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June 2, 2023

Average Traumatic Brain Injury Workers’ Comp Settlement in California

Legally reviewed by: Jessica Anvar Stotz, JD, MBA


According to data from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), about 3 million people seek emergency medical treatment for traumatic brain injuries annually, with numbers increasing every year.

Although many brain trauma victims make full recoveries, traumatic brain injuries contribute to about a third of all injury-related deaths in the U.S. annually.

If you have recently suffered a traumatic brain injury, you may be exploring what the average settlement is for similar claims.

According to the National Safety Council, the average workers’ compensation “head” or “central nervous system” settlement is $93,942. This is just an average, so there are many cases that settle for more than this. Additionally, brain injury cases are often settled privately, with the results kept confidential.

Ultimately, the best way to determine what your settlement could be is by speaking with a work comp injury attorney about your case. An attorney who specializes in traumatic brain cases can analyze the unique details of your situation to determine what your recovery could look like.

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What Affects my Compensation in a TBI claim?

The value of your TBI claim is subject to a variety of factors, including:

  • Liability
  • Medical history
  • Extent of injuries
  • Conduct of the defendant
  • The number of defendants

Some TBI victims sustain minor injuries that require shorter hospital stays and less outpatient care than victims of moderate to severe brain injuries. More severe TBIs can cause temporary or permanent disability, sometimes requiring lifelong medical and rehabilitative care. Generally, the more severe your brain injury, the higher your case value. This is one reason why settlement amounts can vary so widely.

To qualify for compensation in a TBI case, you must prove to the court that your injuries were the direct result of someone’s negligence and that your injuries bear a financial cost. Plaintiffs in California need to prove at least three elements of negligence:

  1. The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care
  2. The defendant breached that duty
  3. The plaintiff’s injury was caused by the breach of that duty
  4. The defendant should have foreseen the possibility that someone would be harmed by their negligent action/inaction
  5. The injury produced actual damages

Damages claimed in TBI cases are typically over $100,000.  Due to the impactful nature of brain injuries, claims in the millions are not uncommon.

What is a Traumatic Brain Injury?

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is an injury that directly affects the brain. A TBI is not the same as a head injury, which is trauma that impacts the skull but not the brain. Most TBIs fall under two broad categories:

  • Closed Brain Injury: This occurs when a victim sustains non-penetrating trauma to the brain but with no break in the skull. Closed brain injuries are more commonly seen in vehicular accidents, falls, and sports-related accidents.
  • Penetrating Brain Injury: This occurs when a victim sustains trauma to the brain with a break in the skull. Penetrating brain injuries may occur in victims of commercial accidents, combat injuries, and violent acts.

Other common brain injuries include concussions, bruising, diffuse axonal injuries (trauma to the white matter of the brain), and shaken baby syndrome. According to data from the CDC, the top three leading causes of traumatic brain injuries in the United States last year were falling, being struck by objects, and motor vehicle collisions. Certain groups are at greater risk for TBIs, including athletes, service members, persons aged 15-24, children under four, and older adults over 60.

Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injuries

Unlike most body tissues, the human brain cannot regenerate its cells. As such, brain injuries can cause permanent cell damage that can inhibit important bodily functions. Traumatic brain injury victims may present a wide range of physical and psychological symptoms, depending on the severity of the injury. These effects include:

  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Nausea/Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of balance
  • Mood changes
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Sensitivity to light or sound
  • Confusion
  • Slurred speech
  • Clear fluids draining from the nose or ears
  • Seizures
  • Coma and other disorders of consciousness
  • Vision problems

It is important to seek immediate medical attention if you have sustained any sort of trauma to the head. Even mild brain injuries are still serious injuries that can result in severe complications.

Traumatic Brain Injury Recovery

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, TBIs are among the leading causes of disability and death in adults. Currently, 5.3 million people, or about 2% of the American population are living with disabilities resulting from traumatic brain injuries.

The total lifetime healthcare and rehabilitations costs for a moderate to severe TBI victim can top $4 million. These types of injuries may result in any one of the following conditions:

  • Aggression
  • Chronic headaches
  • Changes in personality
  • Changes in psychiatry
  • Cognitive disabilities
  • Epilepsy
  • Memory loss
  • Paralysis
  • Sensory processing problems
  • Tinnitus

Recovery from traumatic brain injuries often requires cognitive, physical, occupational, or speech therapy. If a someone suffering from a TBI was left disabled or paralyzed, they will need medical equipment, medications, mobility devices, and other items.

Medical care is a significant share of the settlement in a traumatic brain injury case. You are entitled to compensation for medical expenses such as:

  • Hospitalization
  • Surgery
  • In-hospital rehabilitation
  • Residential rehabilitation
  • Outpatient therapy
  • Nursing care
  • Medications

If you bring forth a successful TBI claim, you could be awarded compensation for economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages are tangible damages such as your medical expenses, property damage, or loss of income. Non-economic damages are subjective damages that cannot be measured objectively, such as emotional distress, physical pain, or loss of quality of life.

Punitive damages are rarely rewarded in injury cases unless it is determined that the defendant acted under “malice, oppression, or fraud.” Cases eligible for punitive damages often involve intentional harm or a defendant’s complete disregard for the rights and safety of others. If your injuries are the result of a defendant’s drunk driving or violent assault, your case could qualify for punitive damages on top of your compensatory damages.

Do I Need an Attorney for a Traumatic Brain Injury Claim?

TBIs are some of the most devastating injuries you can sustain in an accident. If you or a loved one is suffering from traumatic brain injuries due to someone’s negligence, you will need the assistance of an experienced attorney who can assess your eligibility and ensure fair compensation for all the harm you or someone else has suffered.

Due to the complexities and expense of these cases, it is important to speak with an attorney who specializes in brain injuries. An experienced TBI attorney will know how to communicate with medical professionals and other experts to help paint a picture of the extent of your damages in court.

We highly recommend speaking with a reputable attorney before accepting any settlements from an insurance company. These payouts are often substantially less than what you could receive in a traumatic brain injury settlement. If the insurance company is not willing to give you the compensation that you deserve, then you should enlist the help of a brain injury attorney as soon as possible.

A reputable attorney who specializes in brain injury cases can connect you with helpful resources that you may need during this difficult time. The right firm will give you access to lawyers with years of experience as well as brain injury experts in your area. Your legal team will help you build a strong case against the at-fault party while you can focus on healing. Choosing the best legal representation possible will maximize what you could receive in recovery for your brain injury claim.

Resources for Survivors of Traumatic Brain Injuries

The following are helpful resources for people who have suffered from traumatic brain injuries:

Suffering from a TBI in the Los Angeles Area? Contact LawLinq Today

The impact of a traumatic brain injury can be catastrophic. If you or someone you know is recovering from a TBI due to someone’s negligence or carelessness, you should pursue a claim in order to attain the recovery you deserve. It may be particularly difficult to consider your legal options under such circumstances, however, LawLinq may be able to help.

If you reside in the Los Angeles area, LawLinq can make your search for a catastrophic injury or traumatic brain injury lawyer easier and far less time-consuming. LawLinq is a lawyer referral service based in Los Angeles that can connect you with an attorney who has the expertise and skill to maximize your recovery and help you obtain justice. Our work comp attorneys have assisted thousands of consumers in the Los Angeles area in recovering millions of dollars in settlements & awards for their brain injury claims.

All our attorneys are California State Bar certified and LawLinq regularly monitors the ethics and actions of our members to ensure that you are always in great hands. Leave the legal search to us so that you can focus on your life and medical recovery. To begin, please give us a call or fill out an online form today.

About the Author

Jessica Anvar

California Consumer Litigation Attorney Jessica Anvar, Esq. is the Founder and Managing Partner of Lemon Law Experts California’s leading lemon law firm. She has multiple years’ worth of experience working with both state and federal lemon laws. Her practice focuses exclusively on consumer protection cases. Ms. Anvar received her J.D. from Loyola Law School. She also earned a Master of Business Administration degree from Loyola Marymount University. Jessica is very active in her local legal community and has helped thousands of clients across the state of California. She has an outstanding record as a true advocate for consumers.

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