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Brain and spinal cord injuries are often serious events that may have lifelong consequences. In addition to an intense recovery process, victims must also deal with the financial challenges involved with brain injuries. If the brain injury was caused by another party, the victim may have options to seek compensation for costs incurred. This article will provide useful information regarding brain injuries, including how to identify a potential brain injury, what steps should be taken once a brain injury is suspected or discovered, and what legal options may be available to a brain injury victim.
If you are suffering from a brain injury after an accident, the experienced lawyers at Zinda Law Group may be able to help you. Contact us today at (800) 863-5312 to schedule your free consultation! You will not owe us anything unless we win your case.
RECOGNIZING A BRAIN INJURY
The term “brain injury” refers to physical damage inflicted upon a person’s brain or brain tissue. One of the most common and serious forms of brain injury is referred to as traumatic brain injury, or “TBI.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines TBI as “a disruption in the normal function of the brain that can be caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or penetrating head injury.” The degree or severity of a TBI may come in two forms: mild and moderate-severe.
One of the most difficult aspects of properly handling and treating a brain injury is recognizing that an injury has occurred in the first place. Unlike many physical injuries that can be observed with the naked eye, brain injuries typically cannot be seen or observed unless highly specialized medical equipment is used. Thus, detecting the presence of a brain injury may can be a tricky process. Fortunately, there are certain tell-tale signs and symptoms which, if present, may indicate that a potential brain injury exists. Those symptoms differ depending on the degree or severity of the TBI.
Mild Traumatic Brain Injury
The following symptoms are typically associated with mild TBI. Thus, the presence of one or several of these symptoms may indicate that a person has suffered some form of brain injury.
- Loss of consciousness (ranging from a few seconds to a few minutes)
- Blurred vision or temporary loss of vision
- Ringing in the ears
- Slurred speech
- Hypersensitivity to light and sound
- Trouble sleeping
- Memory issues
- Trouble concentrating
- Mood swings
Moderate-Severe Traumatic Brain Injury
An individual who has sustained a moderate-severe TBI may exhibit some or all the symptoms associated with mild TBI. Additionally, the following symptoms are typically associated with moderate-severe TBI.
- Prolonged loss of consciousness (ranging from several minutes to several hours)
- Constant vomiting
- Clear fluids draining from nose or ears
- Numbness in fingers or toes
- Dilation of one or both pupils
- Extreme confusion
- Agitation, aggressiveness, or other atypical behavior
Following any injury to the head or neck area, it is important to stay vigilant and keep track of any symptoms which may manifest. If any of the above-mentioned symptoms are present, a brain injury may have occurred.
COMMON CAUSES OF BRAIN INJURIES
Brain injuries most often occur after a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or neck area. For instance, if the victim of a slip and fall suffers a blow to the head upon impact, the victim is at risk of sustaining some form of brain injury. In addition to physical causes, brain injuries may also occur chemically. For example, oxygen deprivation or consumption of toxins may also result in some forms of brain injury.
With respect to brain injuries caused by physical forces, there is generally no “sweet spot” that must be hit or struck for a brain injury to occur. A person who has suffered a blow to the crown of the skull may be at risk of sustaining a brain injury, as is a person who experienced a blow to the neck area. Ultimately, the type and severity of damage depends on several factors, including the nature of the injury and the force of impact.
Events which may cause some form of traumatic brain injury include:
- Automobile accidents
- Gunshot wounds
- Slip and falls
- Sports injuries
- Assault, fighting, or other violence
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
- Prolonged use of controlled substances
- Severe food poisoning
LASTING DAMAGES FROM BRAIN INJURIES
In addition to short term health issues such as nausea and temporary loss of consciousness, brain injuries may also result in lifelong consequences. For example, even an isolated brain injury may increase a person’s chances of suffering health issues such as headaches later in life. Significant brain injuries or repeated mild brain injuries are even more likely to have a lasting effect. Examples of long-term health issues that may result from significant or repeated brain injuries may include:
- Infection of blood, brain tissue, or spinal fluid
- Loss of vision
- Problems with memory
- Problems concentrating
- Difficulty speaking
- Mood swings
- Degenerative brain diseases (e.g., Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s)
WHAT TO DO IF YOU THINK YOU HAVE A BRAIN INJURY
If a brain injury is suspected, the first and most important step to take is to seek immediate medical attention by visiting a doctor, hospital, or emergency room. Some brain injuries are immediately noticeable. For example, a slip and fall which resulted in loss of consciousness for several minutes likely indicates that a brain injury has occurred. However, it is important to remember that some brain injuries may remain dormant or undetectable for days or even weeks.
For instance, a car crash victim may feel fine immediately following the collision but may experience headaches or nausea days or weeks after the accident. Thus, it is important to seek professional medical attention the moment you suspect a brain injury may be present. Because the costs incurred for receiving treatment for a brain or spinal cord injury often ranges in hundreds or even thousands of dollars, a brain injury victim should consider contacting a personal injury attorney as promptly as possible.
Learn More: Why Hiring a Lawyer Will Help Your Case
HOW TO FILE A CLAIM FOR A BRAIN INJURY
If a brain injury was caused by the negligent or reckless acts of another person, the brain injury victim may have the option of filing a lawsuit against the person or entity that caused the injuries. Listed below are the steps that comprise the claim filing process after a brain injury accident has occurred.
1. Contact an Attorney
The first step towards filing a claim for a brain injury is to contact a personal injury attorney. A personal injury attorney may meet with the brain injury victim in person or over the phone to discuss important facts about the case. For instance, during this conversation, the attorney may ask important questions such as how the accident occurred, where it occurred, what types of injuries were sustained, and whether any medical attention has been sought. Once this important information has been received, a personal injury attorney may be able to provide legal advice regarding your options moving forward.
The second step of the claim filing process is the investigation phase. During this phase, the attorney may collect critical information regarding your accident and injuries. For instance, the attorney may interview witnesses, obtain surveillance footage, review medical records, and gather any additional evidence which may strengthen your claim. The investigation phase may also involve accounting for each of your damages, such as medical bills and lost wages.
3. Settlement and Lawsuit
Prior to litigation, a brain injury victim may have the option of accepting a settlement from the at-fault party or the at-fault party’s insurance company. If a settlement is offered, an attorney may work on your behalf by reviewing and negotiating the terms of the settlement with the other party.
If it is not in your best interests to accept a settlement offer, your case may proceed to trial. In this case, an attorney may advocate on your behalf in front of a judge and jury to establish fault on the part of the other party.
BRAIN INJURY COMPENSATION
When an at-fault party is held liable for causing a victim’s brain injury, the at-fault party may have to pay damages for the victim’s financial losses. The damages that may be awarded to a brain injury victim vary depending on the facts and circumstances of the case. In general, the damages can be separated into economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are damages that can be accounted for and quantified. In brain injury cases, the primary forms of economic damages may include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
Medical expenses are a broad category which may encompass costs related to hospital stays, doctors’ appointments, pharmacy costs, and physical therapy. Lost wages may include the compensation lost by the brain injury victim due to missed time from work. If the injury prevents or impairs the victim’s ability to work in the future, lost income may also include the victim’s loss in earning capacity.
Non-economic damages refer to intangible costs which cannot easily be quantified. Rather, non-economic damages are subjectively evaluated by a jury in a lawsuit. Types of non-economic damages in a brain injury case may include:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Disfigurement and disability
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of consortium
Because traumatic brain injuries often involve lifelong consequences and drastic changes in lifestyle, the damages awarded in a brain injury cases may be a significant amount. Thus, it may be in a brain injury victim’s best interests to consult with a personal injury attorney before settling a case or making any other important decisions. A personal injury attorney may be able to evaluate the case and help the victim determine which avenue would best protect the victim’s long-term interests.
Learn More: How to Calculate the Value of Your Case
LEGAL TIME LIMITS
A “statute of limitations” is a legal time-limit on which a person must initiate a lawsuit. If a person fails to initiate a lawsuit within the applicable statute of limitations, that person is effectively barred from later filing a claim in court.
The time limitations for certain causes of action vary from state to state. In most personal injury cases, the statute of limitations ranges from two to three years from the date of the accident which led to the injury. For instance, if a person in a state with a two-year statute of limitations suffered a brain injury on January 1, 2020, that person must initiate a lawsuit against the at-fault party by January 1, 2022.
Because filing a timely lawsuit is critical to the outcome or viability of a case, and because certain circumstances may extend or “toll” a statute of limitations, it often in a brain injury victim’s best interest to consider discussing his or her case with a personal injury attorney.
ZINDA LAW GROUP SEEKS MAXIMUM COMPENSATION FOR BRAIN INJURIES
If you have been the victim of a brain injury, you do not want to try to negotiate with the insurance companies on your own. Insurance companies are looking out for the company's profits and not your best interests as a victim. Our attorneys may help you negotiate with the insurance companies and determine if you are getting a fair settlement offer. We may help you understand the value of your case and seek maximum compensation on behalf of our clients. We want to fight in your corner to help you seek the compensation you deserve.
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