How Are Damages Assessed in Catastrophic Injury Cases?

Victims of medical malpractice, car accidents in Nashville, defective products, or other personal injury cases often suffer from catastrophic injuries. A catastrophic injury is on that is so serious that it will not get better over time and will dramatically affect a victim’s life. A catastrophic injury can be:

  • Spine or spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Skull or spinal fractures
  • The loss of a limb

These injuries have a wide range of consequences for a victim. They affect every aspect of a person’s daily life, including a person’s mobility and cognitive functions.

A common question in these cases is – How much is a catastrophic injury case worth?

What kind of damages are available in these cases?

Catastrophic injury cases are classified as “compensatory,” meaning that they are made available to compensate victims of negligence for the financial costs of the injury as well as the emotional and physical pain they have experienced. These damages can include both economic and non-economic damages:

  • Medical treatment. This is the cost of past, current, and ongoing medical care a person needs after a serious injury. The cost of past and current medical care can generally be calculated using medical bills. Future medical care that is almost always needed in catastrophic injury cases will have to be calculated with the help of expert medical witnesses who can testify about how much medical care will be needed. For these cases, the costs associated with future medical care can be high.
  • Lost income. Victims of catastrophic injuries often cannot return to work immediately. In some cases, their disabilities are so severe they are never able to return to work. When that happens, they could be eligible to receive compensation for lost wages and benefits. This can include the amount they would lose out on based on a rising income due to promotions they would have received had they not been injured.
  • Pain and suffering. This is not an easily quantifiable kind of damage, but it can include long-term physical pain, emotional, and psychological suffering a victim experiences due to their injuries. This can include:
    • long-term physical pain
    • emotional distress
    • loss of enjoyment of life
    • loss of consortium
  • Punitive damages. These can be assessed as a punishment against the person responsible for the catastrophic injury.

How are these injuries assessed?

Proving these damages can be difficult in personal injury cases. Nobody should assume that just because an injury is catastrophic that it will be easy to win a lawsuit seeking to recover damages. A skilled personal injury attorney will ensure that all evidence is gathered in the case. This include:

  • All evidence related to the incident that caused the injury.
  • All medical records related to the case, including hospital records, doctor records, and mental health records.
  • Testimony from both medical and economic experts in order to properly calculate a victim’s estimated future losses.

Insurance companies and juries will likely pay higher amounts for each of the damages listed above if they understand the full extent of a person’s losses and suffering. Please keep in mind that there is a $1,000,000 cap to how much a person can receive for pain and suffering for damages in these cases. There is also a one-year statute of limitations for personal injury cases, which is shorter than in most other states.