Question: My sister was in a serious car accident in Kingston. She broke several bones throughout her body and needed various surgeries. She was in the hospital for almost 2 months. She is home now, and I am helping her since, due to her injuries, she still cannot do most of her house chores. However, I think she also has a brain injury. She complains that she is tired all the time and gets headaches when she needs to concentrate or do some work. She also has been very forgetful. I am very worried about her. I feel that she may have a brain injury, but I don’t remember seeing these symptoms when she was in the hospital. What do we do in terms of her accident benefits? Can she qualify for catastrophic accident benefits because of her brain injury?
Answer: Some car accident victims who suffer brain injuries are not immediately diagnosed after their accidents. The reason is that some victims, like your sister, suffer catastrophic orthopedic injuries that need immediate attention when they arrive at the hospital. Therefore, medical attention is focused on orthopedic injuries and not the head injuries.
In addition, the symptoms of brain injuries may not emerge until days or months after the accidents. In some instances, they do not appear until the person returns to their daily life. An accountant may not exhibit any signs of a brain injury until he returns to work. When he starts adding numbers and performing his job responsibilities that require cognitive thinking, he may have a very hard time. He may start to get a headache or may not even know where to start to do the calculations. The cognitive skills required for his job were not needed when he was in the hospital.
The same may go for your sister. While in the hospital, she was not required to work, balance her chequebook or figure out her schedule, so the symptoms of the brain injury did not appear. Now that she is at home, she may start to exhibit signs of a brain injury when she is required to perform her daily routine.
In terms of her Statutory Accident Benefits, whether she qualifies for catastrophic accident benefits, i.e., $1,000,000 medical and rehabilitation benefits, depends on the extent of her injuries.
Unfortunately, what you and I consider catastrophic may not be what the law considers catastrophic. Under the law, a brain injury is considered 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).
Even if your sister’s brain injury does not meet the legal definition of a catastrophic brain injury, her orthopedic injuries may be considered catastrophic. It is also possible that her mental and physical injuries combined together are considered catastrophic under the law.
Being deemed catastrophic can be very complicated. It is important to contact a catastrophic car accident and injury lawyer to understand how your sister’s rights may be impacted. An experienced lawyer can help your sister with her accident benefits claim. The insurance company may say she has a non-minor injury when in fact she may have a catastrophic injury.
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