If a personal injury victim stands a chance of recovering from their injuries, regardless of how serious those injuries might have originally been, their injury may not be considered catastrophic.

There are a few common characteristics shared by most catastrophic injuries. Firstly, the severity of the injuries is often much more serious. Even once the catastrophic injury victim has recovered from the accident, they may still require assistance for day-to-day life. Many catastrophic injury victims spend the rest of their days in a medical treatment facility or with a full-time medical caregiver. Secondly, the recovery time is longer or indefinite. The recovery time for a catastrophic injury may take months to years. In some cases, full recovery may never be possible. Finally, catastrophic injury victims suffer severe emotional trauma. Recovery from mental distress and pain and suffering may require long-term medication, professional counseling, psychological therapy, and more.

What Are Common Types of Catastrophic Injuries?

Catastrophic injuries are more frequent than we tend to think.

Common examples of catastrophic injury in North Carolina include: 

  • Amputations and loss of limbs. Amputation is caused at the accident scene rather than performed by a medical professional to save the life of the victim. Dismemberment can be life-changing. Although there are physical therapy and prosthetic techniques available to help amputees, nothing can fully reverse the damage done after the loss of a limb. Every year, there are over 100,000 amputations in the US. It is estimated that 2 million people have lost their limbs in the United States.
  • Burns. Third- and fourth-degree burns can destroy the skin and the soft tissues beneath it, sometimes going all the way down to muscle and bone. In serious cases, burn victims suffer extensive scarring, nerve damage, and lose some sensation. Annually, around 500,000 Americans receive burn injury treatment in hospitals.
  • Disfigurement. Extensive scarring and disfigurement can forever alter an individual’s ability to enjoy life, continue their job, and care for themselves.
  • Internal organ trauma. Puncture wounds, crushing injuries, caught between injuries, and other types of physical traumas can damage internal organs. It is not uncommon to see injuries to the lungs, stomach, or intestines. In some cases, accident victims lose their internal organs or must undergo major surgeries to repair them. If left untreated, internal injuries could result in severe blood loss, sepsis, or even death.
  • Spinal cord injuries. A spinal cord injury could result in the accident victim losing strength, sensation, or mobility. Not every type of spinal cord injury is considered catastrophic. Those that cause paralysis, paraplegia, and quadriplegia are more likely to be considered catastrophic injuries. On average, close to 18,000 Americans suffer a spinal cord injury every year.
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Traumatic brain injury can result from any force striking the skull and injuring the brain. There are a few types of TBI. There are mild concussions, moderate TBI, and severe TBI. A concussion may not be considered a catastrophic injury. On average, close to three million Americans have required a trip to the hospital due to a traumatic brain injury every year. Traumatic brain injuries can result in permanent brain damage or even death.

What Are Common Causes of Catastrophic Injuries?

Common causes of traumatic and catastrophic injuries include:

  • Assaults.
  • Bicycle accidents.
  • Boating accidents.
  • Car accidents.
  • Commercial truck accidents.
  • Construction site accidents.
  • Dangerous drugs.
  • Defective medical devices.
  • Defective products and product liability accidents.
  • Dog bites and animal attacks.
  • Drunk driving accidents.
  • Elder abuse or neglect.
  • Falling objects.
  • Falls from great heights.
  • Gunshots.
  • Medical malpractice.
  • Motorcycle accidents.
  • Pedestrian accidents.
  • Premises liability accidents.
  • Railroad accidents.
  • Slip and fall accidents.
  • Swimming pool accidents.
  • Workplace accidents.

What Sort of Financial Compensation Can You Recover for Your Catastrophic Injury Claim?

With a successful personal injury claim, it is possible to recover both economic and non-economic damages. While no financial recovery can ever hope to undo the damage done, the aim is to help lift the burden felt by injury victims and help them get through the day-to-day with less difficulty.

Economic damages may include:

  • Past medical bills and future medical expenses.
  • Lost wages.
  • Lost income earning capacity if the injured victim cannot return to work.
  • Physical therapy expenses.
  • Ongoing medical treatment.
  • Full-time medical caregivers.
  • Property damage.
  • Funeral expenses in the event of a fatal accident injury.

Non-economic damages can help compensate you for the following:

  • Disfigurement, dismemberment, or disability.
  • Emotional distress.
  • Physical pain and suffering.
  • Mental anguish.
  • Lost enjoyment of life or quality of life.
  • Lost companionship or consortium.
  • Wrongful death.

Schedule a Consultation with Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys Today

If you or a loved one have sustained catastrophic injuries following an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to recover financial compensation. It is important that you act quickly, as there is a strict statute of limitations for personal injury cases in North Carolina. Do not delay in reaching out to experienced personal injury attorneys to discuss your catastrophic injury case in more detail today.

Kreider Attorneys at Law has extensive experience representing personal injury cases in North Carolina. To discuss your case and learn more about our legal services, please contact our Greensboro law offices to schedule your initial consultation today. You may contact us at 336-770-2017.