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Report: A traumatic brain injury in California can cost millions

Research has found that the monetary cost of a traumatic brain injury over the course of someone’s life could reach millions of dollars.

Last year, a man who had spent six months working in California returned to his home in Washington and decided to go out celebrating. According to KOMO News, the 26-year-old man and his female friend were walking home from a bar when a drunk driver struck them. The incident killed the woman and left the man with a traumatic brain injury.

The man recently received a $1.3 million settlement, which will be used to pay for his medical treatment, among other expenses. As anyone who has suffered a brain injury would know, the medical care involved can be quite costly.

By the numbers

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that in 2010, the cost of
severe traumatic brain injuries affecting people across the country totaled roughly $76.5 billion. These costs include direct and indirect medical expenses, such as hospitalization, rehabilitation and medications.

According to Research America, someone living with a traumatic brain injury could face average lifetime expenses of $85,000 to upward of $3 million. However, a 2007 study from Harvard University reported that someone’s expenses could be significantly higher, at as much as $15 million.

Why so expensive?

The primary reason that a brain injury can cost so much money is because the effects can
last a lifetime. As the CDC points out, someone who has suffered a severe TBI can face the following issues:

  • Impairment to hearing, vision and touch
  • Issues with cognitive functionality related to memory and attention
  • Emotional problems, such as depression and changes in personality
  • Difficulty with motor functions

Victims will often face a significant period of time in the hospital, where medical staff can administer treatment and medication. Upon release, many people enter rehabilitation programs. In some cases, victims have to learn to walk or talk all over again. A USA Today report states that some of these rehabilitation programs can cost up to $8,000 a day.

During and even after rehabilitation, many people will need in-home care or assistance. This could mean hiring a nurse or other support staff to tend to the patient. Some people may have to modify their homes to accommodate their injury. For example, getting necessary medical equipment into a home or putting a bedroom on the first floor may be a vital part of caring for the injured.

Funding treatment

In instances in which someone else’s negligence caused the brain injury, a victim is legally allowed to hold that person financially responsible. California sets a statute of limitations, which means a plaintiff has two years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit.

The California Department of Rehabilitation reports that each year, it provides 2,400 people who have a brain injury with services related to independent living and vocational rehabilitation. Anyone who has questions about this issue should consult with an attorney.

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