What are the Florida Laws to Help Accident Victims Suffering Traumatic Brain Injury or Spinal Cord Injury With Long Term Care and Therapy Needs?

Posted By on January 23, 2014

Last Update: 01/18/16

In Florida, victims of all sorts of accidents — slip and falls at hotel poolsides; crashes in water sports; car accidents — can suffer serious and lifelong injuries that permanently impact the ability of their brain and nervous system to function as they once did.

For those suffering traumatic brain injury (TBI), both their physical and psychological abilities are harmed, impacting not only their daily life and long-term future but those of their loved ones, families, and caretakers as well.

Many TBI victims suffer from behavioral and emotional challenges as well as functional challenges involving their ability to concentrate, communicate, and perform ordinary, daily tasks. Therapy is often required in several forms, including for example help in dealing with TBI-related emotional and psychological problems such as:

  • Cognitive Therapy to help with problem solving and social skills.
  • Behavioral Analysis to pinpoint specific negative behaviors and their triggers as well as determining alternatives and their implementation.
  • Psychotherapy where a trained TBI therapist works to help the individual in building new ways to cope with TBI-related challenges.
  • Medication can help in some cases to lower anxiety, depression, etc.

Florida Law to Help Victims of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

The Florida Legislature has passed laws that target Floridians who are victims of severe brain and spinal cord injuries, providing ways that the State of Florida can help these victims and their families. For example, Florida Statute 381.76 provides the following as eligibility requirements for the Florida brain and spinal cord injury programs:

(1) An individual shall be accepted as eligible for the brain and spinal cord injury program following certification by the department that the individual:
(a) Has been referred to the central registry pursuant to s. 381.74;
(b) Is a legal resident of this state at the time of application for services;
(c) Has sustained a brain or spinal cord injury;
(d) Is medically stable; and
(e) Is reasonably expected to achieve reintegration into the community through services provided by the brain and spinal cord injury program.
(2) If the department is unable to provide services to all eligible individuals, the department may establish an order of selection.

What is the Florida Brain and Spinal Cord Injury Program?

The Brain and Spinal Cord Injury Program (BSCIP) is a state program established by Florida law to help people all over the State of Florida who are dealing with the realities of living with moderate-to-severe traumatic brain (TBI) and/or spinal cord injuries. BSCIP offers rehabilitative services as well as help in improving individual levels of functioning through a variety of treatment methods.

It is funded through a trust fund set up by the Florida Legislature (The Brain and Spinal Cord Program Trust Fund) which gets its money from state fines levied for speeding, driving under the influence (DUI), boating under the influence (BUI), and surcharges on temporary license plates. It is a “payer of last resort,” and BSCIP needs third party payments and comparable benefits for provision of rehabilitation services in order to fund its work each year.

From the BSCIP website:

The Brain and Spinal Cord Injury Program is the only publicly funded program devoted entirely to the rehabilitation, prevention, and research of traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries. All licensed hospitals and health care professionals in the state are required to report each incidence of moderate-to-severe traumatic brain and spinal cord injury to the Program’s Central Registry within 5 days of identification or diagnosis. As required by statute, the Program publishes an annual performance report that is submitted to the Legislature March 1 of each year. The annual report includes data collected through the Central Registry, such as: incidence, etiology, referral, acceptance and closure data; as well as revenue and expenditure data and reports on prevention and contractual efforts sponsored by the Program.

The Florida Department of Health oversees the BSCIP. Services include:

  1. case management,
  2. acute care,
  3. inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation,
  4. transitional living,
  5. assistive technology,
  6. home and vehicle modifications,
  7. nursing home transition facilitation; and
  8. long-term supports for survivors and families through contractual agreements with community-based agencies

Long Term Care and Therapy Needs for TBI and Spinal Cord Injury Victims Is Very Expensive

Obviously, the financial costs needed to provide these services is high. This is particularly true for children and teenagers who have suffered a traumatic brain injury and now face many, many years of needed care and help with daily living.

The State of Florida’s support goes a long way toward helping these victims and their families. However, for those who have been injured due to the negligence or intentional acts of another, there may be additional financial assistance available through the insurance policies and coverages of those responsible for the accident and cause of harm. For instance, the victim of a hotel slip and fall that results in a serious brain injury or the teenager that was involved in a car crash that was left with a TBI may each have legal basis for having the driver of the car or the owner of the hotel undertake the financial responsibility for the injured parties long term care expenses (in all or in part).

What Should You Do Now?

A good piece of advice if you have been harmed in an accident, is to at least speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer before you file a claim to learn about some of the issues that can arise with these claims, including the type of evidence needed to prove a claim and the type and amount of damages you can recover. Most personal injury lawyers, like Alan Sackrin, will offer a free initial consultation (over the phone or in person) to answer your questions.

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Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Alan an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.

 

 

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