Traumatic Brain Injury and The Law
A Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is any damage caused to the brain by an external force of impact or penetration, such as a bump, blow, jolt or other injury. As the brain collides with the inside of the skull, there may be bruising of the brain, tearing of nerve fibers and bleeding. If the skull fractures, a broken piece of skull may penetrate the brain tissue.
Causes include falls, sports injuries, gunshot wounds, physical aggression, and road traffic accidents.
The definition of TBI has not been consistent and tends to vary according to specialties and circumstances. Often, the term brain injury is used synonymously with head injury, which may not be associated with neurologic deficits.
Traumatic brain injury can have wide-ranging physical and psychological effects. Some signs or symptoms may appear immediately after the traumatic event, while others may appear days or weeks later. A concussion is the mildest type. It can cause a headache or neck pain, nausea, ringing in the ears, dizziness, and tiredness.
Mild Traumatic Brain Injury
The signs and symptoms of mild traumatic brain injury may include:
- Loss of consciousness for a few seconds to a few minutes
- No loss of consciousness, but a state of being dazed, confused or disoriented
- Fatigue or drowsiness
- Nausea or vomiting
- Problems with speech
- Difficulty sleeping
- Sleeping more than usual
- Dizziness or loss of balance
- Blurred vision
- Ringing in the ears
- Bad taste in the mouth
- Changes in the ability to smell
- Sensitivity to light or sound
Cognitive or mental symptoms
- Memory or concentration problems
- Mood changes or mood swings
- Feeling depressed or anxious
Moderate to Severe Traumatic Brain Injuries
Moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries can include any of the signs and symptoms of mild injury, as well as these symptoms that may appear within the first hours to days after a head injury:
- Loss of consciousness from several minutes to hours
- Persistent headache or headache that worsens
- Convulsions or seizures
- Repeated vomiting or nausea
- Dilation of one or both pupils of the eyes
- Clear fluids draining from the nose or ears
- Inability to awaken from sleep
- Weakness or numbness in fingers and toes
- Loss of coordination
Cognitive or mental symptoms
- Profound confusion
- Unusual behavior such as agitation or combativeness
- Slurred speech
- Coma and other disorders of consciousness
Infants and young children with brain injuries might not be able to communicate headaches, sensory problems, confusion and similar symptoms. In a child with traumatic brain injury, you may observe:
- Unusual or easy irritability
- Persistent crying and inability to be consoled
- Change in ability to pay attention
- Change in sleep habits
- Change in eating or nursing habits
- Sad or depressed mood
- Loss of interest in favorite toys or activities
Approximately half of severely head-injured patients will need surgery to remove or repair hematomas (ruptured blood vessels) or contusions (bruised brain tissue). Disabilities resulting from a TBI depend upon the severity of the injury, the location of the injury, and the age and general health of the individual. Some common disabilities include problems with sensory processing (sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell), cognition (thinking, memory, and reasoning), communication (expression and understanding), and behavior or mental health (depression, anxiety, personality changes, aggression, acting out, and social inappropriateness).
More serious head injuries may result in stupor, an unresponsive state, but one in which an individual can be aroused briefly by a strong stimulus, such as sharp pain; coma, a state in which an individual is totally unconscious, unresponsive, unaware, and unarousable; vegetative state, in which an individual is unconscious and unaware of his or her surroundings, but continues to have a sleep-wake cycle and periods of alertness; and a persistent vegetative state (PVS), in which an individual stays in a vegetative state for more than a month.
4 Reasons You Need a Lawyer for Your Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Claim
- Even “Mild” Brain Injuries Can Be Life Changing
Anyone who has ever experienced, even briefly, the symptoms of a mild concussion — headache, fatigue, fuzziness, confusion, dizziness, forgetfulness — knows that “mild” brain injury is a misnomer. But that said, most people do not suffer any long-term problems.
When doctors categorize brain injuries, they look for signs of life-threatening injuries. Often, however, they do not fully assess a TBI’s impact on a victim’s daily function. Rather than considering the severity of your headache, the ringing in your ears, or the extent of your personality changes, the doctors are focused on evaluating whether you need immediate surgery or other life-saving treatments.
Doctors also take imaging tests such as an MRI and CT scans when grading a TBI, but they typically look for severe bleeding, swelling, and other obvious damage. Unfortunately, much of the damage caused by a brain injury occurs on a near-microscopic level and may not be visible on imaging scans.
- Your Damages Can Be Hard to Establish
How do you calculate the monetary value of a reduced attention span or a relationship that was damaged by TBI symptoms? Without help from an experienced TBI lawyer, translating these types of harm into concrete damages can prove extremely difficult.
Because every brain injury claim is unique and complex, you cannot use a simple online calculator to estimate the value of a claim. Instead, a skilled TBI lawyer should assess the circumstances surrounding the injury, the amount of insurance coverage that applies, and your losses.
An experienced brain injury attorney will know how to calculate a wide range of damages in a TBI lawsuit, including:
- Past and future medical treatment
- Lost income and earning potential
- Occupational therapy and other rehabilitation services
- Loss of companionship or consortium
- Punitive damages for grossly negligent or intentional conduct
- Pain and suffering.
- Many TBI Claims Require Extensive Medical Knowledge and Expert Testimony
The right medical expert can change the course of a TBI injury claim. A so-called “mild” TBI case can struggle afterward with memory problems, dizziness, and dramatic personality changes. While the insurance company may agree to compensate a victim for physical injuries, brain trauma may be more difficult to get compensation for.
Your case might require consultation with some of the most respected and forward-thinking radiologists in the field. In addition, advanced imaging technologies may identify the extent of the brain injury and convince the insurance company to come to a fair settlement.
While not every TBI claim requires an extreme level of expert testimony, our attorneys at Duque Law work with a diverse team of experts to evaluate our clients’ claims when necessary. We frequently draw on the advice and testimony of medical experts such as physicians, rehabilitation specialists, engineers and vocational experts.
- Insurance Companies Try to Take Advantage of Unrepresented TBI Victims
Insurance companies rarely offer fair settlements to TBI victims and their families without an experienced attorney advocating for them. Insurance adjusters are not on your side. The adjuster’s job is to protect the insurance company’s financial bottom line. To accomplish this goal, they scrutinize each claim and look for any reasons they can find to issue a denial.
If you try to handle a TBI claim on your own, the insurance company will not offer you a settlement that reflects the true value of your claim. Even if their sentiments seem genuine, the motive behind them is to make your claim go away while paying you as little as possible. And if you agree to a settlement before you consult a lawyer, you will lose out on any chance for future compensation related to your TBI.
Before you respond to a settlement offer in a TBI case, you should always consult an experienced brain injury lawyer. At Duque Law, we have years of experience handling complex TBI claims, and we offer free, no-risk consultations to help you understand your legal rights and options.
Have You Suffered A Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)?
Cases involving traumatic brain injury are very complex and involve a multitude of legal and medical issues. Even the medical profession continues to consider the inner workings of the brain something of a mystery. Often, personal injury litigation law firms lack the resources and technical experience to take on a traumatic brain injury case.
Despite traumatic brain injury prevention, if you or a loved one has suffered a brain injury due to somebody’s negligence, a lawsuit can be filed against the responsible party. An experienced brain injury attorney will ensure you receive adequate compensation for your losses.
If you or a loved one has suffered a brain injury and have questions about seeking legal action, call us now at 1-877-241-9554 to learn more about your options. A free consultation is just a phone call away.