Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are among the most devastating injuries anyone can endure. There are a number of worksites where there is a significant risk of suffering a traumatic brain injury. A traumatic brain injury could be anything ranging from a concussion to severe trauma such as skull fractures or bleeding in the brain, which could require surgery, rehabilitation and ongoing treatment and therapy. The cost of treating a brain injury could be significant and could sometimes, add up to millions of dollars.
If you have suffered a traumatic brain injury on the job, it is important that you get an experienced workplace TBI attorney on your side early so your legal rights and best interests are protected. Even though employees are entitled to workers' compensation benefits that pay for medical expenses and a portion of lost income, such compensation can be woefully inadequate when it comes to helping workers and their families deal with large medical expenses, ongoing treatment and therapy and loss of earning capacity.
Factors That Might Affect a TBI Settlement
Traumatic brain injuries are unlike any other type of injury. They are unique because of the following factors:
Hospital care: TBIs are more likely to not just require hospitalization, but lengthy hospital stays. Brain injuries may also require additional surgeries. Hospitals can charge thousands of dollars each day depending on the specific services patients require.
Medical treatment: The costs of medical care can also be significantly higher when you've suffered a severe brain injury. This is especially true when you require surgery and other types of treatments, medication and medical equipment that could cost a lot more. Specialists' bills are also likely to be higher.
Rehabilitation: In addition to medical care, patients who have suffered severe brain injuries require extensive rehabilitation. Most severely injured patients are transferred to a rehabilitation facility where they continue to receive a variety of therapies to improve their condition. Rehabilitative treatment is also extremely costly and may not always be covered by health insurance policies.
Non-medical factors: In addition to your cost of medical care, you may also need to consider other areas of your life that may be affected by a TBI. You may need help to perform household duties such as cooking and housekeeping. You may also require additional medical equipment such as a wheelchair or a hospital bed, which could prove expensive as well.
Types of Damages in Work TBI Settlements
Economic damages: These are essentially quantifiable financial losses that stem from the brain injury including:
- Medical expenses: These include any type of medical treatment cost from emergency transportation and treatment to hospitalization, doctor's office visits, consultation with specialists, surgeries, other medical treatment, cost of medication and medical equipment. Workers can also seek compensation for future medical expenses including cost of ongoing treatment and care.
- Lost income: After you've suffered a serious brain injury, it could be a while before workers are able to return to work, if at all they return. In such cases, workers can claim compensation for income lost because they couldn't work after the injury. If the TBI is so severe that workers are never able to come back to work, they can also seek compensation for lost future wages and loss of earning capacity.
- Cost of rehabilitation: In many cases, workers who have suffered brain injuries may require extensive rehabilitation after their injuries. They may require ongoing physical therapy to help regain a lot of daily functions like walking, feeding and dressing themselves. They may require occupational rehabilitation if they've lost the ability to return to the work they did prior to the injury. Some may even require speech therapy. The costs for rehabilitative treatments and therapies can add up quickly and are often not covered by health insurance.
- Other expenses: Work TBI settlements can also help pay for other expenses such as any accommodations patients may need. For example, if you are in a wheelchair and need to install a wheelchair ramp or stair lift in your home, you can seek to be reimbursed for such expenses.
Non-economic damages: These are losses that cannot be easily quantified including:
- Pain and suffering: The physical pain and suffering a person endures because of the brain injury.
- Emotional/mental suffering: A brain injury is not only physically painful, but can also be harrowing emotionally for victims and their families. Injured victims often slip into depression or have other psychological issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.
- Loss of life's enjoyment: This is compensation for the victim's loss of ability to enjoy and experience life the way he or she did prior to the injury. For example, you may not be able to play with your children or travel with your family.
- Loss of consortium: Many injured victims are also unable to enjoy intimacy with their spouses or partners following an injury. This is compensation for the injured victim's spouses who suffers that loss of companionship.
Punitive damages: In some cases, where negligence has been egregious on the part of the defendant, the court may award the victim punitive damages, which are not meant to compensate the victim, but punish the defendants for their outrageous negligence. These damages are also meant to deter such negligence in the future.
It is very important that you consult your personal injury lawyer before you agree to settle your TBI lawsuit. This is because insurance companies for defendants typically want to settle the case quickly with a low payment. Once you sign a settlement agreement, you cannot seek compensation for any additional expenses you may incur in the future, even if it's related to your work TBI. When you retain an experienced attorney, he or she will thoroughly evaluate your case, determine what it may be worth and ensure that the insurance company treats you fairly.
If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury at work, the experienced California workplace TBI attorneys at Greenberg & Ruby LLP can help you better understand your legal rights and options. We will fight to help you secure maximum compensation for all your losses. Call us at (323) 782-0535 for a free, comprehensive and confidential consultation.