What Is a Catastrophic Injury?

This question of What Is a Catastrophic Injury has been a great concern for many. Any accident that results in injury can seem like a catastrophe for the victim because there are certain to be multiple doctor’s appointments and a stack of bills to go along with them.

The injured person will be in pain and miss time away from work. They may need to get somebody to assist them in cleaning their home and taking care of their children.

Although any accident may be horrible for the victim, according to personal injury attorneys Ogg, Murphy & Perkosky, an injury is only considered catastrophic when it occurs suddenly and results in long-term consequences. A catastrophic accident is an occurrence that changes a person’s life significantly in an instant.

Several different types of injuries are considered catastrophic by most insurance companies.



Unfortunately, limbs can be severed or rendered useless after a car accident or a construction accident and can affect a person’s ability to function normally.

A person who has lost a limb will often suffer from emotional trauma and may not be able to live independently.

People who have severed limbs will often continue to experience pain at the amputation site, called phantom limb syndrome. A person’s limbs may be severed in a crash, but in other cases, a limb may have to be removed due to an infection caused by the accident.  An injured person may develop a neuroma; this is when a nerve is agitated after an accident, and a mass of tissue develops around it.

Spinal Cord Injury

Spinal cord injuries might occur as the result of an accident. People who have been in rear-end accidents often experience trauma to their spine.

Some spinal cord injuries are classified as “incomplete.” Anterior damage is a type of incomplete spinal injury that happens when the front of the spinal cord is damaged. The person’s sensory pathways and motor skills will be affected.

If the injury occurs at the cord’s center and involves nerve damage, it is called center cord syndrome. A person with this syndrome may experience sensory loss in the arms and hands.

When one side of the spinal cord has been injured, it is called Brown-Sequard syndrome. A person suffering from it might lose bowel and bladder control and may experience atrophy of the muscles.

When the spinal cord is completely damaged, the injured person will experience one of three types of injuries: Tetraplegia occurs when a person cannot move their extremities or the upper and lower parts of their body and may only be able to move their head and neck. You may have heard people who suffer from this condition referred to as quadriplegics.

Paraplegia occurs when a person’s spine has been damaged so that they cannot move their lower body. It most often happens due to a sports injury or a car accident.

Triplegia is an incomplete injury to the spinal cord and will generally involve a loss of movement in a single limb.

Facial Injury

Facial injuries are not uncommon after car accidents, and a broken nose is the most common type of facial injury.

Rhinoplasty or reconstructive surgery on the nose is one of the most difficult types of facial surgery, but revision rhinoplasty is often necessary after an initial nose job.

Another common injury is a complex zygomatic fracture, which is a fracture to the lower jawline. A fracture to the upper jawline is called a maxilla fracture. Although it is fairly rare, people sometimes suffer from fractures to the eye socket when injured in an accident.

When a person has injuries to the face, a doctor will normally try to reconstruct the bones. In some cases, reconstructive surgery will not work, and they will be left permanently disfigured. Insurance money should pay for the surgery up to the amount of coverage.

Pennsylvania requires drivers to be covered for $15,000 for injury to one person and $30,000 for each accident. Facial surgery is very expensive, and the bill may exceed $30,000.

Suppose another person was responsible for injuries to an accident victim’s face. In that case, the victim may need to sue the responsible party if insurance will not cover all of their medical bills.

Brain Injury

Car accidents sometimes result in head injuries. Five basic types of brain injuries are common after an accident.

A concussion happens when the head is impacted due to a sudden movement such as a car suddenly stopping; a person may feel dizzy when they get a concussion. You should always see a doctor if you suffer a blow to the head because it can be serious if it is not treated.

A contusion is a bruise to the brain. A bruise might sound like nothing, but it can be harmful when it is on the brain. It can cause blood clotting, resulting in memory loss and slurred speech.


This occurs when an object penetrates the brain, which can cause a victim to bleed from the head. A person may have a hard time staying conscious when this occurs, and they could lose a dangerous amount of blood.

Diffuse Axonal

A severe concussion is caused by diffuse axonal. In this case, the head is turned so severely that the brain tissue is torn. If this kind of injury is bad enough, it can result in a coma or death.

Coup Contrecoup

This injury occurs when a person is impacted on one side of the brain but equally injured on both sides. It happens when the brain moves back and forth inside the head.

Brain injuries may develop gradually because of broken ribs or blood loss. If a person has injuries from an accident, follow-up visits are important to ensure that secondary injuries have not developed.

Insurance companies are often unwilling to pay as much as you need to get better. It is important to have a personal injury attorney by your side who can negotiate with insurance companies for you and represent you in court if it becomes necessary.

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