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Construction workers, falls and TBIs

If you work construction in North Carolina, you likely do much of your work high off the ground such as while on roofs, scaffolding or tall ladders. Even though you use the safety equipment your employer provides and take the best precautions you can, you nevertheless stand a good chance of falling and injuring yourself, perhaps catastrophically so.

One of the most devastating injuries you could receive as the result of a fall is a traumatic brain injury. This is an injury to your head and/or neck of such severity that your brain malfunctions due to the injury. The force of the impact of your head hitting the ground or other hard surface causes your brain to violently swing back and forth inside your skull. This, in turn, injures your brain's cells, tissues and nerves, and some of them can stop functioning in the way they should.

TBI causes

Falls are by far the leading cause of TBIs. Because of the hazards you face as a construction worker, you have an extremely high likelihood of falling. Your risk of sustaining a fall increases the longer you work and the older you become. In fact, the highest risk category is workers age 65 or above. You also face high risk if your construction company is a small one with 20 or fewer workers.

In addition to your risk of falling, you also face the constant risk of a piece of flying debris such as a glass shard penetrating your skull and injuring your brain. Other risks include the possibility of a sharp construction tool piercing your skull.

TBI symptoms

Since your brain has thousands of cells and neurologic connections, no two TBIs are the same. Consequently, if you and a co-worker both fall at the same time from the same height, your respective TBI symptoms could be completely different. One of you could be knocked out while the other could walk away from the accident with no apparent damage. The key word here, however, is "apparent." Both of you need immediate emergency medical assessment and assistance.

It is not uncommon for your TBI symptoms to begin appearing hours, days or weeks after your accident. Therefore, you need to watch for any of the following and report them to your physician as soon as they occur:

  • Double or blurry vision
  • Tinnitus, i.e., a ringing in your ears
  • Feeling dizzy or noticing that your balance or coordination are "off"
  • Realizing that you do not think, reason or remember as well as you did before your accident
  • Losing the right word at various points of various conversations

Psychological changes

In addition to physical symptoms, you or your family members may notice psychological changes following your accident. For instance, you may start to have bouts of anxiety, fear, depression, anger, tearfulness, etc. Unlike before, your moods now may swing quickly between highs and lows. Again, report these and any other symptoms to your physician as soon as possible.

TBI costs

Since your doctor may have difficulty determining the precise nature of your TBI, your medical costs can quickly skyrocket when you receive one. In addition, your symptoms could worsen as time goes on. This is one of the common characteristics of a TBI. It is difficult to predict how long your symptoms will last, how severe they might become in the future, and the extent to which your TBI may prevent you from returning to work or even working at all. In other words, you face an uncertain prognosis and therefore an uncertain future.

As your costs increase at the same time that your wages decrease, all of this adds severe stress to an already difficult situation. You may wish to consider the possibility of filing a claim against your employer.

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