Traumatic Brain Injury
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Plaintiffs' Law Firm Discusses How You Can Maximize Your Potential Recovery
Traumatic Brain Injury, or TBI for short, are very dangerous, and potentially lethal, injuries. Car accidents, truck accidents, pedestrian accidents, bicycling accidents, slip and fall accidents, and playing sports are all major causes of head injuries. Head injuries range in severity from a cut or laceration to a concussion accompanied by loss of consciousness, coma, brain damage, and death.
The road to recovery from a traumatic brain injury can be long and difficult. In some of the most serious cases that do not result in the death of the victim, the victim might never walk again or might need to learn to walk, to speak, and learn to be independent again. The expense of rehabilitation from a traumatic brain injury can be overwhelming; so, too, is the burden upon the victim’s family. If the victim is a child, then the child’s parents must devote their time, resources, and attention to the injured child at times to the exclusion of their other children, their professions, and any leisure time they might otherwise have. The same sacrifices must be made by the family of an adult victim suffering from a TBI. In addition, the family of the adult TBI victim may need to find some way of replacing the income the victim lost due to the injury and make up for the potential loss of future economic advances and opportunities.
Parker Waichman LLP Investigating Claims Relating to Traumatic Brain Injury
If you or your loved one sustained a TBI, you can count on the Traumatic Brain Injury lawyers at Parker Waichman LLP to use their experience, training, resources, and knowledge to obtain the largest settlement or award possible on your behalf. The Traumatic Brain Injury attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP emphasize with your financial and emotional struggle you are now facing because your family member suffered a TBI as a result of the negligence or intentional act of another. That is why our firm will aggressively fight on your behalf to maximize your potential financial reward.
The Occurrence of Traumatic Brain Injuries
As referenced above, traumatic brain injuries can happen in many ways. The severity of a brain injury depends on how it occurred and the force applied to the head at contact with another object. Brain injuries and concussions, in particular, can occur even when the head does not contact another object. Instead, the jarring of the brain in the skull causes the concussion. According to the Mayo Clinic, some of the most frequently cited causes for TBI are:
- Falls account for many of the TBIs people suffer. Falls and car accidents cause the most cases of TBI annually, and older adults and young children are most sensitive to suffering a TBI from falling. However, people who work in dangerous areas like construction sites might encounter situations where they could trip, lose their balance, and fall.
- Car crashes, including truck crashes, pedestrian accidents, motorcycle crashes, and bicycle accidents account for the majority of accidental TBI cases.
- 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. Notwithstanding, a player can suffer a concussion while engaged in any sport where there lies a chance someone could get hit by a piece of equipment, another participant, or fall and strike the floor.
- The proximity to blasts and being struck by shrapnel or debris, especially those brave men and women in our military may be victims of TBI. Additionally, victims of crime such as armed robbery or being shot account for potential sources of TBI.
There are other means of sustaining traumatic brain injuries. For example, physicians may cause a TBI through malpractice. One example would be medical malpractice causing TBI during childbirth. If the physician fails to take the actions that are medically prudent under the circumstances, such as waiting too long to perform a Cesarean-Section, the newborn’s brain might be deprived of blood and oxygen. Any deprivation of blood or oxygen to the brain will cause the brain cells to die, which leads to brain damage.
Proving Negligence in Traumatic Brain Injuries
Understanding the cause of the traumatic brain injury is vital to the success of the legal claim for damages the victim could make. In many instances, the reason for the accident which led to the victim’s TBI will be negligence. To prove that someone was negligent, the victim of the TBI, who will be named as a plaintiff in a lawsuit, needs to show:
- The defendant owed a duty of care to the injured person. For instance, every motorist owes a duty of care to the 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 his or her patient.
- The defendant breached the duty of care by failing or refusing to act reasonably in the circumstances.
- The breach of the duty was the actual and proximate cause of the injuries.
- The victim suffered damages. Damages, as will be explained later, can be past and future medical expenses lost wages, as well as pain and suffering.
As we have said, however, intentional acts contribute to the occurrence of a TBI. If, for example, a person was the patron of a convenience store and was injured when he was hit in the head with a hard object by the perpetrator of a robbery, the perpetrator is guilty of armed robbery and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. Typically, others are not responsible for the intentional acts of another. However, the convenience store might be liable for those injuries for failure to provide adequate security, for example.
TBIs are also common in football and soccer players. Many professional athletes have claimed that they were not warned about the dangers of the sport claiming that teams, team doctors, coaches, and leagues hid from its players that massive damage constant contact with the head may cause serious brain damage, especially after having suffered pervious concussions. The phrase was, “You got dinged up.” You shook it off and went back in.
That mentality of shaking it off or dismissing a concussion because you could somehow fight through the haze of being hit in the head must be eradicated from sports. Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is now widely known as one TBI associated with repeated hits to the head, irrespective of whether the hits caused concussions. CTE has been discovered in athletes and military personnel as well. CTE changes a person dramatically. It can make them violent, aggressive, forgetful, and suicidal.
Degrees of Traumatic Brain Injury
Medical professionals classify TBIs into three district categories: mild, moderate, or severe. Mild TBIs are nothing to laugh off. There is a chance, even with a mild TBI, that you can lose consciousness, become dizzy, become disoriented, and suffer from nausea and a tremendous headache. The head injury might be considered mild because the symptoms are of relatively short duration lasting 30 minutes or so.
A moderate TBI is recognized by a more extended period of unconsciousness, short-term memory loss, also accompanied by nausea and a headache. Moderate TBIs can include a loss of vision or blurred vision as well.
A severe head injury indicated massive trauma to the head where the person’s life is in grave danger. A head injury this severe could result in the person falling into a coma and suffering brain damage.
Medical assistance must be rendered anytime a person loses consciousness. They should be brought to a nearby hospital for examination and observation even if they protest that they do not require emergent medical attention. Losing consciousness is a dangerous medical condition that must not be taken lightly.
Brain Injury Complications
Any brain injury can have complications. The complications associated with TBIs can manifest themselves immediately after the onset of injury or can develop after the injury initially occurred. Mild concussions generally do not generate any complications. However, people who suffered a moderate to severe head injury can experience difficulties from their injury which manifest as altered states of consciousness. Complications include:
- 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 any stimuli whatsoever. 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, or move slightly, and have their reflexes respond to examination. A vegetative state may become permanent or might be transitory. It all depends on the amount of damage the brain suffered during the traumatic event.
- Minimal consciousness is the state of being where the person remains in an altered state but has the ability to be somewhat self-aware and know his or her surroundings. A minimally conscious state shows a degree of healing in the brain and is usually succeeded by a higher degree of recovery. That recovery might not be a complete recovery to the person he or she was before the incident, but they are removed from a coma or vegetative state.
- Brain death is irreversible. Basically, there is no brain activity except in the one area that controls a heartbeat that remains alive. People who are in a state of brain death cannot breathe independently, and removal from the ventilator will result in actual death.
There are physical complications a TBI victim could experience in addition to an altered state of consciousness. Common physical complications are:
- Seizures might only last for a short time after suffering the injury or could have a longer duration. The longer a person suffers from seizures after the incident is called “post-traumatic epilepsy.”
- Hydrocephalus or fluid build-up in the brain. Cerebrospinal fluids fill in the open spaces in the brain, called ventricles. That causes the pressure in the skull to rise resulting in headaches and other problems.
- Infections can occur from a skull fracture or a wound that enters the skull. Bacteria invade the brain through the openings in the skin and skull. This can lead to meningitis is not treated immediately.
- Damage to blood vessels. 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 on-set on the injury.
- Vertigo. This is a condition noted by persistent dizziness or loss of balance. Vertigo is another common side effect of a TBI.
Post Traumatic Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injuries
The TBI victim could suffer from additional post-traumatic symptoms. They might last for a short time such as a week or could last for several months. Physicians consider one symptom a “persistent post-concussive symptom,” while multiple complications are described as “post-concussion syndrome.”
The location of the brain injury can influence specific complications or symptoms. For instance, an injury inflicted at the base of the skull which affects the cranial nerves will produce particular symptoms associated with an injury to that area. Those signs are:
- 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;
- Dizziness; and
- Tinnitus or persistent ringing in the ear.
As if the physical problems were not enough, TBIs can result in intellectual issues as well. People who experience moderate or severe TBIs will suffer from some cognitive difficulty. It might not be permanent. However, it can be depending on the severity of the injury. The cognitive challenges a person could suffer include memory problems, learning problems, judgment problems, problems paying attention or concentrating, and reasoning deficiencies.
Victims of TBI might suffer from complications with their executive functions as well. Problems with executive functions that people who have suffered a TBI experience include organizing, multi-tasking, problem-solving, planning, and decision making.
TBI victims commonly experience complications with communicating. Their brain injuries might prevent them from thinking clearly or understanding what is being said to them. Communication problems afflict many TBI victims. Unfortunately, communication problems are very frustrating for the victim, their family, and their caregivers because they know what they want to say but cannot articulate it. Communication difficulties include reading and writing as well as speaking and understanding. Also, thoughts might not be apparent and their thinking muddled.
It follows in turn that problems with communicating lead to difficulties socializing. The injury to the brain can prevent people from understanding when it is their turn to talk, how to pick up and interpret non-verbal cues, lacking the ability to understand or express emotions, and selecting appropriate topics for discussion.
Behavioral and emotional changes should be expected from a person who suffered a TBI. Those changes can prove to be very challenging to deal with, not only for the victim but also that person’s family and friends. Therefore, you might expect to see changes in the person becoming prone to outbursts, taking risks, having difficulty in social situations, becoming depressed, anxious, irritable, moody, lacking empathy, and given to become angrier than normal.
Brain injuries that have healed may give way to more severe cognitive problems. Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and CTE, discussed above, are 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.
Monetary Damages for TBI Victims
Each claim has a unique set of circumstances such that it is impossible to compare one to the next. Money damages come in two forms: economic and non-economic. Rest assured that Parker Waichman’s Brain Injury Lawyers 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 lives easier so you can focus on nursing the TBI victim back to health.
A person who suffered from TBI can recover economic damages for their medical bills. These include emergency room visits, ambulance runs, doctors’ bills, diagnostic testing, and hospital stays. Also, medical bills include the possibility of future medical costs. Those costs could include stays at rehabilitation facilities, construction at the home to meet the needs of the injured like installing a wheelchair ramp, and funds for the constant healthcare of the injured. The future medical costs could be extraordinary depending on the severity of the injury and the length of the recovery.
Economic costs include lost wages and loss of future anticipated financial opportunities. Parker Waichman LLP has successfully used expert witnesses in the past such as economists and actuaries to demonstrate how much a victim might earn over their lifetime and how long they might live given their current state of health.
Non-economic damages cannot be easily calculated as economic damages can. Non-economic damages take into consideration the effect the injury has had on the life of the victim and sought just compensation for their loss. Common non-economic damages imposed by judges and juries include pain and suffering, loss of value of life, mental anguish, and the like.
The Statute of Limitations for Traumatic Brain Injuries
Each state has a different statutory scheme for statute of limitations, but many have a three-year statute of limitations for negligence actions. Other states might choose a shorter timeframe. If medical malpractice caused the victim’s TBI, the statute of limitations for that claim might be shorter. Again, the amount of time will depend on the particular state in which you wish to file. Some states have a shorter window for wrongful death suits too.
Parker Waichman’s Brain Injury Attorneys will make certain that they protect your rights by filing your claim prior to the applicable statute of limitations running out.
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Turn to Parker Waichman LLP for Help Pursuing Your Traumatic Brain Injury Claim
Parker Waichman’s traumatic brain injury attorneys will provide you with a complimentary case review. Call them today to find out how they can make the difference for you and your family. Call Parker Waichman LLP today at 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529) or fill out our client contact form.