Types of Catastrophic Injuries

Doctor showing patient an exam of a spinal cord injury

While any injury after an accident can be difficult, catastrophic injuries have devastating effects on victims and their families. These types of injuries happen suddenly and unexpectedly, leaving people with life-changing impairments. With their lives permanently changed in an instant, victims who suffered a catastrophic injury often lose the ability to walk, work, communicate, or even perform activities of daily living (ADL) on their own.

If you or a loved one were in an accident and not expected to regain your health or function fully, it may be considered a catastrophic injury. Our personal injury attorneys explain everything you need to know about the common types of catastrophic injuries.

You deserve justice. Our catastrophic injury attorneys are ready to fight for you. Schedule your FREE case evaluation now.

What is a catastrophic injury?

Acute injuries are considered catastrophic when it is severe enough to cause permanent life changes or long-term disabilities. These types of injuries often involve head trauma or damage to the spine, which leaves victims with compromised mobility, sight, hearing, or speech. The effects of a catastrophic injury remain for the rest of the victim’s life and have profound consequences on that person’s way of living.

In legal terms, catastrophic injuries can drastically change the outcome of a personal injury claim. When you work with experienced catastrophic injury lawyers, they will evaluate the costs of future medical care and the pain and suffering caused by the injury. Victims can include these damages – which are often significant – in their life-altering injury claim.

What are the different types of catastrophic injuries?

Several injuries can be classified as catastrophic based on their severity and long-term effects. They often cause chronic pain, damage to the central nervous system, and other serious medical issues.

Common catastrophic injuries include:

While these are the kinds of catastrophic injuries you’ll see the most, other types of injuries can fall into the catastrophic category. It all depends on if the victim is seriously impaired by the injury.

What are the common causes of catastrophic injuries?

car crashed into a guardrail with hood open

A severe injury can happen anytime and for a myriad of reasons. However, there are some commonalities in many of the catastrophic injuries suffered by accident victims. Common causes include:

  • Car accidents – Head-on collisions, T-bone automobile accidents, and crashes that occur at high speeds can result in serious, life-altering injuries.
  • Motorcycle accidents – Motorcyclists are exposed on the roads and vulnerable to catastrophic injuries when involved in an accident.
  • Pedestrian accidents – Pedestrians can suffer severe injuries when struck by a motor vehicle, even at slower speeds.
  • Slip and falls – A slip and fall accident can cause brain and spinal cord injuries, multiple broken bones, and other injuries.
  • Workplace accidents – Work accidents can result in catastrophic injuries, including head trauma, severe burns, amputation, and more.
  • Sports or recreational activities – Those participating in high-impact or extreme sports have a higher risk of a life-threatening injury than those who do not.

Contact us now to schedule a free consultation with our catastrophic injury attorneys today.

What can help prevent catastrophic injuries?

No matter how careful you try to be, there’s no guarantee that you will never experience an accident. But there are things you can do to lower your risk of suffering a life-changing injury or lessening its severity. Here are some ways that may help prevent catastrophic injuries:

  • Always wear your seatbelt while driving or riding in a motor vehicle.
  • Avoid distracted driving, such as texting, talking on the phone, or eating.
  • Never drive under the influence of alcohol or illegal substances.
  • Wear a helmet while operating a motorcycle or riding as a passenger.
  • Stay alert as a pedestrian – especially in heavy traffic or areas with poor visibility.
  • Use the appropriate safety gear if you work in construction, operate heavy equipment, or are around hazardous materials.
  • Use protective gear while participating in sports and other physical activities.

What are the long-term effects of catastrophic injuries?

For many who have suffered a catastrophic injury, their lives will never be the same. In addition to the devastation that immediately follows this type of injury, long-term consequences reduce the victim’s quality of life. These may include:

  • Permanent paralysis or nerve damage
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Memory loss from head trauma
  • Loss of career opportunities
  • Financial loss and hardships
  • Mental disabilities
  • Physical disabilities
  • Loss of mobility or independence
  • Ongoing medical bills for physical therapy and other long-term care

How can a catastrophic injury lawyer help me to obtain compensation for my injury?

Catastrophic injury lawyer looking over paperwork

Skilled catastrophic injury attorneys understand the complexities and long-term effects of these types of injuries. They will help you get the compensation you need now and secure financial support for your future medical care needs. They will also fight for compensation for the extensive non-economic damages associated with a life-altering injury, including pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of consortium, and loss of enjoyment of life.

If you need an experienced catastrophic injury attorney you can trust, the Elite Litigation Group with Bachus & Schanker focuses exclusively on these types of cases and can help you get justice. Contact our team today to learn more about your legal options, what your catastrophic injury case may be worth, and how we can support you every step of the way.


Personal Injury – When Is It Considered a Catastrophic Injury?. (2022).
Meehan, W., et al. (2013). A substantial proportion of life-threatening injuries are sport-related.