A traumatic brain injury (TBI) that disrupts the normal functioning of your brain can result from any impact to the head or sudden jolt to the neck. Your brain can actually bang into the interior of your skull and be bruised or begin to bleed in a closed TBI. If your skull is fractured from the impact, bone shards can pierce your brain and cause a penetrating TBI. Submersion in water or excessive anesthesia during surgery can restrict or cut off the flow of oxygen to the brain and cause a hypoxic TBI.
If you or a loved one suffered a TBI in an accident that was not your fault, you need the guidance of a personal injury and workers' comp law firm with experience in valuing and negotiating settlements for brain injuries. You need Dulaney, Lauer & Thomas. Read on for more information about these catastrophic injuries.
Common Symptoms of Accident-Related TBIs
A car crash or a workplace accident can result in a mild, moderate, or severe TBI. The most common mild TBIs are concussions, which might be treated with rest and medication. Moderate and severe TBIs, however, are characterized by more serious ongoing physical, cognitive, and sensory symptoms.
Physical Symptoms of TBI
These include dizziness, nausea, headache, slurred speech, balance and coordination problems, unequally dilated pupils, vomiting, fluid running from the ears or nose, seizures, and an inability to perform daily activities like eating, tying shoes, bathing, walking, or driving.
Cognitive Consequences of a Brain Injury
Loss of memory, mood swings, anxiety, depression, confusion, amnesia, insomnia, and an inability to think or communicate clearly can result from a severe TBI.
Brain Injury Sensory Deficits
People with brain injuries might experience tinnitus (ringing in the ears), increased sensitivity to sound or light, vision problems, and an inability to taste or smell normally.
Your First Step Is to Seek Medical Attention
If you suffer any impact to the head in a car crash or other accident, you should seek medical attention even if you have none of the symptoms listed above. TBI symptoms might not be evident right away, but a doctor's exam and diagnostic tests can reveal a brain injury before symptoms surface. Getting a prompt diagnosis and starting treatment right away increases your chances of recovery and provides documentation of your injuries, which is necessary for your insurance claim if you were hurt by someone else in an accident.
If diagnostic testing reveals a TBI, you should contact a car accident attorney immediately to help you file a claim against the at-fault driver's insurance company for your medical expenses, as well as property damage, lost income, and pain and suffering. In addition to increasing your chances of receiving a fair settlement, your lawyer can make sure that you meet all the procedural requirements and observe the statute of limitations in your quest for adequate compensation.
Statute of Limitations for TBI-Related Legal Claims
In most cases, an adult TBI victim has two years from the date of the injury in which to file a lawsuit for damages against the at-fault party. This may seem like a long time, but it's really not in the legal world, where the wheels of justice can turn very slowly. You should contact an attorney as soon as possible after your accident to help you get started on your insurance claim.
If you can obtain fair compensation through the insurance claims process, you can avoid the time, expense, and tedium of a lawsuit, but you don't want to lose the leverage that the threat of a lawsuit gives you. The at-fault party's insurer is likely to use delaying tactics in hopes that time will run out and you will lose your chance to sue before you realize it. If this happens, your chances of getting fair compensation are greatly reduced. The parent or guardian of a TBI victim under 18 has five years in which to file a claim on behalf of the child.
Workers' Compensation for On-the-Job TBIs
TBIs sometimes result from work-related accidents. You could hurt your head when you're hit by a falling object, when you slip or trip and fall on a hard floor, or when you have an accident while driving a company car, forklift, or another vehicle in the course of doing your job. In any of these cases, you generally cannot sue your employer, but you are entitled to file a claim for workers' compensation benefits to cover your medical expenses and two-thirds of the wages you lose during your treatment and recovery. Long-term disability benefits and vocational re-training are available, as well, in some cases.
Almost all Virginia employers with three or more workers on the payroll are required to carry workers' comp insurance, which provides no-fault coverage of employees' work-related accidental injuries. You don't have to prove that your employer did anything wrong to cause your injury. Even if you're responsible for your own accident, you may still file a claim, and your employer may not fire you or retaliate against you for doing so.
Are You Eligible for Virginia Workers' Comp?
You are generally eligible to receive workers' comp benefits for a TBI if:
- You're a regular employee on the payroll, not an independent contractor.
- Your TBI occurred at one particular time while you were carrying out your job duties, whether on or off-site.
- You did not injure yourself intentionally.
- You were not involved in any illegal activity or intentional misconduct at the time of your accident.
- You were not under the influence of drugs or alcohol when your injury occurred.
Filing a Workers' Comp Claim for a TBI
As soon as possible after your accident, you should report your injury to your supervisor. If you're not physically able to do so, ask someone to help you. Your employer should file a FROI form with the Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission (VWCC) within ten days. You may then submit your Claim for Benefits form from the VWCC website.
As soon as you can, see the doctor that your employer's insurance company recommends (not your own doctor). Keep all your medical appointments and follow the doctor's treatment plan conscientiously. Take all medications as prescribed and retain receipts and other documentation of all your treatments and related expenses. You should also consult a workers' compensation attorney if your employer or its insurer:
- Is slow to approve necessary treatments
- Does not pay your weekly wage benefits in a timely manner
- Retaliates against you for filing a claim
- Denies your claim for benefits
Although you actually have one month to report your injury and two years to file for benefits, do not delay. If you fail to act promptly, the insurer can cite your delay as evidence that your injury is not work-related and/or is not as serious as you say it is.
Have You Suffered a TBI in a Car Crash or Work-Related Accident in Virginia?
An experienced Virginia car accident or workers' comp attorney will be familiar with the process for seeking fair compensation. Contact us online or call us at 540-341-0007 to schedule your free consultation. You pay no attorney fees until we win your case.