Steven Bagen | January 2, 2023 | Personal Injury
Suffering a head injury in an accident can be one of the worst injuries imaginable. Some head injuries can cause headaches, nausea, vomiting, memory loss, and weeks of recovery. Other head injuries can be life-threatening, requiring surgery or lengthy hospital stays. They may also change memories and personalities and cause long-term health problems.
People with head injuries can require ongoing medical and personal care that can become quite expensive. Anyone who suffers a head injury deserves to receive full and fair compensation. However, since each head injury is unique, with its own medical treatment plan and challenges, it’s difficult to determine what each one will be worth.
Motor vehicle collisions are a primary cause of head injuries, including concussions. In addition, slip and fall incidents, intentional acts of violence, and sports injuries also frequently cause head injuries.
Compensation for head injuries typically comes from the at-fault party’s auto, property, or other insurance policy. The facts of your personal injury case will determine potential sources of compensation and what counts as damages. However, head injury settlements can range from a few thousand dollars for relatively minor injuries to millions in compensation for traumatic brain injuries (TBI) with lasting complications.
If you or a loved one suffered head injuries in a car accident or another type of incident, you might wonder how to calculate injury compensation and how you can maximize it. The best way to determine this and get your other questions answered is to consult with a seasoned personal injury attorney immediately after the head injury. However, here are some guidelines regarding how to determine your compensation.
Seeking Compensation for Head Injuries
Even if your treating doctor is confident that you only suffered a “mild’‘ traumatic brain injury, you still deserve to receive a financial recovery. Despite the “mild” diagnosis, these injuries can have serious and lasting effects on your life, including unexpected long-term complications. Never underestimate a diagnosis of a so-called “mild” TBI or assume you cannot get compensation.
You should receive compensation for your economic damages, medical expenses, out-of-pocket expenses (such as gas money for driving to and from medical appointments or medical equipment), and lost wages and income. You should also recover financially from all the pain and suffering you experienced.
Suppose you live in a no-fault insurance state, and your head injury resulted from a car accident. In that case, you must file a claim for compensation with your insurance carrier under your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. Injured passengers must file a claim under the policy covering the driver of the car they were riding in. Take note that, unfortunately, PIP settlements don’t include any compensation for pain and suffering, so this type of claim is not suitable for all head injuries.
Some head injuries and traumatic brain injuries take longer to heal than others. Their symptoms can linger and victims might have suffered other injuries in the collision or other incidents.
Even if you live in a no-fault insurance state, you can pursue compensation from the at-fault driver’s car insurance if your injuries surpass the state’s allowable threshold. This usually occurs if the costs exceed your PIP limits or because of the serious nature of your injuries.
Usually, in cases involving head injuries, the other driver’s insurance company will challenge the injury claim’s value. The specific effects of a head injury can be difficult to prove, as these injuries are highly personal with unique effects on each victim.
Consulting a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer for complicated or severe injury claims is in your best interest. Most personal injury lawyers provide a free consultation to injured parties and their families.
Protect your interests by meeting with an attorney as soon as possible after sustaining a brain injury. Don’t feel pressure to entertain a settlement from an insurance adjuster without first seeking solid legal advice.
Head Injury Claims
Head injuries from auto accidents and other personal injury situations, such as slips and falls, are a leading cause of fatality and disability in adults. Injured parties who survive a fractured skull, brain bleeds, or secondary stroke often suffer life-altering brain damage.
It’s challenging to receive fair compensation for a brain injury claim without the experience and skills of a personal injury attorney.
Traumatic brain injury victims and their families need an experienced personal injury attorney to:
- Determine and establish a fair settlement amount
- Identify every potential source of compensation
- Establish the at-fault party’s liability
Economic and Non-Economic Damages
Compensation for any injury depends on the injured party’s damages. Victims can have economic, otherwise called special, or non-economic, otherwise called general damages. Economic damages are the financial losses and setbacks suffered by the victim, such as property damage, lost wages and income, and medical expenses. Your attorney can establish these losses with bills, receipts, wage statements, and tax returns.
On the other hand, non-economic damages are usually harder to establish in an injury claim because they don’t have a pre-assigned value or solid proof of their existence like a bill.
However, non-economic damages in personal injury claims often include:
- Pain and suffering
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
In addition to these damages, your lawyer will take into account several special considerations when determining head injury claim values, including:
- Scope of disability: Some individuals with head injuries can eventually return to independent living, although they may have permanently lost some abilities, cognitive skills, or memories. Unfortunately, other brain injury victims might be utterly reliant on others for the rest of their lives.
- Lost income and earning potential: Individuals with head injuries can lose the ability to work and earn a living in any capacity. Some may have lost the cognitive skills and mental faculties to work in the field they were trained in. Their personal injury lawyer can hire financial experts and actuarial accountants to calculate the individual’s future lost income.
- Age and season of life: When calculating future medical costs, average life expectancy, future lost income, and future pain and suffering should be factors. Season of life includes how the injuries impact the victim’s ability to have fulfilling relationships, get married, have children, care for aging elderly parents, or continue to pursue their pre-accident life goals.
Punitive damages may apply in some head injury cases. Punitive damages differ from compensatory (economic and non-economic damages) as they punish the person who caused the injury rather than compensates the injured individual. If your case settles out of court, these damages won’t apply, as punitive damages can only come from a judge or a jury. They only apply in cases where the at-fault party’s behavior was extremely careless, wanton, or even intentional.
For example, suppose your head injury resulted from actions of intentional violence or a drunk driver. In that case, you might receive punitive damages in court. Speak to your attorney about whether these types of damages might apply to your case or not.
How to Maximize Your Head Injury Settlement
Successful head injury claims have proof of the at-fault party’s liability and evidence establishing the scope and impact of the victim’s injuries. The following can help maximize your brain injury compensation, no matter how severe your injury is.
Seek Prompt Medical Attention
Always call 911 after an injury accident to notify the police and receive medical help. Anyone with suspected head injuries should try to stay still and quiet until help arrives. When paramedics arrive, be cooperative, telling them all your symptoms and letting them take care of you.
Unfortunately, the distress and initial shock can mask head injury symptoms. If EMS says it’s in your best interest to go to the hospital for medical treatment, follow their advice. They know brain injuries are serious and when to check for them. Suppose you don’t seek emergency medical care. In that case, you should still see a licensed physician after your accident to ensure that you don’t have any injuries. If you do have injuries, you want them documented and treated as soon as possible.
This is best for your health and well-being, as well as your injury claim.
If there is concern that you have a brain injury, be sure to follow up with your primary healthcare provider or neurologist after seeking emergency care, and follow their advice and instructions. Refusing or delaying medical care after an injury accident will harm your personal injury claim.
Don’t Talk to Insurance Adjusters
Insurance adjusters often like to talk to claimants shortly after the accident occurs before they have the opportunity to meet with an attorney. This way, the injured party is unaware of what their claim is really worth and what their legal rights are. Insurance adjusters want to take advantage of unsuspecting victims and get them to settle for much less than what their claim is worth at this vulnerable time.
They also like to ask for recorded statements, which can further damage your claim if they twist your words or ask you leading questions. By talking to an attorney as soon as possible after your accident and diagnosis, you can protect yourself from the insurance company’s tactics to deny or devalue your head injury claim.
Obtain a Copy of the Police or Incident Report
While gathering some evidence at the scene of an accident, such as witness information or pictures of the scene, it’s not always possible for injured parties. The good news is that police reports can be strong evidence when trying to prove to insurance companies that the other party was negligent in causing your head injury. Insurance companies trust the investigating police officers, to be honest and impartial.
If you weren’t hurt in a car accident but rather a slip and fall at a business, you should ask to complete an incident report. If your injuries result from intentional acts of violence, you should file a police report. Any official documentation and record of what happened are vital to maximizing your compensation.
Continue Gathering Evidence Until Your Claim Settles
Medical records are essential for head injury claims, and your doctor’s notes must directly connect your head injury to your accident. You or your personal injury attorney can request copies of your medical records and bills from the ambulance, hospital, and any specialists or therapists you saw during your injury treatment and rehab.
You should also:
- Retain receipts for any out-of-pocket medical expenses like medications and assistive devices
- Track your mileage and parking fees for trips to the doctor or therapy.
- If your head injuries are visible, have someone take pictures throughout your recovery. Photos of black eyes, stitches in your scalp, or embedded glass in your face can be dramatic proof at trial if one becomes necessary.
- Obtain a statement from your employer discussing your lost wages and benefits, as well as used vacation or sick time.
Document Your Pain and Suffering
Journal what you remember about the car crash or other incident that caused your head injury and the aftermath. You or your caregiver should keep detailed notes about any daily challenges with your head injury, such as treatments, memory loss, headaches, seizures, impairments, sleep disturbances, and emotional distress.
Be sure to include even more minor details about missed social gatherings, family events, lost deposits for vacations, having to drop classes, and any other ways your head injury might have impacted your plans and quality of life.
A daily journal will support your demand for head injury pain and suffering compensation, so be as detailed as possible.
Hire a Skilled Personal Injury Attorney
While all of these steps are essential to maximizing your recovery, the most crucial step you can take is hiring a skilled personal injury attorney to handle your claim. They can help you with the rest of these steps. On your own, you can make serious mistakes in your claim, miss deadlines, and otherwise devalue your claim.
Head injuries are some of the most complex types of personal injury claims. They deserve serious legal attention from a well-versed personal injury attorney. Without such representation, it’s highly unlikely that you will get what you deserve.