Among injuries sustained on the job in Florence, head and brain injuries are some of the most harmful. Drivers, police officers, firefighters, construction workers, loading dock personnel, and many others suffer serious work-related brain injuries every year.
If you sustain a brain injury in the course of doing your job in South Carolina, state law allows you to file a claim with your employer’s workers’ compensation insurer for medical expenses and lost wages, as well as long-term disability benefits and vocational re-training in some cases. Most companies with four or more employees are required to carry workers’ comp insurance.
How Head and Brain Injuries Happen
Work-related accidents resulting in head injuries include:
Slip and fall or trip and fall.
Slipping on a wet floor or a steep ramp at work can cause a fall, leading to head trauma. Tripping on an uneven floor or over an object on the ground can also result in brain injury.
Being hit by a falling object.
On construction sites or in workplaces where heavy objects are stored or moved by a crane above the heads of employees, a falling object can hit a worker and cause a concussion or worse.
Falling from heights.
An employee who falls down the stairs, from a roof, or off a ladder onto a hard surface in the workplace can easily sustain a head injury.
Company vehicle accidents.
Workers who drive company cars, forklifts, and heavy construction equipment in the course of their jobs are sometimes involved in accidents. If a driver’s head comes into hard contact with a windshield, dashboard, or steering wheel, a brain injury can result.
Because workers’ comp is no-fault insurance, you don’t have to prove your employer did anything wrong to cause your accident, and your boss may not fire you or retaliate against you for filing a claim.
Degrees of TBI Severity
Traumatic brain injuries fall into one of three categories in terms of severity. A victim of a mild TBI is disoriented and could lose consciousness for seconds or minutes after impact to the head. Although diagnostic tests might not show any resulting brain damage, it can be diagnosed by a doctor’s exam of the victim’s mental functions. Someone who suffers a moderate TBI loses consciousness for a few hours, and residual disorientation might persist for weeks afterward. Behavioral, physical, and cognitive complications can continue and require treatment for months or for life. A severe TBI is caused by an extremely hard blow to the skull or penetration of the brain. It can be fatal or result in permanent, life-changing brain damage.
Traumatic Brain Injuries and Symptoms
A traumatic brain injury occurs when impact to the head jolts the brain, causing it to hit the inside of the skull and swell or bleed. Traumatic brain injuries that can result are described below:
A contusion is a bruise on the brain caused by the breakage of blood vessels due to a blow to the head. Damage to the brain can occur at the point of impact (a coup injury) or on the opposite side of the brain (a contrecoup injury). The brain damage from a contusion can range from mild to severe, causing emotional upset, anger, fatigue, disorientation, unconsciousness, lack of oxygenation, and swelling of the brain.
Impact to the skull or hard shaking of the head back and forth (as in a whiplash injury in a company vehicle accident) can cause a concussion, which is a minor TBI not always visible in a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test. Concussions can result in headaches, loss of memory, lack of concentration, and confusion. These symptoms can be aggravated by second-impact syndrome if a victim suffers a second concussion before the previous one heals.
Not only trauma to the head but also a stroke, blood clot, or heart attack can interfere with blood flow to the brain. Without proper blood flow, the brain is deprived of oxygen. If this deprivation lasts more than a few minutes, the loss of oxygen causes brain cells to die.
Even if blood flow to the brain is normal, hypoxic brain injury can occur if the level of oxygen in the blood is reduced by choking, suffocation, drowning, ingesting poison, or inhaling carbon monoxide.
Diffuse anoxic injury (DAI).
In a severe whiplash injury, for example, the extreme jolting of the head back and forth can tear connections between the brain stem and the spinal cord, leading to serious brain injury or death.
A car crash, a slip-and-fall mishap, or workplace violence can cause the skull to be fractured or penetrated by a sharp object that touches the brain and causes a serious TBI.
External symptoms of head injury include cuts, lacerations, and swelling. Internal symptoms include memory loss, headaches, fatigue, loss of balance, nausea, internal bleeding, blood clots, mood swings, trouble sleeping, and seizures.
What to Do After a Work-Related Head Injury In Florence
If you sustain head trauma due to an accidental injury in the course of your work, you should report your accident and injury to your supervisor or a workplace claims representative immediately. Even though you have 90 days to do so, don’t wait. If your employer doesn’t file your claim with the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission (SCWCC), you should do so by submitting a Form 50 from the SCWCC website. Technically, you’re allowed to wait two years, but any delay in reporting your injury or filing your claim gives your employer’s insurer ammunition to challenge your claim, citing your delay as proof that you’re not as badly hurt as you say you are.
After reporting and filing, you should see a doctor recommended by your employer’s insurance company. You may not use your regular doctor; doing so could hurt your claim. Follow the recommended doctor’s advice and treatment plans to the letter, take all medications as prescribed, hold on to your receipts as well as documentation of all treatments, and keep a journal of your recovery, including the effects of your injury on your daily activities, ability to work, interaction with family, and general enjoyment of life. Doing all of the above when you’re recovering from a TBI, however, can be very difficult. An experienced workers’ comp attorney can guide you through the filing process, help you document your medical expenses, and make sure you comply with all deadlines and procedural requirements in your quest for workers' compensation benefits.
Have You Been Injured On The Job In Florence?
If you've been hurt at your job in or around Florence, South Carolina, you can speak with a workers' compensation lawyer. Please contact us online or call our Florence personal injury office directly at 843.488.7540 to schedule your consultation. We are also able to meet clients at our Charleston, Conway, Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Mt. Pleasant, North Myrtle Beach or North Charleston office locations.