When brain bleeds happen at work, they can be particularly devastating because, in addition to the physical and emotional toll of the injury, the injured worker may also face financial hardships due to mounting medical bills and lost wages.
In this article, we’ll discuss the different types of brain bleeds that can occur at work, common causes and symptoms, and how to get workers’ compensation benefits after an injury in Alabama.
Types of brain bleeds
A brain bleed is another term for a cerebral hemorrhage. To understand the potential effects of a brain bleed, you need to know a little about the brain’s anatomy.
Your brain consists of nerves, blood vessels and tissue that are protected by your hard skull bone. There is very little room for the brain to swell. Therefore, a swelling brain can compress the blood vessels and nerves, leading to severe consequences.
Your brain is protected by 3 separate layered membranes called meninges. They consist of fat (60%) as well as water, carbohydrates, proteins and salt. Bleeding sometimes occurs between 1 or more of these membranes.
Brain bleeds in and around these membranes are categorized according to their location:
- An epidural hemorrhage occurs between the skull and the dura mater, the outermost membrane.
- A subdural hemorrhage occurs between the dura mater and arachnoid membrane (membrane underneath the dura mater).
- A subarachnoid hemorrhage occurs between the arachnoid and pia mater membranes (membrane beneath the arachnoid membrane).
The cerebral hemorrhages that are the most difficult to diagnose and treat come from inside the brain tissue from 1 of 2 sources:
- Intraventricular hemorrhaging starts within cavities that produce spinal fluid.
- Intracerebral hemorrhaging starts from burst blood vessels in the brain tissues.
If a blood vessel bursts, brain tissue can die because the burst or blocked vessel carries nourishment and oxygen to brain cells. Also, a burst blood vessel will cause brain swelling that will block other blood vessels, and that compounds the damage to the brain.
Your brain is not the only organ affected by a brain bleed. Swelling can also compress nerves that control the functions of other organs and muscles of your body.
Causes of a brain bleed
A brain bleed can be caused by several conditions, but it often results from head injuries such as severe concussions. Brain bleeds are also commonly caused by ruptured aneurysms, which affect more than 30,000 people in the U.S. annually.
Regardless of the cause, most brain bleeds are medical emergencies that require a rapid response.
Other common causes of cerebral hemorrhaging include the following:
- High blood pressure
- Brain tumor
- Amyloidosis (a rare disease caused by a buildup of the protein amyloid)
Common causes of brain bleed injuries in the workplace
In the workplace, the most likely cause of a brain bleed is a severe blow to the head or other head trauma. This can occur as the result of the following:
- Falls from high places.
- Falling warehouse loads, tools, equipment or raised loads that strike a worker’s head
- Slips-and-fall accidents
- Vehicle accidents, particularly vehicle rollovers
The physical science behind brain trauma in a vehicle accident is different from what you might expect. A brain injury is only indirectly linked to external forces (like your head hitting a windshield).
Even when a vehicle collision doesn’t cause a direct blow to your head, the sudden impact of the crash still creates momentum that causes your brain to smash against your skull on the inside of your head.
For example, if you’re the driver or passenger wearing a seat belt, your forward motion will suddenly stop, but your brain’s forward motion will not stop. The trauma to your brain is from the internal collision, which typically results in hemorrhaging.
Signs and symptoms of a brain bleed
There are numerous symptoms or signs of a brain bleed. They include the following:
- Severe and persistent headaches
- Light sensitivity
- Unequal pupil sizes
- Speech impediment
- Swallowing difficulty
- Loss of consciousness
Long-term effects of a brain bleed
Brain bleeds and swelling kills brain cells. That can have long-term effects, including paralysis, cognitive decline and speech impairment.
These long-term effects may require long-term treatment, such as:
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Speech therapy
- Adjustments to lifestyle
Workplace safety measures to prevent brain injuries
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) publishes standards for various industries to promote safety in the workplace. An employer can be fined if they fail to comply with these standards.
Brain injuries could be reduced if employers establish and enforce OSHA safety standards by doing the following:
- Post safety rules and warnings prominently in the workplace
- Provide appropriate safety training annually
- Provide all necessary safety equipment
- Be equipped and staffed to respond promptly to serious brain injuries and other catastrophic accidents
How is a brain bleed treated?
Cerebral hemorrhaging is a medical emergency requiring immediate treatment.
The usual response is surgery to stop the bleeding and minimize brain swelling. If the bleeding and swelling can be stopped medicinally, treatment might include:
- Blood pressure medication
- Seizure prevention medication
- Pain management
- Fluids with drugs and nutrients administered through an IV
Alabama workers’ compensation for brain injuries
Traumatic brain injuries are not uncommon in workplace accidents. Fortunately, Alabama workers who are injured on the job are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
Alabama’s workers’ compensation system is very similar to other state laws. Like others, Alabama requires that covered accidents “arise out of and in the course of employment.” Alabama Code §25-5-1(9)
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault insurance system requiring most employers with 5 or more workers to provide coverage for their employees. In most instances, injured employees will receive benefits regardless of whether they were responsible for the accident.
Further reading: Calculating Alabama workers’ compensation benefits
Types of workers’ compensation benefits
Alabama workers’ comp benefits include the following:
- Payment for medical care, including doctor visits, hospitalization, surgical procedures, medications, rehabilitation and other reasonable and necessary care
- Payments to recover a portion of lost wages for permanent or temporary disabilities
- Death benefits for a deceased employee’s surviving relatives
Common long-term effects of brain hemorrhage injuries require long-term rehabilitation. Alabama workers’ compensation benefits include that rehabilitation.
How to file a workers’ comp claim in Alabama
If you sustain an injury at work in Alabama, you must take the following steps to file a claim:
- Seek medical care. It’s important to seek medical attention immediately. With the exception of emergencies, your employer will choose the doctor who will treat your injury, so it’s best to ask them where to go for treatment. Never delay seeking medical care after an accident at work, as doing so could make it harder to tie your injury to your job, which could negatively affect your ability to collect compensation.
- Report your injury. Notify your supervisor or manager in writing within 5 days, even if you think they already know about it, to avoid confusion. If you miss this deadline, it’s important to provide notice as soon as possible. However, if you wait more than 90 days to report the injury, your claim will be denied, regardless of your situation, unless you were physically or mentally unable to do so.
- File a First Report of Injury. After reporting your injury, your employer is responsible for filing a First Report of Injury Form, which contains information about your injury and your wages.
- Contact an attorney. If your employer fails to file the form or your claim is denied, contact an attorney to protect your rights.
David Nomberg discusses how he helped his client tackle the issue of a delay tactic used by a workers’ compensation insurance carrier, which caused significant problems in the client’s case.
Potential 3rd-party lawsuits
Worker injuries are often the result of 3rd-party negligence or willful conduct. For example, injuries might be caused by defective machinery for which the manufacturer may be held liable.
Alabama law allows an injured worker to sue a 3rd party and recover damages while also claiming workers’ compensation benefits. However, any damages recovered from a 3rd party will offset the workers’ compensation benefits awarded.
How can an Alabama workers’ comp lawyer help with your claim?
Ordinary workers’ compensation claims are not simple procedures. If you are injured on the job, you must carefully follow workers’ comp procedures and employer instructions. Failure to comply can compromise your claim. Compliance will require the guidance of an experienced workers’ comp lawyer.
A common dispute that might be involved in a brain bleed workers’ comp case is whether the brain hemorrhage occurred in an on-the-job injury. Cerebral hemorrhage can result from other conditions, including an aneurysm or high blood pressure, unrelated to a workplace accident. A good workers’ comp lawyer will have a working knowledge of those issues and be able to help you prove your injury is work-related.
Also, since many workplace injuries are at least partially the responsibility of 3rd parties, not your employer, your case against them will require a lawyer with considerable personal injury trial experience.
Contact our Birmingham, AL workers’ compensation attorney
Brain bleeds call for a prompt emergency response to avoid very serious injury or death. Consequences can be long-term, requiring long-term rehabilitation programs that can last a lifetime.
If you’ve suffered a brain injury in a work-related car accident or any other type of accident, contact the experienced workers’ compensation attorneys at Nomberg Law Firm. Our attorneys have extensive experience dealing with employers and insurance companies and can get you the money you deserve.
About Nomberg Law Firm
Nomberg Law Firm has been helping people in Alabama recover fair compensation for their injuries since 1967. We know our clients are hard-working men and women who deserve the best representation possible. That’s why we’ve dedicated our entire practice to fighting for your rights after an injury.
The small size of our family-owned firm allows us to focus on our client’s needs and enables us to provide individualized assistance and personal attention that larger firms simply can’t match.