What Are Catastrophic Injuries?

Woman in a wheelchair opening an office drawer.

For an injury to be deemed “catastrophic,” it can be characterized by irreversible damages and long-term complications. Significant mental, physical, and financial challenges occur, and, as a result, the injured individual is left with a lifelong recovery.

Examples of Catastrophic Injuries

Catastrophic injuries are recognized by the significant life-altering symptoms that arise, many of which result in permanent damage. To better understand the depth of these injuries, it’s important to know what is often categorized as catastrophic and how they occur.

Traumatic Brain Injuries

One of the most common catastrophic injuries is Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). A TBI can be caused by a forceful blow or jolt to the head and often results in long-term damage. Symptoms of a TBI may not present themselves immediately, which is why it’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible after sustaining a blow to the head.

Possible symptoms of a TBI include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Blurry vision
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Bad taste in the mouth
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Irritability
  • Depression

Additionally, while athletes or those who've been involved in a car accident have likely heard of or had a concussion, it's important to know that this is often considered a mild form of a TBI. As such, even these seemingly minor injuries should be taken seriously. If left untreated, a concussion may develop into a more life-threatening issue.

What Causes a TBI?

There are many ways a TBI can occur. Some of the most common causes include:

  • Falls
  • Car accidents
  • Sports injuries
  • Being struck by an object
  • Self-inflicted injuries

Spinal Cord Injuries and Paralysis

Injuries to the spine are also considered catastrophic, as they often result in paralysis. A spinal cord injury (SCI) can happen as a result of any sudden force or jolt that causes the vertebrae to compress, crush, or fracture the spinal cord. And unfortunately, complete spinal cord injuries are irreversible.

There are two types of paralysis that may occur as a result of a spinal cord injury:

  • Tetraplegia/Quadriplegia: This is when an individual experiences paralysis in all four limbs.
  • Paraplegia: This is when an individual experiences paralysis in the lower half of their body, including both legs and the pelvic region.

Causes of SCI

There are many ways an individual can sustain a spinal cord injury. The leading cause is automobile accidents, which account for almost half of all SCIs. Other causes include:

  • Falls
  • Sports injuries
  • Violent acts (i.e., gunshot wounds)
  • Bicycle accidents


Burn injuries are another type of catastrophic injury that can have lifelong implications. Burns often result in permanent disfigurement and, in severe cases, can lead to organ damage or death. There are three types of burns:

  • First-degree burns: These are the least serious type of burn, only affecting the outer layer of skin (the epidermis), and are often caused by everyday activity like being in the sun or cooking.
  • Second-degree burns: These burns extend through the epidermis and into the dermis, causing pain, swelling, and blistering. Fire, chemicals, and severe sunburn can all contribute to these.
  • Third-degree burns: These are the most serious type of burns and extend through all layers of skin into the fatty tissue below. Third-degree burns often cause numbness as they damage nerve endings.

Severe Fractures

A severe fracture is another type of catastrophic injury that can have a long-lasting impact. Severe fractures are those that result in an open wound, compound fracture (when the bone breaks through the skin), or crush injuries (when the bone is severely compressed). These types of fractures often require surgery and can result in permanent deformity.

Catastrophic Injury Attorneys in Miami, FL

When you’re faced with a life-altering injury that’s been caused by a negligent individual, you deserve to seek justice and hold them accountable. Our Miami attorneys at Rossman, Baumberger, Reboso & Spier, P.A. can protect your rights and help ensure you are appropriately compensated.

Schedule a free consultation with a member of our team today by calling (305) 900-5493 or filling out this short form.

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