Not All Injuries Are the Same. Here’s Why & How Those Differences Could Impact Your Recovery
Trauma from an accident can be debilitating in diverse ways. Aside from the region of the body affected, trauma can be psychological in nature, and it can vary by severity. In many cases, it takes time to determine the severity of accident-related trauma and whether any party may be liable for it. When these issues arise, here’s what victims need to know about:
- How a serious injury differs from a personal injury
- Why the difference between serious versus personal injury matters and how it can impact legal claims for compensation
The following shares more about these issues, revealing a handful of essential facts to understand about serious injury versus personal injury.
Serious Injury vs. Personal Injury: 4 Facts to Know
Both serious injury and personal injury can result from accidents and negligence. In fact, a single accident — like an 18-wheeler crash or an industrial disaster — could result in serious injuries for some victims and personal injuries for others. The facts below reveal more about what that would mean for victims and their claims.
1. Serious injuries are permanent.
Also referred to as catastrophic injury, serious injury describes the most severe trauma accident victims can suffer. As such, serious or catastrophic injuries are permanent and life-altering, leaving victims with irreversible impairments. Often, the complications of catastrophic injuries include (and are not limited to):
- Serious pain
- Permanent inability to earn a living
- Limited ability or inability to take care of oneself or live independently
Some of the most common serious injuries resulting from accidents and negligence include:
- Severe burns
- Loss of limb
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Spinal cord injury and paralysis
In contrast, a personal injury allows for total or near-total recovery. That does not mean, however, that all personal injuries are minor. Instead, it means that the injury is not permanently debilitating like a catastrophic injury is.
For example, a simple bone fracture, like a broken rib, after a car accident is typically considered to be a personal injury. Though painful and temporarily debilitating, a simple bone fracture — with no other complications and the proper treatment — will likely heal without causing permanent disability.
2. Serious injuries require lifelong care.
Surgeries, hospitalizations, rehabilitation, various therapies, and in-home care are just some of the ongoing treatments that may be needed for catastrophic injuries. As such, those with serious injuries end up seeing surgeons, specialists, doctors, therapists, nurses, and other medical professionals routinely for the rest of their lives.
Whatever medical care serious injuries end up requiring, it’s far greater than the medical care needed to treat personal injuries. Like personal injuries, their treatments are temporary, lasting only until the injury heals (or reaches maximum medical improvement). While therapies may continue after, they won’t last for the rest of a person’s life, like the treatments for catastrophic injuries do.
3. It may require more evidence to establish catastrophic injury.
Serious injuries are not always easy to diagnose or establish, especially if:
- Victims suffer multiple serious injuries.
- A victim has pre-existing injuries.
- A victim sustains a serious injury, like a TBI, which tends to have more generic, milder symptoms at first, with worsening symptoms developing over time.
- There are delays or gaps in medical treatment after an accident that causes a catastrophic injury.
Often, experts are needed to diagnose and treat serious injuries — and to explain the nature, severity, and impacts of these injuries when it’s time to pursue a catastrophic injury claim.
For personal injuries, experts may not be necessary. In fact, items like medical records, diagnostic tests, and physician statements may be sufficient to establish the injury.
While personal injury cases can still be complex and require extensive evidence, catastrophic injury claims are generally more complicated, requiring more evidence to verify both the injury and the non-economic losses caused by it, like pain, suffering, and the irreversible impacts to victims’ quality of life.
4. Higher damages are usually associated with serious injury cases.
Given that catastrophic injuries cause crippling impairments and require lifelong medical care, the injured can face a two-fold financial hit as they face life after an accident. That includes the financial setbacks from:
- Not being able to earn a living
- Expensive, unending medical bills to treat their injuries and try to recover the best possible quality of life
Those losses can be recoverable through catastrophic injury cases. When successful, the recoveries for these cases can far exceed the recoveries for personal injury cases for the simple fact that the losses associated with catastrophic injuries are far greater.
Serious Injury vs. Personal Injury: The Bottom Line
When it comes to the difference between catastrophic injury vs. serious injury, the bottom line is that knowing the difference can help victims recover full, fair compensation when they have been harmed by others’ negligence. No matter what type of injuries victims suffer, they can rely on an attorney for help when it’s time to pursue a claim, establish their injuries, and fight for the recoveries they deserve.