Catastrophic accidents are those that result in a life-altering injury for one or more people involved. In legal terms, a catastrophic injury is one that leaves someone unable to maintain gainful employment.

The most common type of crash that produces this kind of damage is a collision with a big truck. However, almost any type of motor vehicle crash may end up causing long-lasting and painful catastrophic consequences.

Common catastrophic injuries

People who suffer catastrophic injuries seldom fully recover, and they face long-term therapy and permanent disability. Some of the most common injuries that fall into this category include:

  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Loss of a limb
  • Spinal cord damage
  • Third-degree burns
  • Internal injuries resulting in permanent organ damage

The damage to the body resulting in one of these injuries is usually recognizable immediately after the crash. However, as in the case of a brain injury, the damage may not appear so obvious.

A small tear in a blood vessel or a build-up of cerebrospinal fluid can cause dangerous swelling that does not result in serious damage until a few days or even weeks after the accident. It is important to go to the hospital after any crash for a thorough exam to rule out underlying injuries.

Diagnosis, treatment and continued care

Catastrophic injuries such as those listed above are permanent. They require continued care and a change in lifestyle. For instance, any damage to the central nervous system, the brain or the spinal cord, may result in paralysis or cognitive damage. An amputation may require years of physical therapy and eventual prosthesis. Some injuries may leave a person hospitalized for months and in a rehabilitation facility for months after.

When a person has to deal with a catastrophic injury, the physical toll is just the beginning. There is a mental and emotional process that all patients must deal with as well.