Catastrophic Injuries in Florida: Legal Claims, Liability, Compensation, and Wrongful Death

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Accidents can occur at any time, often resulting in injuries that range from minor bruises to severe, life-altering conditions. In the state of Florida, as in many other places, there is a legal framework in place to address injuries caused by someone else’s negligence or misconduct. Catastrophic injuries, in particular, represent a significant category within personal injury law. In this blog post, we will explore what is considered a catastrophic injury in the state of Florida within the context of a personal injury legal claim. We’ll delve into how liability for catastrophic injuries may be established, the types of compensation and damages that victims can seek, and, in the unfortunate event of death, who may sue on behalf of the deceased victim.

What Constitutes a Catastrophic Injury in Florida?

In Florida, catastrophic injuries are those that result in severe and long-lasting physical, emotional, or financial consequences for the victim. These injuries often have a profound impact on the individual’s quality of life, and they typically involve extensive medical treatment, rehabilitation, and ongoing care. While there is no exhaustive list of catastrophic injuries, some common examples include:

  1. Spinal Cord Injuries: Injuries to the spinal cord can result in paraplegia or quadriplegia, causing significant impairment of motor and sensory functions.
  2. Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs): Severe head injuries can lead to cognitive impairments, memory loss, and long-term neurological deficits.
  3. Severe Burns: Burns that cover a large portion of the body can result in extensive scarring and may require multiple surgeries and skin grafts.
  4. Amputations: The loss of a limb or extremity can have a profound impact on an individual’s mobility and independence.
  5. Severe Orthopedic Injuries: Complex fractures and joint injuries can lead to chronic pain and limitations in mobility.
  6. Organ Damage: Damage to vital organs, such as the heart, lungs, or kidneys, can result in life-threatening conditions.
  7. Blindness or Deafness: Loss of vision or hearing can significantly affect a person’s daily life and employability.
  8. Severe Psychological Trauma: Some catastrophic injuries may also result in severe psychological trauma, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or severe depression.
  9. Injuries that result in Permenant Sever Diminished Quality of Life: Some physical inuries result in the inability to perform normal tasks that were once considered routine, and may also include physical or neurological types of catastrophic injuries.

Establishing Liability for Catastrophic Injuries

To pursue a personal injury claim for a catastrophic injury in Florida, it is essential to establish the liability of the responsible party. This involves demonstrating that the injury was caused by the negligence or wrongful conduct of another party. The following elements are typically considered when establishing liability:

  1. Duty of Care: The plaintiff must show that the defendant owed them a duty of care. For example, in a car accident case, all drivers owe a duty to operate their vehicles safely and responsibly.
  2. Breach of Duty: The plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant breached their duty of care through negligent or wrongful actions. For instance, if a driver ran a red light and caused an accident, they breached their duty of care.
  3. Causation: It must be proven that the defendant’s breach of duty directly caused the catastrophic injury. Medical evidence and expert testimony may be required to establish causation.
  4. Damages: Finally, the plaintiff must show that they suffered damages as a result of the injury. Damages can include medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and more.

Compensation and Damages for Catastrophic Injuries

When a plaintiff successfully establishes liability for a catastrophic injury, they may seek various types of compensation and damages to help them cope with the physical, emotional, and financial toll of their injuries. These may include:

  • Medical Expenses: Compensation for past and future medical bills, including surgeries, hospital stays, rehabilitation, and ongoing treatments.
  • Lost Income: Reimbursement for income lost due to the injury, including both past and future lost wages or earning capacity.
  • Pain and Suffering: Compensation for the physical and emotional pain, suffering, and distress experienced due to the catastrophic injury.
  • Rehabilitation Costs: Coverage for the costs associated with rehabilitation services, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and assistive devices.
  • Home Modifications: If necessary, compensation for modifying the victim’s home to accommodate their injuries, such as installing ramps or widening doorways.
  • Loss of Consortium: Spouses or family members may be entitled to compensation for the loss of companionship, care, and support due to the victim’s injuries.
  • Punitive Damages: In cases of egregious misconduct or gross negligence, punitive damages may be awarded to punish the wrongdoer and deter future misconduct.
  • Wrongful Death Damages (if applicable): In cases where the catastrophic injury results in death, surviving family members may be entitled to damages for funeral expenses, loss of financial support, and emotional distress.

Wrongful Death Claims in Florida

In tragic cases where the catastrophic injury results in the victim’s death, Florida law allows surviving family members to pursue a wrongful death claim on the deceased person’s behalf. Wrongful death claims are a distinct legal action from personal injury claims and serve to compensate surviving family members for their losses.

The following parties may have standing to file a wrongful death claim in Florida:

  • Surviving Spouse: The surviving spouse of the deceased is typically the first in line to file a wrongful death claim. If the couple has children, the spouse must represent the children’s interests in the claim.
  • Children: If there is no surviving spouse, the deceased person’s children may file a wrongful death claim. If there are multiple children, they may share the compensation.
  • Parents: If the deceased person has no surviving spouse or children, their parents may file a wrongful death claim.
  • Other Dependents: In some cases, individuals who were financially dependent on the deceased person may have standing to file a wrongful death claim.

Wrongful death damages in Florida may include:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Loss of financial support
  • Loss of companionship and guidance
  • Mental pain and suffering
  • Medical and hospital expenses related to the injury
  • The value of lost services and support provided by the deceased


Catastrophic injuries can have devastating consequences for victims and their families. In Florida, a legal framework exists to hold negligent parties accountable and provide compensation for those who have suffered catastrophic injuries. Establishing liability, seeking various types of compensation, and navigating the complexities of wrongful death claims are crucial steps in the legal process. If you or a loved one has experienced a catastrophic injury in Florida, it is essential to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney who can guide you through the legal process and help you pursue the justice and compensation you deserve.



Call 407.612.6464863.324.3500 today to speak with an experienced Catastrophic Injury Lawyer who proudly serves Lakeland, Orlando, and throughout the State of Florida.




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Sanga Turnbull

Sanga Turnbull is the founder and principal attorney at The Turnbull Law Firm, a Florida law firm helping personal injury victims in Winter Haven and Orlando recover compensation for harm done to them by the negligence of others. The comprehensive personal injury practice at The Turnbull Firm includes all manner of motor vehicle accidents, nursing home neglect and abuse, slip and fall, workplace and industrial accidents, medical malpractice, catastrophic injury, wrongful death, and more. Injury victims or their families are invited to call The Turnbull Firm for a no-cost, confidential consultation about any potential claims they may have.