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Catastrophic Work Injuries: What They Are and What Causes Them

catastrophic workplace accidentsAny workplace accident that causes an employee to take time off can cause him to suffer stress, disruption of his life, and financial hardship. However, a catastrophic injury can change a worker’s life forever in a matter of a few seconds. He may never recover enough to return to his former—or any other—job. Some workers are injured so badly that they need family members or care providers to assist them with their daily activities. For these injured employees, obtaining the full workers’ benefits they are entitled to is essential.

What Are the Causes of Catastrophic Injuries on the Job?

While catastrophic injuries are sometimes caused by more serious types of accidents, others are caused by ones that do not necessarily cause such severe, life-altering injuries. Common reasons catastrophic injuries occur include:

  • Fires
  • Explosions
  • Structures that collapse
  • Vehicle accidents
  • Machinery that malfunctions or is defective
  • Exposure to toxic chemicals or other hazardous materials
  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Electrocutions
  • Falls at construction sites
  • Contact with heavy objects that cause serious trauma

What Are Catastrophic Injuries That Workers Suffer in On-the-Job Accidents?

Catastrophic injuries are ones that cause a worker to suffer injuries that prevent him from returning to his former or similar duties. They usually involve at least a partial permanent disability, which means that a part of the person’s body is permanently damaged. Some catastrophic injuries that are caused in workplace accidents include:

  • Amputation of a limb. This can include loss of a hand, foot, leg, or arm or the loss of use of that body part. While modern medicine has improved the mobility of workers who suffer this type of injury, a worker still may be unable to return to his former job.
  • Paralysis. If a worker suffers a spinal injury, he could suffer paralysis that limits his ability to use an arm, leg, or other body part, or complete paralysis. This can be a debilitating injury where an employee is permanently disabled, needs modifications of his home, and could require round-the-clock care.
  • Traumatic brain injury and other brain injuries. If a worker suffers blunt force trauma to his head and brain, he can suffer traumatic brain injury, skull fractures, and hemorrhaging in and outside the brain. Depending on the severity of the injury, a person can suffer brain damage and serious limitations in his mobility, vision, hearing, reasoning, memory, and much more. This is another catastrophic injury that can leave a person permanently disabled and unable to care for his basic needs.
  • Severe burns. If a worker suffers second- or third-degree burns that cover significant parts of his body or some facial and hand burns, these could be considered catastrophic injuries. Besides having to endure painful surgeries and procedures, an individual may suffer psychological trauma from the permanent scarring and disfigurement.
  • Loss of vision. Partial vision loss or blindness can cause many workers to be unable to perform their former job duties. Depending on the severity of the vision loss and their ability to be retrained, they may become permanently disabled.
  • Crushing injuries. Crushing injuries are caused when a worker’s body is crushed between two objects, such as machinery parts. A worker can suffer life-threatening injuries, such as internal bleeding, organ damage, and traumatic brain injury.
  • Neck or back injuries. While some neck and back injuries will heal over time with medical treatment, others can cause a worker to suffer a permanent injury. This can result in serious limits in his mobility and chronic pain, causing him to become permanently disabled.

How Workers’ Compensation Benefits Can Help If You Suffer a Catastrophic Injury

If you suffer a catastrophic injury, you could be entitled to more workers compensation benefits than people who make a full recovery from their injuries and return to work. Besides the medical benefits and temporary total disability benefits injured workers receive, you could receive permanent partial disability or permanent total disability payments, rehabilitation services, and more.

However, you may have to fight to obtain the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve because your claim will be larger due to catastrophic injuries. The insurance company could argue longer and harder about your claim. You need the assistance of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to hold your employer and its insurance company accountable. To find out how Manfred Ricciardelli can assist you, start an online chat today to schedule your free consultation.


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