Traumatic Brain Injury Recovery Compensation – How Workers Comp Lawyers Can Help
The latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that there were about 64,000 deaths caused by traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the United States in 2020 alone.
Such reports also revealed that at least half of all TBI-related hospitalizations result from falls, including those in the workplace, and motor vehicle accidents.
A traumatic brain injury is considered "catastrophic," as it has life-lasting implications. Besides significantly affecting victims' physical and emotional well-being, treatment and rehabilitation for TBIs can bring many financial problems.
Fortunately, experienced workers' compensation lawyers can help brain injury victims seek justice and hold at-fault parties accountable if the TBI resulted from labor negligence or an accident caused by another driver.
Here's a comprehensive guide on how seasoned workers' comp attorneys can work hand-in-hand with someone who suffered a TBI to get the compensation they deserve.
What Is a Traumatic Brain Injury?
Before delving into how a workers comp attorney can help victims, it is important to understand what TBI is. Unlike a head injury, which is described as any type of head trauma affecting the skull, a traumatic brain injury gets to the brain.
A TBI occurs when an external factor or sudden physical assault damages the brain in some way. Therefore, this type of injury is one of the main causes of death and permanent disability in adults.
However, the term "traumatic brain injury" is broad. When TBI occurs, the damage can affect one (focal) or several (diffuse) areas. Also, depending on its severity, this injury can be mild or severe, which can result in a coma or death.
Most Common Causes of Traumatic Brain Injury
A person can suffer a traumatic brain injury from different causes. However, in most cases, it results from an accident caused by another party's negligence. These are the most common:
Slip and fall accidents
Construction and workplace accidents
Nursing home abuse
Personal medic neglect
Most of the time, brain damage results from a blow or jolt to the head that causes the brain to strike the inside of the skull, leaving a penetrating injury or bruising that affects brain function.
Types of Traumatic Brain Injury by Severity
As mentioned, traumatic brain injuries can be mild to severe. The type of TBI a person suffers after a workplace accident or crash influences the treatment they should receive and the compensation they can expect.
Minor or Mild Traumatic Brain Injury
Also known as a concussion, it is a type of traumatic brain injury from which most people can recover and return to their work or normal life shortly after the accident, whether or not there is cognitive impairment.
Moderate Traumatic Brain Injury
A person who suffers a moderate brain injury will likely face lifelong consequences and deal with resulting conditions for years, including cognitive issues, mood disorders, chronic pain, decreased attention span, and insomnia.
Severe Traumatic Brain Injury
This type of traumatic brain injury often causes disability, even if victims manage to recover to some degree. Someone who suffers from severe TBI will never be able to return to their normal work and social life.
A severe brain injury can cause memory loss, seizures, coordination difficulties, and existence in a vegetative or unconscious state.
Two Broad Types of Brain Injury
Traumatic brain injuries can also be divided into two broad types depending on how they were caused. These are:
Closed Brain Injury
The term defines non-penetrating injuries without skull fractures. Generally, this type of TBI is caused by rapid back-and-forth movement or jerking of the brain within the bony structure, causing tearing of the tissue, ruptured blood vessels, and bruising.
Closed brain injuries often result from motor vehicle accidents, falls, or sports incidents. Vigorously shaking a baby could also cause a brain injury. It is also known as "Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS).
Penetrating Brain Injury
This type of TBI, also known as open brain injury, occurs when the victim sustains a fractured skull. Object impacts are the most common cause, as they strike the head and could even allow object particles to enter the brain.
A common example of this type of injury is when a bullet passes through the skull and into the brain.
Most Common Brain Injuries
A brain injury can cause a bump, jolt, or blow to the head, disrupting the brain's normal functions. Based on that definition, these are the most common TBIs:
This term defines brain injuries or traumas that can stretch the brain's blood vessels and damage nerves.
Like concussions, this type of injury damages nerves and blood vessels. However, a contusion causes bleeding in the brain.
Diffuse Axonal Injury
When this type of injury occurs, the head jerks or twists, causing nerve tissue to tear. In some cases, this TBI causes the release of some chemicals that could also damage or alter how the brain works.
This term defines highly severe injuries that cause bruises at both the blow site and on the head's opposite side. Typically, this TBI occurs when the brain bounces back and hits the opposite side of the skull after the impact.
Hemorrhage or Bleeding
It occurs in the brain, skull, or within the brain tissue and could be caused by both penetrating and non-penetrating injuries.
Also known as brain swelling, it is a condition or injury that causes fluid to build up in the brain and increase pressure within the bony structure.
Acquired Brain Injuries
This category includes mild and severe brain injuries caused by disease or other conditions, such as encephalitis, which refers to inflammation resulting from an infection, or hypoxic/anoxic brain injury, which refers to damage to brain tissue caused by lack of oxygen.
Signs and Symptoms of a Traumatic Brain Injury
A traumatic brain injury can be difficult to detect. However, some signs and symptoms may indicate that a person has suffered a TBI after an accident or fall.
Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Symptoms
These are the symptoms that a person with a mild traumatic brain injury may experience:
Loss of consciousness (can occur for a few seconds or up to a few minutes)
Confusion and disorientation
Nausea or vomiting
Loss of balance
Changes in sleep patterns, including sleeping too little or too much
Blurred vision, ringing in the ears, or other changes in sensory perception
Moderate to Severe Traumatic Brain Injury Symptoms
A person suffering moderate to severe traumatic brain injury may face the following symptoms:
Loss of consciousness from a couple of minutes to an hour
Seizures or convulsions
Repeated nausea and vomiting
Loss of coordination
Clear fluids draining from the ears or nose
Loss of coordination
Any person who experiences one or more of these symptoms after a fall, accident, or blow from a blunt object should seek immediate medical attention.
How Traumatic Brain Injury Can Affect Victim's Lives
Regardless of the type or cause, a traumatic brain injury can have permanent effects on people's lives.
From memory loss to sensory issues, any individual with TBI may have to deal with severe consequences for years or permanently.
In addition, these injuries can be disabling and have devastating effects on a person's ability to perform day-to-day activities.
Besides the symptoms listed above, a traumatic brain injury can result in the following:
Total memory loss
Sensory or perceptual problems, including loss of sight, smell, taste, and hearing
Seizures that occur months or years later of the initial trauma or traumatic epilepsy
Loss of motor control
Weakness in the limbs
Hemiparesis or loss of function on one side of the body
Changes in intellectual functioning
Loss of the ability to coordinate arm or leg movements
Permanent lack of coordination
Sudden changes in mood and emotions
Depression and anxiety
Difficulty paying attention
Those who suffer traumatic brain injury also face material losses, as their ability to work may be affected by disability or persistent symptoms. Many also struggle financially to afford treatments, therapies, and medications.
Damages that Traumatic Brain Injury Victims Can Recover
Whether it was caused by a motor vehicle accident or a fall at work, a traumatic brain injury can cause significant damage, which usually falls into two categories: economic and non-economic.
Both types influence the amount that victims can recover when seeking brain injury compensation. Aside from brain injuries, a victim can also seek broken bones recovery compensation depending on the injuries.
Economic damages include all the expenses that those affected must cover due to brain injury, such as treatments and hospital fees. However, non-economic damages are more subjective and comprise non-monetary losses, such as pain and suffering.
Here's a list of the economic and non-economic damages that victims can recover through traumatic brain injury compensation:
Current and future medical expenses
Expenses related to special equipment or assistive devices
Loss of earning capacity
Costs of rehabilitation services
Future care or therapy
Property damage if the brain injury was caused by a crash, for example
Pain and suffering
Emotional distress or mental anguish
Loss of enjoyment of life
Average Traumatic Brain Injury Settlements in Ohio
In Ohio, a personal injury lawyer or workers' compensation attorney can get a traumatic brain injury claim settled for hundreds of thousands of dollars, especially if it was caused by another party's negligence.
Severe traumatic brain injuries can cause lingering and permanent effects on victims' lives, including memory loss, cognitive impairments, physical disability, disfigurement, and more.
Since someone who suffered a serious brain injury must deal with these effects for years or the rest of their lives, compensation must be fair and allow them to afford their recovery, pay for rehabilitation, and give them mental and financial well-being.
However, it is important to understand that no traumatic brain injury claim is the same as another. Therefore, compensation can vary from victim to victim.
Someone who suffered a mild traumatic brain injury is not entitled to the same compensation as a person who suffered a severe head injury with permanent effects on their brain and physical abilities, for example.
In addition, the traumatic brain injury settlement process can be slow if both parties end up embroiled in arguments to determine who is at fault or when a victim should obtain compensation.
Factors That May Affect Traumatic Brain Injury Compensation
As mentioned, a traumatic brain injury settlement varies depending on the characteristics of the case. Here's a list of the most common factors that can affect the process.
The brain injury compensation could be higher if the responsibility for the accident that caused the brain or head injury is clear. When there is a debate about who was at fault or proving such claims is difficult, the defendant does not usually make reasonable offers.
Number of Defendants
In some cases, the accident that resulted in brain injury is caused by more than one person or entity. When more than one party is responsible, the compensation often varies, as each defendant will have their insurance company trying to pay less than they should.
The amount a victim can receive as compensation for a brain injury can also vary based on their age, occupation, and medical history.
Moreover, the compensation may include punitive damages, which are designed to punish the defendant for their behavior.
The compensation must also mitigate or minimize the damages that the victims suffered from others' actions as long as it is reasonable.
When to Seek Workers Compensation for a Brain Injury in Ohio
Anyone who sustains a traumatic brain injury during their workday or at the workplace is entitled to receive workers' compensation benefits under Ohio law. These may include the following:
Replacement of lost wages (a portion) when the traumatic brain injury renders the victim unable to earn their usual wages
Payments for all medical treatment, hospitalization, or rehabilitation costs, including reimbursement for travel expenses incurred to go to medical consultations or therapy sessions
Disability benefits if the traumatic brain injury causes partial or total permanent disability. These benefits depend on the type and severity of the head injury (if the disability is temporary, victims receive these benefits only for a while)
Vocational rehabilitation services, including training, to help victims return to their old job or find a new one due to limitations resulting from the brain injury
In addition, surviving family members of workers who died after a traumatic brain injury may receive death benefits. Overall, they can total up to two-thirds of the worker's average weekly wage.
Besides death benefits, victims' surviving dependents may also receive a contribution of up to $7,500 for funeral and burial expenses. These are based on the level of support the deceased worker provided to their family member prior to their death.
What To Do To Get Workers Compensation Benefits for a Brain Injury in Ohio
An individual who has suffered a work-related mild or severe brain injury may seek the help of an attorney to pursue legal action against the responsible parties and recover damages, including medical expenses and lost wages.
Under Ohio law, workers' compensation is considered a type of "no-fault" claim. Therefore, victims do not need to prove that their employer was at fault for the injury.
However, to build a strong traumatic brain injury case, victims must show that the accident that caused the TBI happened in the workplace in order to receive benefits. Therefore, these are the steps they need to follow to get the best outcome:
Inform the employer or immediate supervisor about the accident, whether they suffered severe or mild traumatic brain injuries
Seek medical attention as soon as possible, as only experts can determine if there is a head injury or not
Take pictures of the scene of the accident that caused the injury
Follow all recommendations of medical personnel, including treatment
Attend all medical appointments to treat the injury
Save copies of all medical bills and any other receipts showing costs for transportation or authorized treatment
How Workers' Comp Lawyers Can Help
A workers' comp lawyer can help brain injury victims seek the compensation they deserve if their injury was caused by a workplace-related accident.
While a personal injury lawyer can help car accident victims, work-related traumatic brain injury cases are handled by expert workers' compensation attorneys.
A workers comp lawyer knows all the laws that protect individuals who suffered accidents in the workplace or while performing their professional duties and can help victims recover all the benefits they are entitled to, from lost wages to future medical care.
Larrimer & Larrimer's Lawyers Are Ready to Help Brain Injury Victims
From seeking just compensation to negotiating a fair head injury settlement, Larrimer and Larrimer's attorneys are ready to help victims!
Our team of seasoned workers' compensation attorneys has years of experience helping those affected by workplace negligence obtain fair compensation and negotiate traumatic brain injury settlements after an occupational accident.
We can help all victims file brain injury claims and recover damages caused by other parties' fault so they can deal with all the challenges caused by their condition.
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