What is a Catastrophic Injury?
A catastrophic injury is one that has serious and long-term life-altering consequences. These types of injuries include severe injuries to the brain, skull, and spinal cord and severe psychological and psychiatric issues. The Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule (SABS) has a specific definition of what a Catastrophic Impairment is, which we certainly discuss with our clients. The purpose of this blog is to discuss serious injuries, not specifically the legislated requirements under the SABS, which will be set out in a blog to follow.
Catastrophic injuries generally require surgical treatment and are a result of violent trauma in an accident such as a severe car crash, bike accident, or pedestrian accident. These are all life-changing events and adversely affect the quality of life and life span of the person involved after the event has occurred.
What is a Catastrophic Injury
Victims of catastrophic injuries generally require long-term medical care and suffer financially. These financial implications can impact on the victim’s family as they look to pay for long term medical treatment. In addition, the victim will be unlikely to be able to work again, impacting on their future earning potential. Many victims suffer physically, mentally, and financially following a catastrophic injury.
For many, these events accrued due to the fault of someone else or the result of a dangerous or defective product. Sadly for the victim, they are unable to go back to the life they had before the accident took place.
Kinds of Catastrophic Injuries
The kinds of catastrophic injuries generally include the following:
• Permanent need for medications
• Permanent need for lifelong care and assistance
Injuries determined as catastrophic can sometimes be complex to identify. It is advisable to consult with a personal injury lawyer who can help evaluate your situation and the overall lifelong impact of these injuries.
Many people are hopeful they will make a full recovery after the accident, but later realize that their injuries are permanent and that they are unable to go back to life before the accident. This is common with many brain and spinal injuries as the victims learn about their long-term effects many months, or sometimes years after the incident occurs.
In addition to the list of injuries above that are considered catastrophic, other injuries can be more difficult to detect. In cases where the victim leaves the accident disabled, it is clear to see that they have suffered catastrophic injuries. But many victims emerge from incidents with cognitive and/or head injuries, with no clear physical damage and then go on to suffer from long-lasting non-visible disabilities as listed below:
• Mood swings
• Memory loss
• Personality change
• Inability to concentrate
Victims who have suffered catastrophic brain injuries but “look” well to others are often forced to stop working as well. In these situations, where the life-altering injuries are not clear to see, it is important to have evaluations done by neuropsychologists and other specialists to establish a strong case.
Furthermore, people with visible catastrophic injuries may experience life-altering secondary side effects, such as neuropathic pain that is not at first visible as the obvious primary injury. In terms of a personal injury claim, all these accounts will be taken into consideration in the claim.
Compensation for Catastrophic Injuries
Victims who have suffered from a catastrophic injury due to the actions of someone else are entitled to sue the party at fault for damages. In many cases, a personal injury lawyer can negotiate a settlement without the case going to trial.
In the claim for damages, the victim and their family members will be entitled to compensation, with the amount awarded determined by the severity of the injury. The claim for damages would consider the following:
• Loss of income (past & future)
• Home maintenance expenses
• Costs of care for the victim
• Damages for suffering the enjoyment of life
• Damages to family members due to the accident
It is important to remember that the victim is not the only one suffering from a catastrophic injury. Lives of family members are changed forever as they provide full-time care and financial support for the victim. They too are entitled to be compensated for their losses.
Many family members are personally affected as they are forced to leave work or work reduced hours so they can care for their loved ones. This is financially, emotionally, and physically draining on family members as well, especially at a time when they had little time to prepare for these life- altering events.
In these claims for damages, many victims are granted a degree of financial security as they suffer from these injuries for the rest of their lives. The awarded amounts are generally substantial in quantum, given the lifetime loss of earnings, medical bills, and ongoing medical treatment. With the legal system, there is hope for some justice and compensation for the victim and the victim’s family members.
In Ontario, accident benefits are subject to maximum amounts with general damages for pain and suffering capped at approximately $370k as of 2020. For medical and rehabilitation care expenses, the maximum is currently capped at $1 Million for a victim suffering a catastrophic injury through a standard vehicle insurance policy.
What to do after a Catastrophic Injury?
The most first and important step is to focus on immediate recovery.
The next step is to explore legal options. The best place to start is to seek the advice of a personal injury lawyer who will guide you in the right direction to get the required evidence for your claim.
For many catastrophic injuries, the medical costs and financial losses start to pile up and impact the victim and their family. In most cases, insurance is unable to cover these costs in full and so the only way to recover the funds in full is for the victim to pursue legal action against the party that caused the injury.
Conte Jaswal Can Help
Our team of personal injury lawyers here at Conte Jaswal can help those who have suffered from a catastrophic injury due to the negligence of someone else.
We understand that it is a difficult and stressful time having to deal with the traumatic injuries and resulting impact that this has had on you and your family. You may be facing huge financial implications due to the accident, through no fault of your own, and therefore you deserve compensation for what has happened.
If you or a family member has been a victim of a catastrophic injury, please feel free to contact us so that we can get the justice you deserve.
Contact us today for a FREE Consultation.