Catastrophic Injury Claims Explained
19 December 2019
A catastrophic injury is another term for a serious injury, which can be life changing. If a catastrophic injury has been caused by the actions or negligence of another person, then the injured person may be entitled to claim compensation. In this article, we explain what a catastrophic injury is and how a catastrophic injury claim can be made.
What is a Catastrophic Injury?
There isn't an official definition of a catastrophic (or serious) injury in England and Wales, although there are general guidelines around the types of injuries that are likely to be considered catastrophic.
This includes any injury which:
- Has lasting or permanent effects on the injured person, impacting on their ability to work and/or their level of independence
- Results in the injured person being treated as an in-patient in hospital for an extended period of time, possibly requiring surgery
- Causes the death of the injured person 30 days or more after the injury occurred
So, this classification will generally cover any injury which has a lasting or life-changing impact on the injured person and their loved ones. A catastrophic injury could also be life-threatening and will usually require prolonged periods of hospital treatment.
Common types of catastrophic injury include:
- Head and brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Serious orthopaedic injuries to ligaments, joints, tendons, bones, nerves or muscles
- Severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Amputation injuries
- Heart attacks
- Chronic Pain conditions
- Crush injuries
- Internal injuries
- Multiple fractures
- Severe burns or scalding
- Extensive scarring
Making a Catastrophic Injury Claim
A catastrophic injury will usually have a severe, lasting impact on the injured person, and possibly their loved ones too. They may suffer restricted mobility, for example, or struggle to carry out daily tasks independently. Some people who suffer a catastrophic injury could require ongoing care or be unable to return to work as a result of their injury, while others may need to make changes to their home or their workplace in order to restore their independence.
There could be a loss of household income if the injured person is no longer able to work, or if one of their family members has to give up work to care for them. At the same time, the costs of rehabilitation, medical treatment and specialist equipment can begin to add up.
The financial impact of this can be significant, and this is where Catastrophic Injury Claims (or Serious Injury Claims) come in. The purpose of a Catastrophic Injury Claim is to alleviate the financial strain on the injured person and their loved ones, to get them back (as far as possible) to the position they were in before the accident and to compensate them for past and future financial losses and the pain that they have suffered.
Catastrophic Injury Claims are often complex and there's a lot of work involved. The Serious Injury Solicitor will first need to assess the claim. Then they will need to collate and review all of the available evidence, including photographs of the scene, witness statements and any formal documentation such as medical records or the accident book from the location where it happened. They will then arrange for specialist medical assessments to be carried out and arrange appropriate medical treatment and rehabilitation.
Once the Solicitor has all of the information they need, they will calculate the value of the claim. This value will take into account the financial impact of the injury, along with the level of pain and suffering that the injured person has endured. Once they have calculated a fair compensation figure, they will negotiate with the other side and work to achieve this settlement figure. If the other side denies liability, the Solicitor may begin litigation.
While the claim is ongoing, it's often possible to secure interim payments (providing the other side has admitted liability). This can help to alleviate the immediate financial pressure on the injured person and their loved ones.