Traumatic brain injuries that happen at work are almost always caused by a fall from a ladder, the roof of a building, the top of a truck, scaffolding, or on a construction site. The injured worker may or may not lose consciousness immediately following the accident, and there are usually other physical injuries such as spinal fractures and broken bones in addition to a skull fracture or bleeding in the brain. The injured worker is usually taken by ambulance to the nearest emergency room at a hospital where the trauma team works to stabilize the patient and assess the brain injury. During this time, blood work is taken to determine whether there is alcohol or illegal drugs in the patient’s system that could affect treatment. The presence of alcohol or drugs could also be used to deny an otherwise legitimate workers’ compensation claim.
Families of the patient are ordinarily too shocked to do much other than wait for bits of information to trickle to them from nurses or doctors treating the patient. If the patient is placed on a ventilator in a medically induced coma, the family’s sole concern at this point is whether the loved one will survive, and if so, what will be the quality of life given the brain injury. The most frustrating thing for family, even if they are able to be at the hospital for hours each day, is getting information about the extent of the injury and what to expect.
My recommendation for the family is to talk to the hospital social worker to get information on who the workers’ compensation insurer is and the name of the adjuster assigned to the case. The hospital will try to get this information the same day the patient is admitted so that they know who to bill and where to send a Claim for Compensation form to get the workers’ compensation claim started. The next step is to then contact the adjuster assigned the case, and request that they put a nurse case manager on the case. A good nurse case manager should visit the patient at least every other day, and communicate with the adjuster and the family. Any reputable workers’ compensation attorney should be able to walk you through those steps also.
If it appears that the patient will be unable to make medical decisions and has a serious brain injury, then the family should definitely contact an experience workers’ compensation attorney for help in establishing a guardianship and to manage the claim. Again, the most frustrating part of having a loved one injured like this is the lack of information from the medical providers. A good attorney can help you get through that and make sure that no one is dropping the ball in providing all necessary medical care. Once the patient is stable enough to be transported, the hospital will want to quickly discharge the patient to a rehabilitation facility. That is an important decision in obtaining quality care. Las Vegas is lacking in rehabilitation care for traumatic brain injury patients.
This is an overwhelming life-changing event for the injured workers’ family as well as the patient. It does not cost anything to contact an experienced attorney for more information about what to do. If you feel pressured in any way by the attorney you contact, contact another until you feel comfortable and confident that this is an attorney who you can trust and who is experienced in handling this type of case.