As part 1 of this article discussed, Ontario auto and insurance laws only consider a brain injury catastrophic if the individual receives a certain score on one of two tests: 1. the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS), or 2. the Glasgow Outcome Scale (GOS).
The GCS if often administered by emergency responders after a serious motor vehicle accident to measure the severity of a head injury. It measures the person’s level of consciousness, verbal response, ability to follow verbal commands, etc. The GCS helps the medical provider determine a person’s state of unconsciousness after trauma. It is not just administered right after the accident. It can be administered hours or days after the accident as well. If an individual scores less than 9 on the GCS, he is considered to have a catastrophic brain injury.
Another way to determine whether a person sustained a catastrophic brain injury is through the GOS. This test considers the person’s impairments based on factors such as the person’s dependence on others in his daily life, neurological and cognitive impairments, social compatibility, etc. If the person scores 2 (vegetative state) or 3 (severely disabled), then he has a catastrophic brain injury.
Issues with Glasgow Coma Scale
In many cases, auto insurance companies argue that timing (or when the test is administered) affects the accuracy of the GCS. In addition, if there are multiple tests resulting in different scores, which score is used to consider whether an individual suffered a catastrophic brain injury? If there are three tests with two scores below 9 and one score above 9, can the person be considered to have a catastrophic brain injury?
Consider the following: A driver is seriously injured after a serious multi-vehicle car accident on a highway near Kingston, Ontario. The injured driver goes in and out of consciousness and has several broken bones in his leg. The emergency responder administers a GCS test, and the driver scores a 5. He is given sedatives and pain killers and undergoes leg surgery when he arrives at the hospital. Several hours after his surgery, another GCS test is administered, and he still scores below 9. Twenty-four hours after his accident, another GCS test is given, and he scores a 10.
The auto insurance company in this situation would want to argue that the GCS results immediately after the accident and hours after his surgery were not administered appropriately or in a reasonable time frame after the accident because he was heavily sedated. Therefore, the test scores do not truly indicate his brain impairment. According to the insurance company, the score that should be used is the one that was taken 24 hours after his accident, which returned a score of 10.
Does this person have a catastrophic brain injury? It depends on his medical treatments and facts surrounding his case. As personal injury lawyers, we would carefully evaluate medical treatments and the facts of each case. Accident victims can have catastrophic brain injuries even if one of their GCS test scores is higher than 9. Sometimes, only one GCS score below 9 is needed.
What is a reasonable period of time after the accident to administer the test? The SABS does not define what “reasonable period of time” is, and in cases like this, it is crucial to have an experienced car accident lawyer to help the accident victim establish that he has a catastrophic brain injury. The lawyers at Bergeron Clifford are experienced personal injury lawyers and will help car accident victims access the maximum amount of benefits they are entitled to. Call today to schedule a free consultation. 866-384-5886