Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are one of the most difficult and challenging catastrophic injuries. The effects of brain injuries can range from relatively minor physical and mental limitations to a long-term coma or permanent vegetative state. These disabilities vary depending on the severity of the injury, the location of the injury and the age and general health of the person. Brain injury attorneys specialize in helping victims of TBI.
At the time of the injury and for a considerable period afterward, it may not be clear how a brain-injured person will recover and what functions they may regain. Recovery in this type of injury is very slow and can take years.
Hiring a lawyer as soon as possible after your personal injury accident is imperative. However, the injured person may not be mentally or physically capable of making this decision after the accident. A spouse, parent, member of the family or person with power of attorney should take the initiative immediately and select a law firm with extensive experience in personal injury lawsuits for brain injuries.
Brain Injury Accident Statistics
According to the Mayo Clinic, a traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when an external mechanical force causes an injury to the brain. A violent blow or jolt to the head or body usually causes a TBI, but it can also be caused when an object like a bullet, hard object or piece of bone penetrates the skull. In some cases, acceleration alone can cause this type of injury, for example, when someone is thrown from a speeding bicycle or running horse.
Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that at a minimum 1.7 million traumatic brain injuries occur annually. Close to 75% of these TBIs are concussions or other mild forms of injury.
Approximately 1.365 million people received treatment for a TBI in an emergency room in 2010 and 275,000 of those were hospitalized. About a third of these emergency room visits were by children from infants to 14 years old.
TBI is a contributing factor in 30.5% of all injury-related deaths in the United States. (CDC)
Head Injuries Caused by Personal Injury Accidents
The most common causes of brain injuries are falls, motor vehicle and other traffic accidents, blows (being struck by an object or striking an object) and assaults. Sports injuries account for a significant number of brain injuries in children and teenagers.
Tripping or slipping in a premises liability case can cause injuries including concussions, damage to the head, memory loss as well as brain injury. Construction workers can also sustain head and brain injuries while working on a job site or construction project.
Falls. Falls in homes, public places and businesses are often caused by unsafe conditions. For example, if someone falls in a business, the fall could be caused by something done by the owner of the business or their employee. The fall could also be the result of safety issues or poor maintenance by the owner of the property.
Third parties hired by a business owner or a property owner can also be responsible for an accident. For example, a cleaning service could leave pails and mops where someone could trip over them. If a person was injured because of this carelessness, both the cleaning service and the business that hired them could share liability for the accident.
Traffic Accidents. In traffic accidents, a large number of “hidden” factors can contribute to or cause an accident. These might include defects in design or manufacture of a vehicle or a part as well as poor maintenance or repairs. Governmental agencies may also share responsibility for a traffic accident if they failed to maintain safe conditions or caused a hazardous construction situation.
Injuries in sports or other activities. People sometimes receive head injuries while participating in sports or other activities. In these situations, the organizers or individuals running the event might not have taken care to assure that people wore appropriate safety gear and helmets or that the activities were monitored and conducted safely.
Assaults. Assaults are another major cause of brain injuries. In cases where the injury is caused by an assault, there may be criminal issues involved as well as the civil issues required to receive compensation for a serious head injury. Sometimes, too, the police or other government officials may use unlawful force that causes severe injuries.
Questions of Liability
Determining who is responsible for a serious injury can be a difficult and challenging task, even though the causes of an accident might have seemed clear at the time of the injury. However, there are critical questions that should be asked to determine what other factors could have contributed to or caused an accident. Identifying all the individuals, organizations and agencies that have responsibility for an accident is a critical element in pursuing and winning a personal injury lawsuit for a brain injury.
Liability questions may become more complicated for example, if the accident producing injury occured in a 7 car collision. Then complex questions and arguments may arise as to who bears the brunt of the liability and therefore must pay their share of the damages the plaintiff sustained. This is when liability may be questionable and not as clear cut.
What Compensation is Available to Brain Injury Accident Victims?
Serious brain injuries require extensive long-term medical care, therapy and rehabilitation. For example, about half of the people hospitalized for a brain injury require at least one surgery. The following are sources of compensation under California Law for accident victims.
- Medical care and costs including hospital bills, treatment related to the accident, surgery and more (past and future).
- Loss of income or lost earning capacity (if ongoing or permanent).
- Pain and suffering.
- Loss of consortium between spouses (loss of love, support and deprivation of benefits of the relationship).
According to the Brain Trauma Foundation, at least 5.3 million American currently live with disabilities resulting from traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). TBIs may also cause additional medical issues and problems a considerable time after the initial injury. Moderate and severe head injuries, for example, increase a person's risk of developing Alzheimer's disease later in life.
With these kinds of long-term statistics, compensation for a brain injury must cover immediate costs of medical care, rehabilitation and therapy as well as lost wages and other costs. It must also provide the resources for the injured person to live comfortably with necessary medical care for life.
Jacoby & Meyers Accident Attorneys Can Help You Get Medical Treatment you Need
The nature of a brain injury and the long recovery period may make it difficult or impossible for the injured person him or herself to hire a lawyer and bring a personal injury lawsuit. It is critical to start a lawyer working on this type of case as soon as possible, so a spouse, parent, other family member or person with power of attorney should act on the person’s behalf and hire a lawyer immediately.
Brain injury cases are complex to prove and to take to court. Since the injured person's recovery can take months or years, it can be difficult to arrive at a settlement with the individuals or organization(s) responsible for the accident.
Establishing responsibility for the injury and determining appropriate compensation often require complex investigation and research as well as analysis by medical, economic and other experts.
Types of Traumatic Brain Injuries
The law allows victims of brain injuries to receive compensation for the following types of injuries when they are caused by the actions of a negligent third party:
Diffuse Axonal Injury
A diffuse axonal injury occurs when rotational forces cause the brain to impact against the rigid skull, which causes the nerve tissue and structures of the brain to tear.
Concussions are the most common form of traumatic brain injuries and are caused by violent shaking or blows to the head.
A contusion is essentially a bruise on the brain that is caused by an impact to the head.
This type of TBI occurs when an impact to the head causes a contusion at the site of the impact as well as on the opposite side of the brain where it was slammed into the skull following the initial impact.
Second Impact Injuries
Second impact injuries occur when an individual receives a second head injury before the first injury has had a chance to completely heal.
Regardless of the type of injury, prompt medical attention is required to repair the damage and limit the potential for complications and permanent disability. Diagnosing and treating head injuries typically requires expensive tests, medical procedures, and rehabilitation to help the victim regain as much function as possible. Depending on the severity of the injury and the area of the brain involved, it is possible that the individual may never be able to work or function independently again. In these instances, accident victims normally turn to the courts to seek compensation for their short and long-term damages.Click here to learn about the types of accidents that typically cause brain injuries. Such accidents include slip and falls and automobile, truck and motorcycle accidents.
The California Accident Lawyers at Jacoby & Meyers have a well-established track record of pursuing and winning personal injury cases for brain injury victims. With more than 44 years as an operating firm, the Law Offices of Jacoby & Meyers have the resources and experience to pursue and win this type of case.