The Glasgow Coma Scale

In Ontario, particularly for car accident cases, the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) is the most important tool for measuring the degree of brain injury. Ontario accident benefits laws state that if an accident victim’s GCS was 9 or below following the car accident, that they will be entitled to a wider array of accident benefits. The accident victim will be deemed “catastrophic”.

Catastrophic accident victims are entitled to essentially double the amount of benefits which a non-catastrophic accident victim would be entitled to.

The sad thing about the GCS scale is that readings are best took immediately following the car accident. These readings are taken by ambulance personnel or paramedics. If the ambulance doesn’t get to the accident scene fast enough, chances are that their GCS readings won’t be accurate. This can result on a brain injured accident victim losing out on millions of dollars in accident benefits.

The Glasgow Coma Scale was developed by neurosurgeons. It’s used in the intensive care setting, to follow patients in an objective way ( but the testing is subjective!), in order to detect improvement or deterioration of the brain injured party.

The GCS consists of three subtests: best eye, verbal and motor response. The total possible score ranges from 3 (lowest score/no response) to 15 ( alert and oriented). Mild brain injury has a GCS score of 13-15; Moderate brain injury has a GCS score of 9-12; and Severe brain injury has a GCS score of 3-8.

Here’s how the Glasgow Coma Scale is scored:

Eye Opening
To speech3
To pain2
Inappropriate words3
Nonspecific sounds2
Follows commands6
Localizes pain5
Withdraws to pain4
Abnormal flexion3
Abnormal extension2

At the end of the day, if the paramedics don’t attend the accident scene fast enough, they won’t be able to see that the accident victim was totally unconscious and non-responsive to verbal commands. This would dramatically impact the GCS Score, and change the variety of accident benefits available to the accident victim. Still, there are other ways to make sure that the accident victim gets the benefits they deserve. A personal injury lawyer would be able to assist you with that.

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