Workers Comp Head Injury Settlements

Workplace head injuries, including those to the eyes, face and skull, are commonly caused by falling objects, heavy machinery accidents, and slip and fall accidents. Because of the danger of brain damage, injuries to the head are among the most serious and life-threatening workplace injuries.

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry lists workplace head injuries among the most common in the state, accounting for 12% (20,833) of total injuries in 2018 and an estimated 8.5% of injuries nationally. In total, the Bureau of Labor Statistics states that workplace head injuries impact roughly 100,000 workers annually.

If you’ve suffered a workplace head injury and are in need of workers’ compensation, it is extremely important to know what types of work injuries qualify for benefits, how to properly file a workers’ compensation claim, the compensation amount you can expect, and the assistance that an attorney can provide to ensure your maximum award amount.

Average Workers’ Compensation Settlements for Head Injuries

Data from the National Safety Council (NSC) states the national average cost of a worker’s compensation claim for workplace head-injury is $92,439 (in lost wages and medical expenses). Below is a table for estimated settlement amounts based on the NSC claim cost average for head injuries.

Category of Head Injury Estimated Settlement Amounts  Types of Injury
Mild $1,000 – $30,955 Minor swelling, mild concussions
Moderate to Severe $30,955- $59,293 Concussions, skull fractures
Severe $59,293+ Long-term brain trauma

Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Head Injuries

Under the Pennsylvania Workers Compensation Act, workers who receive head injuries related to overexertion in the workplace or workplace accidents are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Overexertion can lead to passing out or fainting, which can cause injuries including:

  • Brain injury (TBI)
  • Contusion
  • Fractured skull
  • Concussion
  • Sensory organ damage

In Pennsylvania, weekly compensation loss benefits are generally provided at between 66.6% and 90% of average weekly wage (AWW) and capped at $1,081.00 per week.

Workers’ compensation benefits are determined based on:

  • Severity and classification of the injury
  • Wage loss from the injury
  • Medical expenses

Especially in the event of head injuries, CT scans, x-rays, physical therapy, and even the help of specialized doctors like neuropsychologists can be necessary- and expensive. Workers’ compensation protections, provided under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, afford injured workers financial protection and security in the form of full medical treatment coverage, disability benefits, ongoing physical therapy, and replacement of lost wages.

Pennsylvania requires employers to purchase workers’ compensation insurance, and it is the employer’s insurance company that will provide coverage for the cost of medical care associated with the injured employee’s work injuries.

Compensation and coverage for medical bills afforded under the Act are typically determined by the severity and type of the workplace injury an employee suffers, as well as the amount of lost wages and period the employee is unable to work.

Can I File a Workers’ Comp Claim for a Head Injury?

Employees who suffer from workplace head injuries may be eligible for workers’ compensation.

Workplace head injuries are predominantly caused by falling objects, slips and falls, vehicle accidents and other blunt trauma to the skull or face.

The most common injuries to the head are:

  • Concussion and Post-concussion syndrome
  • Contusion
  • Recurrent Traumatic Brain Injuries (Second Impact Syndrome)
  • Skull Fractures (Depressed or Compound)
  • Coup-Contrecoup (Multi-Side Contusions)
  • Torn Nerve Tissue
  • Anoxic Brain Injuries (Oxygen Deprivation)
  • Traumatic Brain Injuries

Some long-lasting consequences of head injuries are: 

  • Memory loss and other memory problems
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Seizures

How Can I File a Head Injury Claim?

After suffering a workplace head injury, filing a workers’ compensation claim may pose a daunting task. While your health should be your first and foremost concern, ensuring that your claim is filed properly and within the Pennsylvania worker’s compensation filing deadlines can be the difference between receiving the benefits you need and not.

The proper steps for filing a workers’ compensation claim in Pennsylvania are as follows:

1. Report the injury to your employer.

As soon as possible following injury, employees should report their injury and impairment to their employer. Under Pennsylvania law, reports are required to be made within the first 21 days of injury to ensure retroactive benefits from the date of injury. If the injury is not reported within the first 21 days, employees have 120 days following the injury to report, yet benefits will only be provided from the date of notice.

2. Get immediate medical help and inform the doctor that your injury work-related.

While it may not seem immediately relevant to your care, informing your medical provider that the injury is work-related ensures that all medical records stay consistent with your workers’ compensation claim.

Under Pennsylvania law, medical treatment must initially be sought within the first 90 days of notice to your employer, and when applicable with an employer-approved medical provider. After the first 90 days, you may choose your own medical provider.

3. File a workers’ compensation claim.

After being notified of your injury, your employer is required to submit their First Report of Injury to the state. Then, you have a three-year deadline from the date of injury to file your worker’s comp claim (and maintain your eligibility for benefits). Consulting with a workers’ compensation attorney during this process is a good strategy for maximizing your benefits and ensuring your claim is filed properly.

How Common are Workplace Head Injuries?

Workplace head injuries are, unfortunately, very common. Today, they are responsible for roughly 1 in 8 of all workplace injuries in Pennsylvania and just under 1 in 10 nationally.

However, as shown by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) data, workplace injuries remain in a state of decline. In fact, the total incidence of workplace injuries, including workplace head injuries, has consistently declined (year over year) for most of the last two decades and each of the last 6 years.

Head Injuries Common in Certain Industries?

Because of their relationship to slip and fall accidents, heavy machinery operation and falling objects, industries with the highest probability of workplace head injuries are:

  • Construction (Laborers and Freighters)
  • Manufacturing (Stock and Material Movers)
  • Trade and Transportation (Retail and Truck Drivers)
  • Health Care (Nursing and Ambulatory Staff)

What Is a Traumatic Brain Injury?

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a type of brain injury incurred after a sudden, external action. This external action could be, in the case of a “closed” traumatic brain injury, a blow, a jolt, or violent shaking. In a “penetrating” TBI, the cause would be the penetration of a piece of the skull or a foreign object like a bullet into the brain.

As with any brain injury, a TBI can have numerous physical and psychological effects. Medical experts distinguish three degrees of TBI: mild, moderate, and severe.

In a mild case of TBI, otherwise known as a concussion, the victim may still suffer from headaches, nausea, dizziness, and speech difficulties as well as changes to vision, hearing, and mood. Usually, concussions don’t cause the victim to lose consciousness, and if they do, this may only last for several seconds or minutes. Mild TBIs may or may not come with long-term consequences; the use of “mild” should not mislead one.

A moderate traumatic brain injury can exhibit all of the above symptoms though these will typically last longer. Additional symptoms may arise days after the trauma. A severe TBI will inevitably put the victim in a coma, a vegetative state, or state of amnesia after waking up.

Will Workers’ Compensation Cover Medical Treatment for a Traumatic Brain Injury?

Yes, provided that the brain injury is the result of a work-related incident. Because workers’ compensation law covers cases involving workplace head injuries, and because medical costs are among the economic losses that an injured worker can seek reimbursement for, it follows that workers’ compensation can cover the cost of treatments for a brain injury, traumatic or not.

Expenses include both past treatments administered in the ER or ICU as well as the cost of medications and ongoing physical therapy. They may also include DME (durable medical equipment), diagnostic studies, home health aid, home modifications, and automobile modifications.

What Workers’ Compensation Benefits Can I Receive for a Traumatic Brain Injury?

Besides coverage for medical expenses, you may receive either temporary total disability (TTD) benefits or temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits.

If you are working and losing earnings compared to your average weekly wage, you would be entitled to temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits. If you can’t work at all, you would be entitled to (TPD) benefits.

What Is Post Concussion Syndrome?

Post concussion syndrome is the cluster of symptoms that a mild TBI sufferer develops after a concussion. We mentioned numerous possible symptoms like nausea, dizziness, headaches, mood swings, and problems with memory, concentration, and speech. There are many more, including:

• Sensitivity to light and noise
• Anxiety and irritability
• Insomnia and chronic fatigue
• A ringing in the ears

If these persist for weeks or months, then one could be diagnosed with post concussion syndrome. This, more than any other condition, explains why one should not be misled by the term “mild” TBI.

Will Workers’ Compensation Cover Medical Treatment for Post Concussion Syndrome?

Yes, provided that the brain injury that led to the incurring of post concussion syndrome is related to either vibration, shaking, or whiplash at work or a sudden incident, such as a fall, incurred on the job. Sometimes, TBI victims unwittingly make their condition worse by overexerting themselves at work; if such a connection can be made between your job duties and your post concussion syndrome, then you would have a better chance of being covered.

Proving a concussion can pose a challenge since this seemingly minor brain injury oftentimes will not appear on CT scans and MRIs. However, once the connection is established, and once enough time has passed to prove that one has post concussion syndrome, it should not be too difficult to seek coverage for it.

What Workers’ Compensation Benefits Can I Receive for Post Concussion Syndrome?

The benefits will include medical costs, as stated above. That could mean the cost of surgeries and other medical interventions, hospital supplies, travel to and from the hospital or doctor’s office, physical therapy and rehabilitation, and pain medications.

Then there are wage-loss benefits, including benefits for both past and future losses. This ties in with the temporary total disability (TTD) benefits or temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits that the post concussion syndrome sufferer may receive. Those who no longer enjoy the same capacity to earn a living as they did before the brain injury would receive TPD benefits while those unable to work at all for the course of their recovery would receive TTD benefits.
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Workers’ Comp Lawyer for Head Injury Claims

After a workplace head injury, it is essential to work with a qualified and experienced workers’ compensation attorney to ensure your eligibility and maximum possible benefit award.

Krasno, Krasno, & Onwudinjo is a law firm with a demonstrated history in winning workers’ compensation benefits for injured workers throughout Pennsylvnia.

If you have questions about wage loss benefits, medical benefits, or any other aspects of your workers’ compensation case, our attorneys are ready to assist you. We can guide you through each step of your head injury workers’ compensation claim. To schedule a free consultation, contact us today via email or call us at (844) 243-4849 or toll-free at 877-794-2396.

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