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Last updated: 2/7/2013
Causes of catastrophic injuries
Just about any type of injury can lead to a catastrophic outcome. Some examples are: bicycle accidents, car accidents, defective drugs, drunk and driving accidents, medical malpractice, motorcycle accidents, pedestrian (hit and run) accidents, slip and fall accidents, truck accidents, nursing home negligence, defective and dangerous products, and construction accidents.
Life altering injuries can range from seemingly mild to severe. Some less severe form of injuries, yet life altering, are foot injury, shoulder injury, knee injury or other joint injury. These injuries are not life threatening, however, they may change one's quality of life forever (a baseball player may never play after a knee injury). Somewhat more dramatic injuries are (partial or total) loss of sight or hearing, burn injuries and multiple bone fracture. Injuries that may result in total or partial loss of movement are serious head trauma (brain injuries), spinal cord injuries, back injuries (especially lower back), and amputations.
Spinal cord injury
The spinal cord is a delicate part of the body as it contains nerves that carry the messages to and from the brain. Any injury to the cord can shut down an organ or leave a body part paralyzed. Some relevant information regarding spinal cord injury:
- Statistics. There are about 250,000 people in the US living with spinal cord injury. The average age is the late thirties, and 75% of the injured are males. The main causes are motor vehicle and other traffic related accidents, falls, sport injuries, and trauma caused by violent acts.
- Diagnosis. Although medical diagnosis is done in the hospital, the vital signs that may point to a cord injury are: severe pain in the back, head or neck area, tingly sensation in the extremities, loss of control of parts of the body, difficulty walking and balancing, pain and pressure around the chest, and difficulty breathing.
- Injuries. There are complete as well as incomplete spinal cord injuries. In case of a complete injury the cord is cut or badly severed resulting in loss of sensation and movement. An incomplete injury has several levels: completely normal motor and sensory functions, normal motor function but at least 50% of the muscles have grade greater than or equal to 3 (grade 3 means that the muscle is able to move the joint against gravity if resistance is removed), motor function is fine but the muscles have grade less than 3, and there is sensory function without motor function below the neurological level.
- Rehabilitation. Unfortunately, there is no cure for spinal cord injury and it may require life long care and rehabilitation whose goal is to assist the patient to live an independent life. There may be loss of bowel, bladder and sexual functions, the ability to swallow or breathe may be limited, and there may not be (adequate) temperature and blood pressure regulation. Therapies may include neurological, orthopedic, nutrition, psychological, speech, respiration, occupation as well as various social services. Nutrition is most important with a careful eye on the intake of calcium, fiber, protein, salt and water.
What shall I do?
Follow the suggested course of action as presented throughout this site: if you have the ability to do so, take photos of the scene and all the evidence, report the accident to your insurance company, write down the names of the witnesses, make sure the police arrives before everyone leaves, etc. Since you suffered a serious injury, it is paramount that you keep a record of your condition (the insurance company may not believe you unless there is written evidence). It is also important to remember that there is a limitation as to when you may apply for compensation. The best course of action is to consult with your personal injury lawyer who will guide you through the process. When is the best time to call your lawyer: as soon as you are able to.
What mistakes shall I avoid?
Under no circumstances get into a discussion of fault, just tell the officer what happened. Let your lawyer handle the issue of fault. It is also very critical that you do not deny your injury, your condition can change considerably a few days later. Do not give a statement or sign anything without consulting with your lawyer. As unfriendly as it may seem, do not apologize, this can be interpreted as admission of guilt. Do not throw away any evidence or anything that may be connected to the accident. If you are able to move, remove yourself (or your vehicle) from traffic areas to avoid further accidents.
How to prevent catastrophic injuries?
There are many safety measures that one can follow to avoid catastrophic injuries. Preventative care must be exercised to avoid the many types of accidents, such as car accidents, motorcycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and slip and fall accidents. Proper maintenance of your kitchen appliances, water heater or plumbing can avoid explosions or burn injuries. Regular work place inspection is a must and workers education can eliminate injuries and save lives. Drink alcohol in moderation and remember that drinking on the beach is not only illegal, it is dangerous as the sun increases the effect of the alcohol by dehydrating the body. As to the man's best friend, train your dog and learn how to handle him (a dog with no exercise is more likely to bite).
Some legal advise
A catastrophic injury is a devastating event not only for the injured but for the entire family. If you suffered an injury of no fault of yours, you need to seek compensation as the rehabilitation and the change of life style may cost millions. Please contact our personal injury law firm for a free consultation. You may be eligible for a personal injury claim, or a workman compensation claim, or a product liability claim, or a combination of several claims.
A catastrophic injury is a life altering event that may result in permanent disability, long lasting medical conditions, a shortened life expectancy, and permanently prevents an individual from performing any gainful work. A catastrophic injury may manifest itself as a spinal chord injury, a brain injury, an amputation, total loss of vision, severe burns, or the combination of many injuries that results in a significant impairment of the whole body function.
Brain acceleration and deceleration