Sandra Zisckind on Catastrophic Injuries - Diamond and Diamond Lawyers

Sandra Zisckind on Catastrophic Injuries

People often ask us what is a “catastrophic injury” for the purposes of a motor vehicle accident? Catastrophic is a legal definition under the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule. Generally, if you are catastrophic you are a quadriplegic, paraplegic or severely brain injured. But there is one other category that people are not usually aware of, that is 55% impairment.

What does that mean? Well if you are physically and/or psychologically impaired so much so that according to American Medical Associationguidelines you are at least 55% impaired, you are catastrophic. Examples might be severe post traumatic stress disorder combined with chronic pain, or several fractures with a cognitive disorder. Only a doctor can make this type of assessment. However, this determination can increase your benefits exponentially. If you are found to be catastrophically injured your benefits can go from $50,000.00 to $1,000,000.00. A huge increase from what you would usually be entitled too.

The problem with this definition is people assume that if they are not confined to a wheelchair they are not catastrophic. This is not the case. As we all know psychological and other injuries can be extremely debilitating. I often lament with other lawyers how so many potential catastrophic cases go undetected because doctors are not aware of the legal definition. If you are unsure if your injury is catastrophic, ask your doctor. If they need guidance, talk to a lawyer and ask them to send the legal definition to see if you qualify. Missing out on a potential opportunity by not exploring this option would be in itself, catastrophic.

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