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Collecting Workers’ Compensation for a Brain Injury

Collecting Workers’ Compensation for a Brain InjuryThere are many types of jobs where workers risk catastrophic injuries such as brain injuries. In Tennessee, employees have the right to file a workers’ compensation claim if they are injured while working for their employer.

What types of workplace accidents cause traumatic brain injuries?

An employee can be injured doing any type of job. Some industries that are more likely to cause a brain injury than others include manufacturing, construction, and transportation, and any industry where a worker may be struck by an object.

Common accidents that may cause a TBI include:

  • A car or truck accident
  • A slip and fall
  • A fall from high heights
  • Being struck by any object
  • Being pinned by machinery

According to the CDC, In 2018, about six in 10 head injury claims involved a traumatic brain injury. For 10% of victims who require hospital stays, the length of stay can be 30 days or longer. These long stays are often because the TBI victim is in a coma or requires mechanical ventilation for long periods of time.

What care is necessary for a traumatic brain injury?

A traumatic brain injury, according to the Mayo Clinic, is a forceful blow to the head that can cause “bruising, torn tissues, bleeding and other physical damage to the brain.” The victims often live with long-term complications and the possibility of dying. Traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs, are categorized as mild, moderate, or severe.

Victims often suffer emotional and cognitive difficulties in addition to physical difficulties. Complications may include coma or a vegetative state, and some victims may be declared brain dead. Victims may suffer seizures, infections, fluid buildup in the brain, facial paralysis, loss of vision, and many other health problems. Many brain injury victims have problems with memory, concentration, reasoning, planning, and other cognitive problems that may working again difficult or impossible. Victims also suffer anxiety, depression, anger, and many other behavioral disorders.

The treatments may include surgeries (such as removing blood clots and repairing skull fractures), medications (such as anti-seizure medications and diuretics), and extensive rehabilitation. Employees with a brain injury often need care from neurosurgeons, psychologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, and other healthcare providers.

Many parents, spouses, and adult children need their own counseling just so they can help their loved one function let alone enjoy life.

Workers’ compensation benefits for TBI

Your employer is required to pay the following benefits if you have a workplace injury, and you file timely notice and a timely claim.

Medical expenses

These costs include any surgeries, hospital stays, ER treatment, evaluations by specialists, and treatments by all your physicians. Medical costs also include all your therapy visits, the cost of medications, and any assistive devices you may need. Medical expenses may even include the cost of transportation to your physicians and therapists if they are not reasonably close to you.

For brain injury victims, these expenses can be quite large because TBI victims need to treat with many different health care providers – some for the rest of their lives.

Temporary wage loss benefits

Workers with a brain injury are entitled to about 2/3 of the average weekly wages they earned before the accident, until they reach the stage of maximum medical improvement. There are caps on this amount that may apply.

Permanent wage loss benefits

Many workers with a brain injury cannot work again. If they can work, they are usually not able to work in a full-time capacity at their prior job. Workers who cannot work full time are entitled to 2/3 of their lost wages. The amount and length of the payments depends on a few factors including:

  • Whether the disability is a partial or full disability.
  • Whether the disability is a “scheduled” disability or a “non-scheduled disability.” Scheduled disabilities such as the loss of an arm are set forth in the state statute.
  • The severity (impairment level) of the disability – according to American Medical Association (AMA) guidelines.

Many workers who suffer a brain injury cannot return to work again in any capacity. They have a total permanent disability. The wage loss payment is generally 2/3 of their average weekly wages for 450 weeks.

Workers with catastrophic injuries such as brain injuries normally are paid temporary wage loss benefits until the time it is clear additional medical care will not improve their health.

Death benefits

If a loved one dies due to a TBI, the surviving spouse and surviving dependents may be entitled to the wage loss benefits for up to 450 weeks after the loved one died. Some adjustments may apply. The family is also entitled to payment of up to $5,000 for funeral expenses and an immediate $1,000 payment to the surviving spouse.

Wage loss benefits are usually paid every two weeks.

Employees who suffer a TBI at work may also be entitled to vocational benefits. These are benefits to help the employee receive an education or training so the employee can work in a new job.

At Wagner & Wagner Attorneys at Law, our Chattanooga workers’ compensation lawyers understand just how traumatic and life-changing a brain injury is. We work with your medical team and independent doctors, if needed, to fully assess your current medical condition and your long-term prognosis – including all the medical care you will need. We demand full compensation for all your medical bills and wage loss benefits. In many TBI cases, we negotiate a lump sum settlement once the victim’s condition stabilizes.

To discuss a brain injury case, call us at 423-756-7923 or use our contact form to schedule an appointment. We represent workers in Chattanooga and Cleveland, TN, in North Georgia, and neighboring locales.