Every employer takes all available precautions to help maintain workplace safety and minimize the risk for an employee sustaining a work-related injury. Unfortunately, even with the most meticulous and careful of efforts, workplace injuries will still occur. Workplace injuries under California law are divided into two categories: specific and continuous trauma. A catastrophic injury is one that is life-changing and typically occurs without warning and quite suddenly. These injuries will be long-term injuries and have long-term effects and implications for the injured worker. Catastrophic injuries are often those types that impact the central nervous system, which means that there can be other effects on other bodily functions and systems. Injuries to the brain stem or nervous system are often complex and difficult to treat, as they will typically have far reaching implications for the worker. The injured worker will almost always require long-term or even life-long medical care to address the injury. In many cases, the injured worker will not ever be able to return to work. Some examples of catastrophic injury could be multiple and severe broken bones, serious burns, and serious head trauma. Catastrophic injuries are frequently caused by automobile accidents, falls at construction sites, workplace violence, or industrial accidents.
As with any injury, the workers’ compensation system will require a permanent disability rating be affixed to the employee and his or her ongoing physical disability. In most cases, the permanent disability rating cannot be increased due to psychiatric injury, sexual disorders, or sleep disorders arising from the injury. However, there are exceptions to this rule. One of these exceptions is if the injury is classified as a catastrophic injury. Therefore, for injuries occurring on or after January 1, 2013, an employee may seek to recover not only for the catastrophic injury itself but also due for psychiatric injury, sleep disorder, or sexual disorder that is a result of the physical injury.
If you have questions about how to make your workplace safer and how to help avoid catastrophic injuries, call me today at (714) 516-8188. We can talk about different types of injuries, your business, and how to protect yourself and your employees.