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Can I Receive Workers’ Compensation for a Brain Injury?

Accidents cause serious brain injuries in the workplace every day. Slip and fall accidents, falls from scaffolding or ladders, and job-related motor vehicle accidents are some of the most common causes of on-the-job head injuries. A brain injury may involve a concussion, post-concussion syndrome, or a traumatic brain injury.

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) can range from mild to severe. Amnesia or extended unconsciousness can follow a severe injury. TBI can have short- and long-term effects on the victim’s emotions, thinking processes, reasoning, language skills, and sensations, such as touch, taste, and smell. It can also cause epilepsy and increase the victim’s risk of brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease.

Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Injury to the Brain

Workers’ compensation benefits vary by state. North Carolina, for example, has a no-fault Workers’ Compensation system. If you have been injured on the job, you will be entitled to benefits in most cases, even if you accidently caused your own injuries. If you have suffered a mild brain injury, workers’ comp should cover your medical expenses and a portion of your lost wages until you return to work.

Bear in mind that symptoms of moderate or severe traumatic brain injury may not be apparent immediately. Delayed and secondary symptoms can include inability to think clearly, numbness in the limbs, slurred speech, irritability, and depression. Symptoms can be subtle and difficult to recognize.

Severe TBI can result in permanent disability or even death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that 30% of all deaths from injuries in the U.S. are TBI related. A brain injury can have devastating long-term effects on cognitive function, motor function, sensation, and emotions, seriously impacting the lives of victims and their families.

Workers’ compensation law is complicated, and the insurance company may seek to lower your disability rating to minimize the amount it pays out to you. In certain cases, you may be able to receive workers’ compensation benefits and pursue compensation from a third party that was to blame for your injury.

If you have suffered severe TBI in a workplace accident, it is crucial that you consult with a knowledgeable workers’ comp lawyer as soon as possible. You may be entitled to either partial or total permanent disability benefits, depending on the extent of your injuries.

What to Do When Recovering From a Work-Related Brain Injury

In the event of a brain injury, the CDC offers the following tips to aid your recovery:

  • Do not rush back to work or daily activities. Get plenty of rest.
  • Take only medications that have been prescribed by your doctor.
  • Do not drink alcohol until your doctor says that you may.
  • Avoid any activity that could cause a jolt or blow to the head and further injure your brain.
  • Do not drive, ride a motorcycle or a bicycle, or operate heavy equipment until your doctor gives you the OK.
  • If you have difficulty remembering things, write them down.
  • Get professional help re-learning the skills you have lost because of your injury.

Sources:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): What are the Potential Effects of TBI? http://www.cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury/outcomes.html
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Severe Traumatic Brain Injury http://www.cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury/severe.html