Brain Injuries & Work Accidents
The topic of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) has received quite a bit of media attention in the past few years due in large part to a class action lawsuit filed by former football players against the NFL. In addition, there have been multiple research studies about the short and long term effects of TBIs. Given our sports-driven society, it’s no wonder that brain injuries get a lot of attention. However, brain injuries in the context of work accidents doesn’t get a lot of attention, despite the fact that work related brain injuries are actually fairly common.
Individuals who are injured on the job often suffer brain and head injuries. This is especially true in certain industries like the construction industry where workers are often working at heights. Workers on construction sites are often working at heights which vary from a few feet above ground to several floors above ground. A worker who is performing construction work on a roof may fall and suffer a serious head injury.
In addition, it’s important to note that falls from heights aren’t the only types of work accidents which cause head injuries. In fact, across all industries, slip, trip and fall accidents are one of the most common types of work related accidents, and these types of accidents often result in brain injuries. Someone who trips down a flight of stairs at work can suffer a serious brain injury.
Detecting Brain Injuries is Often Difficult
Diagnosis of brain injuries is often difficult due to the fact that the symptoms vary widely from patient to patient. In addition, the symptoms of a head injury may be confused with symptoms of other injuries. Basically, brain injury symptoms may overlap symptoms of other injuries like fractures, neck injuries, etc. For example, a construction worker who falls from a roof and suffers a neck fracture is likely to have headaches during the recovery period. The headaches may initially be associated with the neck fracture and only after they continue to persist, they are associated with a head injury.
Treatment of Brain Injuries
At the outset, treatment of brain injuries usually includes rest and medication to treat headaches or dizziness. For most people, brain injuries heal within several weeks to several months. In cases where the symptoms do not subside or involve long term cognitive deficits, neuropsychological treatment may be necessary.
Compensation for Work Related Brain Injuries
1. Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Workers who have suffered a brain injury in a work related accident should report the injury to the workers’ compensation carrier/employer, even if the diagnosis comes well after the initial accident date. To ensure prompt payment of workers’ compensation benefits, it is important to have any statement of benefits or other workers’ compensation forms amended to reflect that the accident resulted in a brain or head injury. This is especially important where there is a delay between the accident and diagnosis of the brain injury.
2. Tort/Injury Lawsuits
In addition to workers’ compensation claims, injured workers who’ve suffered a brain injury may be able to get compensated for pain and suffering. This often requires filing a tort claim against a non-employer party. For example, a worker suffers a serious head injury in an auto accident while driving to a client meeting. The workers’ compensation claim covers medical bills and a portion of lost pay. In addition to the workers’ compensation claim, the injured worker files an auto accident lawsuit against the other driver. As a result of that lawsuit, the injured worker receives financial compensation for pain and suffering.
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