The difference between a regular and catastrophic injury in an insurance claim or lawsuit can be gigantic. Particularly in terms of how much money is recoverable, it's important to determine whether you might have suffered what the law sees as a catastrophic injury. You should understand what the legal distinction is, how it might affect your case, and what you need to do to pursue a catastrophic injury claim.

What Makes an Injury Catastrophic Legally?

A catastrophic injury is one that causes long-term or lifelong changes requiring significant compensation. Spinal injuries represent a classic case of what's legally catastrophic. If someone suffers a severed spine during an accident, they may never walk again. Even if some combination of surgery and therapy restores the person's ability to walk, they'll likely struggle to walk normally. In other words, the injuries are catastrophic because the victim's quality of life will never go back to how it was before the accident.

How Does This Affect a Case?

Many states have laws that cap personal injury claims. One thing that removes the cap in most cases, though, is a catastrophic injury. This means that you and a catastrophic injury attorney can pursue any justifiable amount of damages. If you're facing the possibility of millions of dollars of future care costs, you want to know that the money will be there. When you get compensation, that money may need to cover medications, therapy, in-home nursing, and medical-grade equipment for the rest of your life.

Depending on the state's laws and your situation, the difference could be literally hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars. However, your catastrophic injury lawyer has to be able to prove that your case meets the state's criteria.

Proving Catastrophic Injuries

The job of a catastrophic injury attorney is paperwork-intensive. They will need to document everything from the initial medical expenses following the accident to projected long-term care costs. Likewise, your lawyer will need to present medical reports. Frequently, this involves translating expert testimony from medical language to legalese.

How well a client is recovering is critical to a catastrophic injury claim. The insurance company or the defendant might assert that the victim will get back to normal within a few months or years. Much of the discussion about whether to uncap damages comes down to whether the victim's body is fully healing. Your goal is to present a compelling argument that an insurer should settle with uncapped damages rather than risk having a jury potentially award more compensation.

Contact a law firm like The Brogdon Firm to learn more.