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The Legal Complexities of Catastrophic Injuries

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Hopefully, you’re never involved in an accident that results in catastrophic injuries. Unfortunately, some accidents do cause injuries that can be life-altering and/or threatening. If your accident injuries are considered catastrophic, you’ll want to seek compensation for your damages.

However, the complexities of catastrophic injury cases are confusing. Unlike a standard personal injury case, you’ll need to provide additional evidence and go through a few extra steps.

Catastrophic vs Personal Injury

So, what’s the difference between a catastrophic and personal injury? Both are broad terms, and this doesn’t help clarify any confusion where what you believe is a catastrophic injury may not be under Texas guidelines. So, how does Texas define a catastrophic injury?

Catastrophic Injury

A catastrophic injury is a severe and possibly life-altering condition that may include permanent impairment. The injury has a long-lasting effect on the victim’s life and often involves extensive medical care, rehabilitation therapy, and even adjustments in your lifestyle.

Some examples of a catastrophic injury can include:

  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Severe burns
  • Amputations
  • Paralysis
  • Traumatic brain injuries

A catastrophic injury is one that you can’t easily recover from, if at all.

Personal Injury

Personal injuries can be physical or psychological. For example, mental anguish is a personal injury, along with whiplash or a broken arm. Personal injuries can result in expensive medical bills, along with pain and suffering. However, these types of injuries are rarely permanent or life-altering.

However, to add to the confusion, some personal injuries can be temporarily life-altering. For example, a broken bone can temporarily restrict your freedom of movement.

Common Causes of Catastrophic Injuries

So, you now have a basic idea of the difference between catastrophic and personal injuries. Just remember, catastrophic injuries are usually life-altering and don’t go away.

With that being said, some of the same types of accidents that cause personal injuries can also result in catastrophic ones. These can include:

  • Vehicle accidents, especially ones involving large trucks
  • Falls
  • Pedestrian and bicycle accidents
  • Sports and recreation accidents
  • Work-related accidents
  • Defective products
  • Medical malpractice/negligence
  • Chemical exposure
  • Bus/public transport accidents

Some other types of accidents that can result in catastrophic injuries include animal attacks. If you’re on unsafe property, a catastrophic accident can occur. Think of a fall from or through a building’s roof or tumbling into a deep hole.

Key Differences Between Personal and Catastrophic Injury Claims

While the claims process for catastrophic and less severe injuries is the same. You will still file an insurance claim, provide supporting evidence, and probably go through countless negotiations before reaching an acceptable settlement offer, there are a few differences.

So, why are there differences? A catastrophic injury is a little more complex due to the severity of your injuries. Some of these differences include the following,

Case Value

Catastrophic injury cases are typically valued higher than standard accident claims. Your injuries require extensive medical treatment and you may need ongoing care.

You may also be out of work for months, years, or even permanently, and don’t forget about your mental anguish. Like in personal injury cases, you can claim both economic and non-economic damages.

By the time you finish adding up your current and future damages, your claim is significantly higher than in a standard accident case. This means the insurance company is going to pay extra close attention to every item you list. They will happily dispute every aspect of your claim, regardless of how many receipts and bills you provide.


You may be tired of reading about the complexity of a catastrophic injury case, but it often applies to every aspect. For example, most catastrophic injuries require ongoing care, and this can get expensive.


You’ll quickly learn that expensive is a word insurance companies hate hearing. To prove your catastrophic injury case and your need for continual medical care, be prepared to bring in expert testimony from medical professionals.


Along with medical experts, you may also need financial advisors to explain why your injuries will be a financial burden for the rest of your life. You may even need experts on the type of accident to show you’re not the responsible party. Even though Texas is a modified comparative fault state, there’s no reason to not receive full and fair compensation.

What’s a modified comparative fault state? This means that even if you’re partially responsible for the accident, you may still be eligible for compensation. However, the amount you receive is reduced by the percentage of your fault.

For example, if you’re 30% responsible for the car wreck, your compensation is reduced by the same percentage. This is something insurance companies may try to use to reduce your claim amount in a catastrophic injury case.


As you’re determining case value, the impact the injury has on your life is factored in. But what about the impact the accident has on your loved ones?

Your family may also be facing financial burdens due to your injuries. Maybe they needed to take time off from work to help with your care. They may also be covering your at-home care expenses while your case winds through the claims process. Your spouse may also be experiencing a loss of consortium (intimacy).

All of these issues can often be included in a catastrophic injury claim. However, your loved ones will also need to support their claims. While it’s relatively easy to use receipts and bills to prove some expenses like at-home care costs.

Proving a loss of intimacy is a little more difficult and can be embarrassing. However, your accident attorney can walk you through the steps to see if any of these apply to your case.

You Can Receive Compensation for Your Catastrophic Injuries

If your injuries from an accident are considered catastrophic, don’t try to navigate the claims process on your own. The standard of proof is often higher than a standard personal injury case.

Your loved ones may also factor into your claim. Consult with an accident attorney as soon as possible to help ensure you receive fair compensation for your catastrophic injuries.

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