What Qualifies a Personal Injury as Catastrophic?

In New Jersey, the term “catastrophic injury” carries significant weight, not just in the way it describes the medical and lifestyle implications for personal injury victims, but also in the legal battles for rightful compensation. When disaster strikes in the form of a personal injury, understanding the legal terminology as well as your right to compensation can make a difference in how you respond, specifically in choosing whether and how to move forward with a legal case. Have you or a loved one suffered a catastrophic injury? What even qualifies a personal injury as “catastrophic”? 

Find out more about your legal options and how you can seek justice for yourself and your loved ones.

What is a Catastrophic Injury? 

New Jersey State law does not explicitly define “catastrophic injury” in a single statute. However, through various legal precedents and statutes regarding personal injury, workers’ compensation, etc., catastrophic injuries are generally understood to include those that result in significant long-term or permanent impairment, disfigurement, or disability. The legal framework in New Jersey emphasizes the injury’s impact on the individual’s functional capacity and the potential need for lifelong medical care, among other damages they can collect. 

Common Types of Catastrophic Personal Injuries 

A catastrophic injury has life-changing implications, altering the lives of victims by imposing severe limitations on their ability to work and complete normal daily tasks. These injuries, which are often permanent, require extensive medical treatment, rehabilitation, and lifelong care.  

Catastrophic injuries can happen anywhere and at any time. They are generally the result of someone else’s negligence and/or recklessness. Some of the most common types of personal injury cases involve these catastrophic injuries: 

  • Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs): Often resulting from severe head trauma, leading to cognitive impairments, physical disabilities, and emotional instability. 
  • Spinal Cord Injuries: Leading to partial or complete paralysis. This significantly affects the victim’s mobility and independence. 
  • Broken Bones or Fractures: These injuries can have lifelong implications on mobility and comfort. 
  • Severe Burns: These can cause disfigurement, chronic pain, and other issues. They can also require extensive surgeries. 
  • Amputations: The loss of limbs can impact a person’s mobility and the ability to perform daily tasks, including work. 

Catastrophic injuries are often caused by: 

  • Car, Truck, or Motorcycle Accidents 
  • Construction Accidents 
  • Medical Malpractice 
  • Defective Drugs or Products 
  • Building or Scaffolding Collapses 

What Compensation Can You Receive from Catastrophic Personal Injury Cases? 

Victims of catastrophic injuries may be entitled to various forms of compensation, including: 

  • Medical Expenses 
  • Lost Wages and Earning Capacity 
  • Pain and Suffering 
  • Property Loss 
  • Loss of Consortium 
  • Emotional Distress 
  • Loss of Enjoyment 
  • Many Other Types of Expenses 

What About Wrongful Death Cases? 

In tragic instances where a catastrophic injury results in the victim’s death, New Jersey law allows certain family members to seek compensation through a wrongful death claim. Eligible parties typically include the spouse, children, or parents of the deceased, all of whom can claim compensation for lost income, funeral expenses, and the emotional suffering caused by their loss. 

What Are Your Next Steps After Suffering a Catastrophic Injury? 

After you’ve sought medical attention, adapting to life after a catastrophic injury can be a big change. Families and their loved ones tend to focus on: 

  • Building a Strong Support Network: This network can provide not just emotional solace but also practical help with day-to-day needs. 
  • Embrace Rehab: Physical and vocational rehab can help you regain independence and possibly return to work. 
  • Ensuring Accessibility at Home: Modifications might include installing ramps, widening doorways, or adding grab bars in strategic locations. 
  • Prioritizing Mental and Emotional Well-being: This may include seeking therapy, joining support groups, or exploring other mental health resources. 

In terms of any personal injury case you plan on bringing, make sure to document everything and maintain detailed records of medical treatments, expenses, and any communications related to the injury. It will also help to familiarize yourself with New Jersey’s law regarding personal injury and wrongful death to better understand the process. 

Consult with a Personal Injury Attorney for Your Case 

Catastrophic injuries not only bring physical and emotional turmoil but also pose a significant financial burden to the victims and their families. Understanding the legal definition and implications of such injuries in New Jersey is the first step toward seeking justice and securing the compensation necessary for a comfortable life post-injury. If you or a loved one has suffered a catastrophic injury, taking immediate legal action can be pivotal in ensuring a stable and secure future. 

The experienced attorneys at Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow bring a wealth of knowledge and a proven track record in handling all types of personal injury cases. We are a dedicated ally who is committed to securing the maximum compensation you and your family deserve. Our expertise and relentless advocacy will alleviate the burden of the legal process, allowing you to focus on recovery and rebuilding. If you or a loved one has suffered a catastrophic injury, get in touch with us for a free case consultation today.