An Attorney’s Guide to Catastrophic Injury Claims

Paramedics treat the catastrophic injuries suffered by an injured man after a car accident

As you prepare your personal injury claim, it’s important to consider if your injury is catastrophic. A catastrophic injury can be compensated differently, and usually has different caps on damages and other legal considerations.

Determining whether your injuries are catastrophic or not can make a significant impact on your personal injury claim process—but how can you know if your injuries qualify as catastrophic injuries? And how do you recover the compensation you deserve for your injuries?

The Louisiana law firm of Gordon McKernan Injury Attorneys has helped hundreds of clients with catastrophic injuries get the compensation they need to pay for their ongoing medical treatment, lost income, and other costs of their injuries. Along the way, we’ve learned a few things about how catastrophic injuries work in Louisiana, how they’re litigated in court, and more. If you’ve been injured recently in Louisiana and need some help navigating the complicated personal injury system, we’re here to help.

What Is A Catastrophic Injury?

Louisiana law does not explicitly define catastrophic injury as distinct from other forms of personal injury. However, any injury that permanently changes the victim’s life could be considered catastrophic. Devastating injuries can result in a loss of mental and physical ability, ongoing care, and expensive medical devices.

Healing from a catastrophic injury can be an involved and complicated process. You don’t have to go it alone—an experienced catastrophic injury lawyer can help you get the compensation you deserve so you can get your dignity back.

What Injuries Are Considered Catastrophic?

Since Louisiana statute does not define catastrophic injuries directly, it’s up to judges and juries to determine whether an injury is catastrophic or not. The court will evaluate the victim’s injuries and consider their prospect for recovery, then make a determination.

A helper assists a victim of catastrophic injuries get out of a vehicle and into a wheelchair

An injury will generally be considered catastrophic if the victim may never fully recover, or if their injury permanently disables them, physically or mentally. Some injuries that have been found catastrophic include

Concussions Can Be More Severe than They Appear

A concussion is a type of head injury where the brain smacks into the skull wall, damaging it. Any concussion, even a less-severe concussion, can become a catastrophic injury that could lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a serious condition that can cause mood changes, suicidal ideation, and other side effects–or even death.

If you’ve received a concussion during an accident, make sure to visit a doctor immediately for medical care and further advice on ongoing treatment.

Compensation After a Catastrophic Injury

When you’ve suffered catastrophic injuries in an accident, you could be eligible for three types of damages, depending on the particulars of your case:

  • Special damages, or economic damages, include medical costs, lost wages (both past and future), the cost of ongoing therapy and assistive devices, and more. Broadly, these damages are those which are easily quantifiable, like bills and other monetary costs sustained after the injury.
  • General damages, or non-economic damages, are those which aren’t so easily quantifiable. These can include pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of consortium, and other such damages.
  • Exemplary damages, also called punitive damages, are awarded in extreme cases, when the defendant either exhibited gross negligence or intentionally harmed the plaintiff. These are intended to dissuade the defendant from repeating the behavior, rather than compensating the plaintiff for their damages. For example, a drunk driver might have to pay exemplary damages if they caused a car accident resulting in catastrophic injury.

When Do You Need a Catastrophic Injury Lawyer?

Gordon McKernan, a catastrophic injury lawyer in Louisiana

Catastrophic injury victims can experience pain and suffering from their injuries for a long time. On top of that, the monetary burden of hospital bills, treatment, and more, as well as the inability to work and make money to pay those bills, can be too much for many victims to bear. An experienced catastrophic injury lawyer can help you recover the compensation you need to move on with your life.

If you’re dealing with a catastrophic injury, time is also a valuable resource. Louisiana places a one-year statute of limitations on most personal injury cases, so you should call a lawyer right away to begin the process of filing your claim and getting the money you need to survive.

Gordon McKernan Injury Attorneys are Louisiana personal injury lawyers with decades of experience helping our clients recover what they’re owed for their injuries. Give us a call today at 888.501.7888 for a free consultation. We promise you won’t owe us a dime until we win or settle your case.