The Legal Definition of a Catastrophic Injury

The Legal Definition of a Catastrophic Injury

Any injury caused by another person’s reckless or careless conduct can leave you facing numerous physical, financial, and personal losses, which can negatively affect your life for weeks or even months after your accident. In some cases, injuries caused by someone else’s negligence are so severe that you’ll never be able to fully recover from them, even with the best medical care in the world.

Courts and legal professionals generally refer to these types of injuries as “catastrophic,” although Pennsylvania law uses a different term. Understanding these legal nuances can be difficult but may be crucial to getting paid what you deserve after a catastrophic accident. Here is a brief primer on the legal definition of a “catastrophic injury” in Pennsylvania, all of which the skilled team at Ostroff Godshall Injury and Accident Lawyers can further explain during a free consultation.

Defining an Injury as “Catastrophic”

In many states, there isn’t any formal legal definition of a “catastrophic” or “serious” injury because there’s no difference in the legal procedures that apply compared to less severe injuries. In Pennsylvania, though, defining a condition as a “serious injury” can substantially change the process of bringing a personal injury claim and recovering compensation.

After a car accident in Pennsylvania, you’ll likely need to seek compensation through your own Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage within your car insurance policy before you can sue someone else. However, if you have “limited tort” insurance as opposed to a “full tort” policy, you might be prohibited from filing suit at all unless you suffered a “serious injury.”

If you were severely hurt in a crash caused by someone else, you can ignore the usual restrictions of your limited tort policy and file a lawsuit against the at-fault party. This is why defining “catastrophic injuries” in legal terms can sometimes be crucial to protecting your rights.

Pennsylvania Law Regarding “Serious Bodily Injury”

75 Pennsylvania Consolidated Statute §1705 is the section of Pennsylvania law establishing the “limited tort” and “full tort” systems mentioned above. Under this statute, a “serious injury” is one resulting in “death, serious impairment of body function, or permanent serious disfigurement.”

This is the closest thing Pennsylvania has to a legal definition of “catastrophic injury,” and it covers the same types of injuries that an attorney might think of as “catastrophic”—for instance, spinal cord damage resulting in paralysis, traumatic brain damage, loss of a limb, and so on. It’s also worth emphasizing that an injury can still be considered “serious” in this context if it only results in permanent disfigurement but not disability, such as high-degree burns.

Learn More About Catastrophic Injuries from a Lawyer

Ultimately, what matters most when it comes to recovering fair compensation for a severe injury is the quality of legal representation you have on your side. Call Ostroff Godshall Injury and Accident Lawyers today to learn how a seasoned catastrophic injury attorney from our team could assist you with your claim.