An overview of head injuries
Around one million people sustain personal injuries to their heads every year and seek treatment through the NHS. A head injury could range from a minor bump to a Traumatic Brain Injury and an estimated 12,000 people sustain severe head injuries such as this each year in the UK.
Road accidents, accounting for 40% to 50%, are the biggest cause of head injuries whereas domestic and industrial accidents account for 20% to 30%. Those that suffer severe head injuries may not be able to return to work for up to or even more than 5 years and may consider making a compensation claim against whoever was responsible for them sustaining the injury, such as the driver that caused the road accident or a negligent employer.
Head injury types
Closed head injury - this can occur when the head is hit with a blunt object, such as a baseball bat, and no open wound is visible. Even though the hard skull covers and protects the brain, the brain surface can be bruised if it is thrown against the rough sides of the skull. Closed head traumas can cause bleeding, swelling or fluid retention inside the head, put substantial pressure on the brain and even lead to brain damage.
Penetrative head injury - this is caused by an object, such as a bullet, breaking through the skull, exposing and damaging the brain. These head injuries are more likely to show physical evidence such as bleeding from the wound and a break in the skull.
Crush head injury - this results when the head is caught between two hard objects, such as a fallen tree and the road. This least common head injury often damages the base of the skull and nerves of the brain stem rather than the brain itself.
Head injury symptoms
It can take a few hours or days for symptoms to develop so those who have suffered a head injury must take care to seek medical attention if they start to experience any of the following:
- Double vision
- Memory problems
- Extreme fatigue
- Anxiety and depression
Signs of the following, several hours after injury, could indicate a serious head injury, concussion or brain damage and an ambulance should be called, especially if consciousness is lost:
- Continuing headaches that grow worse
- Lethargy, gets tired easily
- Nausea and vomiting
- Unconsciousness or coma
- Unequal pupil size
- Double vision
- Dizziness and confusion
- Pale yellow fluid or watery blood leaking from the ears or nose
- Bleeding from the scalp that cannot be easily stopped
- Weakness, disabling certain parts of the body
- Slurred speech
- Having a seizure or fit
Head injury diagnosis
Your doctor will diagnose the type of injury that you have sustained with the help of the following information and procedures:
- Details of how you sustained the injury - if you can't remember a witness may be able to help
- Details of the physical, emotional, cognitive and behavioural symptoms you are experiencing
- Evidence of any physical signs - bleeding, bruising, swelling
- A CT scan - used to identify swelling, bruising or bleeding in the brain
- X-ray - to identify damage to the skull
- Glasgow Coma Scale - used to measure how badly your brain has been damaged
Head injury treatment
While those with serious head injuries should be admitted to hospital and treated by a medical professional, those with minor head injuries may benefit from the following treatments and advice:
- Rest quietly for the first two hours
- Avoid strenuous activity for the first 48-72 hours
- Avoid alcohol or taking any medication that makes you feel sleepy
- Apply a covered cold compress for 20 minutes every 3-4 hours for the first 24 hours to decrease swelling
- Take paracetamol or ibuprofen for pain relief
Head injury compensation amounts
Very severe brain damage - £155,000 to £220,000
The level of award within this bracket is dependent on:
- The degree of insight
- Life expectancy
- The extent of physical limitations
If a persistent vegetative state or death occurs very soon after the injury was sustained and the injured party has had no awareness of their condition, the award will be solely for loss of amenity and fall much lower.
Moderately severe brain damage - £120,000 to £155,000
The injured party is seriously disabled but the level of compensation is affected by:
- The extent of insight
- Life expectancy
- The extent of physical limitations
- The degree of dependence on others
- Ability to communicate
- Behavioural abnormality
- Epilepsy or a significant risk of epilepsy (unless a provisional damages order provides for this risk)
Moderate brain damage
The injured party is disabled but their level of dependence is lower than that needed by those with moderately severe injuries.
Moderate to severe intellectual deficit, personality change, an effect on the sight, speech and senses with a significant risk of epilepsy and no prospect of employment - £82,000 to £120,000.
Moderate to modest intellectual deficit, the ability to work is greatly reduced if not removed and there is some risk of epilepsy (unless a provisional damages order provides for the risk) - £50,000 to £82,000.
Concentration and memory are affected, the ability to work is reduced, there is a small risk of epilepsy and dependence on others is limited - £23,500 to £50,000.
Minor brain damage- £8,500 to £23,500
The injured party has made a good (but not necessarily full) recovery. Concentration, memory and mood problems and a small chance of epilepsy may all be present. The level of compensation depends on:
- The extent and severity of the initial injury
- The extent of any continuing, and possibly permanent, disability
- The extent of any personality change
Minor head injury - £1,250 to £7,000
Brain damage, if any, is minimal and the level of compensation award depends on:
- The severity of the initial injury
- The period taken to recover from any symptoms
- The extent of continuing symptoms
- The presence or absence of headaches
Epilepsy compensation amounts
Epilepsy is one of the most serious knock-on effects of a head injury.
Established Grand Mal - £55,000 to £82,000
Established Petit Mal - £30,000 to £71,500
The level of compensation award is determined by:
- Whether attacks are successfully controlled by medication and the extent to which the need for medication is likely to persist
- The extent to which the appreciation of life is blunted by such medication
- The effect on working and/or social life
- The existence of associated behavioural problems
- The prognosis
Other epileptic conditions - £5,750 to £14,250
One or two discrete epileptic episodes or a temporary resurgence of epilepsy. The compensation amount is determined by the extent of any consequences of the attacks on education, sporting activities, working and social life.
Making a personal injury claim today
If you have suffered a head injury that wasn't your fault, be it a minor bump or a serious brain injury, then you may be entitled to claim personal injury compensation.
The Claim Solicitors consist of some of the finest personal injury law specialists in the UK and have an excellent no win no fee claim success rate.
If you would like free legal advice or would like to make a personal injury claim call 0800 197 32 32 without delay.