Catastrophic injuries are generally those that permanently prevent you from carrying out your normal activities and enjoying life. Catastrophic injuries usually involve permanent disabilities or have long-term effects. As a result, you could require lifelong medical care and assistance. These injuries can arise in many circumstances, including premises liability and motor vehicle accidents. In most no-fault states, you can only file a lawsuit against an at-fault party in an accident if you suffer catastrophic injuries. If you suffer fatal injuries in California, a skilled attorney can assist you in filing a catastrophic injury lawsuit. At the Foos Gavin Law Firm, we have experienced personal injury attorneys who can help you seek compensation for your devastating injuries in Sacramento, CA. 

Leading Causes Of Catastrophic Injuries

Different types of accidents could lead to catastrophic injuries. They include:

  • Motorcycle Accidents
  • Car Accidents
  • Bus Accidents
  • Truck Accidents
  • Motorcycle Accidents
  • Pedestrian Accidents
  • Airplane Accidents
  • Bicycle Accidents

Types Of Catastrophic Injuries

The type of catastrophic injury suffered in an accident depends on the type of accident and the impact involved. For example, you are likely to suffer worse injuries in a motorcycle or bicycle accident than in a car accident. This is because you have no protection in a motorcycle or bicycle accident like the vehicle walls and safety belt. Therefore, your body directly contacts the vehicle or the pavement. In a truck accident, you could suffer severe burns, especially if the truck was carrying caustic chemicals. You could also suffer injuries in a bicycle accident when encountering the pavement or when a vehicle hits you directly.

You could suffer several catastrophic injuries from your involvement in any of the above accidents:

  • Severe burns
  • Disfigurement
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Paralysis
  • Injuries that cause loss of hearing
  • Injuries that cause loss of vision
  • Amputation
  • Severe organ damage
  • Chronic lung damage, for example, from asbestos
  • Other brain injuries that result in permanent cognitive impairment, physical disability, or mood imbalance

Severe Burns

Severe burns often destroy skin layers. Deeper burn injuries could destroy muscle, fat tissue, or even bone. You can suffer severe burns from an accident arising from the following:

  • Contact with chemicals like alkalis and acid
  • The heat from electrical appliances in a vehicle or motorbike
  • Contact with hot grease
  • Contact with hot steam or liquids from a vehicle

Typically, doctors measure the depth of burns in degrees. The mildest types of burns are first-degree burns. They are also referred to as superficial burns. These types of burns only destroy the epidermis, which is the topmost layer of the skin. Generally, first-degree burns do not leave a scar or get infected. The skin usually heals within three to five days and can get red but does not break.

Second-degree burns destroy the epidermis and dermis and are painful. In addition, your injured part could swell and turn red with blisters. Often, the damaged skin grows back unless the injury gets deeper.

Third-degree burns are also referred to as full-thickness burns. This type of burn damages the epidermis and dermis. Third-degree burns affect deeper tissues. The affected part of the skin could appear charred and could turn white, deep red, or black. Often, the injured part is numb to light touch. Since third-degree burns do not heal by themselves, it is often advisable that you undergo skin grafting.

 On the other hand, deeper fourth-degree burns damage the skin, muscles, ligaments, tendons, nerves, blood vessels, fat, and at times the bone. The underlying layers of the skin and the significant tissues are significantly destroyed; these burns often need medical treatment. The injured skin will turn black since it is charred, and the bone could be exposed. You could lose sensation in the injured part because of the destruction of the nerve endings. You will develop Eschar as healing takes place. Eschar is a layer of dead skin and tissue like a scab, which wears off gradually from the burned skin.

Disfigurement And Scarring

Disfigurement and severe scarring can arise from catastrophic accidents. Severe disfigurement and facial scarring are noticeable daily reminders of the trauma of a devastating accident.

You can suffer disfigurement and scarring from many accidents. Burn injuries involving chemicals are notorious for causing severe scars in truck accidents. Motor vehicle accidents can cause injuries from airbag explosions, lacerations from shattered glass, and amputations. Motorcycle accidents can also cause disfigurement and scarring.

The effects of disfigurement and scars are generally cosmetic, while others, particularly those involving the loss of a limb, could also affect your quality of life. For example, you could suffer pain for a long time, and sometimes, severe scarring could lead to loss of mobility. Disfigurements and scars can also affect your speech or vision, either temporarily or permanently.

You could also suffer psychological trauma because of disfigurement and scarring. You could feel embarrassed due to the visible injuries or the resultant impact on speech, vision, and mobility. You could incur high costs for medical treatment for these injuries.

You could require psychological or physical therapy. Sometimes, disfigurement and scarring could prevent you from resuming work, leading to a loss of income.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Often, a traumatic brain injury could result from a blow or other traumatic injury to the head or body. The degree of the injury depends on some factors, including the force of the impact and the nature of the damage. Several events could cause traumatic brain injury. They include the following:

  • Pedestrian Accidents — Traumatic brain injuries could arise from pedestrian accidents. If a vehicle hits you, you could fall and suffer a blow on your head , causing a traumatic brain injury.
  • Motor vehicle accidents — Accidents involving cars, bicycles, or motorcycles could make the victims suffer traumatic brain injuries.

You could suffer several complications immediately or soon after a traumatic brain injury. First, you could develop degenerative brain diseases. The association between brain injuries and degenerative brain diseases is typically unclear. However, repeated or traumatic brain injuries could enhance the risk of degenerative brain diseases. A degenerative brain disorder can lead to gradual loss of brain functions, including dementia pugilistica, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Second, a traumatic brain injury could cause sensory problems. Some of the sensory issues could include:

  • Difficulty with balance or dizziness
  • Skin tingling, pain, or itching
  • A bitter taste, a bad smell, or difficulty smelling
  • Blind spots or double vision
  • Impaired hand-eye coordination
  • Difficulty recognizing objects
  • Persistent ringing in the ears

A traumatic brain injury could also cause language and communication problems. Language and communication problems could cause misunderstanding, conflict, and frustrations for people with traumatic brain injury, caregivers, friends, and family members. Communication problems could include:

  • Trouble participating and following in conversations
  • Inability to organize ideas and thoughts
  • Difficulty in writing or speaking
  • Difficulty in understanding speech and writing

Communications problems that could affect your social skills:

  • Inability to use the muscles required to form words
  • Trouble starting or stopping conversations
  • Hard time reading cues from listeners
  • Difficulty understanding nonverbal signals
  • Issues with changes in pitch, tone, or emphasis when expressing emotions, attitudes, or differences in meaning
  • A challenge with turn-taking or topic selection in conversations

Spinal Cord Injury

Catastrophic accidents often cause spinal cord injuries. If you suffer damage to any part of the spinal cord or nerves at the end of the spinal canal, you could experience permanent changes in sensation, strength, and other body functions below the injured part. You could also be affected socially, emotionally, and mentally.

After a spinal cord injury, your ability to control your limbs will depend on the following:

  • The severity of the damage, and
  • Where the injury occurred on your spinal cord

Often, the severity of the injury is known as "completeness," and it is categorized as follows:

  • A complete injury is when all ability to control movement or feeling is lost beneath your spinal cord.
  • On the other hand, an incomplete injury is when you have some sensory or motor function below the affected area.

You can also suffer paralysis because of a spinal cord injury. Paralysis caused by a spinal cord injury can be classified as follows:

  • Paraplegia — This is the paralysis that affects part or all legs, pelvic organs, and the trunk
  • Tetraplegia - this paralysis is also referred to as quadriplegia. This is where all your pelvic organs, legs, trunk, hands, and arms are affected because of the spinal cord injury.

You could experience one or more of the following signs and symptoms after suffering a spinal cord injury:

  • Difficulty breathing, coughing, or clearing secretions from your lungs
  • Stinging sensation or pain resulting from damage to the nerves within your spinal cord
  • Changes in sexual function, sexual sensitivity, and fertility
  • Exaggerated reflex activities or spasms
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control
  • Loss of or altered sensation, including the ability to feel heat, cold, and touch
  • Loss of movement

Injuries That Cause Loss Of Hearing

Catastrophic accidents can be traumatic. An injury that damages your auditory nerve could automatically cost your hearing ability. This is known as acoustic trauma. Acoustic trauma can lead to long-term or short-term hearing loss, depending on the severity of the injury.

After an accident, you can lose hearing because of blunt force trauma or air pressure imbalances in or around the ear. Some of the injuries that could affect your hearing include:

  • Unilateral hearing loss (UHL) is when you have the normal hearing ability in one ear but the hearing loss in another. The hearing loss can be mild or severe. For example, you could suffer unilateral hearing loss (UHL) if you suffer injuries on the side of the head or one ear or exposure of one ear to loud noise in an accident.
  • Sudden sensorineural hearing — You could suffer this hearing loss if the cochlea is damaged or there is a disruption between nerve connections to the brain. In addition, you could suffer temporary or permanent hearing loss based on the severity of the head trauma.
  • Whiplash injuries — You could suffer a whiplash injury if the force of the accident causes your head to "whip" back and forth. In addition, you can suffer damaged inner ear structures if the whiplash motion is severe. This could lead to vertigo, tinnitus, and hearing loss.
  •  Head injuries — Generally, you could suffer head injuries during an accident. You can suffer from traumatic brain injuries whether you hit the steering wheel or the force of the impact of the airbag. These can range from a fractured skull to a One symptom you could experience is tinnitus, a condition that constantly creates a ringing in your ears. You could lose all other hearing if it is severe enough. The ringing can be debilitating because it affects mental health, sleep, concentration, and work capacity.

Injuries That Cause Vision Loss

Good eye acuity and visual health are essential for an individual’s quality of life. However, a catastrophic accident can leave you with a long-term vision problem. You could be unable to provide for yourself and your family if you cannot see well. You could also miss most activities, which make life enjoyable. Some of the common ways a catastrophic accident could damage your vision include the following:

  • Optic nerve damage — Typically, the optic nerve connects a person’s eye to the brain. The fluid enclosing the nerve is sensitive to pressure changes. As a result, your optic nerve could malfunction if blunt-force trauma exerts a lot of pressure on it. This damage could lead to visual distortion, blindness, and other vision problems, even with proper treatment.
  • Retinal detachment — The retina inside a person’s eye catches the light and converts it into information the brain can process. You could become permanently blind if the thin layer of the tissue that makes up the retina tears or detaches. Unfortunately, the quick deceleration usually in most accidents could lead to retinal detachment.
  • Traumatic brain injuries — Your brain and eyes must communicate for you to see well. If you suffer an injury to your brain, you could have blurred vision, blindness, or other seeing impairments. Traumatic brain injuries are common in motor vehicle accidents because you can easily bump your head. 


An amputation is the total or partial loss of a limb. This catastrophic injury affects every part of your life, from what work you can do to what activities you engage in. Individuals who sustain amputation injuries always have a hard time adjusting to post-injury life. The common causes of amputation injuries include:

  • Severe burns — You could quickly treat minor burns, but it is hard to treat third-degree or fourth-degree Third-degree burns destroy tissues below the dermis, while fourth-degree burns destroy muscles and bone. In these severe cases, amputation is always seen as the last resort. However, the limb could require surgical amputation if the burn has caused extensive damage.
  • Pedestrian Accidents — In a pedestrian accident, you could suffer severely broken bones, calling for amputation. Falling, for example, when a vehicle hits you, could also cause amputation injuries. In addition, you could suffer a broken limb beyond repair if you fall. This means your limb will have to undergo a surgical amputation. You could also suffer an amputation injury if a falling object in an accident scene hits you, mainly if the object is heavy enough to crush your limb.
  • Traffic accidents — Amputation injuries can arise in a truck, bicycle, motorcycle, and car accident. A natural amputation can occur in a traffic accident, which means your limb is severed. However, this is not the only way you can suffer an amputation injury in a traffic accident. In most cases, your limb could be crushed in the accident. For example, in a motorcycle accident, your bike could fall on your leg and destroy A crushing injury could severely damage the injured limb's veins, muscles, nerves, and bones. You must undergo a surgical amputation if your limb is wounded beyond repair.

Severe Organ Damage

Catastrophic accidents can cause severe internal organ damage. Internal organ damage can be serious because most victims do not often show signs of injury until it is too late. Usually, there are no external symptoms of internal organ damage immediately after a catastrophic accident.

Generally, motor vehicles are heavy and have force and significant momentum when moving. When an accident happens, the vehicle’s force is often transferred to the passengers, given the impact of the vehicle’s body. Human bodies are not meant to absorb the force of a motor vehicle accident. Therefore, the force of a vehicle accident can cause severe injuries to internal organs.

Motorcyclists are also at a greater risk of internal organ damage since they often fly off their bikes and hit objects or the ground in accidents. Pedestrians also face the same risk because they do not have protection from the force of a vehicle accident. For this reason, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and pedestrians can suffer serious internal organ damage, which could lead to significant and lifetime harm. In addition, you could also suffer the following injuries along with internal organ damage:

  • Internal bleeding is a common and deadly injury in a motor vehicle accident. If the doctor fails to locate where the bleeding is happening, it could lead to death. Ruptured blood vessels could also lead to bleeding that will not clot.
  • Fractured ribs — Fractured ribs can be extremely painful and dangerous. A broken rib can puncture the victim’s lungs or damage their blood vessels leading to death.

Brain injury Causing Mood Imbalance

You could suffer a brain injury if you hit your head during an accident. How people express or experience emotions could change after a traumatic brain injury. Generally, anxiety is common in people with moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries. Many people with anxiety have intense worry and fear. Some victims could also exhibit physical signs of stress. For example, they could shake, sweat, breathe rapidly, and have a racing heart. People with a mood imbalance could also feel anxious when rushed, in a crowd, or when adjusting to sudden changes in plans.

Depressed people can feel worthless, irritable, and sad. Grief and sadness are common signs after a brain injury. Most signs of depression, like frustration and fatigue, are also signs of traumatic brain injury. Individuals with these signs usually withdraw from others, lose interest in, or have no pleasure in the activities they used to enjoy. Victims could even think of taking their own life, hurting themselves, and dying. Some individuals exhibit signs of depression immediately after a traumatic brain injury. However, these signs could also appear during later stages of recovery.

Statute Of Limitations For Catastrophic Injury Lawsuit In California

California law gives you a limited period for you to file a personal injury lawsuit after suffering a catastrophic injury. Generally, you have two years to file your case from when you suffered the injury. However, you could have as short as six months to file the lawsuit if your claim is against a government agency. For example, if you are involved in a bus accident where a government agency owns the bus, you will only have six months from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit. 

You need to seek the services of a skilled injury attorney as soon as possible, no matter the period you remain with, to bring your lawsuit. Collecting the evidence required to prove liability and the extent of your injuries could be challenging if you fail to file your case in time. This is important, especially if you have suffered catastrophic injuries, because your case would involve a thorough investigation and working with experts in many fields.

Find a Personal Injury Attorney Near Me

You will likely suffer a catastrophic injury after being involved in a car, bus, truck, bicycle, motorcycle, or pedestrian accident. A devastating injury could alter your life, ultimately making you unable to work or lead a normal life. The medical costs incurred in seeking treatment for catastrophic injuries could be overwhelming. You could be on treatment for an extended period of time. Sometimes, you will need life therapy. If you suffer catastrophic injuries in an accident caused by another person’s negligence, you should contact an attorney to help you file a lawsuit to seek compensation. At Foos Gavin Law Firm, we have experienced attorneys who can help you seek the compensation you deserve. We have helped many victims file personal injury lawsuits in Sacramento, CA. Contact us at 916-779-3500 to talk to one of our attorneys.