A catastrophic injury is one causing permanent or long-term disability or even death. The most common types of catastrophic injuries include burns, spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, paralysis, and amputation of limbs.

Suffering a catastrophic injury can be devastating, but consulting a personal injury attorney can help you navigate the legal aspects of filing your injury claim and receive the compensation you deserve. These injuries are severe conditions that might require lifelong care and rehabilitation.

However, if you do not have the money to afford medical treatment, it is crucial to understand how your injury impacts your ability to work and find employment. Speak to our Foos Gavin Law Firm lawyers to know your options for legal redress and damages. If you or a loved one sustains a catastrophic injury in Sacramento, CA, this article teaches you the injury types and causes and how to file your claim.

What Is a Catastrophic Injury In California?

Most people think of catastrophic injuries as being limited to quadriplegia or paralysis, burns, or amputations. While those are undoubtedly catastrophic injuries, the legal definition of a catastrophic injury is much broader.

Under California law, a catastrophic injury occurs to the brain or spinal cord. It permanently prevents an injured person from engaging in substantially gainful activities or causes a severe and permanent disability. Simply put, if your injury is so severe that it prevents you from ever working again or causes a permanent disability that impairs your quality of life, it is considered a catastrophic injury.

Common Catastrophic Injury Causes

     1. Motorcycle Accidents

Many people think motorcycle accidents are one of the most catastrophic injury causes. And while they can certainly be severe, many other factors can contribute to a more catastrophic outcome. Things like speed, road conditions, and alcohol use can play a role in the seriousness of a motorcycle accident.

But beyond those factors, one other thing that can make motorcycle accidents catastrophic is the lack of protective gear. On a motorcycle, you are essentially unprotected from many elements. If you are involved in an accident, you are far more likely to suffer severe injuries than if you were in a car or truck. That is why always wearing the proper safety gear when riding is essential.

So if you are considering riding a motorcycle, just remember that while it could be great fun, it also comes with a higher risk of serious injury. Always take all necessary precautions to protect yourself, and always ride safely.

     2. Truck Accidents

Truck accidents are a leading cause of catastrophic injuries. These accidents can be particularly devastating because of the size and weight of the vehicles involved. When a truck hits a passenger car, the results are catastrophic or fatal for the car's occupants.

Truck drivers are often under a lot of pressure to meet deadlines, leading to careless road decisions. They may drive too fast for the conditions, or they may not take proper rest breaks. This can put other motorists at risk, and the consequences can be severe if an accident occurs.

If you have been involved in a truck accident, it is crucial to seek legal assistance as soon as possible. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you understand your rights and options, and they can fight for the compensation you deserve.

     3. Construction Accidents

Construction accidents are another common cause of catastrophic injuries in California. Construction workers often work at great heights, around dangerous equipment, and in various hazardous conditions. When an accident happens, it could be fatal for those involved.

The most common injuries in construction accidents include broken bones, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and amputations. These injuries can have lifelong impacts on the victims and their families. The physical, emotional, and financial tolls can also be overwhelming.

     4. Auto Accidents

There are many different ways that people can be involved in auto accidents. These accidents can often result in catastrophic injuries in serious or minor car crashes. Some of the most common catastrophic injuries that auto accidents cause include traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and broken bones.

These injuries can often have a lasting impact on the victim and may require extensive medical treatment and rehabilitation. If you are involved in an auto accident, it is important to seek medical attention immediately and speak with a lawyer to ensure the best possible outcome.

     5. Cases Involving Defective Products

When it comes to catastrophic injuries, one of the most common causes is defective products. Every year, countless people are seriously injured or die after using defective products. In many cases, these injuries could have been avoided if the product had been well-designed or manufactured.

If a defective product has injured you or someone you love, you may wonder about your legal options. You may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the company that made the product or against the store where you purchased it. You could recover compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering if successful.

Examples Of The Types Of Catastrophic Injuries

Catastrophic injuries alter a significant area of your life, such as movement or performing your daily duties. Also, these injuries impact your life forever. This is why you need to know the different types of catastrophic injuries and what symptoms they can have to better prepare for an accident.

     1. Spinal Cord Injuries

A spinal cord injury (SCI) is damage to the spinal cord that results in a loss of function, sensation, or muscle control. SCI can be caused by a traumatic event, such as a car accident or fall. Another SCI cause is a non-traumatic event, such as a disease or infection.

There are two types of SCI: complete and incomplete. A complete SCI results in a total loss of function, while an incomplete SCI means that some function is still present. The most common symptoms of SCI you could experience after an accident include pain, paralysis, and loss of sensation. Other symptoms may include sexual dysfunction, bowel and bladder problems, and respiratory difficulties. Treatment for an SCI typically involves rehabilitative therapy to help the person adapt to their new condition. In some cases, surgery may also be necessary.

     2. Paralysis/Paraplegia

A section of your body's inability to move is called paralysis. Paralysis can be either partial or complete. Damage to the spinal cord is the primary cause of paralysis. In most situations, paralysis results from nerve damage rather than harm to the bodily part in question.

For example, even though the actual body parts are healthy, if an accident results in an injury to the middle part of your spinal cord, this injury may impair some of your body's operations, such as your capacity for making and receiving phone calls.

● Monoplegia

A single bodily part, such as a limb, is paralyzed in this type of paralysis. If you have monoplegia paralysis, you can still move and feel the rest of your body, not the affected area. This paralysis typically follows brain damage or a stroke.

Monoplegia may result from nerve damage brought on by severe injuries or cerebral palsy. Since the afflicted nerves are not completely severed, it is possible to recover from this paralysis fully, and physical therapy can assist in correcting the situation.

● Hemiplegia

The limbs on the same side of the body are affected by hemiplegia paralysis. This paralysis starts as a pins-and-needles sensation that leads to muscle weakness and, in some cases, total paralysis. The severity of this paralysis differs from person to person. Hemiplegia is typically a transient condition that occupational and physical therapy can help with.

● Paraplegia

Paraplegia affects the lower body below the waist, including the hips and legs, and bodily functions like urination and libido are all affected by this paralysis. With paraplegia, this is not the case, even though most paralysis affecting below the waist results in the patient being unable to walk, feel anything below their waist, or even move their legs.

Even if you have paraplegia-type paralysis, you can still walk, move your legs, and experience sensations below your waist. As a result, although severe paralysis significantly impairs mobility and functioning, it is not usually complete or permanent paralysis. Physical treatment can assist people with this type of paralysis to regain functioning; however, recovery is uncommon.

● Quadriplegia

Tetraplegia is the term used to describe this paralysis, which affects a person below the neck. Your limbs and torso will be affected if you have quadriplegia. Even though complete recovery from this kind of paralysis is uncommon, physical treatment can help patients regain some degree of mobility and sensibility.

Most spinal cord injuries result in quadriplegia. While severe accidents are the most common cause of spinal cord damage, this is not always the case.

     3. Amputations or Other Losses of a Limb

Losing a limb, whether from trauma, surgery or a medical condition, is known as amputation. Amputations may also be performed to treat or manage discomfort. This loss could be painful if you lose a limb due to someone else's negligent actions.

Your limb may need to be amputated if you suffer a catastrophic injury at work, where you could be hurt by machinery, mishaps, electrocution, or gunshot wounds. If you want compensation for your loss, you can sue the person or company that caused it.

Due to the volume of blood lost, amputations carry a life-threatening risk, whether partial or complete. A partial amputation leaves specific tissues, muscles, tendons, and ligaments intact, while a complete amputation completely separates your leg from your body. You may be able to undergo replantation after a serious injury to have the severed portion rejoined.

     4. Disfigurement

Disfigurement is an injury that changes the way a person looks. Burns, surgery, or trauma can cause it. Also, disfigurement can be temporary or permanent.

  • Burns, the major disfigurement cause, occur from fire, chemicals, or electrical exposure. Burns can cause the skin to turn red, white, or black. They can also cause the skin to blister or peel.
  • Traumatic injuries can occur from car accidents, falls, or violence. They can cause the bones to break, the skin to tear, or the muscles to be damaged.

     5. Severe Burn Injuries

While there are different burn injuries, severe and third-degree burns are the most catastrophic. Severe burns destroy the first two layers of skin and damage the underlying tissue. Third-degree burns go even deeper, causing damage to muscles, bones, and tendons.

Severe and third-degree burns can be caused by many things, including fires, chemicals, electrical currents, and extreme heat or cold. These burns are usually excruciating and can lead to permanent disfigurement or disability. Treating severe and third-degree burns often requires multiple surgeries and can be expensive.

     6. Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a type of damage to the brain caused by an external force, such as a blow to the head. TBI can result in a wide range of symptoms, from mild to severe. Symptoms may include headaches, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, difficulty concentrating, and mood swings. TBI can also cause more serious problems such as seizures, paralysis, and coma. In some cases, TBI can be fatal.

There are two main types of TBIs:

  1. Closed head injuries. Closed head injuries occur when the head sustains a direct impact, but the skull remains intact.
  2. Open head injuries. Open head injuries occur when the skull is fractured or penetrated by an object.

Treatment for TBI depends on the severity of the injury. For milder cases of TBI, rest and over-the-counter pain medication may be all that is needed. More severe cases may require hospitalization and treatment with stronger medication.

In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove bruised or damaged tissue from the brain. Physical therapy may also help people with TBI regain their strength and coordination.

Who Is Liable In The State Of California For Catastrophic Injuries?

California has a strict liability rule, which means that if someone else's negligence causes injuries to you, you will be compensated for the injuries and damages suffered. If California has a strict liability rule, who is still liable in the case of catastrophic injuries?

  • Animal and Pet Owners

Animal and pet owners in California are liable for catastrophic injuries their animals may cause to people. This includes both domestic pets and wild animals. If you are the victim of an animal attack, you may be able to sue the animal's owner for damages.

  • Employers

In California, employers are liable for their employees' catastrophic injuries while on the job. This is because California is a workers' compensation state, meaning employers must provide workers' compensation benefits to their employees who are injured while working. If an employer does not provide workers' compensation benefits, they may be sued by the employee or the employee's family for negligence.

  • Property Owners

In the state of California, property owners are liable for catastrophic injuries that occur on their property. This includes injuries due to negligence on the property owner's part, such as failure to maintain the property properly or to warn visitors of potential dangers.

  • Product Manufacturers

Product manufacturers can be liable in California for catastrophic injuries if their products are defective. To prove that a product is faulty, it must be shown that it did not perform as expected and that the defect caused the injury. If a defective product has injured you or someone you know, contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your legal options.

Negligent Parties

If you or a loved one have been the victim of a catastrophic injury in California, you may wonder who is liable. California uses a legal doctrine called "comparative negligence" to determine liability in these cases. Under comparative negligence, each party is assigned a fault percentage based on their negligence degree. For example, if a plaintiff is found to be 20% at fault for an accident, any damages they are awarded will be reduced by 20%. For the plaintiff to recover damages, their fault must be less than 50%.

There are many ways that a negligent party can be held liable for a catastrophic injury in California. Some common examples include:

  • Failing to maintain a safe premise: Property owners must keep their property safe for visitors. They can be held liable if they fail to do so and someone is injured.
  • Failing to maintain equipment properly: If someone is injured by defective or dangerous equipment, the party responsible for maintaining that equipment can be held liable.
  • Driving under the influence: Drivers who cause accidents while under the influence of drugs or alcohol can be held criminally and civilly liable for catastrophic injuries.

What Can I Receive In Compensation For Catastrophic Injuries?

The following section explains the damages you could recover if you have sustained a catastrophic injury in an accident and how much compensation you may be eligible to receive.

Lost Wages

Catastrophic injuries can lead to a significant loss in wages. In some cases, the injured party may be unable to return to work. Even if the person can return to work, they may not be able to earn the same amount of money as they did before the injury. This loss in earnings can have a huge impact on the injured party and their family.

Medical Bills And Medical Expenses

If you have suffered catastrophic injuries, you may be wondering what kind of compensation you can expect to receive. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer, as the compensation you'll receive will depend on many factors, including the severity of your injuries, the extent of your medical bills and expenses, and whether or not you can return to work.

That said, if you've suffered catastrophic injuries that have left you unable to work and raise significant medical bills, you may be entitled to considerable compensation. In some cases, victims of catastrophic injuries have received millions of dollars in settlements.

Lost Earning Capacity

One type of compensation you may be entitled to could be lost earning capacity. This is calculated based on the difference between your earnings before and after the accident. If your injuries have prevented you from returning to work or from earning as much as you did before, you may be able to recover damages for lost earning capacity.

Pain and Suffering

There are many different types of compensation available in personal injury cases. Still, pain and suffering are often the most important damage for people who have suffered catastrophic injuries. Pain and suffering include not only the physical pain caused by an injury but also the emotional anguish, mental trauma, and lost enjoyment of life that can result from a catastrophic injury. The amount of pain and suffering damages you can recover will depend on the facts of your case.

Punitive Damages

While economic damages such as medical bills and lost wages are typically available in personal injury cases, punitive damages may also be an option in some cases. Punitive damages are designed to punish the wrongdoer and deter future misconduct. To recover punitive damages, you must prove that the defendant's actions were malicious, fraudulent, or egregious. If you can meet this high burden of proof, punitive damages can significantly increase the amount of compensation you may be awarded.

Wrongful Death

Losing a loved one is always a tragedy, but it can be especially devastating when that loss is due to someone else's negligence. If you have lost a loved one due to someone else's careless or reckless behavior, you may wonder if you have any legal recourse.

In most cases, the answer is yes – you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible party. This lawsuit allows the surviving family members to recover damages for their losses, including medical and funeral expenses, lost income and benefits, and pain and suffering.

What Is The Role Of Personal Injury Lawyers In Catastrophic Accident Cases?

Personal injury lawyers play an essential role in catastrophic accident cases in California. These lawyers help accident victims, and their families recover damages for injuries and losses. Personal injury lawyers also work to hold liable parties accountable for their actions. Without personal injury lawyers, many accident victims would not be able to receive the justice and compensation they deserve.

Find a Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer Near Me

If you or a loved one has suffered a catastrophic injury in Sacramento, California, it is important to find an experienced personal injury lawyer to help you navigate the legal process and recover the compensation you deserve. At Foos Gavin Law Firm, we have helped many victims who sustained catastrophic injuries due to other people’s negligence fight for the rights and damages they deserve. Our lawyers have decades of experience handling these cases and are committed to fighting for the best possible outcome for our clients. Contact us today at  916-779-3500 to schedule a free consultation.