Head Injuries and Workers Compensation

Head injuries are one of the most difficult types of workers compensation cases to handle are those where the worker has received a serious head or brain injury leaving them with diminished mental capacity. A whole host of ailments may arise such as neurological disorders and short term memory loss. Reasoning and analytical abilities are often compromised; victims may no longer have the executive functions necessary to retain their jobs.

After the body is healed they may still have serious emotional malfunctions, leaving them with the inability to control anger. Inappropriate behavior may be an issue due to lack of ability to pick up social cues. The ability to just get along with people may be severely challenged.

These victims may need to have special care for the remainder of their lives. The two largest programs designed to provide benefits for the disabled are Social Security Disability and Workers' Compensation. As of 2012, in North Carolina there were 82,783 people collecting OASDI (Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability insurance). In Mecklenburg County alone (city of Charlotte), there were 4,742 receiving OASDI.

To be awarded Social Security Disability, the applicant must have a history of being employed. New employees however are eligible for Workers' Compensation from their very first day of employment. Programs are state designed and administered, and are funded by the employer. The insurance was established to take care of employees injured on the job or those who contract a job related illness. The benefits can be short term or long term and for partial or total disability.

North Carolina is a compromise state which means it establishes limits on the obligation or liability of employers. When making a disability claim, if in the Queen City region, it is crucial to hire a Charlotte workers compensation attorney to ensure that all issues surrounding the required care are accounted for in the final compensation settlement.

Areas that must be considered when creating a settlement amount for a person with head injuries or mentally impaired individual are noted below:

• Loss of income.
The amount of income the injured person has lost due to their inability to work.

• Transportation needs.
It is easy to assume that a person who has suffered a traumatic brain injury may not have the immediate capacity to drive. The settlement must include the fact that the injured party will need a way to get back and forth to medical appointments.

• Special housing needs.
Individuals suffering cognitive problems may be required to live in special housing or in a group home to make sure that they are well cared for and are safe.

• Cost of continued care.
Depending on the severity of the loss of brain functions, the injured party may require special care each day to live a normal life.

• All medical costs to date.
All past and current medical costs must be covered.

• Cost of continued medical care.
Many head injuries require that the injured party continue to receive physical and cognitive therapies.

Other special considerations and circumstances. In some cases, there are other special circumstances associated with the injury that need to be reviewed and considered as part of the final settlement. In North Carolina all workers compensation settlements must be approved by the Industrial Commission. Both parties will submit their offers for settlement, and the Commission will carefully review these offers and determine which is most accurate and beneficial to the injured party.

Both sides have the right to dispute the findings of the Commission prior to the final settlement being agreed upon. Other Legal Issues to Address When a person that is injured suffers from debilitating brain injuries that will not allow them to make complex decisions about their own welfare, the caretakers and lawyer will need to address guardianship issues. Depending on how serious the injuries are, a guardian may need to be appointed to make legal, medical, and financial decisions for the injured party. If the injured party is married, this is a very simple process of legally making the spouse the guardian of the injured worker which will allow them to make the necessary decisions about charge's care. However, the situation can become more complex if the injured person is unmarried. In this event, the next-of-kin will need to be notified and they will need to determine who will assume responsibility for their loved one.

When seeking a lawyer for someone who has suffered from a head injury, it would be beneficial to select legal counsel which adds compassion to their list of services. The victims must have an aggressive advocate to ensure that their needs are met for the rest of their lives.

Teresa Stewart is a caregiver, and has worked with victims of head injuries. We thank Teresa Stewart our guest author for sharing this great information on head injuries and workers compensation.


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