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Catastrophic injuries are usually life-altering and permanent

Not too many people understand the difference between a serious and catastrophic injury. One slows life down; the other is life-altering.

The injuries that have the biggest impact on a person’s life are those referred to as catastrophic. Catastrophic means that the injuries are devastating, usually permanent and are life altering – the person’s life will never be the same again. The injuries don’t just impact the victim; they also impact the victim’s family and friends, for the simple reason that those are the people who usually end up caring for the victim in the long-term.

Typically, catastrophic injuries are the result of accidents that happened without warning; a car accident that came out of the blue, a run-in with a tractor trailer unit, a motorcycle accident that results in spinal cord injuries, a bicycle accident that leaves the victim with traumatic brain injury or a medical error that results in a patient being unable to breathe on his or her own.

The bottom line is that any injury or condition that causes impaired functioning of at least one crucial bodily function or the permanent loss of the ability to work is classified as catastrophic. This is the classification used when an Austin personal injury lawyer takes a case to court for a badly injured client to secure them compensation.

Some of the injuries that are categorized as catastrophic are brain injuries, blindness, multiple fractures, total or partial amputations, severe and disfiguring burns, spinal cord injuries and other neurological disorders. These injuries cause huge disruptions/impairment to one of more of a person’s bodily functions such as the muscular, skeletal or neurological systems. In some instances, more than one system is affected, which is completely devastating to the victim.

Take the case of one young man who was working on a construction site when the scaffolding he was on collapsed. He plummeted over 100 feet to the ground and landed on his head. Although he survived, he is now a spastic quadriplegic. His accident was the result of negligence on the part of the construction company he worked for in not adhering to the safety regulations to maintain and regularly check the scaffolding. His injuries are life altering and permanent. He will require around-the-clock care for the rest of his life.

Also, consider the case of the young woman who worked in a gas plant as a control operator. While on shift one day, she discovered one of the burners was not working properly. She told her shift supervisor she would re-light the burner. The burner exploded and the woman was catapulted across the room and slammed into a wall. Her hips were shattered and her spinal cord severed.

She is now a paraplegic and will never walk again. The gas plant was negligent in not properly maintaining its equipment. As a result of that negligence; this young woman paid the supreme price of her mobility. Her life will never be the same again.

These cases are examples of the many things that can and do go wrong every day across the nation. Unfortunately, catastrophic injuries happen far more often than we may care to admit. Negligence tends to stalk a great many places. While there is no real way to avoid someone else’s carelessness, if you find yourself in a situation like the ones we discussed, consult an experienced Austin personal injury lawyer. You need to know your rights and you need adequate compensation to live your life.

Brooks Schuelke is an Austin personal injury attorney with Perlmutter & Schuelke PLLC. Contact an Austin injury lawyer at or (512) 476-4944.A


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