According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”), more than 2.5 million people sustain head trauma and traumatic brain injury each year. Motor vehicle crashes, work accidents, and sports-related injuries are some of the leading causes of these injuries.

Many traumatic brain injury victims require medical care beyond their initial emergency room visit. Often TBI victims require brain injury diagnostic testing, hospitalization, prescription medication, and rehabilitation therapy. These services have a big impact on the cost of treating TBIs.

This article examines the cost of treatment for brain injuries – with a focus on how to value Virginia car accident lawsuits and workers’ compensation claims where the plaintiff has suffered a TBI. If you have a question about your case or are looking for help recovering from your injury, contact Richmond brain injury attorney Corey Pollard for a free consultation. We’re here to help you and your family during this difficult time.

Brain Injury Costs in the U.S.

No amount of money can bring back your health. The price of the physical, mental, and emotional issues that result from brain injuries is incalculable. A TBI can – and often will – change you and your family’s life forever.

Disability from Work after a Brain Injury

Many patients will have disability from work because of their traumatic brain injury. The CDC reports that almost half of all TBI victims still have disability, or work restrictions, one year after the injury. As a Virginia workers compensation lawyer I’ve represented many TBI victims who are unable to return to their pre-injury employment even though years have passed since their injury.

Research also shows that brain injury victims have a difficult time dealing with changes in their work abilities. It is common to feel lost during the recovery and healing process – especially if you’re unable to find productive work that you enjoy. TBI victims who are able to return to the work force and who receive accommodations from their employers show better outcomes. This is why supportive return to work programs can be helpful for TBI victims and their families.

When your TBI impacts your ability to concentrate, interact with others and maintain relationships, pay attention, follow instructions, and remember things to the point you’re unable to maintain any type of employment, you may qualify for disability benefits under the Social Security Act. Apply for disability benefits and contact a Social Security Disability lawyer who can guide you through the legal process following a TBI. You may have multiple claims under different programs and against different defendants.

Here are common loss of income damages associated with traumatic brain injuries:

  • Temporary absence from work after receiving initial treatment and diagnosis
  • Only being able to work part time, if at all, because of diminished capacity after the TBI
  • Being permanently disabled and unable to work
  • Having to accept a light duty job where your pay is reduced
  • If a child suffers a TBI, he or she will suffer a loss in their ability to be trained or educated to perform all jobs

Brain Injury Costs for Family Members

Close family members also have to bear the burden of a traumatic brain injury. Family members often have to miss time from work to take their loved one to medical appointments. Sometimes family members even have to take extended leaves of absence, switch jobs, or stop working altogether to care for their loved one. These are significant financial sacrifices that add up quickly.

Cost of Medical Treatment for Brain Injuries

There is also a monetary cost to the medical treatment and rehabilitation associated with brain injuries. Different studies estimate that a treating a brain injury costs anywhere from $80,000 to $3,000,000 depending on its severity. This is an extraordinary amount of money. In many cases the TBI victim may have no insurance or inadequate insurance coverage to pay for the necessary treatment and follow-up care. And even when there is coverage, the TBI victim may have to fight the insurance company to get the treatment paid for. The stress and medical expenses can drain a family’s emotional and financial resources.

Common medical costs associated with traumatic brain injury lawsuits in Virginia include:

  • Medical bills from the hospital(s) that treated you after the initial accident
  • Costs for the use of diagnostic imaging facilities to determine what areas of the brain were injured
  • Cost of the various health care providers who treated you, including physicians, nurses, surgeons, and occupational therapists
  • Prescription medication costs
  • Home accommodations, such as railings or shower chairs
  • Assistive devices such as wheelchairs, crutches, and canes
  • Neurological rehabilitation

TBIs often cause changes in behavior and mood. If so a TBI victim may have the following mental health costs:

  • Having to pay for psychiatric evaluations to diagnose the condition and prescribe medication
  • Having to pay for psychological evaluations and behavioral and cognitive therapy to learn coping skills for the behavioral and emotional changes
  • Dealing with substance abuse issues that are commonly caused by brain injuries

Common long term care costs for brain injury victims include:

  • osts associated with caregivers, such as CNAs and companions
  • Fees for adult daycare facilities
  • Fees for long term care facilities
  • Draw down of life insurance policies and savings accounts to pay for extended care

The CDC estimated that the economic costs of traumatic brain injuries in 2010, including direct and indirect medical expenses, was approximately $76.5 billion. Roughly 90 percent of these costs were related to severe TBIs that resulted in hospitalization and even death. TBI-related stays are often longer than hospitalizations for other conditions. Given the population increase since 2010, technological advances in brain injury research and treatment, and rising health care costs, the economic cost of medical treatment TBI in the U.S.A. is probably higher now.

Why the Costs of Brain Injury May Be Higher

The actual costs of TBIs reported by the CDC may be even higher. Many TBIs go untreated and unreported. For example, one study found that less than half of high school football players who had a concussion reported it. We’ve seen this happen in the NFL, where players do not want to report a concussion because they will be taken out of the game and lose playing time and even their spot on the team. Unreported TBIs can still have lifelong effects on the victim.

TBI is a risk factor for conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, mood disorders, depression, headaches, migraines, stroke, and epilepsy. A TBI is even a risk factor for alcoholism and substance abuse due to changes in cognitive functioning, depression, and mood disorders related to the head trauma. Treatment for these conditions is expensive and not always productive.

Further, suicide and chronic pain can be worsened by TBI. The societal impact of suicide is enormous and cannot be measured in dollars only.

Research and Advances in Treating Traumatic Brain Injuries

Since 2000 several hundred thousand members of our Armed Forces have suffered traumatic brain injury. Many of these veterans were also treated by the VA for post-traumatic stress disorder. Studies show that treating veterans with TBI or PTSD is 3 to 5 times more costly to VA clinics than treating veterans who do not have these conditions.

Between the increase in veterans suffering TBI and the National Football League’s (NFL’s) concussion settlement, more attention is being paid to traumatic brain injury. With increased attention to the problem comes increased research and hope that lives can be saved.

The CDC is conducting surveillance and research to determine the best practices for treating TBI victims. And the National Institutes of Health (NHI) are funding research and investigating clinical trials of Alzheimer’s medications that may prevent the long-term damage caused by TBI. Clinical trials involving medication used to manage Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, and the flu suggests that the medication may also help in the early stages of recovery following a TBI.

Another medication, Clazosentan, may reduce the structural damage after a TBI by stabilizing the brain’s blood pressure. Reduced structural damage can lead to increased cognitive functioning. The NIH and other researchers are also looking at the role of hormones after TBIS and exploring ways to improve current diagnostic procedures so that doctors will not miss damage to the brain after an accident.

CDC research estimates that if health care providers adopt the new emergency TBI guidelines, we may save close to $300 million in medical and rehabilitation costs and $3.8 billion in indirect cost per year. The CDC is working to increase awareness, prevention, and management of concussions in our youth and elsewhere.

We’ll continue to keep you updated on developments in TBI research and treatment in Virginia and across the nation.

Get Help with Medical Costs Associated with Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injury is a major threat to Americans of all ages and occupations. It imposes not just a heavy burden on our families and society financially, but also emotionally. And unfortunately very little is known about how to diagnose and treat brain injuries. This is why we must continue to research ways to helps our loved ones.

There are many causes of traumatic brain injuries: car accidents; medical malpractice; slip and falls, and construction accidents – to name a few. But no matter the cause, TBIs all have one thing in common – extensive medical costs for treatment and rehabilitation. If you or a loved one suffered a traumatic brain injury because of someone else’s negligence, or if your TBI was misdiagnosed, you may be entitled to compensation. But you’ll have to prove your case. Contact personal injury lawyer Corey Pollard to talk about your situation and to see how we can help.