Calculating Damages in Catastrophic Injury Cases

Catastrophic injuries can instantly and significantly impact a person’s physical, cognitive, and emotional well-being. But what kind of injuries can be considered “catastrophic?” And how are damages for something so life-altering calculated? The Whalen Injury Lawyers answer your questions below:

Types of Catastrophic Injuries

While any injury can lead to ongoing problems and issues that can result in significant damages, there are some injuries that are generally considered so immediately life-altering and serious that they fall under the term “catastrophic injury.” The most common examples of catastrophic injuries include:

  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Severe burns
  • Loss of limbs
  • Multiple fractures

Types of Damages in Catastrophic Injury Cases

In catastrophic injury lawsuits, damages in Colorado can be classified into four main groups: economic damages, non-economic damages, permanent impairment, and disfigurement.

  • Economic damages: These are financial losses that have a clear monetary value. This means they can be quantified and calculated with relative ease. They include medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, loss of earning capacity, and more.
  • Non-economic damages: You can also be compensated for non-economic damages. Unlike economic damages, non-economic damages are subjective and have no clear monetary value. They include loss of enjoyment of life, pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and emotional distress. In Colorado, there are certain caps on non-economic damages.
  • Permanent Impairment: While permanent physical impairment can of course occur in accidents that would not be considered “catastrophic,” (any injury that leads to a permanent physical change can lead to permanent impairment damages), serious injuries that will permanently and forever alter a person’s physical state of being and ability to function (for example, injuries that impact the ability to walk) is a hallmark of the catastrophic injuries listed above. In Colorado, there are no caps on damages for permanent physical impairment.
  • Disfigurement damages: Catastrophic injuries can lead to disfigurements, such as scarring, either as a result of the injury itself or from subsequent surgeries. In Colorado, there are no caps on damages for disfigurement.
  • Punitive or Exemplary damages: Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be awarded punitive damage or exemplary damage compensation. These damages are designed to punish the at-fault party and prevent similar behavior in the future.

Calculating Damages in Catastrophic Injury Cases

Factors Affecting Damages Calculation

While no amount of money can ever really compensate a person for injuries sustained in a personal injury case, certain factors can affect the evaluation and calculation of your damages in a catastrophic injury case. These factors include:

  • The complexity and severity of the injury
  • The cost of medical expenses
  • Past and future loss of income or earning capacity
  • A person’s ability to engage in activities they once enjoyed (loss of enjoyment of life)
  • A person’s functional and cognitive limitations
  • A person’s level of pain, suffering, and inconvenience
  • The mental and emotional stress caused by the injury

Special Considerations in Catastrophic Injury Cases

When calculating damages in a catastrophic injury case, the cost of past, present, and future medical and rehabilitation treatments may be astronomical, particularly depending on the age of the person injured. Life care plans will generally be obtained to determine a person’s medical needs in the future. Vocational evaluations and recommendations for job retraining may also be obtained in catastrophic injury cases to establish lost income and lost earning capacity. Again, depending on the age of the injured person and the nature of their work, lost income damages may by extremely high in catastrophic injury cases.

Contact a Colorado Personal Injury Attorney

Catastrophic injury cases are often complex due to the severity of the injuries involved. Request a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you navigate these complexities to ensure you are fully compensated.

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