What Happens after a Brain Injury?

When speaking to Steve Yung, we learn about how brain injuries can impact people’s everyday lives and how a lawyer can assist in these situations to ensure those who have fallen victim to personal injury cases get the best help.

When working on personal injury cases involving brain injury, what are the client’s main concern?

Brain injuries can range in seriousness: from a mild concussion to a traumatic brain injury.  For some clients and their families, life may never be the same after suffering a brain injury. Clients come to us at a distressing moment in their lives.  They are often fearful, full of uncertainty about what the future will hold and have questions about how the legal process works.  We are often asked, ‘what’s involved in starting a lawsuit?’, ‘how will my brain injury affect daily life?’, ‘will I be able to work again?’, and ‘how will a brain injury affect me and my family as I age?’.  Our goal is to ensure our clients have access to the best rehabilitation team, make ourselves readily available to answer any questions they have, and obtain for them the best possible compensation.  Ultimately, we aim to remove any barriers to ensure they can focus on their recovery.

How often do victims return to work? What challenges do they face here, i.e., what if their workplace cannot meet their new requirements?

The effects of a brain injury can bring changes to many aspects of life, including employment. Regardless of whether the accident caused a mild or severe traumatic brain injury, some clients discover that they are no longer able to do the job that they once did, or they can no longer do their job safely. Adaptations in the workplace may be required to accommodate needs and some clients may need to find a new job.

In serious brain injury cases, clients may not be able to return to their pre-accident employment for an extended period of time, and even then, not at full capacity. Some are never able to work full time, others have to train for a different job, and in severe cases, some never return to work.

When returning to work after a brain injury – even a “mild” traumatic brain injury such as a concussion can pose challenges.  Attention-span, memory, fatigue and headaches can all affect our client’s ability to return to work.  For this reason, sometimes a gradual return to work is necessary (e.g., working half days at first or shorter hours). We often engage the services of an occupational therapist to help clients develop cognitive strategies for performing job duties, they can also make recommendations for adapting workstations.

In catastrophic injury cases, our lawyers can help sort out coverage and funding issues with other agencies or insurers, such as employment insurance, Canada Pension Plan disability, private extended health care insurers or private disability carriers, unions and their collective agreement provisions, human resource managers, and others.

How can a lawyer secure the best treatment in such cases? Do you need a lawyer for this?

The rehabilitation team for those with serious brain injuries may include physiotherapists, kinesiologists, occupational therapists, psychologists or neuropsychologists, speech/language therapists, case managers, and vocational consultants.  Whilst it is not necessary to hire a lawyer to put together a rehabilitation team, lawyers do have networks to some of the best, most respected medical practitioners and are able to secure appointments.

How long do you have to file an ICBC claim?

In British Columbia, you have two years from the date of the accident to start the litigation process.  However, at Simpson, Thomas & Associates we encourage lawyers to file the Notice of Civil Claim well before the limitation date, often within the first six months.

How long do such cases last? What happens if symptoms worsen over time, but the claim/case is already closed? What are the options here?

The duration of a case varies case-by-case.  We advise our clients to focus on treatment and recovery, follow the advice given by their rehabilitation team, and only consider settling once we have an idea of their expected level of recovery.  We obtain expert opinions and assessments, including the cost of future care, loss of past and future income and life expectancy reports to inform our settlement negotiations.

In British Columbia, there are two parts of legal recourse available for brain-injured victims following a motor vehicle accident.  A Tort claim and a Part 7 Accident Benefits claim. Once a case is closed and the litigation process in the Tort action has concluded, you cannot reopen and there is no further legal recourse.

Under the existing legislation, there is up to $300,000 available from the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) under Part 7 to meet accident victims rehabilitation needs.  After the Tort claim has settled, the Part 7 portion of the claim is left open to the claimant. If symptoms worsen over time, the claimant can request funding from ICBC for additional treatment.  If the claim is denied by ICBC then legal action can be taken. Any legal action under Part 7 must be started either two years from the date of the accident, or two years from the date of the last payment made, whichever is longer.

 

Stephen Yung

syung@simpsonthomas.com

Direct Dial:  604 697 3999

Simpson, Thomas & Associates

1301-808 Nelson Street

Vancouver, BC V6z 2H2

www.simpsonthomas.com

Simpson, Thomas & Associates (formerly Simpson & Company) have been advocating for accident victims for 50 years.  Central to the firm’s ethos is a team of caring, compassionate and community-focussed individuals.   As managing partner of Simpson, Thomas & Associates, Stephen Yung strives to ensure that his clients have the medical support they need, including access to the best rehabilitation professionals, and the compensation they deserve.   Stephen’s experience spans all levels of court in British Columbia including the Court of Appeal.  He has considerable experience dealing with catastrophic losses, including brain injury.  The firm has a long history of advocating for the victims of the brain injured and in raising awareness on the prevention of brain injury.  Bernie Simpson, C.M., one of the founding partners of Simpson, Thomas and Associates, was instrumental in enacting the B.C. Bike Helmet Legislation when he was a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) in the 1990s.

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