Home visit nurses at risk for car accident, traumatic brain injury

As an in-home nurse or nursing assistant, you do a lot of driving to patient's houses for home visits. As you drive, you are likely thinking about your next case, how your patient is doing and how you can help them at the visit. But one day, while you're thinking about your work for the day, you get into a car accident. Someone hits your car on the way to your next patient, leaving you severely injured. One minute your day revolved around your patient's medical needs - and the next, you're worrying about your own health.

At the hospital, you hear the doctors mention traumatic brain injury, or TBI. They want to check to see if you suffered a TBI, as a car accident can cause that. You undergo several tests, and worry about what this might mean for your ability to work. You wonder how you will recover, pay your bills and cover current and future medical expenses.

What is a TBI?

A traumatic brain injury is an injury to your brain that's caused by an external force to your head. Types of traumatic brain injuries that can result from car accidents include:

  • Concussions: the most common type of TBI caused by direct impact to your head. You don't necessarily have to be unconscious to have suffered a concussion. A concussion can cause permanent brain damage.
  • Contusions: localized bleeding in the brain, caused by direct impact to your head.
  • Diffuse axonal injuries: severe shaking or rotation of your head, causing the skull to create tears in your brain. This can cause permanent brain damage, put you in a coma or cause death.
  • Penetration injuries: caused by sharp objects entering your skull or brain. You can lose brain tissue or your tissue can tear. This can cause significant long-term problems, or cause death.

What are signs and symptoms of a TBI?

Suffering a traumatic brain injury may not be apparent to you right away. If you had any of the following symptoms after the accident, tell a doctor immediately:

  • Confusion
  • Memory issues, like remembering something that recently happened
  • Tiredness
  • Feeling sluggish
  • Nausea
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Headache that is more severe than a usual headache
  • Feeling weak or numb on one side of your body

Does this situation fall under a car accident claim or a work injury claim?

Your injuries could fall under both. Because you were driving and were in a motor vehicle accident, obviously you can legally seek compensation under motor vehicle accident law. However, since the reason you were driving was for work purposes, and you got into the accident during your work hours on your way to your next patient, it also may fall under workers' compensation law since it is an injury that happened at work. An attorney who is skilled at both workers' compensation law and motor vehicle accidents can help you maximize the compensation you deserve to get your life back on track after your accident and injuries.

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