What are Catastrophic Injuries?

person being wheeled in a stretcher

Some serious injuries heal with time, but others are so severe that we have a special term to describe them. When someone suffers an injury that leaves them with a lifelong disability impacting their capacity to work and enjoy life, we call it a catastrophic injury. These are some of the most complex personal injury cases you can face, which is why it’s so important to make sure you have an experienced attorney handling your case.

But what are some examples of catastrophic injuries, and how do you recognize the difference between a severe injury that may heal and one that will present long-term complications?

Catastrophic Injuries Explained

Under Nevada code NV Rev Stat § 616A.077, a catastrophic injury means that someone sustained a physical injury from an accident that resulted in:

  • Loss of vision.
  • Loss of hearing.
  • Loss of a limb.
  • Organ failure
  • Paralysis
  • Severe burns, particularly of the body, hands, or face.
  • A brain injury causing significant cognitive impairment.
  • Coma or vegetative state.

The list above is not exhaustive. Some other conditions may qualify as a catastrophic injury. If you believe you experienced such an injury, be sure to consult an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible.

Significant Catastrophic Injuries

To help you develop a better understanding of these injuries and your ability to pursue damages from those responsible, let’s take a look at four catastrophic injuries that are not only common but have a significant impact on someone’s daily life. These include:

  • Burn injuries
  • Dismemberment
  • Spinal injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries

Below, we’ll detail some of the long-term impacts of these catastrophic injuries and how an attorney can help you pursue damages that will help you move forward and cover expenses related to disability, hardship, medical care, and lost wages.

Call our firm today at (775) 227-2280 for a free initial consultation and speak with a lawyer about your options.

Burn Injuries

Burn injuries are not only painful and debilitating but are also a source of mental or emotional trauma as well. The permanent scarring and disabilities associated with a severe burn can cause long-term mental trauma that makes it difficult to work or enjoy your normal activities.

When you suffer a burn injury, the severity varies. A first-degree burn can lead to superficial redness and soreness. However, a third-degree burn goes beyond the top layers of skin and reaches your muscles and bones, often leaving the injured with a permanent disability and long-term pain.


If you lose a limb in an accident, such as a car crash or a workplace disaster, it is considered dismemberment. A dismembered limb can permanently impact your ability to perform everyday tasks like typing or driving. Similarly, those who experienced dismemberment may experience “phantom pains” or other mental trauma.

Because this injury can fundamentally change your life, it’s essential for those who experienced dismemberment in an accident to pursue damages from those responsible for their injury.

Spinal Cord Injuries

A catastrophic back or spine injury can also present a lifetime of worries. In a worst-case scenario, a severe spinal injury can lead to paralysis. There are two types of paralysis, typically impacting either functionality of the legs (paraplegia) or all four limbs (quadriplegia).

Many people don’t realize it, but the two most common causes of spinal injuries are car accidents and slip and fall accidents.

Traumatic Brain Injuries

There are many degrees of head injuries ranging from concussion to brain damage. A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can occur after any strike to the head (such as during a car crash) or from a lack of oxygen (such as drowning). Some of the most common complications seen after a brain injury include loss of motor control, paralysis, changes to your personality, or an impact on your cognitive abilities.

TBIs are unpredictable and can be deceptive because the long term damage may not be immediately apparent. For example, you may suffer a severe concussion but not present symptoms until days or weeks after the initial injury.

Each of these catastrophic injuries can fundamentally change your life and inundate you with unexpected financial troubles including medical bills, lost wages, disability, and more. If you believe that you suffered a catastrophic injury through no fault of your own, you have a right to pursue damages from those who harmed you.

´╗┐If you or someone you love suffered catastrophic injuries in a motor vehicle crash, we are here to provide the undivided attention you deserve. To schedule a free case consultation with an experienced Reno catastrophic injury attorney from Viloria, Oliphant, Oster & Aman L.L.P., please fill out our form or call (775) 227-2280. We’re here for you and ready to help.

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