How Serious are Traumatic Brain Injuries?
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when the victim suffers a severe blow to the head, which can occur for a variety of reasons. It is the most common cause of death and disability in the country and can result in leaving a person a shell of their former self. A mild TBI may have a temporary impact on one’s brain cells. However, a more severe case can result in serious damage to the brain, including bruising, torn tissues, bleeding, and other physical damage.
About 1.7 million people suffer a TBI each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In addition, almost one-third of the deaths in this country are the result of a TBI. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has estimated that more than five million people have suffered a TBI at some point in their life, resulting in many to have to require basic assistance to handle routine daily activities.
What are the Different Types of Traumatic Brain Injuries?
There are multiple types of TBI and not all of them are severe. Like with most injuries, they range in severity from mild to serious. Regardless of the severity, they could have long-lasting side effects that are not immediately apparent. Some of the different types of TBI include:
- Concussion: One of the more common types of TBI, this injury occurs due to a sudden impact to the head. Specifically, it happens when there is a sudden acceleration or deceleration of the head, causing the brain to slam against the inside of the skull. Victims sometimes have a nauseous or dizzy feeling. Repeated concussions can cause brain damage.
- Hematoma: A hematoma, or blood clot, can build up in the brain causing tremendous pressure. That pressure can lead to permanent brain damage.
- Edema: This involves some swelling where a head or brain injury is located. The problem is that the skull cannot expand to accommodate that swelling, which can result in a build up of pressure, leading to severe brain damage.
- Hemorrhage: This is uncontrolled bleeding in the brain caused by either internal or external head trauma. It can lead to irreversible brain damage.
- Diffuse Axonal Injury: This is a common, yet serious injury due to a sudden acceleration/deceleration, causing abnormal tissue damage in the brain. The result tends to be a coma for the victim.
- Skull Fracture: This happens when an outside object penetrates the skull, or a severe impact cracks the skull. Since the skull cannot fully absorb the blow, skull fractures often result in severe brain damage.
What are the Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injuries?
The types of symptoms a victim of a traumatic brain injury experiences will depend on the severity of the injury itself. For a mild case of TBI, symptoms can include:
- Loss of consciousness for a few seconds to a few minutes
- Nausea or vomiting
- Fatigue or drowsiness
- Problems with speech
- Difficulty sleeping
- Sensitivity to light or sound
- Cognitive or mental symptoms
- Memory or concentration problems
- Mood changes or mood swings
- Feeling depressed or anxious
As the severity of the TBI increases, so do the symptoms. Many appear a few hours after the injury has taken place or can develop a few days later. Among the symptoms for a moderate or severe case of TBI are:
- Loss of consciousness from several minutes to hours
- Convulsions or seizures
- Dilation of one or both pupils of the eyes
- Inability to awaken from sleep
- Weakness or numbness in fingers and toes
- Loss of coordination
- Profound confusion
- Agitation, combativeness, or other unusual behavior
- Slurred speech
- Coma and other disorders of consciousness
It may take a few days for any of these symptoms to arise in a patient, but those who suspect they have suffered a TBI, should be cognizant of them in case they should start to develop. Children can also undergo traumatic brain injuries when they suffer significant impact to the head. What makes these injuries complicated for children is their inability to properly communicate some of their sensory problems, such as headaches or confusion. Symptoms parents should look out for include:
- Change in eating, nursing, or sleeping habits
- Unusual or easy irritability
- Persistent crying and inability to be consoled
- Change in ability to pay attention
- Sad or depressed mood
- Loss of interest in favorite toys or activities
What can Cause a Traumatic Brain Injury?
There are a variety of causes that can lead to a traumatic brain injury, but most of them can come about because of either a car accident or a slip and fall accident. When a victim is involved in an auto accident, they could suffer severe impact to the skull, causing the injury. The same can happen in a slip and fall accident when a victim falls and hits their head on the floor. That impact can cause the brain to crash into the inside of the skull, which can cause damage the brain or cause tearing. Other causes of TBI include:
- Truck accidents
- Bike accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Boating accidents
- Swimming pool falls or near-drownings
- Assault due to negligent security
A brain injury can also occur when an object penetrates or punctures the skull. That fracture can force fragments of the skull to enter the brain. It can also cause internal bleeding, which will damage the brain. Not all brain damage can come from violent impacts to the head, such as if a person is exposed to toxic chemicals, such as lead, carbon monoxide, or insecticides. Breathing those in can cause problems, as can a lack of oxygen to the brain. There are also medical causes of brain damage, such as brain tumors, stroke, and infections.
What Recourse Do I Have if I Suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury?
Those who can directly associate their injuries to the actions of another person, or a particular entity have grounds to file a lawsuit against that person seeking damages. In Virginia, there are two types of damages a victim can claim: economic and non-economic damages. Among the economic damages one can seek include:
- Medical bills: After suffering from an injury, a victim will require visits to the doctor, as well as treatments and potential surgery. Victims can move to have a liable party reimburse them for these damages.
- Therapy and rehab costs: Injuries such as a TBI can result in a long recovery time, which will consist of hours of physical therapy and rehab. These costs can also be included in any potential litigation.
- Cost of new equipment: Some long-term care will include the purchase of new equipment that will help the victim heal or just live. There is no reason why they should have to bear the brunt of that financial burden.
- Lost wages: A person who suffers a TBI will more than likely be unable to return to work, either temporarily or permanently. The money they would have made had they not been injured can be recouped in a lawsuit.
- Loss of earning potential: A victim may be unable to return to work or may not be able to return in the same capacity as before. Their reduced role or position could mean a change in salary structure. Assuming that job reduction was the result of the injury, the person liable for the accident is responsible to compensate the victim for the difference in salary. Our lawyers will use a victim’s current earnings and project that out to come up with an appropriate figure to request.
- House and vehicle upgrades: A victim may be unable to get around as easily as before due to their recent brain injury. To accommodate a new disability, changes will need to be made to a person’s house and car. They might need to install ramps for wheelchair accessibility or purchase a new car or a van the victim can get into easier.
- In-home care costs: Another side effect of a brain injury could be a loss of independence in that a person can no longer take care of themselves anymore. They might require an in-home nurse.
For most of these expenses, it makes sense for the victim to keep track of all medical expenses incurred by saving all bills and medical reports. An experienced lawyer will compile all those medical bills when determining a final amount to seek as part of a lawsuit. There are also non-economic rewards that victims can seek as part of a lawsuit, which include:
- Mental trauma: Suffering a brain injury can be a severely traumatic event and cause psychological scars that might be with a person for the rest of their lives. These injuries are difficult to quantify, but they are no less legitimate.
- Emotional duress: While some may dismiss it as frivolous, it is not for those who are coming to grips with a horrific injury that may impact the way they live their life.
- Permanent disability: A permanent disability is not an unlikely outcome of suffering from a traumatic brain injury. It is often the case that a victim will have to endure some change to their quality of life. While there are aspects of any litigation that will pay for the accommodations of that disability, they will not support the emotional and mental impact of such a lifestyle change.
- Loss of joy of life: Following a TBI, a victim may not be able to experience all of life as they intended or wanted to do. While also difficult to quantify that amount, it can be a significant loss, especially for someone who is active and adventurous.
- Pain and suffering: A TBI is an injury that a victim has to endure for weeks, months, or years. That could be hours of discomfort or an inability to sleep or relax. Damages are meant to cover all frustrating experiences that a person must endure before their condition improves.
The financial impact can be a severe one. Our lawyers will work with victims to determine their level of suffering and determine an adequate amount of compensation, recognizing that no amount can ever replace what was lost.
How Long Do I Have to File My Case?
In Virginia, a victim has two years from the time of the accident to file their lawsuit. It might seem like a long time, however when dealing with an injury as severe as a TBI, that time can move quickly. It is wise to consult a lawyer as soon as possible to determine the merits of a case and file it before the deadline expires.
What is Involved in a TBI Case?
A TBI case can be a drawn-out affair consisting of detailed investigations and interviews. They can be tricky cases as not all TBIs are apparent to juries and judges. They require convincing, meaning a lawyer needs to build up a strong case that highlights the injuries sustained and the impact it had on the victim’s life. Our lawyers will conduct a deep investigation, starting with the accident that led to the injury. We will speak to witnesses, as well as survey the location of the accident, to determine what happened and who is at-fault.
We will also speak with doctors and therapists to determine the severity of all injuries and the impact those injuries will have going forward. We will speak with other medical professionals to determine the economic impact suffered. We will consult with psychologists and those close to the victim about the emotional and mental well-being since suffering the accident. We will gleam the information that we collect from these individuals and come up with a non-economic impact figure as well. Anchor Legal Group, PLLC will see the entire process through from the initial consultation to when a case is complete.