Typical Workers’ Comp Head Injury Settlements in the D.C. Metro Area

By Kasey Murray

Approximately 2 to 4 million Americans suffer a traumatic brain injury every year. These injuries can have lifelong consequences that severely impact a person’s financial stability and ability to function. 

If you sustained a head injury at work, you may be wondering how much compensation you can expect to receive. The value of workers’ comp head injury settlements varies depending on the specific circumstances of each case.

How Much Are Typical Workers’ Comp Head Injury Settlements?

What are workers' comp head injury settlements?

An NCCI analysis of “mega claims” found that brain and head injuries accounted for 17% of all claims with a value between $3 million and $5 million and 30% of claims that exceeded $10 million. However, while head injury claims tend to result in higher than average workers’ compensation settlements, only a small percentage are worth over $1 million.

Between 2013 and 2018, TBI claims averaged compensation of about $136,000. Only 2.5% of claims were more than $1 million. Workers’ compensation settlements for head injuries vary based on several factors.

Injury Severity

Severe injuries result in higher medical bills, more missed time from work, and higher rates of permanent disability. All of these tend to generate larger workers’ compensation settlements. 

While a person with a mild injury may recover at home in a few days with minimal medical care, moderate or severe injuries may require lengthy hospital stays and ongoing medical care.

The NCCI study found that the average hospital stay for a TBI costs from $39,000 to $87,000, depending on whether patients needed surgical care. This was about twice the average cost of hospital stays for other workers’ compensation claims.

Type of Work Performed

The type of work claimants do affects their potential workers’ comp head injury settlements. The disability portion of workers’ compensation coverage pays 2/3 of your average weekly wage, up to a maximum limit depending on the details of your case. 

The higher your average weekly wage is, the more your claim will be worth. If your injury results in a permanent impairment that impacts your ability to earn future income, the value of that portion of your claim is also based on your average weekly wage. 

The type of work you perform affects the value of your lost wages and the determination of whether and how much your injury affects your earning capacity. For example, a loss of fine motor control due to a TBI might prevent a person from returning to a job as a surgeon, but not as a pediatrician. 

Length and Severity of Disability

Worker's Comp head injury settlements may depend on the extent of disablity.

An injury that affects you for a few days will usually not result in as high a settlement as an injury that has long-term or permanent effects. If your medical team anticipates that you will need care for many years, the value of your claim will tend to be higher.

While some injuries cause total disability, most cause partial disability. The extent of your disability will affect the type of work you can do and how much compensation you may receive for reduced earning capacity.

Affected Body Parts

A head injury can impact many parts of the body. The body parts affected can impact the type of work you can do. For example, an injury that affects your ability to use your hands could impact your ability to write, type, and manipulate objects. The more claimants’ impairments affect their ability to do work, the higher their workers’ comp head injury settlements are likely to be.

Type of Medical Services Needed

Some patients need help with everyday activities after a TBI. Some may need care in a group home or long-term medical care facility. If you need long-term healthcare services, your claim will be more expensive. 

Some patients may need extensive physical or occupational therapy. The more therapy visits you require, the higher your medical bills will be.

State Laws

While most states have similar workers’ compensation laws, differences in the local laws in Washington, D.C., Virginia, and Maryland can affect the value of your claim. The workers’ compensation lawyers at Koonz, McKenney, Johnson & DePaolis, LLP, are familiar with the laws in these states and can help you value your claim.

How Much Should I Settle for a Head Injury?

What should you settle for concerning a  head injury?

Workers’ compensation compensates workers for medical expenses and lost income. It does not provide compensation for emotional trauma, pain and suffering, and other noneconomic losses.

As a result, the amount you should settle for depends primarily on the cost of your medical care, the value of your lost income, and any permanent limitations on your ability to work. Because some brain injuries can affect you for months, years, or even the rest of your life, you may need to estimate the cost of future medical care and lost income to arrive at a fair settlement.

Some factors that impact the value of workers’ comp head injury settlements are subjective. For example, your doctor will probably assign you an impairment rating once you reach maximum medical improvement. 

It is common for insurance companies and claimants to disagree about these ratings. The higher your rating is, the more likely you are to get a higher settlement.

The most important factor in determining whether you should accept a settlement is whether you believe it will fully compensate you for your current and future medical expenses and reduced earning capacity. A workers’ compensation attorney can help you make this decision.

What Should I Do If I Suffer a Brain Injury at Work?

If you suffer a brain injury at work, you should:

  • Notify your employer and the Workers’ Compensation Office in your state
  • Get medical treatment
  • Gather evidence to support your claim
  • Hire a local workers’ compensation attorney

Your attorney can help you complete all the necessary paperwork and make sure you don’t miss any deadlines. They will estimate the value of your case, and negotiate a fair settlement based on the specific circumstances involved.

Where Can DC-Area Workers Get Help With Workers’ Comp Head Injury Settlements?

The workers’ compensation attorneys at Koonz, McKenney, Johnson & DePaolis, LLP, are experienced in helping injured workers. Let us help you estimate the value of your workers’ comp head injury settlements and obtain the compensation you need.

We offer all clients a free initial consultation. We will not charge you a fee if you do not receive compensation. Contact us today to get started.

About the Author
Washington, D.C. and Maryland injury lawyer Kasey K. Murray represents clients in a wide range of personal injury areas including car accidents, premises liability, construction accidents, medical malpractice, workers compensation claims and various appellate matters.