Life is uncertain, and anyone can be in an accident that could alter the course of their life. Some injuries, even though they cause immense pain and suffering heal relatively fast. While others have a long-term effect on a person’s health and lifestyle. An injury that has a life-altering consequence on a person is called a catastrophic injury. Usually this kind of injury results from road accidents (2-car collisions, being hit by a car while crossing the road etc) or from a serious slip and fall accident. Catastrophic injuries usually require surgery to fix up the part/s of the body affected and multiple physiotherapy sessions that may last years.
Catastrophic injuries usually lead to-
- Amputation of limbs
- Severe brain trauma
- Extensive spinal cord injuries
- Partial or full paralysis
- Short-term or long-term paralysis
- Requirement of assistive or prosthetic devices
- Reliance on particular medicines for life
- Needing lifelong care or assistance
- Not being able to go back to work and losing the means to earn livelihood
- Disfigurement or extensive scarring
- Loss of sight (temporary or permanent)
- Loss of hearing (temporary or permanent)
- Burn injuries and loss of sensation
Fallout of catastrophic injuries may also trigger-
- Change in personality
- Loss of motor skills and cognitive abilities
- Lapse in memory
- Attention deficit
- Loss of decision-making ability
- Inability to deal with financial matters.
These changes can result from the consequence of the psychological trauma that accompanies a serious accident and greatly disrupt a person’s life.
Here are a few suggestions that might help you when you have suffered a catastrophic injury.
The initial treatment
The treatment you receive in the first few days after suffering the injury will decide how well you will recover. That is why it is vital that you get the right kind of treatment (surgery, medication etc). You will be in an emotional turmoil, which will be compounded by the pain of your injuries. But try to understand what plan of action your doctors have chalked out. If you are not in a position to keep tabs, make sure someone in your family or a friend is there with you. If necessary, get yourself shifted to another medical facility that is better equipped to deal with your injury.
Unless you have excellent reasons to oppose the course of treatment suggested by doctors, it is advisable to cooperate with them fully. Otherwise, when you file a case for settlement, the insurer will allege that your injuries were aggravated because you did not comply with the doctors’ orders. That could have a bearing on the quantum of damages that you receive.
Treatment does not end with you being patched up. Since a catastrophic injury has severe implications on your health, the next step of your treatment will include rehabilitation.
Rehabilitation centres specialize in dealing with all the different kinds of injuries ranging from brain trauma to the loss of the use or mobility of limbs. Pick a facility that has experience in dealing with your kind of injury.
Be prepared for a long stint at the facility. Recovery cannot be rushed. A catastrophic injury can mean incapacitation. It would take a long time before you can heal enough to be discharged.
You will also require prolonged physiotherapy. But there is a possibility you will not recover the full range of your movement. You will have to get accustomed to your prosthetic device and therapists will help with that. Talk to the healthcare providers at the centre to get a clear picture.
Source of Income
Once you have stabilized, you will have to consider finances. Catastrophic injuries can cause a loss of income because you will not be able to go back to office for a long time (depending on the severity of your injuries).
Catastrophic injury lawyers can help you to claim compensation for your medical bills as well the mental pain and trauma your family members go through. If you are the sole earning member of your family, your spouse will have to try and find a job that can support you and your children (if you have any).
If you are feeling up to it, you will have to focus on working from home. Many offices make provisions for that. Or you can change professions and find work that you can do from your home or rehabilitation centre. Or you can opt for freelancing gigs as well.
Working during the healing process (provided that the work is not too stressful) can help by taking the mind off the anxiety and distress that people who have been in a catastrophic injury feel.
Counseling is integral to the recovery process. Catastrophic injuries have a tremendous impact on the psychological health of a person. Injured people go through all the stages of grief- denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance. Coming to terms with the injury is not easy. To ensure that the depression stage does not become permanent, people with catastrophic injuries require psychological therapy.
A psychologist can help talk a person through their worst fears and come up with coping strategies. Therapy is person-centric and strategies adopted differ from person to person.
Psychological therapy may also include group therapy sessions which will promote bonding between the injured person and family and friends.
Catastrophic injuries create innumerable obstructions in a person’s lives, some of the problems can be mitigated by compensation. The cost of treatment and therapy, the loss of livelihood, disruption of life, psychological trauma are all ground that entitle you to damages to be paid by the insurer of the at-fault party.
To bolster your case, keep copies of medical documentation and consult personal injury lawyers who will take up matters on your behalf while you can focus on recovery.