For most people the term ‘brain injury compensation’ conjures up thoughts of serious injury claims that lead to huge amounts of compensation being awarded to those who have suffered catastrophic head injuries in road traffic accidents or accidents at work.
Some brain injury claims do result in compensation awards that run into the millions of pounds. There are on average 427 people admitted to hospital for head injuries every day. Of those, some will be sadly be diagnosed with serious brain damage.
Headway, the Brain Injury Association, have produced some statistics that indicate that 75% – 80% of those patients reporting to hospital with head injuries, will only suffer mild symptoms e.g. a brief period of unconsciousness or feeling sick and dizzy for a short while. What of the remaining 20/25% of people with head injuries? They will be the ones left with moderate or severe brain injury.
Headway has estimated that there are between 10,000 and 20,000 severe traumatic brain injuries every year. Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are of a type caused by a violent blow to the head.
Severe Traumatic Brain Injury
Severe traumatic brain injuries are defined as those resulting in a loss of consciousness of more than 6 hours and a Glasgow Coma Scale of 3 to 8. The Glasgow Coma Scale is the most common method of describing the level of consciousness in a person who has suffered traumatic brain injury.
When brain injury claims are settled for sums in excess of £1 million, it’s because the person making the claim has suffered very severe brain damage. By ‘very severe’, we mean that the victim’s brain damage is so acute that they are left with very serious physical or mental disabilities. They will be required to adapt to a new way of living. The effects of severe brain injuries are felt acutely by the victim’s family too. Their lives will change drastically.
People often mistakenly think that compensation at this level is paid only for the actual injury that the victim has suffered. That’s not the case. At the very severe level of brain damage, the amount of compensation for what is known as PSLA (Pain, Suffering and Loss of Amenity) will be in a bracket somewhere between:
Very Severe Brain Damage
£240,590 to £344,640. (Figures according to Judicial Guidelines 15th Edition).
Moderately Severe Brain Damage
£186,890 to £240,590 (Figures according to Judicial Guidelines 15th Edition).
An injured person included within this category will still be very disabled and have a substantial need for care and dependence on other people.
How do some brain damage claims end up settling for sums of £1 million or more?
When someone suffers a traumatic brain injury as severe as the type already mentioned above, then on top of the claim for injury compensation (PSLA), there will be a number of other types of claims for compensation.
Brain injury victims who have been severely injured will need full time care and potentially adaptations to their home and the facilities that they have at home. A typical brain damage claim, where the injuries are very severe, will include claims for damages for some or more of the following:
- Pain, suffering and loss of amenity
- Loss of earnings from date of accident to date of settlement
- Private medical expenses including those for recommended therapists
- Loss of future earnings
- Value of a partner or family member becoming a fulltime carer (including their loss of earnings form their former career)
- Cost of future professional care
- Cost of specialist aids and equipment
- The costs of adapting a home to the injured persons specific needs. In some circumstances, the cost of purchasing a new home may be claimed.
- Travel expenses
- Recompense for any items that were damaged in the accident (particularly appropriate in road traffic accident claims)
The media can give the impression that million pound compensation settlements are some form of ‘windfall’. Some even use the term ‘winning compensation’ when talking about compensation being paid to people who have suffered life altering accidents.
Severe brain injuries are life-threatening and even if the injured person survives, the catastrophic nature of the injuries invariably leads to long periods of hospitalisation; extensive, ongoing rehabilitation and varying degrees of day to day care, for the rest of the person’s life.
Compensation is intended to, as best as possible, put the person to whom it is paid, back into the position they were in before the accident. Such large damages settlements are made because they reflect the fact that no amount of compensation can ever go anywhere near putting such badly injured people back into the position they were in, before the accident.
Moderate Traumatic Brain Injury
Moderate traumatic brain injuries are defined as brain injuries where the injured person is unconscious for between 30 minutes and 24 hours after the incident that caused trauma. Applying the Glasgow Coma Scale, they typically score 9-12.
Whilst persons with brain injuries in this category may be unable to communicate, suffer partial paralysis and have impaired learning and problem solving skills (cognitive skills), they have a better making some form of recovery from their injuries than those who have severe traumatic brain injuries. They are also likely to benefit more from rehabilitation.
Judicial Guidelines compensation scales for moderately severe brain damage are:
£40,410 to £205,580 (Figures according to Judicial Guidelines 15th Edition).
Within the category of moderate brain damage, the degree of severity of injury is wide. As a result, the amount of compensation that can be awarded is in an equally wide bracket.
At the most severe level of injury falling within this category will be those:
- whose intellect has been moderately to severely damaged,
- have undergone personality change,
- whose sight, sound or speech sense have been severely impaired,
- are at significant risk of epilepsy occurring
- have no prospect of employment
At the least severe level of injury that comes within this category, will be those for whom:
- their memory and ability to concentrate will have been affected
- their ability to carry out any work will have been reduced
- there is a slight risk of epilepsy developing
- any dependence on others is very limited
Mild Traumatic Brain Injury
A mild traumatic brain injury is defined as such, if loss of consciousness following a head injury lasts for a period of 30 minutes or less.
Is concussion a form of brain damage?
Concussion is another name for mild-traumatic brain injury. It’s referred to as being a ‘traumatic injury’, because it is caused by a blow to the head. Concussion can be caused by:
- Accidents at work
- Road traffic accidents
- Slip, trip and fall on the public highway
- Criminal assault
Although concussion is usually associated with the head being struck by another object, it can also be caused if the head is shaken back and forth. Concussion caused by the whiplash effect that takes place when two motor vehicles collide, is an example of this.
Concussion is a temporary disturbance of the brain’s function.
- Problems sleeping
- Being oversensitive to light
- Difficulty balancing
- Struggling with concentration
- Forgetting to do things
- Unable to process information
- Low mood
- Feeling upset for no apparent reason
How quickly do the symptoms of concussion appear?
They can appear straightaway but equally it can take a few days or in some cases, weeks later, before they do so. That is the reason that professional sportspersons who suffer head injuries whilst playing sport often have to abide by a concussion protocol, which dictates when they can resume playing.
If a person only has only mild symptoms such as a headache, or feeling dizzy or sick, then it’s probable that they’ve suffered a mild head injury and not concussion.
Should symptoms persist and particularly if these are accompanied by a change in behaviour, then a visit to the accident and emergency department of a local hospital will be necessary to check whether concussion or something more severe is the cause.
If concussion is present, after a few days’ rest, most will have completed a full recovery.
One of the dangers of mild TBIs is that their symptoms– headaches, difficulty thinking, mood swings – are often disregarded as being part and parcel of normal life when, for instance a person is overworked or suffering stress.
When this happens complications can arise, such as persistent headaches, fatigue and mental impairment. This is known as post-concussion syndrome.
Judicial guidelines for mild traumatic brain injury compensation for pain, suffering and loss of amenity are as follows:
Minor Brain Damage (the injured person has made a good recovery and is able to return to normal work and social life)
£14,380 to £40,410
Minor brain or head injury (brain damage will have been minimal)
£2,070 to £11,980
There’s no such thing as an insignificant brain injury
When someone suffers a traumatic head injury as a result of an accident, it’s a fine line as to whether they suffer the disastrous consequences of a serious brain injury or whether they get concussion. The severity of the external force often plays a part in determining which it will be, but not always.
As personal injury solicitors, helping the family of a severely brain damaged accident victim to start on the long road to making a brain damage injury compensation claim, can be one of the most challenging aspects of the work that we do.
A catastrophic brain injury claim isn’t just about the money that we can recover for the client, albeit that is important. Our job is to be there throughout the life of the claim and thereafter, for our clients and their families.
At the other end of the scale though its’ also important not to get drawn into the mindset of thinking that mild traumatic brain injuries are insignificant matters in themselves.
Whilst most people recover from concussion within a few weeks, for some people, symptoms can last for months or even as much as a year. This is known as ‘post-concussion syndrome’. One of the longer lasting effects of post-concussion syndrome can be depression, problems with concentration and loss of memory.
Brain injury claims are complex serious injury claims. Not every personal injury solicitor is capable of handling them with the level expertise that they require. At Mooneerams Solicitors we are fortunate in having a number of highly experienced brain injury solicitors, who work together as a team, under the leadership of our director, Angus Fergusson.
If you would like to discuss any aspects of making a brain injury claim in confidence, make a free no obligation call to Mooneerams Solicitors on 029 2048 3615 and ask to speak with Angus Fergusson. Alternatively, you can contact us online by sending your contact details to us to request a call back from Angus.
We usually handle brain damage claims and head injury compensation claims using a Conditional Fee Agreement, also known as a No Win, No Fee agreement.