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Workers’ Compensation and Traumatic Brain Injuries

Workers’ Compensation and Traumatic Brain InjuriesBrain injuries can have a profound effect on the life of both the victim and their loved ones. Serious brain injuries can affect you physically, mentally, and change the way you experience daily life. And when this injury happens on the job, workers’ compensation should assist with your medical bills, lost income, and help get you back on your feet. Consulting with an experienced Tennessee workers’ comp attorney can ensure you secure everything to which you are entitled.

Because of the fragile nature of the brain and head, injuries to this area are generally severe and complex. The CDC reports that traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are one of the major causes of death and disability in the United States, with 155 people dying each day from TBI-related injuries. Over two million Americans visit the emergency room each year for TBIs, with approximately 250,000 hospitalizations.

What is a traumatic brain injury?

A traumatic brain injury, or TBI, is any type of injury to the head that disrupts the normal functioning of the brain. This can be a blow, jolt, or penetrating injury that causes the brain to move around within the skull, causing damage, bruising, or swelling. TBIs can range from mild (like a concussion), to severe (like a coma). TBIs can also be fatal.

The CDC describes the effects of a TBI as including “impairments related to thinking or memory, movement, sensation (e.g., vision or hearing), or emotional functioning (e.g., personality changes, depression). These issues not only affect individuals but also can have lasting effects on families and communities.”

TBIs are often referred to as “invisible injuries,” as most have no visible wounds or scars. Some victims of TBI may not even lose consciousness, but this does not mean they have not experienced a serious injury.

Causes of workplace TBIs in Tennessee

An employee can suffer a brain injury in any number of ways on the job, but some industries bring more risk of TBI than others. Following is just a partial list of how employees might suffer a brain injury in the workplace.

  • Firefighters and law enforcement. Firefighters and police, by the nature of their jobs, often enter dangerous and unpredictable buildings with burning debris. They run the risk of falls, as well as objects, equipment, and ladders striking them in the head, even with safety equipment. Police officers and firefighters can also suffer TBIs if they are in a car crash en route to an incident.
  • Commercial and delivery drivers. Those who drive for a living are at a higher risk of experiencing injury in a car or truck crash. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, the victim of the TBI may be eligible for workers’ compensation, a personal injury action, or both.
  • Construction sites. The construction industry has one of the highest rates of TBIs, fatal and non-fatal, mostly from falls from heights. Construction workers have a risk of being struck in the head while on site by things like metal beams, heavy equipment, falling objects, or moving vehicles.
  • Oil and gas industries. Exposure to toxic chemicals or gases can cause loss of consciousness and lack of oxygen, which can lead to brain damage and injury. Similarly, accidents at gas and oil refineries resulting in explosions can also cause traumatic brain injuries from direct or percussive damage.

Other ways an employee can experience a TBI at work can be through a slip and fall, through an accident caused by a defective product or piece of equipment, or through workplace violence and assault.

Am I entitled to workers’ comp after a TBI at work?

Yes – unless you were under the influence or horsing around, your workers’ compensation should cover your TBI just like any other injury incurred while performing your job. Because TBI cases tend to be complex and challenging, it is smart to get an experienced workers’ compensation attorney on your side from the start. Injuries to the brain and spine are traditionally costly insurance claims, which makes it likely that you may experience some pushback from your employer’s insurance company.

How much is my TBI workers’ compensation claim worth?

Although every case is unique, an insurer should take a variety of factors into account when making a settlement offer for your brain injury, including:

  • Ability to return to work
  • Cost of your medical treatment to date
  • Expected future medical expenses
  • Whether you incurred other injuries in the accident
  • Your age and general health

Due to the invisible nature of TBIs, many injured employees find their workers’ compensation claims denied due to lack of proof or other strategies on the part of the insurance company to avoid paying out benefits. If this happens to you, you have the right to a hearing and appeal, which you should always take advantage of.

Remember, if you suffer a head injury on the job, immediately notify your employer and seek medical attention as soon as possible to protect both your health and your rights.

At Wagner & Wagner Attorneys at Law, our Chattanooga workers’ compensation lawyers can help when you are injured on the job. We show how your TBI occurred and help secure the benefits to which you are entitled. To discuss your work injury claim, call us at 423-756-7923 or use our contact form to schedule an appointment. We’ve been fighting for injured workers since 1945. We represent clients in Chattanooga, Cleveland, TN, North Georgia, and the surrounding areas.