More than 100 people die from serious brain injuries in the United States each day.
Individuals who survive brain injuries may have effects that last for days, weeks, or years. Long-lasting effects may include an inability to concentrate and difficulties with memory, hearing, vision, or movement. This is why workers who sustain brain injuries are often unable to work or enjoy an optimal quality of life.
If negligence on the part of an employer or other third party contributed to the injury, an attorney may be able to secure workers’ compensation benefits.
Causes of Work-Related Brain Injuries
Employees injured on the job often suffer brain some type of injury. The cause may be anything that involves an impact to the head, such as a collision with a wall, a hard fall, or a run-in with a board or similar type of hard material. While workers in any occupation may sustain a brain injury, employees in industries involving construction and manufacturing are more susceptible to such injuries. For example, a roofer may slip off a roof if proper safety precautions weren’t taken.
Signs and Symptoms
Not all brain injuries are obvious. In some instances, symptoms may appear hours or days after the initial injury was sustained. For this reason, some employers who sustained a work-related brain injury may not automatically associate it with something that happened at work. Sometimes, an injury to the brain may be mistaken as a concussion or a minor head injury, especially if initial symptoms are minor. The following symptoms suggest that a brain injury may have been experienced:
- An altered level of consciousness
- Visible bleeding or an open head wound
- Severe headaches
- Blurred vision
- Slurred speech
- Fluid drainage from the ears, nose, or mouth
- Increased drowsiness
Diagnosis and Treatment
Brain injuries can be especially difficult to diagnose if other injuries were also sustained. For instance, a worker who sustained a neck fracture may not realize they also have a brain injury until symptoms persist even after the neck injury is treated. Diagnostic studies involving X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans are often helpful when confirming that a brain injury has occurred. Some doctors use the Glasgow Coma Scale to assess the severity of a brain injury. It’s done by asking the patient to make certain movements to gauge their ability to follow directions.
A comprehensive neurological examination is usually done to determine which treatments to recommend. If injuries are mild, observation may be all that’s recommended. With severe brain injuries, anti-seizure drugs may be used to control symptoms and give the brain time to heal. In some cases, drugs are used to temporarily induce a coma to give the brain time to heal. If there’s pressure within the brain, a skull fracture, or internal bleeding in the brain, surgery is usually necessary.
Compensation for Work-Related Brain Injuries
The first thing a worker should do when sustaining a head injury, even if it’s not initially determined to be a brain injury, is report the incident so there’s a record of it on file. This can provide a point of reference that an attorney may use if a diagnosis is made after the accident date. Having documentation on file can also minimize issues with conclusively linking a workplace incident to a brain injury.
Even minor brain injuries can have long-lasting effects. Additionally, such injuries often require long-term care, risky surgeries, intense therapy, and many years of rehabilitation. Such care can quickly become costly and eat away at available insurance benefits. A lawyer can assess the overall impact on quality of life and the ability to make a living to determine which steps to take when seeking appropriate compensation if negligence was a contributing factor to the injury.