According to Headway, an advocacy group for people suffering from brain injuries, a person in the UK is admitted to hospital every three minutes following a head injury. Some will make a quick recovery, others will have theirs, and their family’s life turned upside down. For the serious injuries, life is divided into two parts; before the brain injury and after. Loved ones often describe having to get to know and love a completely new person.Workplace accidents can cause traumatic brain injury. Industries which pose the highest risk include construction, farming and fishing.
The effects of a brain injury
Doctors often use the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) to assess the severity of a head injury. It works on a scale of between 3 and 15, with three being most severe and 15 relatively mild).
Mild brain injury
Brain injuries can vary widely in effect. The most commonly known type of brain injury is ‘concussion’; this occurs when the brain hits the skull. You do not need to receive a blow to the head to get concussion – the brain floats in a bath of cerebrospinal fluid inside your skull and is soft and jelly-like in texture. A sudden jerk of the head, of the kind which occurs with whiplash injuries, can be enough to cause a concussion. Signs of concussion usually appear within a few hours of a head injury occurring, but sometimes it takes a few days for them to become obvious. According to the NHS website, the signs of a concussion include :
- a persistent headache
- nausea or vomiting
- feeling shocked, dazed or confused
- memory loss
- difficulty balancing
- personality changes – you may become irritated easily or have sudden mood swings
- blurred vision, double vision or “seeing stars”
- unconsciousness or finding it difficult to stay awake
Most people can recover from a concussion at home. It is advised that victims avoid stressful situations, rest, avoid alcohol and have someone stay with them for 48 hours so they can observe any changes in behaviour or condition.
Moderate brain injury
The brain injury charity Headway describes a moderate brain injury as one whereby consciousness is lost for between 15 minutes and six hours or a loss of memory of up to 24 hours.
Symptoms following a moderate brain injury can last for six to nine months and include:
- difficulty concentrating
- behavioural problems, including irritability
- cognitive issues, including speech problems such as not being able to find the correct words to use
- anxiety and depression
Severe brain injury
A severe brain injury can occur when a person is unconscious for more than six hours and post-accident amnesia of 24 hours or more. Symptoms of a severe brain injury include:
- the victim cannot speak and/or struggles to stay awake
- sensory problems such as hearing or vision loss
- blood or clear fluid emitting from the nose and/or ears
- swelling around the eyes and behind the ears
The long-term effects of a severe brain injury can be life-changing. Most victims will need extensive rehabilitation to help them recover.
Those who have suffered a severe brain injury at work may find it difficult to return to employment if they struggle with difficulties in concentrating and mood-swings. Conditions such as epilepsy may develop, and the resulting seizures may cause further damage to the brain. Others may be confined to a wheel-chair, having lost the ability to walk, talk and feed themselves.
Claiming compensation for a brain injury at work
Even mild to moderate brain injuries can have an impact on the victim’s ability to earn an income for a time and affect their quality of life. Severe damage to the brain can leave a person requiring long-term, 24-hour care and very little quality of life. If the brain injury was caused by negligence by an employer, compensation might be claimed. Employers carry extensive insurance to cover such claims; therefore, victims should not feel guilty about seeking the funds they need to assist their recovery. Contacting an experienced personal injury solicitor and making a claim for compensation is also important in terms of accessing rehabilitation. Under the Personal Injury Pre-Action Protocol, the claimant’s solicitor and the compensator (usually the insurer) must prioritise assessing the rehabilitation needs of the victim and ensuring an action plan is started as soon as possible.
At Russell Worth Solicitors we specialise in personal injury claims. If you have suffered brain injury through the course of your employment and would like a free claim assessment, please call us now on 0800 028 2060 or complete our Online Claim Assessment.