Traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs, can be life-altering injuries. They can impact someone’s ability to work, perform daily tasks, and enjoy life to the fullest. However, it may be comforting to know that the law provides certain protections for you if you are a TBI survivor.

The Brain Injury Association of America is a valuable resource for TBI survivors, offering support groups, educational materials, and connections to doctors and rehabilitation programs tailored to the needs of individuals with traumatic brain injury.

A TBI survivor refers to an individual who has experienced a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). TBI occurs when there is sudden damage caused to the brain. Currently, 5.3 million Americans are living with disabilities stemming from TBI, which can include challenges related to cognition, movement abilities, sensation, and emotion.

In this article, we will discuss some of the most important protections for those suffering from traumatic brain injuries so that survivors can navigate life with a better understanding of their legal rights.

In addition, if you believe your rights as a TBI survivor have been violated, we want you to know that GJEL’s TBI lawyers are here for you. At GJEL, we have some of the highest-rated personal injury attorneys in California, and we have recovered over $950 million in compensation on behalf of our injured clients.

Let’s talk about some TBI basics and the top 4 things a TBI survivor should know about their legal rights.

TBI survivor

What Is a Traumatic Brain Injury?

TBIs are injuries that can lead to physical, emotional, and cognitive impairments. They usually result from an external force causing severe damage to the brain through events such as falls, automobile accidents, and sports injuries. Given the nature of TBIs, they are commonly seen in accident victims. TBIs can cause damage to brain tissue, leading to changes in thinking, emotions, and behaviors. The impacts and implications of a head injury can be profound and far-reaching. Some of the most common accidents that can lead to a TBI include:

  • Slip and fall accidents,

  • Car accidents,

  • Motorcycle accidents,

  • Construction zone accidents,

  • Workplace accidents, and

  • Sports injuries.

TBIs are categorized into three types based on their degree of severity: mild, moderate, and severe. Mild TBIs can affect the brain cells temporarily, but moderate and severe TBIs can lead to permanent brain damage. And while severe TBIs are the most serious, each type of TBI can have life-changing effects.

Brain Injury Survivors and Their Legal Rights

The Right to Reasonable Accommodations 

The ADA, or the Americans with Disabilities Act, requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to their employees with disabilities. The ADA defines a disability as either a physical or mental impairment that impacts one major life activity—such as walking, working, concentrating, or interacting with others. Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can disrupt brain function, affecting these major life activities and necessitating reasonable accommodations for TBI survivors. Because many TBI survivors struggle with at least one major life activity, they are often considered disabled under the ADA.

Reasonable accommodations in the workplace can include:

  • Modified work schedules,

  • Access to assistive technology and equipment,

  • Modified job duties and responsibilities,

  • Physical modifications to the workplace, and

  • Reassignment to another role at work.

If your employer is unwilling to provide you with reasonable accommodations, you should seek the help of an attorney. An attorney can help you file a claim with the EEOC (the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) and help you file a legal claim against your employer.

Protections Against Discrimination 

The ADA also prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. This applies to all aspects of employment, including hiring, firing, promotions, pay rate, and training. Therefore, an employer is prohibited from using an individual’s TBI as a basis for employment decisions. Further, they are prohibited from treating an individual with a TBI unfairly because of their disabilities. 

Rights to Disability Benefits 

If your TBI affects your ability to work or perform daily tasks, you may qualify for disability for your TBI. Disability benefits usually entitle a disabled person to cash payments by the government.

There are two main programs that provide benefits to disabled individuals: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). To qualify for SSDI benefits, the individual must have a condition that qualifies them as disabled under the Social Security Administration’s standards. These standards provide that a disabled individual is one with a mental or physical impairment that prevents the individual from working for at least 12 months. The Social Security Administration’s standards for disability benefits include conditions related to neurological disorders. To qualify for SSI benefits, the person must be considered disabled under the same Social Security Administration standards, and they must also be experiencing financial hardship.

Right to File a Claim for Damages 

If your TBI was caused by the negligence or wrongdoing of another, you likely have a right to sue the at-fault party for damages. Damages are intended to compensate the injured party for losses that occurred directly as a result of the injury. These damages may include compensation for:

  • Hospital bills,

  • Medication costs,

  • Costs of physical therapy and other medical treatments,

  • Lost wages,

  • Emotional distress,

  • Loss of earning capacity, and

  • Pain and suffering.

TBIs can result from motor vehicle accidents, which often have significant legal implications for the parties involved.

However, before filing a claim, you will want to enlist the help of an experienced personal injury attorney. A lawyer can help you prepare for your case by collecting witness statements, medical records, and other types of documentation. In addition, an attorney can:

  • Represent you in court,

  • Negotiate with opposing parties and insurance companies while not falling prey to their tactics intended to pay you as little as possible,

  • Help you understand your legal rights and responsibilities,

  • Meet important legal deadlines, and

  • Help you understand the relevant law.

In addition, it is important to note that there is a statute of limitations on California personal injury claims. If you do not bring your claim against the at-fault party before the statute of limitations runs, you may be completely barred from recovering damages. In California, the statute of limitations on personal injury claims is two years from the date the injury occurred. That might seem like a lot of time. But it is best to try to settle things outside of court first through negotiations, and that can take time as your lawyer will have to gather evidence and make persuasive arguments to secure a good settlement. If negotiations fail, then you would file a lawsuit with the court. This all takes time, so the sooner you get the help you need, the better.

GJEL Accident Attorneys Is Here to Help You 

At GJEL Accident Attorneys, we understand that a TBI can lead to physical, emotional, and financial strain, and we believe that TBI awareness is important. GJEL Accident Attorneys supports Brain Injury Awareness Month by hosting events and webinars to address issues related to brain injury. If you’ve suffered a TBI, we want to help you protect your legal rights so that you can focus on healing and the recovery process.

GJEL Accident Attorneys has a 99% success rate in the cases that we take on. In addition, you should know that we work on a contingency basis at GJEL. This means that you don’t owe us anything until we win your case and secure money on your behalf. If we don’t win, you don’t have to pay us. GJEL Accident Attorneys has experience handling cases involving severe TBI and the unique challenges faced by survivors.

To schedule a free consultation, you can reach out to us online or by phone at 1-866-249-2176. There are important legal deadlines to meet in every TBI case, so please do not hesitate to contact us today! GJEL Accident Attorneys also has expertise in addressing spinal cord injuries alongside traumatic brain injuries.

Visit our office nearest to you.