Only half of all adults recovering from unconsciousness due to a vegetative state make a full recovery within the first six months post-injury, the Brain Foundation Australia reported in January 2021. Having a loved one enter a coma or wake in a vegetative state due to the negligence of a third party can be especially hard on the individual’s family, relatives and friends.
If you think you may be entitled to compensation, please reach out to our team on 0161 665 3502, or contact us online for an initial, no-obligation consultation.
What is a coma?
A coma is a state of prolonged unconsciousness. Individuals in a coma cannot hear, see or feel any external stimuli like pain, sounds or movements. They are fully unconscious and cannot be woken. It is not unusual for someone to remain in a comatose state for up to four weeks.
What causes a coma?
Various causes are responsible for inducing a coma, including drug abuse with damage to the ascending reticular activating system (ARAS) and a lack of oxygen to the brain (hypoxia), leading to a cardiac arrest. Further causes include brain haemorrhages, tumours, blood loss, and malnutrition.
What is considered a vegetative state vs a persistent vegetative state?
A coma can progress into a state of consciousness like a vegetative state (VS). Here the individual is awake but unaware of their surroundings. They may fall asleep randomly, smile or moan but either interact purposefully not be able to fixate their eyes on other people or objects.
The longer a patient remains in a vegetative state, the lower their chances of a full recovery become. If an individual doesn’t recover from VS for longer than a month, this is also referred to as a persistent vegetative state (PVS), and it often indicates severe brain damage.
How do a coma and a vegetative state differ?
A coma is often used as a categorical term to describe different states of disordered consciousness, including actual coma and vegetative state. The main difference between the two states is that in a coma, the individual will be unconscious. However, they will be physically awake but neurologically unresponsive in a vegetative state and alternate between sleep and wakefulness.
What can I claim compensation for?
Depending on the circumstances of the accident leading to your or your loved one’s coma or vegetative state, you may be entitled to claim different levels of compensation. The types of compensation awarded include;
- compensation for loss of income or benefits experienced during the time between the accident and injury, i.e. you were unable to continue working as a direct result of their injury
- compensation for financial losses,
- and any medical care costs required for your recovery.
How long will the compensation claims process take?
You have three years from the date of the accident to start your claim. The duration of the claims process can vary on a case-by-case basis. Your case generally determines whether the third party who caused the unlawful death of your loved one admits being liable. The majority of cases are likely to be resolved within 18 months. However, more complex cases may take longer.