Ontario’s Insurance Act outlines the definition and scope of the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule (SABS). The SABS is crucial when determining the amount of compensation available for a victim of a motor vehicle accident, including those who suffer traumatic brain injury.
The designation of catastrophic injury – instead of “minor” or “non minor” injury – can mean a difference in hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical benefits and extended eligibility for coverage.
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The Glasgow Coma Scale and the Classification of Brain Injuries
The SABS uses the Glasgow Coma Scale when assessing and defining a brain injury in children and adults. A score of less than 9 on the Glasgow Coma Scale is classified as a catastrophic injury.
Medical specialists use three primary categories to assess an adult patient’s score on the Glasgow Coma Scale:
- eye opening response;
- verbal response; and
- motor response.
These categories are further broken down into specific tasks and indicators of injury, with each assigned a certain number of points.
The breakdown is as follows:
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Eye Opening Response:
- 4 points – Spontaneous eye opening as well as blinking.
- 3 points – Patient can open eyes upon verbal command, such as when responding to speech.
- 2 points – Eyes open in response to pain that is not applied to the face.
- 1 point – No eye opening response to any type of stimulus.
- 5 points – Patient is fully oriented.
- 4 points – Patient can engage in conversation and answer questions, but the conversation is confused.
- 3 points – The patient’s words are discernible, but the patient gives inappropriate responses to inquiries.
- 2 points – The patient’s speech is incomprehensible.
- 1 point – The patient does not or cannot provide a verbal response.
- 6 points – The patient can engage in movement upon command.
- 5 points – The patient can move purposefully in response to a pain stimulus.
- 4 points – The patient withdraws when subjected to a pain stimulus.
- 3 points – The patient displays abnormal/spastic flexion and a decorticate posture in which the arms are bent in with hands on the chest and fists clenched and the legs are stiff and straight.
- 2 points – Patient has a rigid response to stimulus and displays a decerebrate posture in which the head is arched back, limbs are held straight out from the body and toes are pointed down.
- 1 point – No physical or motor response to stimuli.
A score of 9 or less indicates a severe brain injury requiring substantial medical treatment and specialized care. Children ages five years and younger are subject to a different chart that assigns points based on age-appropriate responses such as smiling, crying and language use.
Doctors may also rely on other tools to diagnose the severity of a brain injury, such as MRI results and CT scans, though the Glasgow Coma Scale is prominent in classifying brain injuries for purposes of Accident Benefits. Call Preszler Law at 1-800-JUSTICE® or contact us online if you believe your loved one’s brain injury has been misclassified and for help pursuing compensation after an accident.