If you have suffered a serious injury and are looking for the right personal injury attorney, you may have come across the term “catastrophic injury lawyer.” But this term often leaves people wondering, what is considered a catastrophic injury?

An injury is typically deemed catastrophic if it meets certain criteria. The general idea is that catastrophic injuries have a permanent or long-term impact on the injured person’s ability to function the way they did before the injury.

Even though these injuries feel catastrophic, it’s important to know whether they’re considered catastrophic from a legal perspective. This knowledge can help guide you when selecting the best personal injury lawyer for your case.

Catastrophic Injuries From a Legal Perspective

A serious injury often feels catastrophic to the injured individual and to their loved ones. Lengthy medical treatment, persistent pain, and difficulty participating in family life are common outcomes of a serious injury. In addition, lost wages and mounting medical bills can make an injury feel financially catastrophic as well.

There’s no denying that a serious injury can have catastrophic impacts on a family. But from a legal perspective, an injury can only be deemed a catastrophic injury if it meets certain criteria. These injuries are typically permanent, although sometimes a severe injury can be considered catastrophic even if a full recovery is eventually possible.

Life-altering injuries happen in many ways. In catastrophic injury cases, medical professionals and personal injury attorneys tend to see the same types of common injuries. If you’ve suffered one of these injuries, you should consider speaking with a catastrophic injury attorney rather than a general personal injury lawyer.

Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal cord injuries are among the most devastating types of catastrophic injuries. They often result in paralysis, which can be partial or complete. The severity of the injury and the location of the injury on the spinal cord are both key factors that impact the long-term outcome.

A spinal injury might result in quadriplegia, in which one loses the use of all four limbs, or paraplegia, in which one loses the use of only the legs. Spinal injuries are often permanent and can require medical treatment, assistive medical devices, and around-the-clock care.

These injuries can also impact other bodily functions, which leads to additional health issues. Typically, they have a profoundly negative impact on the injured person’s abilities and quality of life. Spinal cord injuries also have some of the highest long-term costs of all catastrophic injuries.

Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) range from mild concussions to severe brain damage or permanent coma. Severe TBIs can result in long-term or permanent impairment of cognitive function, with the injured person’s memory, thinking, and problem-solving often impacted.

A severe TBI may leave the injured person unable to speak or recognize their loved ones. They can also frequently lead to profound changes in the injured person’s personality, behavior, and mental and emotional states.

Treating a traumatic brain injury involves physical, occupational, and speech therapy. However, individual responses to treatment are unpredictable. TBIs profoundly impact the quality of life of the injured person and their loved ones, as attendant care and ongoing therapies are expensive.


Another form of catastrophic injury is amputation, or the loss of one or more limbs. Amputation might occur as a direct result of an accident, or it may be later deemed necessary by a medical professional who cannot save an injured body part and must therefore amputate it.

An amputation may require costly artificial limbs and therapy to help the injured person move and carry out basic tasks. It profoundly impacts the injured person’s quality of life and mental health, often requiring counseling or other support, and it can also impact their ability to earn money and pay for treatment.

Severe Burns

Severe burns, particularly third-degree burns, can cause extensive skin and muscle damage. In some cases, a burn injury can also damage the bones and organs. Often resulting in permanent disfigurement and scarring, these injuries can require ongoing surgical treatment and lengthy stays in a burn treatment center.

The recovery process can be long and painful, requiring physical therapy and rehabilitation after the initial treatment period ends. Severe burns often lead to medical complications, such as infection and respiratory issues that take a further toll on the injured person’s health. The financial costs of treating a severe burn injury are significant.


What Is Considered a Catastrophic Injury?

A catastrophic injury is a debilitating injury that has a severe and often permanent impact on the injured person’s health and quality of life. Brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, amputations, and severe burns are some of the most common types of catastrophic injuries.

What Are Common Causes of Catastrophic Injuries?

Catastrophic injuries happen in countless ways. Some of the most common types of accidents that can result in life-altering injuries include motor vehicle accidents, workplace accidents, and medical malpractice.

How Much Money Can I Recover for a Catastrophic Injury?

Catastrophic injury compensation is unique in every case. However, when an injury is deemed catastrophic, the settlement and verdict amounts can often reach seven or eight figures.

Do I Need to Hire a Catastrophic Injury Attorney?

Catastrophic injuries can result in substantial compensation for the injured person. However, your best chance at recovering maximum compensation is to work with a skilled catastrophic injury attorney who has a track record of success.

Contact a Catastrophic Injury Lawyer Today

Ratzan Weissman & Boldt is a boutique personal injury law firm that handles cases focused on catastrophic injuries and medical malpractice, and our firm holds a long track record of recovering eight-figure compensation for our clients.

If you’re still wondering what is considered a catastrophic injury and whether you’ve suffered one, contact our firm today to see if we can answer your questions and help you recover compensation.