What's the Difference Between Catastrophic and Personal Injury Cases?

Catastrophic injuries fall within the umbrella of personal injury law, but they are markedly different than other personal injury cases due to their level of severity and life-altering nature. While a universal definition of a catastrophic injury does not exist, there are some widely held beliefs about what constitutes a catastrophic injury that tends to be accepted in the legal and medical realm.

Defining Catastrophic Injuries

A catastrophic injury is generally believed to be an injury that causes permanent damage to an individual, preventing him or her from being gainfully employed. Individuals who sustain catastrophic injuries often cannot maintain a job that allows them to support themselves or their family, and are in need of either round-the-clock care or assistance.

These injuries not only take a physical toll on individuals but an emotional and financial one as well. Without the ability to engage in meaningful work, one might begin to lose a sense of purpose and personal fulfillment.Additionally, a serious injury requires extensive medical care, which can quickly rack up steep bills. With no means to pay off these bills, this situation can be overwhelming and stressful for a catastrophically injured person, leading to anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues that might also require treatment.

Types of Catastrophic Injuries

Some of the most common types of catastrophic injuries include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Severe or disfiguring burns
  • Amputations
  • Organ damage
  • Multiple bone fractures
  • Exposure to toxic or hazardous chemicals and substances

Catastrophic injuries can potentially arise from any incident that inflicts physical trauma on a person. However, some incidents are more common than others. Some of the most common causes of catastrophic injuries include:

  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Construction accidents
  • Swimming pool accidents
  • Medical errors or injuries caused by medical devices
  • Defective consumer products


Catastrophic injury cases tend to involve much higher damages than a typical personal injury case, given the enormous losses survivors tend to face. The compensation individuals receive in such cases is not only meant to cover current expenses, but also meant to make up for one’s lifetime of lost earnings, future medical bills, ongoing treatment or therapy, and the emotional and physical pain and suffering he or she will likely endure. It is essentially the legal system’s way of providing some justice for the irreparable damage done to a person’s life.

Shreveport Catastrophic Injury Attorney

At the Law Office of Robert B. Dunlap, our Shreveport personal injury attorney has more than 30 years of experience, a proven track record of success, and extensive knowledge of Louisiana laws and court proceedings to effectively guide you through the process of filing your personal injury lawsuit. If you suffered a catastrophic injury, now is the time to obtain the representation you deserve.

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