What Classifies As a Catastrophic Injury?

What Classifies As a Catastrophic Injury?

Some victims are able to leave an accident scene with minimal injuries like scrapes and bruises. Others aren’t as fortunate and suffer injuries that affect them for the rest of their lives. This second group of injuries is sometimes referred to as catastrophic injuries.

Knowing what these injuries are and how they may impact your personal injury claim is vital to ensuring that you don’t settle your case for less than you deserve.

Catastrophic Injury Definition Under Georgia Law

Georgia’s workers’ compensation law includes all of the following in its definition of catastrophic injuries:

  • Spinal cord injury involving severe paralysis of an arm, leg, or trunk
  • Amputation of an arm, hand, foot, or leg involving the effective loss of that body part
  • Severe brain or closed head injury
  • Conditions at least as severe as any of the above conditions
  • Second or third-degree burns over 25% of the body or third-degree burns to 5% or more of the face or hands
  • Total or industrial blindness
  • Any other injury that prevents the employee from being able to perform any substantial gainful activity

Basically, if an injury substantially interferes with a person’s life or job, it could be considered a catastrophic injury.

What Are Examples of Catastrophic Injuries?

Catastrophic injuries leave victims with permanent damage, sometimes compromising their functional capabilities. They can impair motor function, cognitive abilities, and the ability to live a full life.

Common examples of catastrophic injuries include:

Traumatic Brain Injuries

Traumatic brain injuries can have a significant impact on victims, including:

  • Motor function problems
  • Cognitive impairments
  • Communication issues
  • Consciousness disorders
  • Loss of bodily functions
  • Changes in personality

It can be expensive to treat these injuries. Some patients require round-the-clock care for the rest of their lives.

Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal cord injuries can result in paralysis or other medical conditions that substantially limit a victim’s mobility.


An amputation is the severing of a body part, such as a hand or leg. This injury can deform the victim and also lead to significant limitations.


Some burns require painful skin grafts and/or surgeries to treat. Victims can be left with permanent scarring and disfigurement.

Common Causes of Catastrophic Injuries

Catastrophic injuries can arise in a number of situations, but some of the most common causes of these injuries include:

  • Pedestrian accidents in which the victim is hit by a motor vehicle and has no protection against it
  • Bicycle accidents when a vehicle sideswipes or runs over the cyclist
  • Motorcycle accidents, especially those involving head injuries
  • Car accidents involving high speeds or impaired drivers, which occur with greater force than other types of crashes
  • Truck accidents involving drowsy drivers who crash into occupants in much smaller passenger vehicles
  • Violent attacks caused by criminals

In all of these situations, the victim has the right to seek compensation for their injuries from the party at fault for them.

Pursuing Compensation For Catastrophic Injuries

Regardless of the type of catastrophic injury, victims often incur significant losses.

A victim may be able to recover substantial compensation to help them rebuild their lives after these types of injuries, which might include payment for:

  • Medical expenses for emergency treatment, including ambulance charges, emergency room visits, and hospital stays
  • Ongoing medical treatment, including rehabilitation, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and follow-up treatment
  • In-home care and nursing care
  • Medication and medical devices
  • Lost wages
  • Long-term loss of earning potential
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress and mental anguish
  • Loss of consortium
  • Loss of quality of life

Every injury impacts an individual and their family differently. An experienced lawyer can evaluate your claim and determine the compensation you may be able to recover for your injuries.

If you would like to learn more about catastrophic injuries and the legal process of recovering compensation for the harm you suffered, contact an experienced catastrophic injury attorney for assistance.

Contact the Personal Injury Law Firm of Lawson Personal Injury Attorneys in Lawrenceville for Help Today

For more information, please contact our experienced personal injury lawyer at Lawson Personal Injury Attorneys to schedule a free initial consultation today. We have a convenient location in Lawrenceville, GA.

Lawson Personal Injury Attorneys
320 S Perry St, Lawrenceville, GA 30046
(678) 446-3655