Brain or head injuries are one of the most complex types of injuries in an accident/injury case in Pennsylvania. That’s because brain and head injuries affect people differently. No two brain or head injury cases are alike. In fact, two people could suffer the same type of brain injury and be affected by the injury in opposite ways. One individual may recover completely with no residual effects, while the other individual may be completely and permanently disabled.
Individuals who suffer a permanent brain or head injury often suffer the following types of symptoms:
- vision sensitivity (i.e., sensitivity to light),
- personality changes, and
- impairments in cognitive function.
In fact, these are the types of symptoms which will often affect an injured individual’s ability to return to work.
Example 1 – Carpenter Suffers Major Head Injury at Work
A carpenter has a serious accident at work and is unable to return to work due to his injuries. He sustained a major head injury. After several months and different medical treatments, the carpenter attempts to resume work, but is unable to do so. He is a drywall carpenter, and when he goes back to work, co-workers notice that he is unfocused and confused. He grabs the wrong tools and uses the wrong materials. This is work he has done for years without any problems, and now, he is unable to perform his duties. His employer has no choice but to fire him.
Here, the injured worker may be able to make both a workers’ compensation claim for the disability and a claim against another, non-employer party for having caused the work accident. Access Pennsylvania work accident law articles here.
Example 2 – Accountant Suffers Head Injury in Car Accident
An accountant is seriously injured in a car accident and suffers a head injury. She is out of work for several weeks. When she returns to work, she is entirely unable to concentrate. She can no longer perform the complex tax returns she did prior to the accident. She makes mistakes and fails to catch them. She tries to modify her job duties and even tries to do part-time work. However, even with these adjustments, she still cannot resume her job duties and loses her job.
Here, the injured woman may be able to make a claim for the inability to work, which is caused by the head injury. The claim would be against the driver of the other vehicle.
Permanent Disability (Future Wage Loss Claims)
In personal injury and accident lawsuits in Pennsylvania, the injured party (plaintiff) has a right to make a claim for any and all damages which flow from the original injury. The negligent party (defendant) has a right to require the plaintiff to prove those damages sufficiently. Common claims for damages in a brain-head injury case in Pennsylvania include claims for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
The lost wage claim encompasses both actual loses (those that have already occurred) and any losses that are reasonably expected to occur in the future (future lost wages). In order to make a future lost wage claim, the injured plaintiff must prove two things: 1. the disability occurred as a result of the original injury, and 2. the projected amount of the losses.
Future lost wage claims may be made in cases involving partial disability and full disability. Partial disability cases usually involve claims that a brain or head injury resulted in the plaintiff’s inability to return to full duty or claims that the plaintiff had to take a lower paying job as a result of the brain injury. Full or total disability cases involve claims that the brain injury caused a complete loss of the plaintiff’s ability to return to work.
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