Costs of Traumatic Brain Injuries in Florida
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) happens when a jolt or blow to the head causes brain damage. Symptoms of a TBI range from mild to severe; in some cases, a TBI may be fatal. A severe TBI may affect cognitive function, motor function, sensation, and emotions. According to the most recent data collected by the Florida Department of Health, TBIs were related to 3,852 deaths in 2014. During the same year, there were more than 19,000 hospitalizations for non-fatal TBIs. The median hospital stay was three days with a median cost of almost $50,000 per stay.
If you or someone you love has had a TBI, you may feel helpless because medical bills are piling up. Depending on your situation, you may be able to recover damages to offset the costs of your TBI. Call Dolman Law Group in Tampa Bay at (727) 451-6900 for a free consultation.
Hospitalization is expensive, but it is not the only cost associated with traumatic brain injuries. Those who have moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries have an abundance of economic costs as well social costs. While full recovery does happen, many victims deal with issues surrounding their injury for their entire life.
Economic Costs of Traumatic Brain Injuries
The Florida Department of Health estimates that medical costs associated with hospitalization due to a TBI exceeds $1.8 billion each year. Those who have a severe TBI may require long-term care and physical therapy. Here are the most common medical costs for TBI patients:
- Doctor visits
- Emergency room visits
- Prescription drugs
- Nursing care and assistance
Rehabilitation & Recovery Costs
Rehabilitation is a type of medical cost but deserves special attention because of its importance to those with a TBI. Sometimes patients only need specialists for short periods of time until they make a full recovery. In serious cases, TBI patients need the services of rehabilitation specialists for life. Some of the rehabilitation specialists that a TBI patient may need include:
- Physical therapists
- Long-term care nurses
- Speech pathologists
- Mental health professionals
- Occupational therapists
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 12% of people with TBIs reside in nursing homes or other care facilities. The longer that one must stay in a facility, the costlier the injury becomes. In some cases, patients can participate in outpatient rehabilitation programs. In-patient and outpatient rehabilitation programs and facilities include the following:
- Intensive acute rehabilitation programs
- Coma treatment centers
- Transitional living programs
- Assisted living long-term care facilities
- Behavior management programs
- Day treatment programs
- Assistive Technology
Often times traumatic brain injuries result in temporary or permanent disabilities that require the use of assistive technology. Examples of assistive devices that add to the overall cost of a TBI include:
- Wheelchairs and scooters
- Walkers and canes
- Prosthetic devices
- Computers and electronic devices that aid cognitive function
- Computer software and hardware that aids with mobility and sensory issues such as voice recognition programs and screen readers
- Home modification including ramps, automatic doors, handrails, and doorway enlargement
- Adaptive switches for those with limited motor skills
- Devices to help with daily tasks such as getting dressed, cooking a meal, and personal grooming
- Lost Wages
If a person has a moderate to severe traumatic brain injury, they have most likely missed work as a result of their injury. In the most severe cases, patients are permanently disabled and cannot work at all or must change professions. According to the CDC, 55% of those with TBIs are unemployed but had a job at the time of their injury. Economic costs of a traumatic brain injury not only include lost wages, but the loss of future wages, referred to as earning capacity.
Prior to having a TBI, able-bodied persons do regular things that most take for granted such as cooking meals, doing the dishes, mowing the lawn, grocery shopping, and other domestic chores. Those with a TBI, especially if they don’t live with other family members, may need to hire domestic help to maintain their household. Some TBIs result in the patient never being able to drive again, so they may also need to hire a driver.
Social Costs of Traumatic Brain Injuries
While the economic costs of a TBI are often overwhelming, the social costs can be emotionally debilitating. Depending on what part of the brain sustained injuries, a TBI patient may struggle with emotions. This includes complete changes in personality and sometimes becoming more aggressive. Additionally, patients with severe lifelong symptoms because of their TBI may struggle with the emotional grief of their disabilities such as speech impairment, physical limitations, and more. They may also struggle with having a caretaker, whether a nurse or a family member. The CDC estimates that 57% of all TBIs across the nation are moderate to severe, and 33% of those with TBIs rely on others for their care.
These emotional struggles lead to difficulty in maintaining relationships and friendships. Similarly, one who has severe disabilities after a TBI does not have the capacity for social interaction. In fact, they may not be able to leave their home or care facility. Many patients find themselves depressed and some even abuse alcohol and drugs. The CDC also reports that 29% of patients with a moderate to severe TBI claim they are not satisfied with their life and 29% use illicit drugs and alcohol.
Consult With an Experienced TBI Attorney
According to the University of Florida, falls, motor vehicle accidents and assaults are the major causes of traumatic brain injuries. If you or a loved one has sustained a TBI because of the negligence or wrongful actions of another, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. A skilled personal injury attorney who specializes in traumatic brain injuries can guide you through the process of an insurance claim and, if necessary, a lawsuit, while you focus on recovery, rehabilitation, and coping with symptoms from your traumatic brain injury. Contact Dolman Law Group in Tampa Bay at (727) 451-6900 to schedule a free consultation for you to discuss your case with one of our experienced lawyers.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765