Head Injury at Work in Portland
Workers’ compensation in Oregon covers all types of injuries that occur in the course of a person’s employment. Many injuries and workplace-related illnesses are relatively easy to diagnose and treat. For example, if you fall and break your arm while moving some boxes in the warehouse, your doctor will treat you and let you know how much time you can expect to miss from work. And it’s not like you need the doctor to tell you that your arm is broken.
Head injuries are often a much different story. While some head injuries are obvious, purely internal injuries like concussions are often difficult to diagnose right away. An injured employee may appear to their supervisors and colleagues to be perfectly fine and able to return to work soon after the accident. But the reality is that a concussion – which is more properly classified as a traumatic brain injury (TBI) – can have serious, long-term health consequences. And in some cases, these consequences may be compensated as permanent disabilities under Oregon law.
Portland Traumatic Brain Injury Lawyer: Common Types of Brain injuries
Head injuries cover a wide range of accidents, from a simple “bump on the head” to internal bleeding inside a person’s brain. The causes of head injuries are also just as varied. While we often associate traumatic brain injuries with sudden events like car accidents, or inherently dangerous jobs like professional sports, in reality, they can occur in any workplace at any time.
Each year about 1.7 million people in the United States sustain a TBI, according to the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Johns Hopkins further estimates that the total cost of head injuries to the American economy exceeds $56 billion annually.
Here are some of the more common types of head injuries these figures include:
- Skull fractures – These refer to physical damage to the skull bone itself. Medical professionals generally divide skull fractures into four subcategories: linear, depressed, diastatic, and basilar. The most common type is linear, where the bone breaks but does not move, and extensive medical treatment is generally unnecessary. In contrast, the most serious category of skull fracture is basilar, where there is a “break in the bone at the base of the skull,” according to Johns Hopkins.
- Traumatic brain injuries/concussions – This is the type of head injury we most frequently associate with a workplace accident. Concussions often do not manifest themselves physically in the same manner as skull fractures. They are generally produced when the brain is subject to sudden, violent movement, such as during a car accident. But unlike other kinds of head injuries, the symptoms of a concussion can last for months or even years depending on the severity.
- Blood clots – Known in medical circles as hematomas, a post-accident blood clot in or near your brain can be fatal.
Symptoms of Brain Injuries
Head injuries frequently do not produce obvious symptoms in the same manner as something like a broken arm. Every person’s brain responds to shock and sudden trauma differently.
According to the doctors at the Mayo Clinic, some of the more easily observed symptoms of “mild” traumatic brain injury can include:
- Immediate loss of consciousness for a few seconds or minutes
- A general state of confusion or disorientation, even when there is no loss of consciousness
- Headaches or episodes of dizziness or loss of balance
- Unexplained changes in sleeping patterns, which can be anything from sleeping more than normal to insomnia or sudden drowsiness or fatigue during the day
- Sudden nausea or vomiting
- Sensory problems, such as difficulty speaking, blurred vision, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), or acute sensitivity to bright lights or sound
- Speech and memory problems, such as the inability to answer basic questions
- Radical changes or swings in a person’s mood, such as sudden feelings of anxiety or depression
Treatment for Brain Injuries in Portland
Given the wide variety of head injuries and potential symptoms, there is no universally applicable treatment. The most important thing to remember is to seek immediate medical attention if you have suffered any kind of head injury on the job.
Even if you think you “feel fine” and do not experience any immediate symptoms, it is still a good idea to go to the local emergency room – or the medical provider authorized by your employer’s workers’ compensation insurer – to get a full neurological examination.
Common Causes of Brain Injuries at Work in Portland
A head injury can occur in any kind of workplace, not just high-risk occupations like construction. Indeed, the most common causes of head injuries at work are the same as those for such injuries in general. Here are just a few examples:
- Slip-and-fall accidents – According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries is “falls.” A slip-and-fall accident may be the result of something as simple as tripping over a loose piece of carpet in an office or slipping on an icy walkway next to the employer’s building.
- Car and truck accidents – Many people need to travel as part of their job. Unfortunately, motor vehicle accidents are also a leading cause of brain injuries. The forces sustained during a car accident can jostle the brain and produce a concussion.
- Worksite explosions – If your occupation involves handling any kind of hazardous chemicals or materials, a sudden explosion can throw you to the ground and cause a traumatic brain injury. And in some cases, shrapnel or debris from the explosion may also cause a skull fracture.
What to Expect When Filing for Workers’ Comp After a Brain Injury
Workers’ compensation in Oregon provides the exclusive remedy against employers for employees who sustain any type of on-the-job injury. Your employer or its insurance company is expected to pay for all medical expenses arising from your work-related head injury, as well as certain state-mandated benefits for time lost from work.
In addition, if your head injury results in any type of lasting impairment you may be entitled to permanent partial disability benefits. For instance, if you permanently lose your sense of smell or taste as the result of brain damage arising from a work-related head injury, state law requires your employer to pay you an “impairment benefit.”
Contact a Brain Injury Lawyer in Portland Today for Help!
A qualified Portland workers’ compensation attorney can advise you of the specific impairment benefit rates based on the nature and extent of your head injury. The Law Office of Jodie Anne Phillips Polich, P.C., is ready to review your case and advise you on what benefits you may be entitled to. Call us today or contact us online to schedule a free, no-risk consultation.