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Legal Blog

What is Physical Impairment?

Being injured in an accident can be devastating to every aspect of one’s life. When your injury is the result of someone else’s carelessness or negligence, you are entitled to seek damages, including your loss of earning capacity and pain and suffering. Sometimes, though, an injury is so severe that it causes a degree of suffering beyond lost finances. If your lifestyle has changed as a result of your injury, you may be qualified to file a lawsuit seeking damages for physical impairment.

At The Krist Law Firm, P.C., we understand how difficult it can be to be forced to give up the things you love in life. Contact us now to see how our Houston personal injury lawyers can get you the funds you deserve.

Defining Physical Impairment

While there is no single, authoritative definition of physical impairment, it is generally considered to be an injury that results in loss of enjoyment in life. It goes beyond mere pain and suffering; an injury that causes physical impairment prevents you from doing the things you love. Examples of physical impairment include losing the ability to walk, run, climb, type, dance, and even work. In medical terms, an injury that would qualify as a physical impairment can include any physical condition or disorder that affects one of the major body systems.

Imagine, for example, a professional ballerina who becomes paralyzed when she is hit by a car. This person has not only suffered a debilitating injury, but she has also lost the ability to work and engage in an activity she loves. Not being able to perform ballet may cause a loss of enjoyment in life, thereby resulting in physical impairment.

How Does One Prove Physical Impairment?

In many cases, the perpetrators of an accident may not pay for your damages willingly. Instead, those responsible and their insurance companies will do everything in their power to prove you were responsible for the injury and/or that your condition was pre-existing before the accident. With the help of a skilled injury attorney, you can win your lawsuit and achieve justice against those who tore your life apart.

The first step to winning your case is proving that you were not at fault for the accident. Whether that requires conducting an independent investigation or hiring applicable expert witnesses, showing that you were the victim of another’s actions is key to making your case successful. Another important element in helping your lawsuit reach a desirable outcome is proving your physical impairment in court. This can be done by using medical records to prove that your condition is not pre-existing.

Temporary or Permanent Impairment

Physical impairments can have a tremendous impact on an injury victim’s life. The duration of the effects of the impairment can be temporary or permanent. When a person suffers a temporary impairment, they eventually heal enough to regain the ability to function they had before their injury.

Temporary Impairments

Some temporary impairments may include:

  • Fractures: Broken bones can impair mobility and can curb what a person is capable of doing while the bone is immobilized in a cast or while the bone is healing. Sometimes, broken bones require surgery which can further lengthen the duration of the impairment.
  • Strains or sprains: These are painful, yet temporary, impairments that are the result of stretched or torn ligaments, muscles, and/or tendons. To heal, rest is a must, and sometimes physical therapy or the use of bracing is required.
  • Concussions: Head injuries or traumatic brain injuries (TBI) can cause concussions. The impairment causes headaches, nausea, dizziness, light and noise sensitivity, confusion, and irritability – and, if the injury is more serious than realized, it can have lasting, dangerous effects.
  • Bruises and contusions: Soft tissue damage causes pain, inflammation, and discoloration. Usually, trauma to the area causes the bruise, and depending on the impact and where it occurred, the healing time can vary with the bruises’ seriousness.
  • Whiplash: Often, whiplash occurs in car accidents due to a sudden whip-like motion of the head and neck. This impairment can be painful and can limit the victim’s range of motion.
  • Burns: Certain burns can result in temporary impairment. Burns are extremely painful and require treatment. In addition, other burns can cause permanent impairment depending on the severity of the injury.

This is far from an exhaustive list of temporary impairments. The key thing to keep in mind is that temporary impairments will go away, and with time and treatment, the victim will return to their pre-accident condition and level of functioning.

Permanent Impairments

Permanent impairments last for a long time or are not reversible at all, permanently altering the physical abilities of a victim of a personal injury. Some examples of permanent impairments are listed below:

  • Spinal cord injuries: Permanent impairment can be caused by damage to the spinal cord. Depending on the location of the injury, the injured person may become paralyzed in their lower body, which is called paraplegia, or they may suffer paralysis of their upper and lower body, which is called quadriplegia.
  • Amputations: Though prosthetics can restore a lot of a person’s independence after an amputation, losing a limb or another body part is a permanent and significant impairment that can dramatically impact the victim’s ability to function.
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBI): While a brain injury or TBI can be temporary, it can also permanently alter the injured party’s ability to function. Motor skills, memory, and sensory processing can be impacted, as can one’s cognitive health along with other physical side effects.
  • Respiratory impairments: If toxins or smoke are inhaled, it can lead to chronic lung damage. Respiratory impairments impact every breath the victim takes.
  • Musculoskeletal impairments: When fractures or damage to bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, or muscles is significant, the result can be painful and include loss of function or mobility that is severely limited.
  • Burns: While some burns heal and only cause temporary impairments, more severe burns can cause pain, scarring, disfigurement, and damage that is permanent. These physical manifestations of the injury can tremendously impact the victim’s psychological well-being.

Permanent impairments mean that the victim will face ongoing treatment and medical care. They may require therapy, home alterations, mobility devices, assistive apparatuses, and other strategies that must be implemented to help them better deal with their newfound limitations.

Contact The Krist Law Firm Today

Losing the ability to do what you love is the most severe consequence of sustaining an injury. If you believe that you deserve to be compensated for a physical impairment that resulted from the fault of another individual or entity, call the personal injury lawyers with The Krist Law Firm today for a free consultation. Do not be taken advantage of. We will use our experience and all of the resources at our disposal to get you the compensation you deserve. Contact us today!