A serious injury can change your life in a matter of seconds. If the injury occurs at work, or while an employee is performing his or her job, the victim may be entitled to receive compensation under the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act. Benefits are especially crucial for the victims of catastrophic workplace injuries, who often lose the ability to work – while simultaneously incurring expensive medical bills. If your parent, spouse, or child suffered a catastrophic injury on the job in North Carolina, the Charlotte personal injury lawyers of the Ramsay Law Firm can provide you with a free consultation to help you understand your rights and options for filing a claim.
What is a Catastrophic Injury?
A catastrophic injury can be broadly defined as any severe injury that has permanently disabling, life-altering effects. These injuries demand immediate emergency treatment, and in many cases, require the victim to receive ongoing care and treatment for the rest of his or her life.
Sadly, there are many cases in which catastrophic injuries shorten life expectancy, cause serious complications, or cause the death of the victim. If a catastrophic injury is fatal, the victim’s surviving dependents may be able to bring a claim and receive compensation for the family left behind.
Catastrophic injuries can have a wide variety of causes, ranging from auto accidents to accidental falls. When a catastrophic injury is related to someone’s job, it may entitle the victim to receive workman’s comp benefits. If the injury is not work-related, the victim or victim’s representative may wish to file a personal injury lawsuit or wrongful death lawsuit. In the latter case, it is necessary to prove that negligence caused the injury before compensation may be recovered. However, there is no requirement to establish fault or negligence if the injury was work-related.
Types of Catastrophic Injuries at Work
Several types of catastrophic injuries can occur in the workplace, for any number of reasons. Examples include the following:
- Amputation Injuries – Amputation injuries may involve the loss of a hand, loss of a foot, loss of a leg, or the loss of an arm.
- Crush Injuries – Crush injuries often occur in construction and manufacturing jobs when workers become pinned beneath collapsing materials, automobile wreckage, or heavy industrial machines.
- Organ Failure/Damage – Organ failure or organ damage may force the victim to receive an organ transplant, or to receive medical treatment such as dialysis for the rest of his or her life.
- Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI) – Spinal cord injuries often result in permanent paralysis. Paralysis from the waist down is called “paraplegia,” while total paralysis is known as “tetraplegia” or, more commonly, “quadriplegia.”
- Third Degree Burns – Severe burns require large, painful skin grafts that can be rejected by the victim’s body. Burns can also cause permanent problems with temperature regulation, immune system function, and physical sensitivity due to nerve damage.
- Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) – A traumatic brain injury can impact virtually every mental and physical function, ranging from balance and mobility to memory and speech.
In addition to the examples noted earlier in this article – car accidents and slip and fall accidents (or in some cases, falls from heights) – other causes of catastrophic injury could include:
- Fires and explosions
- Workplace violence and assault
- Being struck by a heavy or falling object
- Using a defective or dangerous machine
- Using defective safety gear
- Electrical accidents and electrocution
- Exposure to toxins or poisonous chemicals
- Lacerations or puncture wounds to certain areas of the body
Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Catastrophic Work Injuries
An injury like a broken arm, a bulging disc, or a torn ligament is painful, costly, and temporarily disabling. However, these injuries are generally treatable and do not put the victim’s life in jeopardy.
In comparison, a worker who suffers a catastrophic injury, such as a TBI or SCI, may never recover from his or her injury. The victim is also unlikely to rejoin the workforce, unless he or she takes on a different, lighter job with fewer hours and/or a lower rate of pay. Because of the dire financial toll that catastrophic injuries can take – not only upon the victim, but his or her entire family – workers’ compensation benefits are a critical lifeline. These benefits include the following:
- Benefits for lost wages (approximately 66.66% of the pre-injury wages)
- Benefits for medical treatment
- Benefits for anticipated medical care that will be needed in the future
- Benefits for surviving loved ones, if the injury results in death
Charlotte, NC Workman’s Comp Attorneys Can Help
Picking up the pieces after a catastrophic work injury can feel like an impossible task – but know that the compassionate and experienced attorneys of the Ramsay Law Firm are here to assist you in any way we can. We have been representing seriously injured employees in North Carolina workers’ compensation claims for decades, and understand what it takes to maximize your benefits while ensuring your rights are upheld and protected. To arrange a free legal consultation with our Charlotte work injury lawyers, contact the Ramsay Law Firm online, or call our law offices at (704) 376-1616.