According to the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, 50,000 Canadians suffer a brain injury every year. It also notes that traumatic brain injury is the leading cause of disability for Canadians under the age of 40.
The severity of a brain injury can vary from dizziness and confusion to loss of cognitive function. In more extreme cases an outcome could be a coma, vegetative state, or mortality.
In a majority of these cases, the brain injured person will need cognitive, medical and physical therapy. Severe cases often require 24-hour attendant care and house-keeping services – all of which are costly.
So why do I have some clients who refuse to claim benefits from their insurer?
The reasons they give are “I feel guilty hurting a company financially”, “in my culture, family takes care of each other” or “I like the way my wife or husband cares for me better than a stranger would”, and so on.
Some reasons are valid, but trust me these answers will be put to the test over years to come. And often, the caregiver who is a family member ends up becoming the second victim of the accident. As a lawyer, protecting against this outcome is also part of my job.
A reframe for the victim (if cognitively able) is needed:
– Acknowledge the problem and its full impact
– Work hard to get the treatment you need
– There are services available such as attendant care and housekeeping. Take advantage of them to help free up your family for other needs or to give them a break
– It is ok to ask for help beyond your family as I am advocating on their behalf to ensure that the family can remain as strong as possible.
A reframe for the spouse:
While everyone would prefer to receive care from their wife or husband over a stranger, a personal support worker(PSW) is often more qualified to deal with the situation and their services in most cases is payable by the insurer for this service. If this support is not claimed, and a change of heart comes in the future, in most circumstances this cannot be paid retroactively.
– While it may appear that your role is to be the physical caregiver, your job, in fact, is foremost to be an advocate. Your spouse needs as much treatment and home care services as possible in order to place him/her in the position closest to their quality of life before the accident. For example, prior to incident he/she bathed, dressed and had income. He /She helped out around the house and picked up the kids. Post-accident, these needs must still be met and for this there is financial support that can be accessed.
– Insurance is designed to help pay for a portion of the items needed. If you don’t require it all at once, spread the help out over a few years. There is a long journey still ahead.
– Be careful not to turn into the second victim. Be honest about how you’re are feeling. It is OK to ask for help – it will make you a stronger family in the end.
To learn more about financial support after a catastrophic injury, contact Alexander M. Voudouris at 647-789-1962 or at email@example.com