Traumatic Brain Injury and Your Legal Rights
Of all types of injury, a neurological injury is one of the most likely to result in death or permanent disability. Estimates of traumatic brain injury (TBI) incidence, severity, and cost reflect the enormous losses to individuals, their families, and society when these injuries occur. According to the CDC, each year, more than 80,000 Americans survive a hospitalization for a traumatic brain injury, but are discharged with TBI-related disabilities. Twenty-two percent of those who have a TBI will die from their injuries.
Today, more than 5.3 million Americans are living with a TBI-related disability. The risk of having a TBI is especially high among adolescents, young adults, and people older than 75. For people of all ages, the risk of a TBI for males is twice that for females. The leading causes of TBI are motor vehicle crashes, violence, and falls, all of which are often not the injured person’s fault. If this has happened to you, the experienced brain injury attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP can help. Call today for a free consultation to learn about your legal rights and how you may be able to get compensation through a head injury lawsuit.
What Is a TBI?
Injury to the brain caused by the application of force to the head and/or body is known as a traumatic brain injury. Brain injuries, especially concussions, can be sustained even when the head does not contact another object. For instance, a blow to the body can cause the head to be quickly whipped back and forth, and the jarring of the brain in the skull then causes a concussion. The severity of a brain injury depends on how it was acquired and the force applied.
Seeking Justice Through a Traumatic Brain Injury Lawsuit
If you have sustained a traumatic brain injury, a lawyer can help you to determine your legal rights. Most brain injury lawsuits will fall under the umbrella of negligence, especially if you were injured in an accident like a car crash or a slip and fall, but there are exceptions. For instance, if your injury came at the hands of a doctor, then your TBI lawyer may help you to pursue medical malpractice litigation. And if you were injured while using a faulty product, you might consider filing a product liability lawsuit. Regardless of what caused the injury, the laws violated usually pertain to negligence in some way.
Each head injury lawsuit is unique, requiring different types of experts to provide testimony about the different facets of brain injury claims and associated injuries. Expert witnesses can help to paint a clear picture of what you and your loved ones are going through and outline the challenges you’re likely to face in the years ahead. When you work with the experienced traumatic brain injury attorneys at Parker Waichman, we’ll secure the expert testimony needed to portray the full extent of the damage to your health and happiness.
Pursuing brain injury claims can be daunting, and the process is filled with complex filing requirements and deadlines. Thankfully, a talented traumatic brain injury attorney at our firm can handle all of the details and stress for you, leaving you free to focus on your recovery. A Parker Waichman traumatic brain injury lawyer will make sure that every aspect of your case is dealt with skillfully and promptly, and we’ll keep you informed and answer your questions along the way to make sure you always know where your case stands.
Get a Free Consultation With Our Head Injury Lawyers
If you think you may need a brain injury compensation lawyer, don’t delay: Statutes of limitations can affect your right to file a lawsuit, and if you don’t meet these deadlines, you may lose your chance to pursue a settlement forever. Call Parker Waichman today and you can get a free consultation with an experienced traumatic brain injury lawyer with absolutely no obligation. We evaluate traumatic brain injury cases and answer questions for free to help people determine whether they should move forward with a traumatic brain injury lawsuit. To learn about your legal rights, just fill out our online contact form or call 1-800-YOUR-LAWYER (1-800-968-7529) today.
How Do Traumatic Brain Injuries Happen?
Traumatic brain injuries can happen in many ways. According to the Mayo Clinic, some of the most frequently cited causes of a TBI are car accidents, truck accidents, pedestrian accidents, bicycling accidents, slip and fall accidents, and playing sports.
- Car crashes, including truck crashes, pedestrian accidents, motorcycle crashes, and bicycle accidents account for the majority of accidental TBI cases.
- Falls are another leading cause of TBIs. Older adults and young children are most likely to suffer a TBI from falling. People who work in dangerous areas like construction sites are also at risk, as they’re more likely to encounter situations where they could trip, lose their balance, and fall.
- Participants in team sports and combat sports also encounter frequent head injuries. Football players, soccer players, and hockey players are most vulnerable to head injuries, but a player can suffer a concussion while engaged in any sport in which someone could get hit by a piece of equipment or another participant or fall and hit the floor. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is now widely known to be associated with repeated hits to the head, and it’s been found all too often in athletes. CTE can change a person dramatically, making them violent, aggressive, forgetful, and suicidal.
- For the brave people who serve in our military, proximity to blasts and being struck by shrapnel or debris are also causes of TBIs.
- Victims of crimes such as armed robbery or being shot may also experience traumatic brain injuries.
The majority of traumatic brain injuries are caused by accidents and many innocent people unnecessarily suffer because of the carelessness of others. The economic burden of treating traumatic brain injury patients is between $9 billion and $10 billion per year. The personal impact can be equally devastating: People with a severe traumatic brain injury may incur between $600,000 and $1.9 million in long-term medical costs.
But you don’t have to struggle with all of these effects without help. A skilled traumatic brain injury attorney who has extensive experience with cases such as yours can pursue compensation on your behalf to make your life a little bit easier. When you trust your case to Parker Waichman, you be working with one of the most trusted traumatic brain injury law firms. We’ll fight hard for every penny you and your family deserve.
Brain injuries can have a variety of other causes, too, including physicians who cause TBIs through medical malpractice. For example, if a physician tending to a woman giving birth fails to recognize the need for a cesarean section, this can cause the baby’s brain to be deprived of oxygen, leading to brain damage.
Proving Negligence in Litigation Involving Traumatic Brain Injuries
Understanding the cause of the injury is vital to the success of traumatic brain injury claims. In many instances, the reason for the accident that led to the victim’s TBI will be negligence. To prove that someone was negligent, the plaintiff needs to show:
- The defendant owed a duty of care to the injured person. For instance, every motorist owes a duty of care to other drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists with whom the motorist shares the road. Another example of the duty of care is the duty a physician owes their patient.
- The defendant breached the duty of care by failing or refusing to act reasonably in the circumstances.
- This breach of the duty was the actual and proximate cause of the injuries.
- The victim suffered damages. Damages can include past and future medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
A skilled brain injury attorney can help you to sort out the circumstances of your injury and decide who you should sue and on what grounds. For instance, if you were shopping at a convenience store and a robber hit you in the head with a hard object, you might think that only the robber was to blame, but you may also be able to hold the convenience store liable for your injuries due to their failure to provide adequate security.
Types of Traumatic Brain Injury
Traumatic brain injuries are usually classified as either open or closed. As these classifications might indicate, an open TBI happens when something fractures or penetrates the skull, while a closed TBI does not break the skull.
Medical professionals also classify TBIs by severity, categorizing them as either mild, moderate or severe. But even mild TBIs are nothing to laugh off. Even with a mild TBI, the victim can lose consciousness, become dizzy, become disoriented, and/or suffer from nausea and a tremendous headache. Symptoms of a mild TBI usually last less than 30 minutes.
A moderate TBI is characterized by a more extended period of unconsciousness, short-term memory loss, nausea, and a headache. Moderate TBIs can include a loss of vision or blurred vision as well.
A severe head injury shows massive trauma to the head and endangers the person’s life. A head injury this severe can result in the person falling into a coma and suffering brain damage.
Any injury that causes a loss of consciousness should be seen by a medical professional, even if the victim protests that they do not need treatment. Losing consciousness is a dangerous symptom that must not be taken lightly.
Brain Injury Complications
Complications associated with TBIs can manifest themselves immediately or can develop after the injury initially occurred. Mild concussions generally do not cause complications, but more severe TBIs can cause altered states of consciousness, including:
- Coma: A person falls into a coma when their brain suffers widespread injury. A person in a coma cannot feel, is not conscious, and cannot respond to stimuli. A coma may persist for a lengthy period of time and turn into a vegetative state, or the person can come out of the coma.
- Vegetative State: The victim of a TBI may fall into a vegetative state if the damage to the brain is substantial and widespread. A person in a vegetative state might be able to open their eyes, make sounds, move slightly, and have their reflexes respond to examination, but they have no awareness of their surroundings. A vegetative state may become permanent or might be transitory.
- Minimal Consciousness: Someone who is minimally conscious remains in an altered state but has the ability to be inconsistently self-aware and aware of their surroundings. A minimally conscious state shows a degree of healing in the brain and is usually followed by a higher degree of recovery.
- Brain Death: Brain death is irreversible. If a person is brain dead, they are essentially dead; their brain does not function, and this includes the brain stem, the part that controls breathing. If the person is kept on a ventilator, their heart will be supplied with oxygen, and so it will keep beating for a period of time. But they cannot breathe independently, and once the ventilator is removed, the heart will stop.
A TBI victim may also experience physical complications, such as:
- Seizures: Seizures might only last for a short time after the injury or could have a longer duration. When seizures begin more than a week after the injury, this is known as post-traumatic epilepsy.
- Hydrocephalus: When a person has hydrocephalus, or fluid buildup in the brain, cerebrospinal fluid fills in the open spaces in the brain, called ventricles. This causes the pressure in the skull to rise, resulting in headaches and other problems.
- Infections: When the skull is penetrated, the brain may be exposed to infection. Bacteria can invade the brain through openings in the skin and skull. This can lead to meningitis if not treated immediately.
- Blood Vessel Damage: Damage to blood vessels can be a life-threatening condition. Ruptured or damaged blood vessels can lead to strokes and blood clots.
- Headaches: Headaches are prevalent complications of head injuries. They can last for a few days up to a few months after the onset of injury.
- Vertigo: This is a condition characterized by persistent dizziness or loss of balance. Vertigo is a common side effect of a TBI.
Persistent Post-Traumatic Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injuries
A TBI victim may also experience post-traumatic symptoms that last for a week or longer, potentially even several months. When a person has multiple post-traumatic complications, physicians may diagnose them with “post-concussion syndrome.”
The location of the brain injury can influence which symptoms appear. For instance, an injury at the base of the skull that affects the cranial nerves may cause:
- Facial paralysis or loss of sensation in the facial area
- Loss of or altered sense of smell or taste
- Vision loss, blurred vision or double vision
- Difficulty swallowing
- Heading problems
- Tinnitus or persistent ringing in the ear
TBIs can result in intellectual issues as well. People who experience moderate or severe TBIs suffer from memory problems, learning problems, judgment problems, problems paying attention or concentrating, and reasoning deficiencies, all of which can be permanent. Victims of TBIs can also experience problems with executive functions like organizing, multitasking, problem-solving, planning, and decision-making.
TBI victims also commonly experience difficulties in communicating. They may have trouble thinking clearly or understanding what is being said to them, and they may also struggle to read, write, and/or speak. This can be very frustrating for the victim, their family, and their caregivers because they know what they want to say but cannot articulate it. Problems with communicating can also lead to difficulty socializing. The injury to the brain can prevent people from understanding when it is their turn to talk, how to pick up and interpret nonverbal cues, how to understand or express emotions, and/or what are appropriate topics for discussion.
Behavioral and emotional changes should be expected from a person who suffered a TBI. You may find that the person is more prone to outbursts, taking risks, having difficulty in social situations, becoming depressed, anxious, irritable, and/or moody, and lacking empathy.
Even when brain injuries heal, severe neurological problems can emerge much later. Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and CTE are all known to develop in people who have suffered brain injuries.
Treatment for TBIs
Treatment will differ depending on the seriousness of the injury. Doctors will use a variety of tests to determine the severity of the injury including the Glasgow Coma Scale, CT-scans, X-rays, and MRIs. Surgery might be indicated depending on the nature of the injury such as a displaced skull fracture or repairing a ruptured blood vessel in the brain. Surgery is also needed to remove increased fluid from the brain, and clotted blood called hematomas.
TBI sufferers might need prolonged courses of medication and rehabilitation. TBI victims need to take pills called diuretics to reduce the fluid in their bodies induced by swelling. The victim might require the services of a group of physicians, rehabilitation professionals, and counselors to help them recover. The afflicted person might need to learn to walk and talk again, quite literally. They might need social services to guide them emotionally and get them back into the workforce if they are able. If they are unable, social services will be needed for constant healthcare monitoring and day-to-day tasks, especially if the person’s family is not in a position to render 24-hour care of the individual. Perhaps, then the victim might require living at a rehab facility like a nursing home or skilled living facility.
Types of Monetary Damages for TBI Victims
Monetary damages come in two forms: economic and non-economic. When you work with Parker Waichman’s brain injury lawyers, you can rest assured that we will vigorously pursue justice on your behalf and fight for everything to which you could be entitled. Winning a sizeable financial settlement might not cure the injured person, but it can make your life easier so you can focus on recovery.
A person with a TBI caused by someone else’s actions can recover economic damages for their medical bills, including emergency room visits, ambulance runs, doctors’ bills, diagnostic testing, and hospital stays. You can also recover the costs of future medical care, such as stays at rehabilitation facilities, physical therapy, and in-home nursing care. You can even get compensation for the costs of necessary home renovations, like installing a wheelchair ramp for someone who can no longer walk.
Economic costs also include lost wages and the loss of future financial opportunities. Your TBI attorney can bring in experts such as economists and actuaries to give testimony on how much a victim might have earned over their lifetime and how long they might live given their current state of health.
Non-economic damages are those that cannot be easily calculated: It’s easy to add up the wages lost due to missing time at work, but it’s trickier to quantify the effect the injury has had on the life of the victim and their family. Common noneconomic damages include pain and suffering, loss of value of life, and mental anguish.
Frequently Asked Questions About TBIs and Brain Injury Lawsuits
Can You Get a Brain Injury From a Car Accident?
Yes: It’s common to have a brain injury after a car accident. The severity of these injuries can vary drastically. Some of the most common injuries are concussions, contusions, penetrating head wounds, and coup-contrecoup injuries.
How Long Can You Live With a Brain Injury?
For moderate to severe brain injuries, CDC research has shown that within five years of the injury, about 50% of victims develop worsening conditions or die. However, this also means that nearly half will improve or experience no real change in health; these people can go on to live a long life after a brain injury.
Can a Concussion Cause Permanent Brain Damage?
One concussion will usually not cause permanent damage. However, it is possible for a concussion to cause a serious brain injury, especially if this is not your first concussion. Warning signs to be aware of include motor dysfunction, sensory changes, and difficulties with speech and other cognitive functions, which can present as difficulty focusing, disorientation or overstimulation.
Can I Sue for a Concussion?
If your concussion was caused by the negligence of another party, then yes, you can sue. When you consult a TBI attorney at Parker Waichman, we’ll evaluate your case for free to help you determine who might be liable for your injury and decide whether to file a lawsuit.
How Do You Prove Traumatic Brain Injury?
Medical documents including test results provided by a professional are used to prove traumatic brain injuries. Some of the tests used to prove a brain injury include CT scans, MRIs, and ICP monitoring. When you work with a head trauma attorney at our law firm, we will assemble the records needed to document your injury. We may also call in expert witnesses to testify about the severity of your injury and its effects.
How Much Is a Head Injury Lawsuit Worth?
One of the first questions that people ask when trying to understand their TBI legal rights is, “How much compensation do you get for brain injury claims?” The average compensation for head injury claims is hard to pin down because settlements and jury awards can vary widely depending on the circumstances of each case, but it’s normal for traumatic brain injury court cases to settle for $100,000 or more. Claims in the millions aren’t unusual, either.
How Much Is a Concussion Worth in a Lawsuit?
Often, a brain injury lawsuit that centers around a concussion will pay out between $20,000 and $80,000, but since concussions can vary in severity, the amount any case is worth will differ. It’s possible to get upwards of $125,000 from your claim if your injuries are particularly serious. When you talk to a TBI lawyer at our firm, we’ll give you an idea of how much your case might be worth.
Is a TBI Considered a Disability?
A TBI is not a disability on its own, but it can cause disabilities. About 80,000 Americans develop long-term disabilities from TBIs each year.
Can I Get Disability for a Brain Injury?
Yes, it’s possible to get disability benefits from the Social Security Administration for a TBI. You will need to present medical documentation of the nature of your injury when your disability application is assessed. The evidence needed often overlaps with the evidence gathered by your TBI lawyer, so this is another way your attorney can help you get compensation.
How Much Is a Brain Injury Case Worth to Workers’ Comp?
Workers’ comp settlements for TBIs sustained on the job typically range from $75,000 up to $205,000 and average around $97,000. As is often the case, the amount of compensation depends on the extent of the injuries and damages.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Traumatic Brain Injuries?
Each state has a different statute of limitations, and the circumstances that caused the TBI will also affect how long you have to file a legal claim. In many cases, you’ll have as little as a year or as long as three years to sue, but it’s impossible to know the precise deadline for your claim without talking to a lawyer. When you call our brain injury attorneys for a free consultation, we’ll examine the facts and circumstances of your case and calculate the statute of limitations to ensure that we have enough time to build a strong case on your behalf.
Why Choose Parker Waichman for Your Brain Injury Lawsuit?
If you’ve been searching for a “brain injury lawyer near me,” you can count on our attorneys to deliver the results you need. Our lawyers are dedicated to superior advocacy, and we are proud to have received honors from the legal community and beyond, including:
- A 9.8 (out of a perfect 10) rating from AVVO
- The highest possible peer-review rating from Martindale-Hubbell
- The highest ranking of “5 Dragons” based on peer review by Lawdragon
- Listing in Best Lawyers, determined by extensive peer review
Call Today for Help With Your Traumatic Brain Injury Claim
Parker Waichman’s experienced traumatic brain injury attorneys are here to help you understand your legal rights, and we’d be glad to provide a free case evaluation with absolutely no obligation. We’ll assess your claim, answer your questions, and give you our opinion on what steps you should take next. If you sign on with us, we’ll take your case at no cost to you: We’ll only get paid from a portion of your jury verdict or settlement. Call Parker Waichman today at 1-800-YOUR-LAWYER (1-800-968-7529) or fill out our client contact form to see what we can do for you.
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