The Human Cost of Traumatic Brain Injuries
Acquired brain injuries sustained through traumatic events, such as motor vehicle collisions or slip and fall accidents can have profound, devastating effects on accident victims, and their family members. A global cause of disability and death, brain injuries acquired as the result of accidents can cause victims to incur substantial medical costs. In Ontario, the combined average medical costs of patients hospitalized with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) are approximately $120.7 million in the first follow-up year alone.
On average, 456 Canadians sustain an acquired brain injury every day. Brain injuries are the leading cause of death and disability for Canadians under the age of 35. In Ontario alone, approximately 800 people die of a TBI each year. For those coping with severe injuries, living with a TBI means enduring a new lived reality. In addition to the substantial costs of medical treatment and financial burdens resulting from an inability to work, the human cost of sustaining a serious brain injury can be significant, disruptive, and difficult to overcome.
Moderate to severe TBIs can result in permanent or prolonged changes to a person’s state of consciousness, awareness, or responsiveness. The serious repercussions of a TBI can be physical, intellectual, emotional, behavioural, and sensory.
Sustaining traumatic damage to the brain can require an accident survivor to make profound alterations to their lifestyles, and their relationships to their loved ones. Sustaining a brain injury can impact every aspect of an accident victim’s life. Living with a TBI can mean adjusting to drastic physical changes, including vision loss, hearing loss, and dysphagia. Some people may also experience language difficulties, including trouble speaking, reading or writing, as well as thought processing. Furthermore, cognitive and emotional changes following an accident causing a TBI may lead victims to experience social difficulties. They may have trouble interacting with family members, romantic partners, their social circle, and co-workers.
While it can be difficult for friends and family members to comprehend the new day-to-day experience of a person living with a TBI, it can be even more difficult for insurance providers or courts to objectively assess the severity of their symptoms. This can result in financial distress. In fact, approximately half of Canada’s homeless population is made up of people suffering at least one form of brain injury.
According to a recent study published by Cambridge University Press, lifetime costs of medical treatment for severe TBIs can range from $600,000 to $1.8 million per case. This figure only addresses the cost of medical care, and does not include the costs associated with lost productivity, valued ten times higher than associated medical costs.
If you or someone you love has sustained a TBI in an accident caused by another party’s negligence, an Ontario traumatic brain injury lawyer may be able to help you recover financial compensation for costs incurred as a result of brain injuries acquired.
Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injuries
TBIs occur when a sudden trauma, such as a blow to the head, causes damage to a person’s brain. Depending on the severity of the injury, symptoms may include:
- Persistent headaches
- Loss of balance
- Difficulty communicating
- Blurred vision
- Ringing in ears
- Sensitivity to light
- Loss of smell, or bad taste in the mouth
- Slurred speech
- Confusion or disorientation
- Mood swings
- Loss of sleep, or increased time sleeping
- Convulsions or seizures
- And more
Do TBIs Qualify People for Long-Term Disability Benefits?
If symptoms of a TBI impede an accident victim’s ability to perform the duties of their jobs and prevent them from returning to their workplace, the injured party may be eligible to file a claim for long-term disability benefits.
Long-term disability benefits give disabled workers a portion of their normal wages while their medical conditions prevent them from working. In Canada, long-term disability plans usually replace between 60-70% of a recipient’s normal income. While many individuals with full-time employment may have access to disability coverage through their employer’s group insurance plan, contract workers or those who are precariously employed may choose to purchase their own independent insurance policy to mitigate the financial risk of sustaining a disabling medical condition, like a TBI.
However, insurance providers may deny claims for long-term disability benefits, even if the claimant’s medical condition makes it impossible for them to work. In order for a benefits claim to be approved, applicants must supply thorough medical evidence, proving the severity of their medical condition. Though some TBIs may be observable through the use of medical imaging devices such as CT scans or MRIs, many people afflicted with an acquired brain injury suffer symptoms that no one else can see. The lack of objective medical evidence is often cited as a reason for denying benefits claims for those affected by a TBI.
If your claim for long-term disability benefits has been unfairly denied, a lawyer may be able to help you appeal the insurance company’s decision.
Pursuing Financial Compensation Through Negligence Claims
If you’ve sustained a TBI in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you may decide to pursue legal action against them to recover financial compensation for the costs you’ve incurred, or will incur. The total amount of these economic, or “pecuniary” costs might be easily calculated by keeping records of every expense stemming from your injury or injuries. Some examples of pecuniary damages may include:
- Medical expenses
- Rehabilitation costs
- Attendant Care
- Ongoing medical care/in-home care
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Adjusted living expenses
- And possibly more
Depending on the severity of the injuries sustained, accident survivors suffering from TBIs could also endure emotional turmoil and distress. In these cases, injured victims may also be entitled to recover costs for general, “non-pecuniary” damages for repercussions from their accidents that may be more difficult to quantify. These non-economic damages may include any physical, mental, and emotional pain and suffering an accident victim has endured, or will endure in the future as a result of their injuries. Examples of pain and suffering damages include:
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Mental anguish
- Emotional distress
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Physical pain or discomfort
- And possibly more
If the injuries you sustained in an accident prevent you from performing the same activities you enjoyed before your incident, or from performing the duties of your job, you may experience a diminished quality of life, all because of another person’s negligence. In these situations, a lawyer may be able to help you recover financial compensation for pain and suffering, in addition to any economic costs you may have incurred as a result of your injuries.
Proving the degree to which an accident survivor’s pain and suffering affects their quality of life can be difficult. Every person’s experience of physical pain and emotional distress is unique and subjective. In order to substantiate a victim’s claim, and illustrate the toll pain and suffering has taken on their client’s lives, a lawyer may compile and present various forms of evidence. These types of evidence may include:
- Medical records
- Attending physicians’ reports
- Testimonies from medical experts
- Medical prognosis
- Psychiatric assessments
- Personal impact statements
- Statements from family members
- Statements from eyewitnesses to the accident
- Video surveillance footage or photographic evidence from the accident scene
- And possibly more
While non-pecuniary damages like pain and suffering can be difficult to quantify, by presenting a thorough collection of evidence, an Ontario personal injury lawyer may be able to illustrate the degree to which another party’s negligence negatively impacted an accident victim’s quality of life. By doing so, they may be able to help their clients recover the financial compensation to which they’re entitled.
Contact Preszler Injury Lawyers Today
If you or a loved one is enduring the human cost of living with a traumatic brain injury because of an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be eligible to recover financial compensation for economic and non-economic costs. To discuss the circumstances of the accident and learn if you’re eligible to pursue damages for pain and suffering you’ve endured as a result, contact us today.
For a free, initial consultation, call Preszler Injury Lawyers at 1-800-JUSTICE.