Catastrophic Injury Definition

Last updated on: February 21, 2021


There are many different types of catastrophic injuries. Many of these injuries will require extensive medical care and prolonged physical therapy. Our personal injury attorneys are here to explain the meaning of a catastrophic injury and help you and your family through this difficult time.

If you have suffered from a catastrophic injury, you may be entitled to compensation. Zinda Law Group personal injury attorneys may be able to help you get the compensation you deserve. We have the experience necessary to guide you through the legal process. Call (800) 863-5312 to speak with a Zinda Law Group personal injury attorney today.


If you have suffered a severe injury, you may be wondering if your injury is considered catastrophic, or you may even be thinking “what does catastrophic injury mean?” The term “catastrophic” comes from the Greek word “catastrophe,” meaning “overturn” or “when everything changes.” The catastrophic injury definition, therefore, includes an injury that has a life-changing effect on the victim.

In other words, a catastrophic injury is an injury that requires extensive medical treatment, rehabilitation, or even a long-care nurse to care for the victim after the accident. Further, catastrophic injuries often leave the victim unable to find gainful work, rendering them dependent on others for the rest of their lives. Catastrophic injuries have a tremendous impact on their victims and often impact their quality of life.


There are many different ways a catastrophic injury may occur. These accidents can happen at any time under a number of different circumstances. However, there are certain catastrophic injury causes that are more common than others. Below are examples of common causes of catastrophic injuries:

Motor Vehicle Accidents

Motor vehicle accidents can cause property damage, extremely serious injuries, or even death. It is no surprise, therefore, that motor vehicle accidents can also be the cause of catastrophic injuries. These injuries can include amputation, spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, and more.

For example, commercial trucks, such as 18-wheelers, are significantly longer and heavier than passenger vehicles. When loaded down with a trailer and cargo, a commercial truck can weigh 80,000 pounds. Accidents with these large trucks can easily result in catastrophic injury, or even death.

Accidents involving motorcycles also have the potential to lead to catastrophic injuries. Motorcycles lack the same frames as passenger vehicles, leaving the driver completely exposed and without the protection of a closed-in vehicle. Although wearing a helmet may help mitigate some risks to the motorcycle driver or passenger, it is still possible to sustain a catastrophic injury while in an accident.

Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice is defined as negligent conduct on the part of a physician or medical professional while performing a medical task. Medical malpractice claims typically allege that the health care provider breached his or her duty of care to the patient, resulting in injury.

Common types of medical malpractice may include:

  • Misdiagnosis. Misdiagnosis occurs when a medical professional fails to diagnose the correct illness, preventing the patient from receiving the correct form of treatment, or otherwise causing harm.
  • Surgical errors. Surgical errors may include performing the wrong procedure, using non-sterile surgical instruments, or administering the wrong amount of anesthesia.
  • Birth injuries. Birth injuries occur during childbirth. These injuries may affect the mother, the child, or both. Although injury during childbirth is not uncommon, if the injury could have been prevented, medical malpractice may have occurred.
  • Medication errors. Health care professionals, such as doctors or nurses, may be liable for medical malpractice if they prescribe, or provide, the incorrect medication to a patient.

Violent Crimes

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program has put forth four main categories of violent crimes. These crimes include: murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. Violent crimes are defined as those kinds of offenses that involve force or the threat of force. These kinds of crimes obviously include the risk of catastrophic injury. Some statistics on violent crimes in the United States are below:

  • In 2019, approximately 1,203,808 violent crimes occurred nationwide
  • Aggravated assaults accounted for 68.2% of violent crimes in 2019
  • Firearms were used in 73.7% of the nation’s murders.

Sports Accidents

Another cause of catastrophic injury is from sports accidents. In fact, approximately 7% of all spinal cord injuries are related to athletic activities. The sports with the highest risk of catastrophic injury include contact sports, such as football, ice hockey, and wrestling.

  • Football. Football has been associated with the highest number of severe neck injuries per year for all high school and college sports in the United States. Head-related fatalities from football began declining in the early 1970s. It was not until 1976 to 1987, however, until the rate of traumatic quadriplegia from football injuries began to decline.
  • Ice Hockey. In ice hockey, the most common cause of injury is checking from behind and being hurled horizontally into the boards. Spinal cord injuries may be reduced by enforcing current rules against checking from behind, or by padding the boards. It has also been suggested that aggressive play and fighting in hockey be discouraged.
  • A third sport that may cause catastrophic injury is wrestling. Cervical fractures or major cervical ligament injuries constitute the majority of catastrophic wrestling injuries. Coaches may be able to prevent some of these injuries by emphasizing and encouraging safe, legal wrestling techniques.

Zinda Law Group attorneys are here to discuss your catastrophic injury case, no matter the cause. We may be able to help investigate your case, determine who is at fault, and negotiate on your behalf to get you the compensation you deserve for your catastrophic injury.


There are many different types of catastrophic injuries that may occur. These devastating injuries may include:

  • Amputation
  • Dismemberment
  • Brain injury
  • Severe burns
  • Disfigurement
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Organ damage

These extreme injuries may cause the victim permanent harm, negatively impacting their quality of life. Our Zinda Law Group attorneys are here for you and your family through this difficult time. Call us today to discuss your case and to begin your catastrophic injury lawsuit.


There are three main types of compensation that you may be eligible to receive for your catastrophic injury. Each case is different and may be entitled to different amounts of compensation, or “damages.” The three main kinds of damages are described below:  

Economic Damages

Economic damages are meant to compensate the victim for their actual, monetary loss. These damages are easily added up by combining bills, invoices, and other out-of-pocket costs. Examples of these damages may include:

  • Ambulance cost
  • Surgical costs
  • Property damage
  • Lost income

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are more subjective than economic damages. Further, these damages are not easily calculated by adding up hospital bills or property damages. Non-economic damages may include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of activities
  • Emotional anguish
  • Humiliation

If you have suffered from a catastrophic injury, you may have suffered from a non-economic loss. If you are unable to perform activities healthy individuals take for granted, such as dressing your children, cooking dinner, or driving to work, you may be suffering from non-economic loss.

Punitive Damages

The final type of damages is “punitive” damages. Unlike economic or non-economic damages, punitive damages are not meant to compensate the victim for his or her injuries, but are instead meant to punish the wrongdoer and deter others from taking similar action. Punitive damages are relatively uncommon and should not be expected from every case.

If you have been involved in an accident resulting in catastrophic injury, you may be entitled to compensation. Zinda Law Group personal injury attorneys are nationwide and have the experience required to help you in your unique case. Call us today to schedule your free consultation.

Read More: Tips on Choosing a Personal Injury Lawyer


There are many different causes and types of catastrophic injury. You may have been the victim of a car accident, animal attack, or medical malpractice incident. No matter the cause, if you have suffered a catastrophic injury, we may be able to help. Zinda Law Group attorneys are available to help discuss your case, explain the catastrophic injury definition, and help guide you through every step of the legal process.

Zinda Law Group attorneys understand that catastrophic injuries may cause medical bills, pharmaceutical costs, and physical therapy fees. We believe that you should not have to suffer hefty attorney fees on top of your medical expenses. This is why we provide you with legal representation without the upfront costs. Our experienced attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, meaning you do not pay a cent unless we are able to get you compensation in your lawsuit. That is our No Win, No Fee Guarantee. Call us at (800) 863-5312 today for a free case evaluation and to discuss your case with a personal injury lawyer.

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