A catastrophic injury is one where the consequences of the injury permanently prevent an individual from performing any gainful work. In other words, after suffering a catastrophic injury, the injured worker can no longer maintain a job that allows them to support themselves or their family.
From financial, legal, and emotional standpoints, an injury like this can be devastating. The law changed in 2013 disallowing compensation for an emotional injury unless one of two exceptions take place. One of those exceptions is a catastrophic injury, which is undefined. After the injured worker has lost a lifetime of wages and benefits as well as the sense of purpose and wholeness that come with meaningful work these are the arguments made to courts to make a catastrophic determination.
These injuries often require homecare and home modifications which are increasingly harder to come by in the workers’ compensation system and require specific indications from the doctor. The implications of these injuries often go far beyond the injured worker’s work life as well. A person who is too severely disabled to work will rarely be able to travel, exercise, engage in favorite hobbies or activities, or even care for themselves on a day-to-day basis in the way that a typical healthy person would.
Common types of catastrophic injuries include:
Spinal cord injuries
High velocity eye injuries
A catastrophic injury can arise from any incident that causes physical trauma to the injured worker. However, certain types of accidents tend to cause these injuries more often than others. For example, work related motor vehicle accidents, falling from a high up, being impacted from a falling object, construction accidents, stroke and more.