A catastrophic injury is that which causes permanent and often severe consequences to the victim. When you suffer a catastrophic injury, the likely result is a permanent disability or the difficulty in engaging in gainful tasks. In some cases, catastrophic injuries can leave you dependent on other people for basic tasks such as hygiene, feeding, and mobility. The common causes of catastrophic injuries include accidents such as truck, construction, auto accidents, and medical malpractice. These injuries can leave you in constant need of medical care or medication and equipment for survival. Such expenses can pile up and cause financial strain to your family. However, you can file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party to recover damages for the injury. The Orange County Personal Injury Attorney helps victims and families affected by catastrophic injuries. Some of these injuries include the following.
1. Traumatic Brain Injuries
Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are common in accidents where the head suffers a violent blow. Such injuries can lead to temporary or permanent loss of brain function depending on the severity of the trauma and the time it takes to get medical care. Traumatic brain injury causes at least 50% of deaths in victims within a few hours of the injury. In such a case, the family can sue for wrongful death damages.
Mild traumatic brain injury is the less severe form of the condition, which causes temporary symptoms such as:
- Loss of consciousness
- Nausea and vomiting
- Problems with speech
- Sleep problems
- Drowsiness, dizziness, and imbalance
- Blurred vision
- Ringing in the eras
- Light and sound sensitivity
- Memory problems mood swings
- Depression and anxiety
Severe traumatic brain injury causes more severe symptoms, which are similar to those of mild TBI. However, the victim also experiences symptoms such as:
- Prolonged loss of consciousness
- Persistent headaches
- Convulsions or seizures
- Drainage of a clear fluid from the nose and ears
- Dilated pupils
- Inability to wake up
- Loss of coordination
- Slurred speech
If the injury occurred at the cranial nerves, you might experience the following:
- Facial paralysis
- Altered sense of taste
- Loss of vision
- Swallowing problems
Moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries can result in permanent problems and worsening of existing conditions. Some of the common long-term effects include:
- Permanent brain damage
- Increased risk of degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
- Persistent headaches and migraines
- Post-traumatic epilepsy
- Sleep problems
- Aggression and personality changes
- Memory and concentration problems
- Death due to related complications (TBI increases the risk for depression, anxiety, infections, and suicide)
- Diminished physical functioning
People who suffer traumatic brain injuries during accidents are likely to get fewer employment chances, which also causes financial struggles.
2. Spinal Cord Injuries
Trauma to the nerves of the spinal cord, surrounding soft tissues or bones near the spinal cord is responsible for spinal cord injuries. Spinal cord injuries can be complete or incomplete, depending on the type of injury and its extent. Complete spinal injury is the worst and most debilitating as it causes a total loss in the voluntary mobility and ability to feel below the injured area. Incomplete spinal injury leaves the area below the injury still functional.
The symptoms of spinal injuries include:
- Loss of movement
- Loss of sensation
- Loss of bowel control
- Exaggerated reflexes
- Problems when breathing or coughing
- Extreme pain or stinging sensation
- Extreme back pain
- Paralysis or weakness in some body parts
- Instability and imbalance when walking
Accidents often cause traumatic spinal injuries due to the sudden and often traumatic blows suffered, leading to dislocation or crushing of the spinal vertebrae. If not treated soon, the damage continues to spread and worsen due to bleeding, inflammation, and fluid retention.
Most people recover partially or fully from spinal cord injuries within the first six months and up to twelve months. Any progress not achieved within this timeline is likely to cause permanent changes and disability.
Treatment for spinal injuries may require many imaging tests, surgeries, and rehabilitation to facilitate recovery. In some cases, it can expose the person to secondary infections, which require continuous medical care and medication.
The common complications arising from spinal cord injuries include:
- Urinary tract infections
- Urinary and bowel incontinence
- Pressure sores
- Blood clots
- Muscle spasms and muscle atrophy
- Chronic pain
- An increased risk of developing depression and suicidal thoughts
When these costs accumulate, they can strain families, especially if the injured person was the breadwinner.
An amputation can occur due to several reasons, such as:
- A mistake by a doctor
- Accidents (construction, railway, car, and falls)
Amputations include those involving parts such as fingers, toes, arms, and legs. Sometimes, you may suffer the loss of all limbs.
Amputations resulting from accidents are either traumatic amputations, which happen during the accident or surgical amputations, which are done at the hospital as part of treatment.
Surgical amputations are necessary when the tissue around the limb has developed peripheral infections, is dead (due to poor circulation), or is damaged beyond repair.
An amputation can change your life greatly. You have to learn to adjust without the limb or amputated part. If you lose all your limbs, you may be dependent on other people for care, which can lead to depression. Other complications resulting from amputations include:
- Phantom limb pain
- Psychological and emotional issues
- Weakness of the muscles due to reduced mobility
After the amputation, you will require medical care to ensure that the limb is healing properly, attachment of prosthetics, and rehabilitation.
Some of the consequences of amputation include:
- Medical costs
- Rehabilitation costs
- Lost wages
- Inability to work during and after recovery
- Mental and physical struggles
The outlook for people who suffer amputations after an accident is better than for those who suffer other types of injuries such as traumatic brain injuries. However, they suffer as many losses, struggle due to their losses, and are entitled to compensation for these injuries. Personal injury lawyers help such people access legal help to recover the financial costs of their damages (economic and non-economic ones)
4. Multiple Bone Fractures
Accidents can result in the breaking of bones in several areas of the body, depending on the impact of the accident. There are several types of bone fractures, including:
- Avulsion fractures which occur when a bone fractures due to pulling of the bone by a muscle or ligament
- Comminuted fractures which refer to bones that shatter into many pieces
- Fracture dislocation which occurs due to the dislocation of a joint and a fracture on one of the joint bones
- Greenstick fractures which are a partial fracture on one side of the bone
- Hairline fractures
- Impacted fractures which result from a fractured bone severs into another bone
- Intraarticular fractures where the fracture extends to the joint surface
- Longitudinal fractures which occur along the bone
- Oblique fractures
- Spiral fractures which occur when the bone is twisted at least on one part
- Transverse fractures which cut across the bone
Bone fractures can cause:
- Discoloration of the surrounding skin
- Bleeding especially in open fractures
- Bones protruding on the surface of the skin
Bone fractures in the pelvis or femur can cause additional symptoms such as:
Treatment may involve several procedures such as:
- Physical therapy
Physical therapy aims at restoring the muscular strength of the affected bones to prevent loss of bone mass. The therapy also helps in restoring mobility and the use of the affected bones.
Multiple bone fractures from an accident can result in lost wages during the recovery period and accumulated medical bills. It can also affect the quality of your life after the recovery.
5. Organ Damage
The impact of an accident can result in severe trauma to the internal organs. The trauma can result from being thrown off the vehicle, the force from the seatbelt as it restrains you, and penetration by objects. The common internal organs that suffer during accidents include:
The spleen, which, due to its location in the abdomen, can suffer extensive damage, including rapturing and perforation. Such injuries cause internal bleeding and may result in death if not treated soon. Where the spleen is removed, your immunity declines, increasing the likelihood of catching life-threatening infections.
The liver: unlike the spleen, which you can live without, damage to the liver is serious and can result in death, especially where the injury is serious. The symptoms of damage to the liver after an accident include pain in the upper right side of the abdomen, a distended abdomen, and a weak pulse.
The kidneys are also at risk of injury during accidents that injure the middle to lower back. Damage to the kidney can result in blood in the urine. Kidney damage can be treated through a kidney transplant or dialysis. Both treatments are expensive. The risk for complications even after the treatment is also high. Some of the common complications resulting from kidney damage include recurring infections, incontinence, and blood pressure fluctuations if kidney damage is not detected early, the likelihood of death increases.
6. Internal Injuries
Apart from organ damage, there are other internal injuries, which, if not caught early, can lead to death after an accident. Some of these injuries include:
Bleeding in the brain, which results from closed head injuries. It has the potential of causing extensive and permanent brain damage.
Pneumothorax, which occurs when a broken rib perforates the lungs causing them to collapse
Abdominal aorta aneurysm – a serious condition resulting from the rapture of the abdominal aorta
Internal bleeding occurs when due to trauma on the blood vessels. Such trauma can affect their ability to repair themselves or clot blood, leading to internal blood loss. The symptoms of internal bleeding include paleness, abdominal pain, thirst, fatigue, lightheadedness, and a cold feeling.
Internal injuries can go unnoticed and are usually fatal. Therefore, it is important to have a medical evaluation soon after the accident to have yourself evaluated.
7. Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals
Catastrophic injuries resulting from exposure to hazardous materials are common in the workplace, especially for people working in manufacturing industries or areas with large chemical use such as laboratories.
The common hazardous materials include acids, caustic substances, poisonous gases, heavy metals, paint, insecticides, petroleum products, and solvents. These chemicals cause both short- and long-term effects on workers. Some of the common effects include poisoning, nausea, vomiting, chemical burns, skin problems, and disorders of the lungs, kidneys, liver, and the nervous system.
When you are exposed to these materials, there is a risk of poisoning due to inhaling, ingesting, or absorption through the skin. Exposure can happen over time or during an accident.
Such exposure can result in several injuries and diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer, brain damage, chemical burns, nerve damage, heavy metal poisoning, and death.
While workplaces have put in place measures and policies to prevent exposure to hazardous materials, accidents, and negligence still occur, which can have devastating effects on the victims. If you were exposed to hazardous materials, you could file a lawsuit against the negligent party to recover compensation for your injuries.
If you are not an employee of the business, you can file a lawsuit, especially if the negligent actions of the manufacturer or business have led to exposure to these hazardous materials. For example, if a company dumps its chemical waste in an inhabited area, then you can sue them for negligence.
Paralysis is one of the most severe injuries in an accident that causes loss of sensation or mobility in one or several parts of the body. It results from severe damage to the neck or spinal cord. Depending on the extent of the injuries, paralysis may be permanent, temporary, partial, or complete.
There are various types of paralysis, depending on the affected organs and its extent. The common types, which result from accidents, include:
- Monoplegia, which is paralysis in one part of the body, caused by brain injuries, nerve damage, and impacted or severed nerves of the paralyzed area. Monoplegia is often temporary and can be reversed with physical therapy.
- Hemiplegia is a form of paralysis, which affects one side of the body. It can occur due to incomplete spinal injuries and brain injuries.
- Paraplegia is the paralysis of both legs, hips, and functions below the waist. It leads to loss of movement, sexual activity, and elimination. The condition can be permanent or temporary, but the outlook for patients can be improved with physical therapy. Paraplegia due to accidents occurs from spinal cord infections and lesions, brain infections, and nerve damage of the hips and waist.
- Quadriplegia: paralysis of the limbs and torso and areas below the neck that occurs due to compression of spinal nerves, spinal injuries, and brain injuries. The permanence of the condition depends on the patient and the therapy he or she is receiving.
Paralysis affects your ability to work (especially complete paralysis) or lead to a reduction in your wages. It is also expensive to treat, as it requires regular therapy, rehabilitation, and sometimes surgery. You may also need to visit the hospital regularly due to secondary complications arising from the paralysis.
In most cases, you learn about the possibility of being paralyzed once you arrive at the hospital. The state of your injuries will often inform doctors about the likelihood of your recovery. As soon as you learn that you or a loved one has suffered an injury that is likely to cause paralysis, contact a personal injury attorney to help you prepare for a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party.
9. Head Trauma
Head injuries are those that affect the brain, skull, or scalp. They can be as minor as a bruise or a serious injury such as traumatic brain injury. Some of the head injuries from accidents include fractures of the skill, wounds, and concussions.
Head injuries fall into two major categories: open or closed injuries. Open injuries are those that break through the scalp into the head, while closed injuries are those that occur in the interior of the head. These injuries can occur together or separately.
Some types of head injuries include:
- Hematomas, which occur when blood clots outside the blood vessels and can lead to brain damage and loss of consciousness if the clot occurs in the head.
- Edema which is the swelling of tissues in the head
- Skull fractures
- Sheer injuries, which damages the brain cells. These injuries can cause permanent brain damage and fatality.
The symptoms of minor head injuries may include headaches, lightheadedness, and nausea, ringing in the ears, mild concussion, and a gyrating feeling. Severe head injuries have more pronounced symptoms, which may include:
- Poor coordination
- Loss of consciousness
- Problems with balance
- Loss of focus
- Memory loss
- Mood changes
- Drainage of a clear fluid from the ears and nose
- Persistent headaches
- Unusual eye movements
Treatment for head injuries could include medications, surgery, and rehabilitation, which can be costly. Ensure to keep the receipts for all the medical costs you have to pay so that they can be calculated during the settlement.
10. Back Injury
Back injuries are those, which occur due to trauma, strain, wear, or tear of the muscles and tissues of the back. The common causes of back injuries include herniated discs, fractured vertebrae, sprains, and strains.
Back injuries are often the major causes of back pain. The severity of back injuries depends on the trauma, the muscles and tissues of the back are subjected to during an accident.
The common types of back injuries related to accidents include:
- Whiplash, which occurs due to the sudden movement of the head and neck during an accident. Whiplash leads to injury in the neck
- Spinal fractures which may cause cracks or fissures in the spinal vertebrae
- Herniated discs which are a shifting of the spinal discs due to sudden and much force during an accident
- Displacement of the vertebrae which can cause difficulties when walking
- Spinal cord injuries
Back injuries are disruptive and can lead to long-term back problems, especially with the lower back.
11. Severe Burns
Burns cause severe damage to the skin and underlying organs, depending on the degree of the burns. They can occur due to automobile accidents, bike accidents, and chemical accidents. First-degree burns are usually the least severe and can heal at home. However, second-degree burns upwards, require medical care.
Third-degree burns extend through all the lawyers of the skin and could lead to nerve damage. Once they heal, these burns leave severe scarring, which could cause image issues among victims. With third-degree burns, you are likely to develop complications such as infections (tetanus, sepsis), shock, and blood loss.
Third-degree burns usually require skin grafting, intravenous antibiotics, and IV fluids. Severe burns also require extensive stays at the hospital to ensure that all the wounds are healing properly. During treatment, you will go through lots of fluid replacement therapies, medications for pain and anxiety, burn creams, ointments, dressings, drugs to fight secondary infections, tetanus shots, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and surgery.
In some cases, you may need reconstructive surgery to improve the appearance of scars and improve the mobility of the affected joints.
Recovering from catastrophic injuries often takes time and could leave you with permanent conditions that require constant care. These injuries can cause an unnecessary burden upon your family. However, a settlement from the negligent party can make the transition easier and financially sustainable. In case your loved died from such an injury, you can get closure by ensuring that the negligent party takes responsibility for their actions and covers the costs arising from the wrongful death.
Find a Orange County Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
Catastrophic injuries upset the balance of your life. From the adjustments you have to make in your life, learning to live with the injuries (or their complications), you will be facing a hard battle financially, socially, physically, and psychologically. At the Orange County Personal Injury Attorney, we advise people or families who have suffered damages due to catastrophic injuries to fight for compensation through personal injury lawsuits. While finances cannot take away the pain or the changes the injuries have brought, they can and will relieve you of the financial burden of catastrophic injuries. Acting early increases the chances of gathering sufficient evidence to determine the at-fault party and fight for compensation. Contact us today at 714-876-1959.