Traumatic Brain Injuries Following Auto Accidents
When an 80,000 pound tractor-trailer collides with a standard sedan or SUV, the aftermath can be catastrophic, with the occupants of the passenger vehicle especially prone to serious injuries such as brain and spine trauma. According to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in 2010, 2.5 million traumatic brain injuries (TBI) occurred. A TBI is defined as a “bump, blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain.” While many brain-trauma patients succumb to their injuries, hundreds of thousands more survive with long-term disabilities.
The Costs of Traumatic Brain Injuries
Due to the extensive physical and mental damage resulting from TBIs, health care costs for these auto accident victims can quickly skyrocket. In fact, TBIs cost Americans $60 billion per year, including $10 billion in medical care costs and $50 billion for lost productivity.
Unfortunately, because the current minimum insurance requirement for commercial motor carriers has remained unchanged since 1980, truck and motor coach companies are only required to carry $750,000 in liability insurance. This number is dwarfed by the life-time care estimates for victims of TBI which can be upwards of $6 to $9 million or more.
Thus, much of the costs of auto accidents, including ones resulting in TBI, fall on taxpayers as victims rely on programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. However, while these government programs along with many insurers cover hospitalization costs, such as intensive care immediately following an accident, the rehabilitation programs and physical therapy that are crucial to recovery are often excluded, necessitating out-of-pocket expenses for victims and their families. The cost of these programs can be prohibitive, ranging from $600 to $8,000 per day, and quickly deplete the financial savings of many families.
Data from the National Institute for Disability and Rehabilitation Research indicates that many victims of large truck crashes have no choice but to forgo rehabilitative care. In particular, the study demonstrates that at least two-thirds of patients discharged from hospitals receive no further treatment, likely due to lack of coverage or financial means to continue rehabilitative care. This finding is especially troubling as enrolling in intensive rehabilitation programs has been shown to be particularly beneficial to those suffering from TBI because the early months following injury are times when the brain is most receptive to healing.
For patients without coverage yet who require 24 hour care that their families are not able to provide, nursing homes and long term care facilities may be the only option. Still, many nursing homes are not equipped to treat patients with severe brain injuries and facilities that are capable often have long waiting lists.
When a loved one has suffered a TBI due to an auto accident, families should not have to cope with the added stress of obtaining the quality of care that the victim deserves. To obtain appropriate compensation for injuries you or a family member has suffered as a result of a collision with a truck or motor coach, call The Pittman Firm today to speak with one of our experienced lawyers about your case