Head Injury Compensation Claims

If you have suffered a head or brain injury, you are most certainly not alone.

An analysis by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) found that for 2018-19, the head and neck was the body part most commonly identified as the principal site of injury in cases requiring hospital treatment.

The AIHW reported that over 120,000 or 22% of injuries that require hospitalisation involve this part of the body.

Head injuries, particularly brain injuries, can have devastating consequences. A significant study into the impacts of brain injury has been described as finding that there was a "dramatic difference in quality and length of life that those who experience a traumatic brain injury experience versus those who do not".

The Difference Between a Head Injury and a Brain Injury

An injury can be classified as a head injury if it involves damage to any part of the head, for example:

  • Fractured bones in the face or skull
  • Bruising or other soft tissue damage, like cuts or abrasions to the face
  • Bruising, swelling or bleeding of brain tissues (brain injury)
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Types of Brain Injury

Brain injuries are sometimes referred to as an 'acquired brain injury (ABI) or a 'traumatic brain injury' (TBI).

The term acquired brain injury is used to refer to any injury to the brain that occurs after birth.

traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a type of acquired brain injury that results from a trauma, like a blow to the head, or the head hitting an object. Other causes of acquired brain injury (ABI) include disease, substance use, or stroke.

The mechanism by which traumatic brain injury usually occurs involves the brain moving within the skull as a result of an impact to the head, or severe forces acting on the head (such as rapid forward and backward movement in a vehicle collision). The brain tissues can move and twist, and the brain can impact the bones of the skull and/or face, causing swelling or bleeding in the brain. A concussion is a common form of brain injury.

The Seriousness of Brain Injury

Brain injuries can be categorised as "mild, moderate or severe".
The classification of the level of injury is informed by the seriousness of the bruising, bleeding or swelling in the brain.

Head Injury Compensation Claim Types

You may be entitled to make a compensation claim whatever the cause of your head injury, but commonly claims arise from head injuries:

  • That occur at work
  • That result from a motor vehicle or car accident
  • That are caused by a slip, trip or fall

Head Injury at Work

In 2019-2020, over 4,000 head injury compensation claims were made for a work-related head injury.

This is perhaps unsurprising, as some of the most common causal factors in workplace incidents leading to serious injury compensation claims are also common causes of head injuries, namely:

  • Falls, trips and slips
  • Hitting objects with part of the body/being hit by objects
  • Vehicle collisions

Serious head injuries that result in brain damage can have significant impacts on a person's ability to perform the same job, or to work at all. These injuries can cause headaches, mood changes, tiredness, and cognitive impairments such as difficulty concentrating, remembering things and performing complex tasks. An award of damages from a brain injury compensation claim can provide ongoing support where the capacity to earn an income is reduced as a result of brain injury.

Talk with an experienced workers compensation lawyer to learn more.

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Head Injury Due to a Motor Vehicle Accident

In 2018–19, the head and neck was the body part most often identified as the principal site of injury in hospitalisations from road accidents, with 16,900 such injuries reported to have occurred.

Brain and head injuries have been described as being a common type of car accident injury, resulting from:

  • The head hitting part of the inside of the vehicle
  • An object, from inside the car or elsewhere, impacting the head during the collision
  • The forces involved in the collision causing the brain to move inside the skull

Find out more about making a car accident compensation claim.

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Head Injury Caused by Slip and Fall

A fall can be defined as "an event which results in a person coming to rest inadvertently on the ground or floor or other lower level".

The AIHW reports that in 2017–18 almost 223,000 cases of injury requiring hospitalisation related to falls, and about 29% (or 66,700) of falls involved injuries to the head or neck.

The seriousness of a head injury from a fall will depend on several factors, including:

  • The height from which the person falls
  • The person's age and physical condition
  • Whether there is contact with another object or objects during the fall
  • Any personal protective equipment being worn
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Common Causes of Head Injuries

The most common causes of serious head injuries have been identified as:

  • Accidents at work
  • Car accidents
  • Falls from a height
  • Sports injuries
  • Assaults

Physical Symptoms of a Head Injury

It's common for minor head injuries to cause:

  • A lump or bump at the site of impact
  • Bruising
  • A mild headache
  • Nausea

A more severe head injury more alarming symptoms including vomiting, bleeding from the ears or nose, seizures, or difficulty in seeing, hearing, speaking or staying awake.

‍Symptoms can appear some time after a head or brain injury has occurred, so it's important that a person suffering this type of injury is monitored and suitable treatment sought.

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What Evidence is Required to Make a Head Injury Worker's Compensation Claim?

Like all personal injury claims, worker's compensation claims for head or brain injuries require several types of evidence. Compensation lawyers experienced in injury claims can provide specific advice in your case. As a general guide, injured workers wanting to seek compensation for head and brain injuries will need evidence proving:

  • How the head injury occurred
  • The treatment provided by medical professionals
  • Long term impacts of the injury, future treatment and rehabilitation needs and prognosis (likely extent of recovery and timeframe)
  • Medical expenses, including fees for doctors and specialists, hospitalisation costs, medicines, and likely future costs of rehabilitation
  • Financial impacts such as lost income and earning capacity
  • The amount of pain and suffering endured

You may be able to make a common law or court claim in addition to, or instead of, a statutory worker's compensation claim that you make to WorkCover or a self-insurer.

Most head and brain injury compensation claims will be based on a claim of negligence. Very basically, a negligence claim is available when a person or organisation that owes you a legal duty to care for your safety and wellbeing fails to do so to a reasonable standard, and you suffer injury as a result. Negligence claims can be complex and personal injury solicitors have the skills and experience to gather the right evidence to support this type of claim.

If you think your injury may have been caused by someone else's negligence, you can seek advice from lawyers who are personal injury experts to get advice on the legal process involved and the evidence required for your compensation claim.

Is There a Time Limit For Making a Head Injury Compensation Claim?

Yes, strict time limits apply to making any head injury compensation claim.

For head injury claims arising from employment, a claim should be made to WorkCover or a self-insurer within 6 months from when the injury occurred, or when your head or brain injuries are first linked to your workplace duties by a doctor.

Generally speaking, in all negligence claims, you are required to commence a claim within the court within 3 years of the injury occurring. Before lodging a court claim there may be certain steps you must take under the law to notify the person you are claiming against that you intend to make a claim.

Obviously, after an injury, you will be focused on your medical condition and treatment, and that's the most important consideration at that time. However, it can help to seek legal advice as soon as you're able to, in order to ensure you don't miss any deadlines. Our law firm offers a free consultation for any potential personal injury claim, where we can advise you about time limits and discuss the claims process. If you decide to proceed, part of our legal service is to ensure your claim proceeds efficiently and all steps are taken on time.

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How Much Does it Cost to Lodge a Head Injury Compensation Claim?

For Court claims for head injury compensation, the legal fees depend on the amount of work required. Some factors affecting the legal costs in this type of case include:

  • The amount of evidence and what we need to do to collect it
  • How complex the case is
  • The cost of getting expert advice and reports, for example, evidence from specialists about your medical condition and treatment.

If your claim arises out of a workplace accident, you can make a claim to WorkCover or a self-insurer without cost - though many workers still appreciate the assistance of personal injury solicitors for their WorkCover claim to ensure they receive fair compensation.

Solicitors who provide legal representation in personal injury claims can provide their services on a no win no fee basis, reducing the financial risk of making a head injury compensation claim. Our law firm offers a free consultation where we can discuss any aspect of your potential claim for compensation, including what would be involved with a no win no fee agreement with us.

However, Smith's operates on a "No Win. No Fee. No Catch." basis, meaning that in the rare case a decision is taken against you in court, you would not be charged by Smith's, and we would pay the costs of the insurer if required. With a standard no win, no fee firm, you would be liable for these costs, and the are often considerable.

How Long do Head Injury Settlements Usually Take?

The average time to finalise a Common Law claim is between one year and 18 months for workers seeking compensation. The timeframe may be longer for other claims, as identifying the people or organisations to make a claim against can be more complicated for non-work related legal claims.

The length of time it takes to resolve your claim will depend on whether or not you can reach a settlement with the specific person or entity responsible for your injury (the negligent party), or their insurance company. If you can, it will mean you get your compensation payment more quickly than going through a trial in court. The vast majority of claims are settled without ever seeing the inside of a courtroom. Whether or not a settlement can be reached depends on the strength of the evidence in the case and having a skilful negotiator on your side. Good compensation lawyers will seek to resolve your claim as early as possible.

If your head or brain injury occurred at work you should make a statutory claim with WorkCover or a self-insurer as soon as possible. The time for a decision can be less than 20 days after lodging the claim if WorkCover is given all the correct information. This allows you to start getting payments in a timely manner for some of your lost wages and for medical expenses to help in your recovery and reduces the stress of having to find the money out of your own pocket.

Seeing a personal injury lawyer early about the injury compensation claims available can help you get the compensation you need to support your recovery.

What Are The Average Payouts For Head Injury Claims?

In head injury compensation claims, the amount of compensation awarded will depend on a number of factors.

Thankfully, some accidents involve only minor head injuries that resolve quickly with no lasting damage. Unfortunately, however, many cause serious head injury, including traumatic brain injury. For people seriously impacted by head or brain injuries, claiming compensation provides financial support so the injured person can focus on their recovery.

Relevant factors affecting the size of head or brain injury compensation claims include:

  • The seriousness and physical impact of the injuries
  • How long it will take you to recover, and any permanent effects including any impact on life expectancy
  • Costs you've incurred for acute medical intervention, including hospital expenses, doctor and specialist fees, and medication
  • The cost of any further medical treatment or rehabilitation required
  • Lost income, and your ability to work and earning capacity going forward
  • The impact on your relationships and other aspects of your personal life
  • An additional amount for pain and suffering
  • The legal costs you have incurred

In some cases, you may be able to claim for "psychological injury" as part of your compensation claim.

Statistics show that around 42% of people with a brain injury (or injuries) experience mental illness. This can result from the brain injury and its effects or can be a pre-existing condition. Either way, it can complicate the diagnosis and treatment of both conditions. An injured person who develops mental health problems as a result of their head or brain injuries may be entitled to compensation for that psychological impact, in addition to compensation for their physical injuries.

Given all these factors, it's difficult to give an average amount that would really help you understand how much compensation you might receive in a compensation claim.

Tragically, for some people, head injuries are fatal. A study by Macquarie University found that a person suffering a traumatic brain injury was 7.5 times more likely to die in the 12 months following the injury than a non-injured person.

In fatality cases, the dependent or dependents of the deceased person may be able to seek compensation. This is called a claim for wrongful death. Claims for fatal injury can include compensation for:

  • Costs of medical treatment
  • Funeral expenses
  • Loss of economic support from the deceased person
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Can I Represent Myself When Making a Head Injury Workers Compensation Claim?

It is possible to represent yourself to make your head or brain injury compensation claim. For example, a statutory claim to WorkCover or a self-insurer, if your injury occurred at work, can be relatively straightforward as long as you have your evidence together and stick to the time limits. However, if you suspect there may have been a negligent party, a common law claim can be run, which can be run self-represented, however, are much more involved from a legal perspective.

However, many people find they appreciate having expert advice on their options, and an experienced lawyer on their side as they navigate the legal process.

Compensation law can be complex and making a personal injury claim can be particularly daunting. Expert lawyers can advise how much compensation you're entitled to and what evidence you need, and answer any questions you have along the way.

You can seek legal advice from us - solicitors from our law firm will listen to your story and provide compassionate and straightforward guidance. If you decide to claim compensation, we can assemble a legal team to represent you through the entire process of making your personal injury compensation claim.

Lodge A "No Win No Fee" Claim

If you suffer injuries whilst at work, and you are looking for further information in terms of making a claim. Here at Smith's Lawyers, we offer a free consultation for injured people looking to seek compensation. As mentioned before, we also have a "No Win. No Fee. No Catch." policy, which means you will never be out of pocket.

Get in touch with us today to give yourself the best opportunity to understand your rights.

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