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Head Injury at Work

Compensation for a work-related head injury varies based on several factors, including the injury’s severity, the impact on your ability to work, medical expenses, and recovery needs.

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Most work-related head injuries result from slip and fall accidents, falling objects, motor vehicle accidents, and defective and dangerous equipment. A worker who has suffered a brain concussion may experience no symptoms at all, or in worse cases, may become unconscious. Other symptoms include loss of equilibrium, abnormal behavior, nausea, confusion, and blurred vision.

Common Causes of Workplace Head Injuries

Head injuries in the workplace can occur in a variety of settings and are not limited to traditionally high-risk jobs. Understanding the common causes of these injuries is the first step in prevention and ensuring a safe work environment for all employees. Here are some of the most prevalent causes of workplace head injuries:

  • Slips, Trips, and Falls: These incidents can occur in any work environment, from office spaces to construction sites. Wet floors, uneven surfaces, and cluttered walkways are often to blame.
  • Falling Objects: In workplaces where materials are stored overhead, or activities occur at height, falling objects pose a significant risk of head injury to workers below.
  • Motor Vehicle Accidents: For employees who drive as part of their job, whether it’s long-haul trucking or local deliveries, motor vehicle accidents can lead to severe head traumas.
  • Struck-by Incidents: These involve a worker being hit by moving objects or equipment, common in manufacturing, construction, and warehouse settings.
  • Equipment-Related Injuries: Malfunctioning or improperly used machinery and tools can cause head injuries through explosions, kickbacks, or direct contact.
  • Violence in the Workplace: Unfortunately, assaults and violent acts by coworkers or other individuals can also lead to head injuries in any work setting.

Recognizing these hazards is crucial for both employers and employees to implement effective safety measures and reduce the risk of head injuries. Regular safety training, proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE), and adherence to safety protocols can significantly mitigate these risks.

Common Head Injuries in the Workplace

Head injuries at work can range from mild to severe, affecting workers in various industries. Understanding these injuries is crucial for prevention, timely treatment, and appropriate workers’ compensation claims. Here are some of the most common head injuries encountered in the workplace:

  • Concussions: Often resulting from blows to the head or sudden movements that shake the brain, concussions can lead to temporary cognitive and physical impairments. While some concussions are mild, others may have lasting effects, emphasizing the need for immediate medical attention.
  • Lacerations: Cuts or lacerations to the scalp can occur from contact with sharp objects, machinery, or during falls. While these may seem superficial, they can be quite severe and lead to significant blood loss or infection.
  • Contusions: A contusion is a bruise on the brain itself, usually caused by a direct blow to the head. Depending on the severity, brain contusions can lead to swelling, pressure, and in severe cases, lasting brain damage.
  • Skull Fractures: The force of a blow can sometimes fracture the skull, leading to potential brain injuries. Skull fractures can be linear, depressed, diastatic, or basilar, each presenting unique risks and complications.
  • Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs): TBIs encompass a broad range of injuries from mild concussions to severe brain damage. These injuries can lead to long-term cognitive, emotional, and physical impairments, significantly impacting a worker’s quality of life and ability to return to work.
  • Hematomas: Hematomas involve bleeding in or around the brain, which can occur between the skull and the brain (epidural) or beneath the dura mater (subdural). These conditions can lead to increased intracranial pressure, causing severe complications without prompt treatment.

Understanding these common head injuries underscores the importance of workplace safety measures, such as wearing protective gear and adhering to safety protocols. For those affected, recognizing the signs and symptoms is crucial for seeking immediate medical care and appropriate legal assistance to effectively navigate workers’ compensation claims.

Understanding Concussions and the High-Risk Professions

The brain is covered by the skull, which acts as a protective shell. Inside the skull, there is cerebrospinal fluid that acts as a cushion between the skull bone and brain. A concussion occurs when a head trauma causes the brain to push through the layer of cerebrospinal fluid and hit the skull. Workers who are at a higher risk of head injuries are:

  • firefighters
  • construction workers
  • delivery personnel
  • race car drivers
  • loading dock workers
  • professional athletes

Head Injuries and Workers’ Compensation

The first thing a worker must do after suffering a brain injury is to get medical attention and then report the injury to the employer or supervisor. Seeking medical attention is important even if there are no visible signs of injury, because the symptoms of a concussion may not appear right away and any delay may cause a serious threat to life. It also acts as proof that the injury is work-related.

Diagnosing a Concussion

File a report of injury with your employer as soon as possible after the injury. Any delays in reporting may jeopardize your workers’ compensation claim. When you report your head injury to the doctor, diagnostic tests may be ordered to evaluate the extent and type of injury. Some common tests used to diagnose concussions are:

  • CT scan: An imaging technique used to identify hemorrhages, skull fractures, and hematomas.
  • MRI scan: An imaging technique used to assess brain function.

If both tests show no evidence of a serious, life-threatening brain injury, a brain concussion may be diagnosed. In order to treat a concussion, several days of rest may be recommended so that the brain can return to its normal function on its own. After a few days, doctors may perform another round of tests to evaluate how well you have recovered from the injury, and once the doctor feels that you have achieved maximum medical improvement, you will be allowed to return to work.

Reaching Maximum Medical Improvement

A concussion is not a life-threatening condition and rarely leads to permanent or even temporary disability. After you have reached maximum medical improvement, you will be able to return to work and perform normal duties. However, if you feel that you have not completely recovered from your injury, immediately consult an experienced Missouri workers’ compensation lawyer. Contact The Law Office of James M. Hoffmann at (314) 361-4300. We will help you get the benefits that you may be entitled to.

Frequently Asked Questions About Head Injuries at Work

What should I do immediately after sustaining a head injury at work?

Your health is the top priority. Seek medical attention right away, even if symptoms seem mild, as they could worsen or become apparent later. After addressing your medical needs, report the incident to your employer or supervisor as soon as possible to initiate the documentation process for a potential workers’ compensation claim.

How do I know if my head injury is serious?

Some signs of a serious head injury include loss of consciousness, persistent headache, vomiting, confusion, and seizures. However, symptoms can vary, and some may not appear immediately. Always consult a healthcare professional for an accurate assessment.

How much compensation can I receive for a head injury at work?

Compensation for a work-related head injury varies based on several factors, including the injury’s severity, the impact on your ability to work, medical expenses, and recovery needs. In Missouri, workers’ compensation benefits can cover medical care, a portion of lost wages, and rehabilitation costs. For specific cases, especially if long-term impairment is involved, additional settlements may be considered. Consulting with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can provide you with a clearer understanding of your potential compensation.

Can I return to work after a head injury?

Many workers fully recover from head injuries and can return to work. The timeline and capacity for return will depend on the injury’s severity, the recovery progress, and the type of work. Some may return to light-duty roles before resuming their original tasks. Continuous medical evaluation will guide this process to ensure your safety.

What if my head injury leads to long-term issues?

Long-term effects from a head injury can significantly impact your life and work. If you experience ongoing symptoms or disabilities, you may be entitled to additional benefits or settlements through workers’ compensation. In such cases, it’s crucial to have legal representation to navigate the complexities of your claim and ensure your rights are fully protected.

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Work Related Injuries