When Life Takes a Drastic Turn: Navigating Catastrophic Injury Claims

Posted in: Catastrophic Personal Injury | Oct 17,2023

Whether due to a motor vehicle collision, a slip and fall, negligent medical malpractice, or any other serious accident, a catastrophic personal injury can carry long-lasting, permanent ramifications and instantly change the course of a victim’s life. The road to recovery often holds uncertainties surrounding the injured party’s quality of life and ability to provide for their family. A settlement for life-rebuilding financial security can help victims and their families move forward.


What Qualifies As a Catastrophic Injury?

While the legal definition of catastrophic injuries can vary slightly by jurisdiction and specific case context, they’re generally regarded as severe injuries that result in significant, long-term, and often permanent physical or psychological damage. This type of injury typically has a profound and life-altering impact on the victim, requiring extensive medical treatment, rehabilitation, and ongoing care. Some of the most common examples of catastrophic personal injuries include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries leading to cognitive impairment, a loss of motor functions, or changes in behavior.
  • Spinal cord injuries resulting in physical impairments such as paralysis or a loss of feeling or sensation in various parts of the body.
  • Severe, extensive burns that causing disfigurement or disability requiring ongoing medical treatment. 
  • Loss of a limb or an amputated extremity leading to permanent disability.
  • Multiple, extensive fractures or bone injuries with surgery and a prolonged rehabilitation period.
  • Serious internal organ damage, such as heart, lungs, liver, or kidneys, resulting in significant health issues.
  • Severe muscle, tendon, or ligament soft tissue damage resulting in a loss of function.
  • Significant eye or ear damage leading to a permanent loss of vision or hearing ability.


What is the Process of a Catastrophic Injury Claim?

When one individual’s negligent, accidental, or intentional acts cause traumatic harm to another, the liable party or their insurance provider can be held responsible for paying medical bills, lost wages, and other damages through a catastrophic personal injury claim. The process of filing a catastrophic injury lawsuit can be complex, requiring the guidance of an experienced legal team familiar with such cases, and generally involves:

  • Immediate and Ongoing Medical Attention — The first priority of any injury victim and their family should be their physical recovery and emotional well-being. While time is always of the essence, especially in potentially complicated and complex legal proceedings, victims or their families have up to two years in most cases to file their claim under Indiana’s personal injury statute of limitations.
  • Consult with an Attorney — It’s essential to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. They can examine all elements of a case and its merits, assess the viability of the claims, answer questions, offer insight, and provide legal advice and guidance throughout the duration of the catastrophic injury claim process.
  • Investigate — Your personal injury attorney will thoroughly investigate the injury’s circumstances to determine liability and gather evidence supporting your claim. This process may involve gathering medical records, obtaining accident reports, or interviewing eyewitnesses. Indiana is among the many states that regulate catastrophic personal injury cases in part through a comparative fault rule. This law states that if a victim is more than 50 percent responsible and at fault for the incident causing their injuries, they are not eligible to pursue or receive compensatory damages.
  • Assess and Establish Damages — It’s imperative to keep thorough documentation of the full extent of financial and emotional damages sustained due to the victim’s catastrophic injury. Medical records, expert opinions, and testimony from healthcare professionals can be used to establish all the damages suffered in the case.
  • Negotiation or Litigation — In an effort to avoid further costs and potential risks or uncertainties, attorneys on both sides of the case and the responsible party’s insurance provider typically attempt to negotiate a fair settlement instead of going to trial.
  • Lawsuit — If a settlement cannot be negotiated, the catastrophic injury lawsuit is filed in the appropriate Indiana court to move forward with the legal processes of discovery, depositions, and the rest of the trial. Negotiations can continue throughout this process, and your attorney will be able to recommend the best course of action for a fair and appropriate settlement.
  • Compensation — Whether through negotiations or success at trial, the victim and their family may be awarded compensation to cover medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages related to the injury. Experienced attorneys often enlist the services of economists and life care planners to place a fair and accurate value on the damages deserved in each case. In addition to the severity of a victim’s medical and physical damages, their age and occupational capacity before and after the injury are factors that can entitle a plaintiff to a larger settlement amount. 
  • Long-Term Planning — In many cases, complete recovery is not a possibility for the victim, as catastrophic injuries often require ongoing medical care and support. Your attorney, healthcare professionals, and financial planners can help prepare for the long-term needs of the injured individual, including medication costs, physical therapy, and any other required ongoing care.

If you or a loved one have suffered a catastrophic personal injury caused by another party’s actions, contact our office. Our personal injury attorneys have more than 40 years of experience navigating complex cases and pursuing life-rebuilding settlements for families struggling through unforeseen and undeserved circumstances. We’ve helped Hoosiers receive millions of dollars in damages from at-fault parties, and we look forward to helping you navigate through the difficult road to recovery. Reach out today to schedule your complimentary, confidential consultation with our experienced team of legal experts.