Sustaining a traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a monumental life event that results in challenges for victims and their families. Even a mild TBI can lead to lifelong struggles.
If you or a loved one suffered a brain injury as a result of another party’s negligence, our brain injury attorneys can help you seek compensation for damages related to your injury. Contact the award-winning legal team at Gomez Trial Attorneys at (866) 395-6792 for a free consultation and learn how we can assist you in the aftermath of a brain injury.
In addition to the physical pain of injury and recovery, brain injuries can cause cause millions of dollars of financial consequences for victims and their loved ones. A traumatic brain injury begins to financially hurt victims and their families from the date of injury and continues to do so through recovery, sometimes lasts years. Below you will find many of the economic costs associated with a brain injury:
A TBI may result from many things, including motor vehicle accidents, unintentional falls, and playing full-contact sports. Regardless of the cause, the vast majority of victims will need immediate medical treatment, including an ambulance ride to the nearest hospital and an emergency room visit. In addition to these expenses, brain injuries require diagnostic imaging, including an MRI and/or a CT scan, so doctors can see exactly which parts of the brain were hurt and what damage to expect. In severe TBI cases, hospitalization is likely, and sometimes surgery, too.
These are only the immediate medical costs in the hours and days after the injury. When you sum up the medical costs throughout the entire recovery process, traumatic brain injuries are among the most expensive of all injuries. Even after TBI victims are released from the hospital, they may require follow-up visits, need to take costly prescribed medication, need ongoing therapy, and struggle with injury-related headaches that need additional treatment.
A traumatic brain injury can damage different areas of the brain and cause different struggles for each victim. Yet, in each serious case, a victim will lose function. Part of the recovery process involves visiting specialists who provide therapy to help victims regain or improve areas where they were hurt. Although rehabilitation looks different for each person, a program tailored to a TBI victim might include visits to physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech and language therapists, and psychologists or psychiatrists.
The brain controls the movement of the body, so it makes sense that TBI victims might lose physical function and struggle to complete daily tasks that they regularly performed before the injury. Physical therapists remain crucial to helping victims overcome this physical loss. Unfortunately, some brain injuries cause a victim to remain in a permanent vegetative state (PVS). These victims require expensive daily physical therapy to ensure proper posture, maintain flexibility, and reduce the chance of bedsores.
All forms of brain injury can affect cognitive and motor functions. Occupational therapists are key professionals in helping TBI victims reacclimate to their daily lives. Depending on the severity of the symptoms of the TBI and affected functions, an occupational therapist might help a TBI victim relearn how to accomplish self-care and other daily tasks, or learn new strategies to accomplish things done before the injury. Occupational therapists also often work with family members, so they can cope with behavioral changes and the frustrations of learning and relearning things that victims typically experience after a traumatic brain injury.
After suffering a TBI, a victim might lose the ability to speak or experience difficulty speaking, often a result of weak muscles or poor muscle control. Additionally, victims might not understand what they read or what others say to them. Some can’t express their wants and needs with words. In severe cases, victims might have also lost their ability to spell or write. Speech and language therapists help retrain muscles and do exercises to help brain injury victims recover or improve their communication skills. When normal function won’t return, these specialists help victims learn new ways to communicate.
Suffering a brain injury is not only a physical trauma but also deeply emotional. Depending on the circumstances of the injury, a victim might suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can include nightmares and flashbacks. Additionally, struggles with memory, communication, and simple daily tasks cause a great deal of frustration for victims. TBIs also directly affects behavior. Victims might have challenges regulating their emotions, feel anxious or depressed, and have little to no control of their behavior. It’s not uncommon for TBI victims to exhibit changes in personality and display aggression. All of this makes visits with a psychologist or psychiatrist a necessary piece of the recovery process for TBI victims.
Another significant cost associated with the extensive recovery process of a traumatic brain injury is nursing care. Even though the hospital might release a victim, he or she might need ongoing care from nurses, nursing assistants, or other in-home healthcare specialists to help make the transition to home living. In some cases, family members might try to take on these responsibilities, but this can create a huge physical and emotional burden for victims and their families. Even family members who choose to provide care for their loved ones need a break on occasion, so at the very least, intermittent respite care will likely add to the expense of TBI recovery.
When brain injury victims are fortunate enough to leave the hospital and return to their homes, families might have to make home modifications to accommodate any physical or mental challenges their loved ones now face. For example, if a TBI victim is wheel-chair bound, the home will need a ramp to make it more accessible. Similarly, physical disability and continued struggles with balance will require handrails throughout the home, especially in the bathroom and shower or tub. TBI victims also can struggle with sensation, so normal, everyday things we take for granted, such as stoves and hot water faucets, pose a risk for more injury.
Family members might need to buy special covers or locks or use child-proofing devices to protect victims from unintentionally burning themselves. TBI victims suffering from PTSD and with their memories might also wander out of their rooms and or out of their homes, requiring special doors, locks, and alarms to keep them safe. Each modification adds up and can result in tens of thousands of dollars in extra expenses depending on the extent of the injury.
Before the injury, the victim probably contributed to many different domestic chores and tasks around the house. Families often have to hire extra help to replace the labor that the victim provided. Additionally, when families are helping care for their loved ones, it cuts into their ability to chip in and take on extra tasks, creating an even larger gap in what occurred before the injury. Some examples of services that families might need to employ include:
Unfortunately, the damage caused by some TBIs prevents victims from ever returning to their homes because they cannot care for themselves. Others who must undergo extensive recovery might need to stay in a long-term care facility for months or years before they can permanently return home. These facilities are extremely expensive and insurance companies rarely cover long stays, especially if the victim must stay in the facility for the remainder of his or her life. Likewise, finding a facility that specializes in brain injuries may be very difficult and expensive. If the victim purchased a separate insurance policy to cover long-term care, the financial burden might not be as great, but in many cases, a stay for a significant length of time in a long-term healthcare facility can bankrupt a family.
Whether the traumatic brain injury victim is an adult or a child, lost wages contribute heavily to the economic devastation that can result from a traumatic brain injury. If the victim was the primary breadwinner in the family, his or her lost wages dig into household finances, making it difficult for the average person or couple to pay monthly expenses. Having medical bills roll in with lower income compounds the matter. Even if the victim qualifies for disability insurance, he or she usually won’t receive more than two-thirds of his or her average income.
When spouses or partners need to spend time in the hospital or at home visiting and caring for a family member, they also lose wages. Paid time off gets used up pretty quickly in the immediate days after a severe brain injury, and families can easily blow through any savings and max out credit cards just to get by.
One of the most tragic economic consequences of a severe traumatic brain injury is lost earning capacity, which refers to future lost wages and benefits. Adult victims might never return to their job, or any job, resulting in the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years, depending on the victim’s chosen profession. In some cases, victims might return to gainful employment, but their limitations may prevent them from doing the same kind of work as before the accident. They might even need to take substantial pay cuts.
When victims of severe TBIs are children or infants with brain injuries at birth, they may never have the opportunity to have that first job washing dishes at a restaurant, serving fast food, or working at the mall; they may never have the opportunity to attend trade school or college; and they may never have the opportunity to start their own business, grow their career, or climb the corporate ladder.
Caregivers also suffer opportunity costs when they care for family members. Tending to a loved one means caregivers might not advance in their careers, continue their educations, or even work outside the home at all.
If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury, you and your family are going through a difficult time. At Gomez Trial Attorneys, we understand your challenges and the financial impact in the wake of a brain injury. You shouldn’t have to shoulder the financial burden of a brain injury caused by another party’s actions. We are here to help you seek compensation for the full cost of your injuries. Contact Gomez Trial Attorneys today online or at (866) 395-6792 for a free consultation and to discuss the details of your case.