How do we define circumstances and injuries that go beyond a typical claim and severely impact a person’s life? How do we characterize the types of claims where an individual’s enjoyment of life is affected in an extraordinary manner? Typically, attorneys refer to these types of cases as “catastrophic injury” claims. These are the type of personal injury claims where the health of an individual has been so seriously impacted that their life has been irreparably altered. Defining these claims legally is somewhat murky and case law has done little to provide attorneys with a specific definition of the term. However, a recent Workers Compensation Appeals Board ruling attempted to list factors in order to establish a catastrophic injury claim. These include:
- An intensity and seriousness of treatment received for an injury;
- The ultimate outcome when a person’s physical injury is permanent and stationary;
- Whether the severity of the physical injury impacts the person’s ability to perform daily activities;
- Whether the physical injury is closely analogous to one of the injuries specified in various statutes, including loss of a limb, paralysis, severe burns, or a severe head injury; and
- If the physical injury is incurable or progressive. Wilson v. State of California CAL Fire (5/10/19) 2019 Cal.Wrk.Comp. LEXIS 29.