The brain is the most important organ in the human body, and any injury to it can have severe and lifelong effects. As such, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are some of the most serious injuries anyone can suffer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that there were over 220,000 TBI-related hospitalizations in the year 2019 and over 64,000 TBI-related deaths in 2020. Such numbers indicate that TBIs, unfortunately, are far from uncommon. Individuals who have suffered work-related accidents involving TBIs should consider contacting an attorney for more information about recovery through the workers’ compensation program.
What Are Traumatic Brain Injuries?
TBIs occur when the head suffers a violent blow. This can occur either from the head striking a nearby object (such as the ground in a fall) or from an outside object striking the head (such as a thrown baseball). Some of the most common forms of TBIs include:
- Concussions: A form of TBI (usually mild) that results from a blow or jolt to the head. The sudden movement causes the brain to shift or twist within the skull. Concussions are the most common type of TBI.
- Diffuse axonal injury: A severe form of a concussion that occurs where the brain shifts so violently that it causes tears in the brain’s nerve fibers
- Contusions: A bruise of the brain that occurs when swollen brain tissue combines with blood released from fractured blood vessels to create pressure on the brain.
- Skull fracture: Occurs where the skull cracks and pieces of broken bone from the skull pierce and injure the brain
- Penetrating brain injuries: Occur when an outside object pierces the skull and enters the brain tissue
The severity of certain head injuries is often immediately apparent, but even seemingly mild injuries can nonetheless develop into TBIs. It is therefore important to seek medical attention immediately if you have suffered a head injury, especially if you plan on beginning a workers’ compensation claim.
Signs and Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injuries
The severity of TBIs is a sliding scale ranging from mild all the way up to severe. These types of injuries are also accompanied by a wide variety of physical, sensory, cognitive, behavioral, and mental symptoms. Such symptoms differ according to how severe the injury is.
The symptoms of mild TBIs include:
- Physical: Headache, nausea or vomiting, fatigue, and dizziness
- Sensory: Blurred vision, ringing in the ears, a bad taste in the mouth, changes in the ability to smell, and sensitivity to light and sound
- Cognitive: Loss of consciousness for up to several minutes, memory or concentration problems, mood swings, depression or anxiety, difficulty sleeping
The symptoms of moderate to severe TBIs include:
- Physical: Persistent headache, repeated vomiting or nausea, convulsions or seizures, dilation of the pulse, weakness in fingers or toes, loss of coordination
- Cognitive: Loss of consciousness for up to several hours, extreme confusion, agitation, combativeness, slurred speech, and coma
If left untreated, TBIs can result in comas, long-term vegetative states, minimally conscious states, and death. Many of the symptoms of TBIs can also persist for years after the incident or never heal at all. If you are experiencing any of these longer-term symptoms due to a work-related TBI, an attorney can help you file a workers’ compensation claim.
Causes of Traumatic Brain Injuries in the Workplace
TBIs can occur anywhere. However, individuals who are employed in certain professions — mining, construction, manufacturing, agriculture, trucking, food service, hospitality, and landscaping, among many others — are at a high risk of suffering TBIs in the workplace. Generally, the more physically intensive the job is, the higher the risk of suffering a TBI.
There are many types of accidents that can cause TBIs, but some of the most common in the workplace include:
- Slips, trips, and falls: Falls are the most common cause of nonfatal workplace injuries by far, accounting for almost 1,000,000 in 2019. Some examples of fall-related TBIs include tripping and falling on slick surfaces, falling from a scaffold, and being struck by a falling object.
- Vehicle accidents: Vehicle accidents frequently cause injuries to the victim’s head, such as when it strikes the steering wheel or window. While commuting-related accidents generally do not qualify for workers’ compensation, injuries sustained in work-related vehicle accidents do fall within the scope of the program.
- Machinery accidents: Certain machinery accidents, such as flipping over in a bulldozer, can cause severe injuries to workers’ heads.
- Workplace violence: While not as common as some other causes, workplace violence involving blows to the head can result in TBIs
Any of these accidents and injuries can result in thousands of dollars of medical bills and extensive time away from work, but an attorney who specializes in TBI-related workers’ compensation claims can help you minimize the financial strain.
Workers’ Compensation Claims for Traumatic Brain Injuries
Workers’ compensation benefits generally are available for workers who have suffered a TBI in a work-related accident. The primary requirement for eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits is that the accident must have been work-related — i.e., it occurred within the scope and in the course of performing the workers’ duties.
Workers’ compensation benefits come in three primary forms:
- Medical benefits: Workers’ compensation insurance covers the full cost of necessary medical care. The New York Worker’s Compensation Board publishes medical treatment guidelines for TBIs, which explain the recommended treatments for TBIs in great detail.
- Lost wages: Workers’ compensation recipients are entitled to a portion of their lost wages. The amount depends upon the severity of their injury and the amount of their wages prior to the accident.
- Survivor benefits: Should the injured worker die as a result of his or her injuries, the surviving spouse and minor children are entitled to survivor benefits and funeral expenses
Get Started on the Road to Recovery with the Help of a Work Injury Lawyer
TBIs are serious injuries that can significantly impact your long-term employment prospects. The best way to minimize the financial impact of a TBI is to file a workers’ compensation claim with the assistance of an experienced attorney. To get started, please contact an attorney at Turley, Redmond & Rosasco by using our online form or by calling us at 877-693-2529 (New York City), 516-745-5666 (Garden City), 631-582-3700 (Ronkonkoma), or 631-399-0400 (Shirley/Riverhead).