Parker Waichman LLP – Fights for the Victims of Traumatic Brain Injuries
Most people have bumped their heads from time to time whether by accident or in a sporting event. Bumps on the head can be painful, especially right after the incident, and the pain may continue for a few days along with a bruise or visible lump on the head. Some of these minor head bumps could lead to further difficulties, but overall, such injuries are short-lived and do not cause permanent damage. When more severe head injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), are sustained, the consequences go far beyond a bump on the head.
TBIs can be some of the most debilitating injuries a person can experience. Not only is there physical pain, but there is often permanent damage that affects every aspect of a person’s life. Whether a TBI is suffered because of, among others, a car accident, a workplace accident, construction accident, a slip, trip, and fall accident, or because of an act of medical malpractice, the aftermath is equally devastating and life-changing. TBIs are injuries that have the potential to lead to secondary injuries and medical conditions, such as chronic headaches, difficulty concentrating, mood swings, inability to sleep, and anger problems, among others.
When a person suffers a TBI because of another’s negligent or intentional behavior, the injured victim has a right to seek legal compensation by filing a lawsuit. The true cost of a TBI can ruin a person’s life in more ways than one. As such, whether you or someone you know has suffered a TBI and believe another person or party is to blame, it is important to act quickly by contacting the Florida Personal Injury Attorneys of Parker Waichman LLP today.
Parker Waichman LLP – Obtaining More than $2 Billion in Compensation for Injured Clients
Parker Waichman LLP is a nationally-recognized law firm that provides legal representation to injured victims and their loved ones from all throughout the United States. With a large client-base in Florida, our highly skilled Florida Personal Injury Attorneys have seen how tragic and debilitating traumatic brain injuries can be, and how such injuries are not always visible to the naked eye. Having recovered more than $2 billion collectively for clients through verdicts and settlements, Parker Waichman LLP has the dedication and resources to fight for every client to receive fair and just compensation.
Because our legal team has helped numerous clients seek and obtain compensation for their injuries, our firm has received many honors and positive ratings, including, but not limited to, the following:
- 9.8/10 Rating by AVVO (Rating Every Attorney in the U.S.);
- “Preeminent Lawyers” AV Peer Review Rating (Martindale-Hubbell®);
- Highest Ranking of “5 Dragons” Based on Peer Review by Lawdragon; and
- Listing in Best Lawyers Publication Determined by Extensive Peer Review.
The positive peer-reviewed ratings listed above demonstrate our firm’s success in providing superior legal representation to our clients. However, we encourage injured individuals to call and personally speak with our legal team to learn more about what our firm offers and how we have been able to help so many clients obtain the compensation they deserve.
Florida Traumatic Brain Injury Accidents – Traumatic Brain Injury Lawsuits and Settlements
Understanding Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs)
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a very broad injury that can be unique from person to person. Additionally, TBIs range in severity from very minor to catastrophic or even fatal. Therefore, the consequences of a TBI may be different for a person suffering from a mild concussion as opposed to a person who sustains blunt force trauma to the head in a car accident. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines TBI as “a disruption in the normal function of the brain that can be caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or penetrating head injury.”
Many “bumps” on the head may be painful. However, not all “bumps” will result in a TBI. It takes a thorough evaluation by a medical professional to determine if a patient has suffered a TBI. Often, symptoms of a TBI are not evident immediately following an injury. For example, football players may have sudden jolts to the head that cause or contribute to causing a TBI that goes undiagnosed for days, months or even years. The same is true for individuals who sustain head injuries in an isolated accident. The symptoms of a TBI may not be apparent right away. As such, it is important that any person involved in an accident seek medical attention as soon as possible to evaluate a potential head injury.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)?
The symptoms of a TBI can be the same symptoms that are associated with other medical conditions that have nothing to do with a head injury. As such, many patients may be suffering from a TBI and not even know it. According to the CDC, symptoms of a TBI include the following:
- Difficulty with concentration, memory, listening and the ability to learn new things;
- Exhaustion and lethargy;
- Blurry or fuzzy vision;
- Nausea and/or vomiting, a symptom that often appears early on after suffering a TBI;
- Feeling dizzy;
- Sensitivity to light and noise, which may accompany a headache;
- Emotional or mental changes, such as feeling irritable, nervous, angry, and depressed, among other emotional changes; and
- Sleeping changes, such as sleeping more than usual, sleeping during the day, or difficulty falling asleep.
Depending on the nature of TBI and how serious the TBI is, a patient may experience obvious symptoms right away or may experience symptoms days, weeks, or months following the date of the injury. Therefore, anyone who has sustained a head injury or has a loved one who has suffered a head injury should be aware of the symptoms associated with a TBI so that the injury can be treated properly.
Concussions are common in the United States and are often associated with TBIs that have long-lasting consequences. Although rare, some concussions have the potential to cause blood clots that can be fatal if not treated right away. Having a blood clot in the brain is extremely dangerous and can quickly cause a person’s brain to swell. According to the CDC, symptoms of a blood clot associated with a concussion include, among others, the following:
- A severe and headache that will not go away;
- Slurred speech;
- Chronic vomiting and/or nausea;
- Decreased coordination and balance; and
- Numbness and weakness throughout the body.
When in doubt, a person suffering any symptom of a TBI or blood clot to the brain should seek medical attention right away as the consequences of both a TBI and blood clot can be permanent, and sometimes fatal.
Florida Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Statistics
Hundreds of thousands of individuals suffer TBIs in Florida each year. In 2014 alone, 176,007 people suffered from a TBI, with 3,852 of those individuals dying because of their injuries. Statistics for 2015-2017 are not yet available, but given how prevalent TBIs were in 2014, it would not be shocking if the number of TBIs sustained in Florida has increased over the past few years. Of the 176,007 people who sustained TBIs in Florida in 2014, 21,081 of these individuals were hospitalized for their injuries, and 151,058 of the individuals with TBIs in 2014 were released from a medical center after undergoing treatment in the emergency room.
It is essential to keep in mind that many people who sustain a TBI do not seek any treatment, so these individuals are not accounted for. Therefore, the number of TBIs sustained each year in Florida could exceed well over 200,000. Additionally, many individuals suffering from TBIs may also be suffering from other injuries or illnesses that make it challenging to diagnose the cause of a patient’s symptoms.
Causes of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) in Florida
Elderly individuals are always at a greater risk of falling than individuals in other age groups. Because there is a higher risk of falling in our elderly population, the risk of sustaining a TBI because of a fall is also greater for elderly individuals than for younger age groups. However, TBIs are certainly not limited to our elderly population.
In Florida, the majority of fatal TBIs are associated with firearm-related injuries (such as a gunshot wound to the head). Unintentional falls are the foremost cause of TBI for individuals who are hospitalized for their injuries. Regardless of age, any fall can result in a TBI if the person falling cannot protect his or her head. After all, most of us do not wear helmets while walking or driving. A TBI can be sustained at any time in the blink of an eye, just as a car accident can occur without warning in a matter of seconds.
Other causes of TBIs aside from blunt-force trauma to the head and falls are sports-related head injuries, such as concussions sustained while playing football. Repeated bumps on the head may result in a TBI even if the individual bumps on the head are not severe. With a sport like football, most players are bumping their heads at least once every game, which could contribute to the development of a TBI. In fact, many NFL players have been diagnosed with TBIs that developed after years of blows and bumps to the head, demonstrating that a TBI can be sustained immediately or gradually.
In Florida, the majority of TBI-related deaths occurred in individuals ages 85 and older. TBI-related hospitalizations affected TBI victims between the ages of 75 and 84 more so than any other age group. However, individuals between the ages of 15 and 24 accounted for the majority of TBI-related emergency room visits. Overall, the statistics in Florida demonstrate the vulnerability of elderly individuals who sustain TBIs.
Filing a Traumatic Brain Injury or Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Florida
If a person suffers a TBI because of an auto accident, slip and fall accident in a nursing home, or workplace accident, among others, that person may be entitled to compensation depending on the unique facts of the situation. As with any other injury sustained in an accident, there are damages associated with a TBI, and often, the damages are worse for a TBI than they are for other injuries, such as fractured bones or soft-tissue injuries. To pursue a Florida personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit for a TBI, the injured individual (or representative of a deceased victim) must prove that another person or party negligently caused the TBI.
For example, if an intoxicated driver causes an accident that results in another driver or passenger sustaining a TBI, the TBI victim can hold the drunk driver accountable by filing a lawsuit. While it is improbable to predict the outcome of a particular lawsuit, if it is clear that negligent conduct caused a person to suffer injuries, and the injuries resulted in measurable damages, the injured individual has a good chance of recovering compensation. Measurable damages include pain and suffering, lost wages, medical expenses and loss of a chance to earn money in the future because of an inability to work. However, it is important to discuss compensation and possible case outcomes with a qualified attorney.
The Statute of Limitations for Lawsuits Alleging Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs)
Florida law places limitations on how much time a person has to file a lawsuit. Additionally, different laws apply depending on the type of lawsuit being filed. In Florida, an injured person must file a personal injury lawsuit no later than four years after an injury is sustained. The time of the injury is typically the time when an accident happened that caused the injury. However, because it is not always easy to determine if a person has a TBI until days, weeks or months after an accident happens, a person has four years from the date he or she became aware that a TBI was caused by a prior accident to file a lawsuit. For example, if a person is involved in a car accident, but does not experience symptoms of a TBI until two months after the accident, he or she will have four years from the date of diagnosis of a TBI to file a lawsuit.
If a person has suffered a fatal TBI, a representative of the victim’s estate (usually a surviving spouse or adult child) must file a wrongful death lawsuit no later than two years after the victim’s date of death. This statute of limitation is very strict, and it is unlikely that an exception will apply that allows a wrongful death lawsuit to be filed more than two years after a person’s date of death.
The statute of limitations is very significant in every personal injury or wrongful death case, and it is not unusual for injured victims to wait too long to speak with an attorney. When the time has run out, there is simply nothing an attorney can do to help, and this can be devastating for severely injured individuals. Therefore, acting quickly to speak with an attorney after sustaining a TBI is a good step to ensure there is still enough time to file a lawsuit.
Pursuing a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Lawsuit in Florida – What to Expect
The legal process can be very slow, especially in a heavily populated state like Florida where numerous individuals suffer personal injuries every day. When pursuing legal action, an injured person should expect the process to take well over one year, with some lawsuits lasting three or more years. While the process can be slow, the result is well worth it if an injured victim can receive compensation for his or her suffering. Individuals who have suffered a TBI, or who is representing a love done who has sustained a TBI, should expect to go through the following process when considering and pursuing legal action:
- Initial Consultation – Every case starts with a free consultation with an attorney to discuss the basic facts of the case and possible legal options that are available under Florida law.
- Case Decision – After the free consultation, the attorney will review the potential case and decide to accept or reject the case. If a case is rejected, the attorney will explain the reason for rejection.
- The Lawsuit – Once both the attorney and client decide to move forward with legal action, a lawsuit is filed. Depending on the facts of the case, it may be possible to seek resolution or settlement of the case before going to court.
- Discovery – After a lawsuit is filed, the parties exchange information about the allegations in the case (i.e., medical records, accident reports, policies and procedures, and witness statements, etc.), take depositions of fact witnesses and experts, and produce expert reports. The discovery process can take a very long time as significant information is needed to prepare for trial.
- Mediation or Settlement Negotiations – Settlement is often discussed throughout the entire case process, especially during mediation, but cases are typically not settled until closer to trial after the parties have gathered extensive evidence about a person’s injuries and what caused those injuries.
- Trial – If a case has not settled by the time a trial begins, then a case will be heard before a jury. Settlement negotiations may continue during the trial, with some cases settling right before a case goes to the jury for a decision. A trial is typically scheduled at least 1-2 years after a lawsuit is filed.
- Appeal – After a jury has returned a verdict, the losing party will likely appeal the decision, and the entire appeals process can take two or more years to conclude.
Because the legal process is lengthy, many cases settle before trial, especially when it is unclear what a jury will decide after hearing all of the facts. As such, many clients agree to settle claims before going to trial as there is more certainty that they will receive compensation. However, a decision to go to trial is ultimately up to the injured client, and any decision should be discussed thoroughly with an attorney.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Florida Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs)
Can a TBI get worse over time?
It depends. Because there are varying degrees of TBIs, a qualified physician must perform a physical examination of a patient as well as perform diagnostic testing to determine the type and severity of a TBI. If a TBI is a mild concussion, symptoms may subside, and the injured individual could make a full recovery. However, if a TBI is more severe, the symptoms could get worse over time.
What if I do not know if someone else is at fault for causing my TBI?
Finding the person or party responsible for causing a TBI is not always easy, especially if there are multiple parties involved. Therefore, a person who has suffered a TBI must first speak with an attorney before determining what party is to blame. For example, if someone slips, trips or falls in a grocery store, and sustains a severe TBI, he or she may not know who is to blame. The responsible party could be the grocery store itself, the store manager, an employee, or even a fellow customer. The specific facts of an accident will help to determine who, if anyone, is responsible for a person’s TBI.
Are TBIs permanent?
It depends. The more severe a TBI is, the more likely it is that the TBI is permanent. However, every person is different, so it is difficult to anticipate whether a TBI will “go away” over time or stick around forever. Also, while a TBI itself may be permanent, the symptoms may not be, so with proper medical treatment, symptoms may be managed in such a way that a permanent TBI is not as noticeable.
How much money am I likely to receive if I am successful in receiving compensation through a settlement or at trial?
It depends. The more severe a TBI is, the more damage that TBI has caused the injured victim and his or her loved ones. As such, if a person is successful in obtaining compensation from a settlement or jury verdict at trial, the amount of compensation is likely to be commensurate with the severity of the injury. For example, a person who is unable to work because of a severe TBI and who has chronic symptoms is likely to receive more compensation than an individual who has a TBI but is still able to function normally form day-to-day.
Contact Parker Waichman LLP Today to Schedule Your Free Consultation
If a loved one has sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI), it is important to act quickly if you believe another person or party is to blame. Waiting too long to speak with an attorney after sustaining a TBI can bar you from filing a lawsuit against the responsible party. At Parker Waichman LLP, our Florida Personal Injury Attorneys have years of experience handling cases that involve severe and debilitating TBIs. With the support of our legal team, you will have a good understanding of your legal options. If you would like a free consultation with one of our Florida Personal Injury Attorneys about your situation, contact Parker Waichman LLP today by calling (800) YOUR-LAWYER (968-7529). We have a team of Spanish-speaking attorneys, paralegals, and staff members to assist our Spanish-speaking clients.
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