Brain Injury and Divorce

Brain injury is a single problem with many facets.  Sometimes the changes brought on by the injury are very subtle, so that even the injured person does not recognize them.  Other times the brain injury is so severe that the injured person can no longer take care of themselves.   Sometimes the person can no longer multi-task (do many things at once), and sometimes the person loses energy.  There are many more problems caused by brain injury than we can talk about here.  However, one of the things that most people do not understand about brain injury is that it can change the interests and personality of the injured person.  If the injured person is married, this can affect the marriage.

In the winter volume of its quarterly publication of the TBI Challenge, the Brain Injury Association of America published some facts about the rate of divorce among couples when one of the partners suffers a brain injury.  The good news is that statistics show that overall the rate of divorce for couples where one of the partners has a brain injury is consistent with national norms.  The statistics do indicate that more severe the injury, the higher the rate of divorce.   Age seems to matter, those who were 60 or older, at the time of the injury, were more likely to stay together.  In addition for people married longer before the injury the rate of divorce after the injury goes down.

John believes the key is to know that a brain injury does have an impact on the injured person.  If the spouse realizes that some of the changes they are seeing in their spouse after the injury are caused by the injury, they increase their ability to deal with those changes and seek out assistance.  Marriage is important to our society.  This new research gives the brain injured community hope for the continued success of their marriages.

If you, or a loved one, have suffered a brain injury, call John, he has the experience to help.

Spinal Cord Injury

Last night my good friend Bob died. Ten years ago Bob fell from a climbing tree stand and injured his spinal cord at the level in his neck that paralyzed him from just below his nipples down the rest of his body. He had movement of his arms, but he had no movement below his wrists. Although his injury was tragic, he was blessed in many ways. Bob’s wife Michelle stood by him to the end. She was his cheerleader, his nurse, his partner and friend. She put force in her promise, “For better or worse, in sickness and in health ‘til death do us part.” Bob had good insurance, which continued to pay his bills over the course of his life. Bob had a loving family who stood by him every step of the way. Just as important, if not the most important, Bob’s attitude towards his injury was acceptance of the injury, but a refusal to let his limitations stop him from living his life. Bob continued to work. Bob continued to be an active father in his children’s lives, coaching, counseling and nurturing. Bob spoke at all the area high schools warning the students about hunter safety and sharing his never quit point of view. I will miss Bob.

Another fighter who recently died of complication of his spinal cord injury was Spinal Cord Injury Hall of Fame member Teddy Pendergrass . Pendergrass was inducted in 2005 when NSCIA founded the SCI Hall of Fame to recognize and honor those making outstanding contributions to the quality of life for people living with spinal cord injury and disease.

As an accident attorney and injury attorney, I had the honor of representing Bob, and his family, in the case against the manufacturer of the tree stand from which he fell. Falls are only one cause of spinal cord injuries. The most common causes of spinal cord injury are: motor vehicle accidents (accounting for approximately 50 percent of new injuries), falls (24 percent), violent encounters (11 percent), sports injuries (9 percent), and disease (statistics from the Mayo Clinic). At Young and Young, for over fifty-five years, we have represented families dealing with the effects of spinal cord injuries. We have represented the spinal cord injury whether it was from a car wreck with a drunk driver, a highway accident with a semi tractor-trailer, a truck crash or trucking accident, a motorcycle accident, any kind of traffic accident, or construction accident.

There are different types of effects from spinal cord injuries, depending on where in the body the spinal cord injury occurs. If the injury to the Spinal cord is lower in the spine, the effect may be paraparesis or the partial paralysis of the legs or lower part of the body, or paraplegia or the complete paralysis of the legs and lower body. If the injury is higher up in the spinal cord, such as in the neck the effects can be wrongful death if it is very high in the neck, quadriparesis which is the partial paralysis of the trunk of the body and the arms and legs, or quadriplegia which is the complete paralysis of the trunk of the body and the arms and legs.

We recommend that anyone dealing with the effects of spinal cord injury, or who has a loved one dealing with the effects of spinal cord injury, visit the National Spinal Cord Injury Association, (NSCIA).   A huge part of coping with spinal cord injury is knowing that you are not alone. There are many, many resources out there to help you. The assistance ranges from adaptive devices to multiple therapies to vocational rehabilitation.

Brain Injuries Coming Under Increasing Scrutiny

Congratulations to the Indianapolis Colts who are headed to the Super Bowl after their come-from-behind victory in yesterday’s AFC Championship game. Pro athletes make a great living, and fans in Indiana and across the country derive a tremendous amount of enjoyment from following their favorite teams. But there is a downside:  For example, more retired NFL players are coming forward to report dementia-related symptoms as a result of repeated on-field concussions during their playing days. Although many feel that the National Football League has been slow to acknowledge the connection between concussions and brain disease, the league recently decided to implement stricter rules for players suffering head blows, which, among other things, prevents them from returning to action the same day if they have headaches, dizziness, memory gaps, or disorientation. Given the increased attention on brain injuries in pro (and college) sports and in military combat, medical researchers are exploring a number of innovative treatments that will also eventually apply to persons from all walks of life.

That being said, on an everyday basis, most Hoosiers are more likely to suffer a severe blow to the head in a car crash or a slip-and-fall accident than in a sports-related injury.  Severe or traumatic brain injuries can unfortunately have far-reaching consequences on the victim as well as the victim’s loved ones. Victims may require permanent care, which often places an emotional and financial burden on the injured person and the family.

If you believe that you (or a family member) have sustained a severe concussion, it is important to hire an experienced personal injury attorney in addition to obtaining expert medical attention. As a result of the potentially devastating nature of a blow to the head, representation by the best possible attorney is crucial for a fair recovery against the responsible party. John P. Young is a former member of the Board of Directors of the Brain Injury Association of Indiana, serving as its chair for two years. Mr. Young has 20 years of experience helping Hoosiers and their families deal with brain injury. Call him and let him assist you and your family.

If I am Injured, How do I Know Which Doctor Do I Go To? Part Four

In our last three blogs we have discussed the different kinds of doctors who can be helpful if you have been injured in a car wreck with a drunk driver, or in a traffic accident, or highway accident with a semi tractor trailer or a motorcycle accident.  This discussion applies equally to people who have been in a construction accident.   The types of injuries we discussed include brain injury, severe burns, electrocution, amputations, paralysis, spinal cord injury and back injuries.  While knowing what type of doctor treats what kinds of injuries is very important, did you know that there are different types of hospitals that treat different types of injuries?  Knowing this, and knowing which type of hospital is best for you can be as important and your doctor. 

 We start first with acute care, and post acute care hospitals.  Acute care hospitals are those hospitals that treat immediate injuries and conditions and there short term consequences.  The goal of the acute care hospital is to get the patient stabilized, so that proper treatment can be rendered to address the patient’s medical issues. The word acute simply means having short and relatively short duration. Thus the patient who has been injured in a car accident or is injured in a construction accident is going to be taken to an acute care hospital.  

There are different types of acute care hospitals.  They are divided by levels.  A level one trauma center is the most prepared for significant trauma patient.  Indianapolis is fortunate enough to have two level one trauma centers, Wishard Memorial Hospital and Methodist Hospital.  The most severely injured patients will go to one of these hospitals.  As the ability of the hospital to deal with significant trauma decreases, their level increases.  Many hospitals are not equipped to deal with significant trauma, and the patient is likely to be transferred by either ambulance or helicopter to the level one trauma centers. 

After your stay in an acute care hospital is complete, you may be transferred to a post acute care hospital.  These hospitals are typically referred to as rehabilitation hospitals.  These hospitals specialize in helping patients adapt to life after their injury.  They do this by offering many types of rehabilitative therapies, including occupational therapy and physical therapy.   Many spinal cord injury, brain injury and amputation injury patients become patients at a post acute care hospital. 

Qualified accident attorneys and injury lawyers know the difference between these types of facilities, and will work with you doctors and hospital staffs to fully understand your needs and requirements.  Young and Young is dedicated to helping you and your family deal with severe injuries.  We have been since 1954.  Give us a call, we can help.

If I am Injured, What Kind Of Doctor Do I Need? Part Three

What is the difference between a family practitioner and an internist?  If you are in a construction accident, or a car wreck with a drunk driver, or hit by a semi tractor trailer in a highway accident chances you are going to be injured. If you are injured, considering what kind of doctor you will need is important.  How do you know who is best to treat a back injury.  How do you know who is bests to treat a spinal cord injury, amputation, paralysis, brain injury?  These are all tough decisions.  First, rely on your doctors.  Just as you would never look for a qualified injury attorney or accident attorney by calling an advertiser, you don’t seek your doctor by waiting for a TV commercial to tell you who is qualified.  Heck being on TV only means you paid for the ad, anyone can do that.  Ask your friends who they use, do they trust them etc. 

A Family Practitioner generally treats both adults and children.  The family practitioner has completed medical school and a family practice residency before starting their practice.  An internist generally only treats adults.  An Internist has completed medical school, and an internal medicine residency.  Most specialists, such a cardiologists (heart), pulmonologists (lungs), nephrologists (kidneys) begin as internists and then take addition education and obtain additional experience in their specialty. If you are hurt in an auto accident, both the family practice doctor and the internist are qualified first line of defense doctors.  I think what you are really most interested in is a doctor who is talented as a diagnostician.  This means that the doctor has the ability to quickly analyze your symptoms and signs and zero in on the cause of the problem.  Once the problem is detected it can be treated.  Your doctor should also have access to a list of qualified specialists if your injuries require additional care.

Which Doctor Do I Go To If I Have Been Injured? Part Two

Last time we talked about the hospital process and who to go to after you get out of the hospital.  Now let’s talk about specialists and what they do, and the different kinds of hospitals there are.  When you have been in a car crash with a drunk driver, the type of doctor your see is very important.  It is also very dependent upon your type of injury.  This blog is not an attempt to tell you which kind of doctor to go to – that is a doctor’s job.  This blog talks about the kinds of specialties that exist and what they treat.  A neurologist is a wiring specialist.  Your wiring starts with your brain, continues to the spinal cord, leaves the spinal cord and continues to all the different parts of your body.  Your nerves help your muscles move and they help you sense the world around you by carrying messages from all over your body to your brain for processing.  If you have a brain injury, a spinal cord injury, or any injury to the nerves in your body, you will see, among other doctors, a neurologist or a neurosurgeon.  If you have had an amputation, nerves have been severed and you will probably be seen by a neurologist.  

If you have a back injury in a highway accident with a semi tractor trailer you may see an orthopedist. An orthopedist is the nuts and bolts doctor.  Orthopedists treat bony injuries.  If you have a broken vertebrae or other broken bones in your body, an orthopedist may see you.  Orthopedists also treat some kinds of soft tissue injuries, like a disc injuries, cartilage injury or ligament injury.  Orthopedists perform surgery and other types of work on your body. 

If you have been injured in a car wreck and hurt your back, you may see a Chiropractor.  Chiropractors are Doctors of Chiropractic, and that is why they have D.C. after their names.  Chiropractic medicine is based, very generally, upon the theory that as long as your spine is in proper alignment, you should feel fine.  If, however, the spine gets out of alignment (sometimes called a subluxation) from a construction accident, or a car accident, then the nerves can become affected such as being pinched or dinged.  This can cause pain. The can also interfere with their ability to transmit information.  A Chiropractor attempts to manipulate the spine to coax it back into realignment, in order to eliminate pain. 

In Part Three we will continue with this discussion.  Remember a qualified accident lawyer or injury attorney will not attempt to direct your medical care.  Instead, he/she will ask the doctor to tell him/her the problem and what can be expected in the future.

If I am Injured, How do I know What Kind of Doctor to go to?

You are on your way to the store.  You are mentally reviewing your list.  The light turns green, you start to move into the intersection and POW out go the lights.  When you come to, you don’t recognize where you are.  There are people around you talking to you but what they are saying does not really make sense.  You come to realize you have just been in a car wreck with a drunk driver.  You feel back pain.  You wonder do I have a back injury, do I have a spinal cord injury?  You try to move your arms and legs, you are worried about paralysis.  You know that people are telling you not to move, but it is like you are in a dream, with smoke, and vapor before your eyes.  Do I have a brain injury?  You cannot feel your foot, is it still there?  Has there been an amputation?  You feel your heart start to race, and your breath is getting shallow, but is much faster.  You are on a stretcher, being put into an ambulance.  At the hospital you are checked out, starting to feel a little more like yourself, but you are sore, and scared.  What is in store in your medical future?

In most hospitals, when you are released, whether from the Emergency Room, or from the hospital you will receive instructions about what to do.  The instructions are both general (you may feel pain for the next few days) to specific (you have suffered a brain injury, you should see your doctor if you have the following symptoms).  What you are really being told is that the hospital is likely only the first step on your road to recovery.  It is essential to bear in mind, for the benefit of your health, that you should always do your very best to follow the medical recommendations you receive.  Some people (men more likely than not) will put on the tough guy face and think they will “power” through it.  They think, “I’m tough, I don’t need a doctor”.  Big mistake.  There may be things happening in your body that require ongoing care and treatment.  If you miss that treatment, your body may not heal properly, and in the some cases, get worse.

The first line of defense in our system is to see your primary care physician (also called family doctor, or internist) within a few days of the collision.  This is especially true if you do not have broken bones or other identified problems that require the help of a specialist.  Your primary care physician (PCP) will examine you and offer you treatment options which might include medications, rest, and physical therapy.  The PCP will assess your progress after these treatments and if in their opinion you need further care they may recommend that you see a specialist.

If you are injured severely enough in a semi tractor trailer accident or in a highway accident the hospital will assign doctors to see you in consultation. The main doctor, overseeing your care is often called a Hospitalist.  This doctor may ask other doctors, with various specialties, to see you.  These are sometimes called consultations.  It may turn out that you will continue to see one or more of these doctors after you are released from the hospital.

Always follow your doctors recommendations.  If you are concerned about these recommendations, get a second opinion, but please, do not just do nothing.  Good accident lawyers and injury lawyers do not try to influence your medical care, or direct your medical care.  Your lawyer is a specialist in the law, not in medicine.  If a lawyer attempts to get involved in your medical care, be wary.  It is not their place.

Next time we will talk about acute care versus post acute care versus long term care.

What Do I Do If I Think My Doctor Made a Mistake?

In Indiana, most doctors try their best and do fine work.  However, the Medical Malpractice Act, passed in 1976 to help doctors, had an unintended effect.  Doctors who made mistakes in other states came here because of the protections of the medical malpractice act.  So what do you do if you think your doctor made a mistake.  The answer has several parts.  It would be nice if you could go to your doctor and have a frank discussion about what happened.   Some doctors, the good ones, will have this discussion with you.  They will tell you what happened and what you can do about it.  Doctors who have these discussions are much less likely to be sued than someone who is perceived as trying to hide something.  A frank discussion with your doctor may convince you that they really did not make a mistake.  You see, sometimes medical care does not result in recovery.  Sometimes the result of a surgery is not what you expected, or hoped for, however, a bad result alone is not evidence of malpractice.  (As we discussed before, Malpractice means a failure to do what a reasonable doctor would have done.  It does not mean the doctor meant to do you harm).

If your doctor is unwilling to speak with you, or you are too shy to speak with the doctor, you still have options.  One option is to meet with a qualified accident and injury lawyer.  A qualified attorney is more like than not certified as a civil trial lawyer by the national Board of trial advocacy.  A competent accident or injury lawyer has experience with all types of injuries, including brain injury, spinal cord injuries, back injuries, paralysis, amputation, and wrongful death.  A qualified accident or injury attorney knows that whether your doctor committed malpractice is a question only another doctor can answer.  Therefore it is essential to have contacts with all types of doctors who can review the facts of your case and let you know whether your doctor committed malpractice.  Knowing this information up front can give you peace of mind, that no malpractice occurred, or give you a strong basis for bringing your claim for compensation.

A second option is to file a complaint with the Indiana Medical Licensing Board.  Your complaint alone probably will not have any real effect.  However, if your doctor is consistently making mistakes, and his patients are consistently reporting his actions to the Board, eventually the board will take action to investigate  the doctor and if he/she is making many mistakes, take action to prohibit him or her from further practice.

A  third option is to report your concerns to the Indiana Attorney General’s Office (317 232-6531).  The attorney General has the ability to investigate doctors and make sure they are removed from practice.

If you would like to discuss your concerns about a serious injury case involving medical treatment, please call Young and Young.  With more than fifty five years of experience, we know we can help.

How Important is an Immediate Investigation – part 3

You know the dream, you are back in high school, you know you have a final coming up, but you have not bought the book, you have not been to class and you do not know where the test is going to be.  You feel anxious and nervous because you are not prepared.  A good accident lawyer or injury attorney knows this dream, but the dream is a little different. The injury lawyer knows they have a trial coming up.  The good accident attorney knows how important this trial is to his client.  But he does not know the facts of the case or who his witnesses are.  The lawyer wakes up, relieved, because it is only a dream.  He is relieved because he has performed a thorough investigation and is ready to win at trial. 

People injured in a car wreck with a drunk driver.  People injured in a highway accident with a semi tractor trailer. Hoosiers injured in a construction accident.  People with severe injuries, maybe paralysis, or badly burned, a spinal cord injury or a brain injury, cannot focus on anything but their medical care and treatment.  They want to perform an investigation into how the auto accident occurred but can’t.  Do they say, oh well, it can wait, or do they seek the advice and representation of a qualified accident attorney or injury lawyer. I recommend, with all my professional experience, that they do not wait and let me tell you why. 

The police generally do a good job of investigating a truck accident or a car wreck.  They do not, as a general rule go to the businesses, or houses around the scene of the injury to determine if anyone there saw the auto accident.  We have had cases where a witness to the collision was not listed on the police report, but who saw the collision from their front porch or through the window of their business.  These witnesses have caused the police to change their opinion about the cause of the collision. 

A picture is worth a thousand words.  Documenting the scene of an injury is essential.  Sometimes the police do not take pictures.  You should.  These pictures should include pictures of the cars, the wreck scene, the site of the construction injury, and of the injuries themselves.  Believe it or not, you will heal and your memory of the injury will fade.  A picture will keep the truth preserved.  Now that we have heap digital cameras, take a bunch of photos.  You may not need them all, but if you only take a few, the ones you took may not turn out well and that may be a problem, maybe worse than not taking them at all. 

A good investigation is an immediate investigation that preserves the evidence for later, when you need it.  Contact Young and Young today.  We will insure the investigation is done right.

How Important is an Immediate Investigation – part 2

Here we are – the Indianapolis Colts are heading toward their playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens.  We are only a few days away.  Even though Peyton Manning and the rest of the team have already played these guys this year, and beat them, do you think the Colts would be wise not to thoroughly and immediately investigate the team they are about to play?  Heck, Freeney already knows what to expect and Manning could play these guys in his sleep.  But they do investigate the Ravens.  The Colts know that their best chance to beat the Ravens is to know everything about them.  To know what they will do next and how they will do it.  Bill Belichick, of the Patriots, love him or hate him, beats those teams who do not prepare for him because he always slips in something they do not expect. 

It is the same thing with an investigation into an injury case.  You were just in an car wreck with a drunk driver.  You were just in a highway accident with a semi tractor trailer. You were just injured in a construction accident.  Your injury is severe, say maybe you are paralyzed, have been badly burned, have a spinal cord injury or a brain injury.  You cannot focus on anything but your medical care and treatment.  You would like to perform an investigation into how the auto accident occurred but you can’t.  Do you say, oh well, it can wait, or do you seek the advice and representation of a qualified accident attorney or injury lawyer. I recommend, with all my professional experience that you do not wait and let me tell you why. 

Witnesses move, die and forget things.  Say you have a key witness.  The jury will probably believe the witness because he has nothing to gain or lose.  If you do not get out to the witnesses home and get a statement right away, you may never get that statement and the evidence will be lost.  How many times have I heard a witness say, its been two or three years, I can’t remember that stuff.  That is when I pull out my copy of the statement I took from them just a week or two after the car wreck.  They read it, refresh their recollection and give testimony that wins the case. 

If you are in an auto accident in an urban area, the cameras of some stores may have captured the wreck on tape.  You need your experienced trial lawyer or accident attorney to get out to that store right away to secure a copy of the tape because stores recycle their tapes every two weeks or so.  Therefore, if you do not get out there right away the tape and the helpful evidence on it may be destroyed. 

Next time, more reasons why you cannot afford to put off that investigation.

How Important is an Immediate Investigation?

You were just in a car wreck with a drunk driver.  You were just in a highway accident with a semi tractor trailer. You were just injured in a construction accident.  Your injury is severe, maybe you are paralyzed, have been badly burned, or have a spinal cord injury or brain injury.  You cannot focus on anything but your medical care and treatment.  You would like to perform an investigation into how the auto accident occurred but you can’t.  Do you say, oh well, it can wait, or do you seek the advice and representation of a qualified accident attorney or injury lawyer?  I recommend, with all my professional experience that you do not wait and let me tell you why.

The insurance company is not waiting.  They have people who will be out combing the accident scene looking for witnesses and evidence which will support their case that YOU were the cause of the truck accident.  If you do not do something, and fast, you are at a big disadvantage to a cold and uncaring insurance industry.

At any accident scene, there are likely to be skid marks on the road, yaw marks and gouges that will fade or changed over time.  In some instances, the skid or yaw marks (Yaw marks are the marks a spinning tire leaves as the car is sliding or turning) are the keys to the story of what happened.  Believe it or not, some people will not tell an accurate story to protect themselves, but the objective physical marks usually don’t lie. 

Your car has a “black box” (See Previous blog on “black boxes”) that may give essential clues to what happened.  It must be preserved before the car is destroyed.  Also the crush of the metal on your car, and the car or truck or semi tractor trailer being driver by the person who caused the automobile collision may be studied to help determine how fast each of the cars were being driven.  This can be very helpful in determining the cause of the collision.  

The attorneys at Young and Young have 55 years of experience helping injured Hoosiers investigate the cause of their very serious injuries.  John Young is a Board Certified Trial Lawyer who knows how to find the facts.  Give him a call. 

In our next blog, we will continue with reasons why an immediate investigation into the facts of your automobile collision is essential.

What Affect does Bankruptcy have on my Injury Claim

This entry is the third in a series of blogs dealing with the overall effect of an injury claim on a person’s ability to work, and lost wages.  Wouldn’t it be nice to be Peyton Manning or Dwight Freeny?  Of the many things they have to be thankful for is that they have earned enough money that if they get hurt (and that is likely in the NFL) they will not have to worry too much about lost wages.  Unfortunately the rest of us are not so lucky.  Say you are in a car wreck with a drunk driver, or you are hit by a semi tractor trailer in a highway accident, or you are hurt in a construction  accident, like a fall or electrocution, and say also you are severely injured, such as being paralyzed, having an amputation, burns, spinal cord injury, having a brain injury, a back injury, blindness, and you do not have a lot of savings.  You might have to consider filing bankruptcy before your claim is resolved.  What does that do to your claim?

Once you file bankruptcy, your creditors can no longer harass you.  However, in filing bankruptcy you must list all of your assets.  One of your assets is the injury claim.  This is an asset because it has potential value.  What I mean is that if you are properly compensated, you will be paid money to make up for your injuries.  The claim, as an asset, become part of your bankruptcy.  The trustee of your bankruptcy case will look at your claim and try to determine if it is a good claim, or a claim that is not likely to merit compensation.  If the trustee thinks the chances of recovering compensation are slim then the Trustee has the ability to abandon the injury claim.  What the trustee is saying when he /she abandons a claim is that it is not worth the time to pursue, and therefore he/she abandons it. You are then free to pursue the claim as if the bankruptcy did not occur.

If the Trustee thinks the claim has merit, he/she will hire a lawyer to give them an opinion about the value of the claim and to pursue the matter.  Usually the trustee will hire the same accident attorney or injury attorney as you hired.  The trustee will be the named plaintiff (in your place) and will have all the decision making powers.  The trustee can order the case settled or order it to go to trial.  No matter how the case is resolved, all the money will go into the bankruptcy to be distributed according to the plan of the bankruptcy.  The overall impact of the bankruptcy is that you give up control of the claim and of the settlement.  If there is money left over after the bankruptcy claims have been paid, then you will be entitled to that money.

It may not seem fair, as you were injured and the injury caused you file bankruptcy, but being free of the harassment of creditors has great value.  At Young and Young, we have handled many injury claims for people who must also file bankruptcy.  Give us a call, we can help.

What Do I Do if I Am Injured and Cannot Work – Part 2

When we last left off we finished our discussion about how you can protect yourself, in advance, if you are injured in a car wreck, construction accident, motorcycle accident, highway crash or any other sort of incident causing injury.  You really do not know what you have until its gone.  If you have a brain injury, a spinal cord injury, a back injury, become paralyzed, or have an amputation, it is likely you are not going to be able to go back to work.  What do you do?

First is what you do not do.  You do not expect the liability insurance carrier for the negligent person (maybe a drunk driver) to start paying you right away for your lost wages.  The liability insurance carrier, 99.999999% of the cases will not make any kind of payment until they pay a lump sum payment, in exchange for a full release. They have the money, and they know you probably do not, so they try to wait you out.  This puts pressure on you because money is tight.  This can result in you settling your claim early putting you in jeopardy of not being fully compensated for your injuries.

If you were working when you were hurt, say at a construction site, or your were on the road, as part of your job when the highway accident happened, you are eligible for workers compensation benefits.  You must notify your employer immediately after the injury, or as soon after as is reasonably possible.  The employer will then report the injury to their workers compensation insurance carrier.  The carrier will then be responsible for paying all your medical bills caused by the car wreck or construction accident.  After a week, the insurance company will also be responsible for paying you your lost wages.  They do not always have to pay you the full amount of your average weekly wages.  You are entitled 66 and 2/3% of your average weekly wage, not to exceed a preset amount.  This amount changes every year, so I cannot quote it here.  If you earn more than that present amount, then you will get 66 and 2/3% of that preset amount. The reason for the 66and 2/3% is because this dough is not taxable, so they do not make the workers compensation insurance company pay the full amount.  I know of no good reason for the limited preset amount except to make it easier on the insurance companies.

Is Social Security available?  First know that Social Security is not a short term disability program.  In order to be entitled to it, your injuries must be so severe that they are expected to keep you working for at least twelve months.  The next thing you need to know is that the application process can take up to three years from the time you first apply to the time you start to receive your benefits.  Social Security is a good program, but it may not kick in fast enough if you cannot work.  If you are not sure if your injuries will keep you from working at least twelve months, I recommend you apply any way.  If your injury does not keep you from working for those twelve months, you can always dismiss your claim.   

 If you are hurt and can’t work, and have no money coming in, do not hide your head in the sand.  Get to a qualified accident injury attorney or accident lawyer.  The lawyer can start to contact your creditors and hopefully take a lot of the worry off your shoulders.    Next time, we will talk about the effect of Bankruptcy on your claim for your compensation (remember compensation means to “make up for” so all you are asking is for the person who caused your injury to “make up for” the harm they caused.)

What Do I Do if I am Injured and Cannot Work?

I know I can’t be the only one who wakes up in the middle of the night worrying about what I am supposed to get done tomorrow, and is there enough time in the day to do it?  Then my brain becomes much sharper than it ever is in the daylight.  My brain recalls everything I am supposed to do, and then nags me that I may not have done it, or I might not get it done.  I struggled with this for years and then it hit me, what am I worrying about, at least I have a job and I can pay my bills and give my children what they need.  So what do you do if you are hurt in a car wreck and can’t work?

Injuries such as spinal cord injuries, brain injury, back injury, amputation, paralysis (either paraplegia, quadriplegia or just a single limb) can interfere with your ability to work for days, weeks, years or even permanently.  These injuries can happen in the blink of an eye.  They can be from construction accidents, highway accidents, semi tractor trailer accidents, motorcycle accidents, basically any kind of traffic accident.  A good accident attorney or accident lawyer knows the options when you are injured and can’t work.  Some options are protections you must put in place before your are hurt, and some can be put in place after you are hurt.  I know that some of these suggestions may not be possible due to price or health history, but you can pick and choose what works for you.

Disability Insurance-  The statistics tell us that people under 50 have a much higher chance of becoming disabled than they do of dying.  To protect against this, short and long term disability insurance can be purchased.  On your favorite search engine ( I like Dogpile) type in disability insurance and several companies will pop up.  You can also contact your independent insurance agent.  The amount of insurance you will be able to buy will be based on your average earnings history and what your budget can afford.  As disability insurance payments are not taxable, you can figure that you need approximately 66% of your average wage to be fully covered.  If you cannot afford that much try to think what your essentials will cost and work to replace that amount of income.  Anything is better than nothing, so even if you cannot cover your essentials, get some income coming in while you are hurt.

Employers often times offer short and long term disability programs.  If you can afford it, take advantage of these programs.  You often times can get a direct withdrawl from your paycheck, so it won’t seem so bad.   If you cannot get a paycheck deduction, pay it yourself. I guarantee that you will be tempted to drop this coverage when things get tight.  I know you will groan when you have to write that check, because that ________ (put your latest must have item here) sure looks good.  But before you do that let me assure you, that groan is nothing compared to being in your home, unable to work, with no dough coming in, the bills piling up and the children playing in the next room.  I have seen this first hand, and the level of fear and anxiety in the house is horrible. 

In our next blog we will talk about what you can do, if you were not able to prepare for not being able to work after you are hurt.

Brain Injury and Phineas Gage

Phineas Gage worked for the railroad at the end of the 19th century.  His job was to fill holes with blasting material to allow the railroad to blast out material to level its new rail bed.  He did this by using a five or six foot rod to tamp the explosives into the hole.  Phineas was described as a model employee, kind, courteous and a good family man.  One day, while tamping down the explosives, the material exploded.  This shot the tamping rod out of Phineas’ hands upward through his skull.  Looking that the pictures you can see that the rod entered Phineas’ face just below the eye, and shot through his skull, brain and all, and out the top of his skull.  Although Phineas lost his eye, the rod did not kill him.  Amazingly, the rod going through his head did not even cause him to lose consciousness.

Phineas Gage suffered a severe brain injury in a time when physicians’ knowledge of neurology, and how the brain works was in its infancy.  This construction accident would have far reaching impact on what we now know about injury of the brain, both physical and psychological.  Phineas eventually recovered physically recovered from the event.  However, his family began to notice almost immediately that Phineas was a changed man.  He began to cuss like a sailor.  He started drinking like the stills were going to run out.  He lost interest in what, before the construction accident, made him happy.  He started to make mistakes at work.  He started to miss work and eventually lost his job.

Scientists studying Phineas’ case came to realize that an injury to the brain has adverse consequences far beyond simply the physical injury.  They began to realize that an injury to the brain causes changes in cognitive function (how we think), in personality, in control, and in many other functions that we take for granted.  It turns out that the rod injured Phineas’ frontal lobe.  This is the part of the brain that controls our cognitive ability known as executive function. (Executive function is similar to RAM memory in a computer, it is what lets us do many different things at the same time).  Pineas’ injury impaired his ability to do many things at the same time and thus interfered with his ability to do his job.

The frontal lobe also controls disinhibition.  This is what stops us from doing socially inappropriate things such as cussing inappropriately.  Phineas’ brain injury interfered with his disinhibition and he began to act socially inappropriately.  We have learned that some brain injury enhances underlying personality traits.  Phineas reportedly drank socially prior to the construction accident, but after he could not control his drinking.  This may well be caused by enhancement of this personality trait combined with impaired disinhibition.

Brain injury can be caused by  car accidents, highway accidents, truck accidents, slip and fall, motorcycle accidents and the drunk driver.  John P. Young is a former member of the Board of Directors of the Brain Injury Association of Indiana, serving as its Chair for two years.  Mr. Young has twenty years of experience helping Hoosiers and their families deal with brain injury.  Call him and let him help you and your family.

Thousands of Hoosiers suffer brain injury every year

Thousands of Hoosiers suffer brain injury every year. Brain injury is one of the most common injury in a collision, fall, or traumatic event. Brain injury can occur even if the person is not knocked unconscious.If you have ever been in a collision, a fall, or otherwise have hit your head, and you had the sensation of being knocked goofy, or having your bell rung, you probably have had a brain injury.

Brain injury is categorized as severe, moderate or mild. These categorizations are based on many factors including whether you were knocked unconscious, and if so, how long you were unconscious. Don’t be fooled by the term Mild Brain injury. Even those with mild brain injury can have life long medical problems and even an inability to work. Brian injury is often frustrating to its victims because they often times have no outward signs of the injury. They look normal. This makes people think that the person with a brain injury, who looks normal, is either drunk, or weird or strange. This can be very difficult for the brain injured person.

Prevention is the best way to deal with brain injury. Wear a helmet when riding your bike or are involved in other rigorous activities.

Most States have Brain Injury Associations. In Indiana, the Brain Injury Association is quite active and is a resource for families dealing with Brain Injury and for persons who have been injured. You can contact the BIAI at 356-7722. John P. Young is a long time member of the Association, Member of the Board of Directors, Past Chair of the Board of Directors and current member of the emeritus board. Years of experience result in effective representation with Brain Injury claims.

NOTICE: No face-to-face meeting needed. You can remain safely in your home from case signup to settlement.

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