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Brain injuries are serious events that can jeopardize the short-term and long-term health of an individual. Individuals who have sustained a form brain injury are often left in a difficult situation, both in terms of health and finance. If the injury was caused by another party, options may be available to pursue compensation for your losses. This article will provide useful information regarding brain injuries, including how to recognize 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 you.
If you or a loved one is suffering from a brain injury as a result of an accident, the Colorado brain injury lawyers of Zinda Law Group may be able to assist you. Call today at 512 246 2224 for a free consultation.
Recognizing a Brain Injury
Brain injuries, as the name implies, are a form of physical damage to a person’s brain or brain tissue. One of the most common forms of brain injury is referred to as traumatic brain injury, or TBI. According to the Center for Disease Control, traumatic brain injury is defined 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. In general, the degree or severity of a traumatic brain injury comes in two forms: mild and moderate/severe.
Unlike many other physical injuries which can be seen with the naked eye, brain injuries typically cannot be seen or observed without the use of special medical equipment. Thus, recognizing or detecting the presence or onset of a brain injury may prove to be difficult. However, there are certain signs and symptoms which, if present, can alert someone that a brain injury may have occurred.
Mild Traumatic Brain Injury
Signs and symptoms for mild traumatic brain injury may include:
- Temporary loss of consciousness (ranging from a few seconds to a few minutes)
- Blurred vision
- Nausea or vomiting
- Headaches and ringing in the ears
- Dizziness or trouble balancing
- Slurred speech or trouble talking
- Hypersensitivity to light and sound
- Sleep issues
- Trouble with memory or concentration
- Mood swings
Moderate/Severe Traumatic Brain Injury
The signs and symptoms for moderate to severe traumatic brain injury can including some or all of the symptoms listed for a mild traumatic brain injury. Additionally, signs of this form of traumatic brain injury may include:
- 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
Given the difficulty of recognizing a brain injury, it is critical to stay on the lookout for these symptoms following an event where a person’s head or neck area was struck or damaged. The presence of one or more of these symptoms may be a signal that a brain injury has been sustained.
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Common Causes of Brain Injuries
Broadly speaking, a brain injury can occur as a result of any bump, blow, or jolt to the head or neck area. Alternatively, a brain injury may occur due to a lack of oxygen or due to the ingestion of a toxin or other harmful substance.
There is no “sweet spot” that must be hit or struck for a brain injury to happen. What matters is the force of the damaging contact to a person’s head area, or the amount of time that a person’s brain is deprived of oxygen. In other words, the degree of damage may likley depend on several factors, including the nature of the injury and the force of impact.
With this in mind, it is important to realize that some events carry a higher probability of inflicting a form of brain damage. Common events which may cause traumatic brain injury include:
- Automobile accidents
- Gunshot wounds
- Sports injuries
- Assault, fighting, or other violence
- Severe food poisoning
Lasting Damages from Brain Injuries
In addition to short term health effects that a brain injury may cause, there are also long term, lasting damages to consider. For instance, even a single brain injury may make a person more susceptible to headaches later in life. Significant brain injuries or repeated brain injuries, however, are more likely to have a lasting effect. Examples of lasting damages that may result from significant or repeated brain injuries may include:
- 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 you have suffered a brain injury or suspect that you may have suffered a brain injury, it is critical that you seek immediate medical attention and visit a hospital or emergency room. Some brain injury cases are noticeable right away. For instance, if you slipped and fell and lost consciousness for a few minutes, it is possible that you have suffered some form of brain injury. However, some brain injury cases may remain dormant for days or even weeks. Furthermore, even symptoms that appear to be minor, such as sporadic headaches, may end up signaling a severe underlying health issue. Thus, it is important to seek professional medical attention the moment you suspect a brain injury may be present. Because expenses for medical treatment for brain injuries may be very expensive, you should consider contacting a personal injury attorney.
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How To File a Claim for a Brain Injury
If you sustained a brain injury that was caused by another party, you may have the option of filing a lawsuit against the person or entity that caused your injuries. Listed below are the steps that comprise the process of filing a lawsuit after a brain injury accident.
1. Contact an Attorney
The first step you should take if you wish to file a claim is to contact a personal injury attorney. A personal injury attorney may want to meet with you in person, or talk to you over the phone, in order to review the facts and circumstances of your case. During this conversation, the attorney may ask important questions such as how the accident occurred, where it occurred, and whether any medical attention has been sought. After becoming familiar with your case, the attorney may be able to provide legal advice tailored to your case.
The second step of the claim filing process is the investigation phase. During this phase, the attorney may interview witnesses and gather additional facts and key pieces of evidence. This is done in order to establish fault on the part of the party that caused your injuries. The investigation step may also involve accounting for each of your damages, such as medical bills and lost wages.
3. Settlement and Lawsuit
Prior to litigation, you may have the option of accepting a settlement from the at-fault party or the party’s insurance company. In this case, an attorney may work on your behalf by negotiating with the other party. If it is not in your best interests to accept a settlement offer, your case may go to court. Here, an attorney may fight on your behalf to establish fault on the part of the other party.
Brain Injury Compensation
If the alleged at-fault party is found to be liable for your injuries, that party may have to pay damages for your losses. The damages that may be awarded to a victim of a brain injury case can be separated into economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are damages that can be added up on paper and quantified. In brain injury cases, the primary forms of economic damages may include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
Medical bills may include the costs incurred by the victim for hospital stays, doctors’ appointments, pharmacy costs, and physical therapy. Lost wages may include the compensation lost by the 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 pertain to intangible losses. This type of damages cannot be added up on paper. 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
Although non-economic damages may be harder to quantify than economic damages, non-economic damages may be more valuable than economic damages.
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 litigating the claim in court. The time limitations for certain causes of action vary from state to state.
In Colorado, there is a two-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims. A claim following a brain injury is considered a type of personal injury claim. This means that a person who has suffered a brain injury due to the acts or omissions of another party must file a lawsuit within two years of the date the brain injury was discovered. For instance, if a person suffered a noticeable brain injury on January 1, 2019 or learned about the presence of a brain injury on that day, that person must initiate a lawsuit against the at-fault party by January 1, 2021.
It is important to note that there are a few exceptions to Colorado’s statute of limitations for personal injury claims. For instance, a child who suffered a brain injury may have an extend time period to file a claim. Additionally, if the accident involved a motor vehicle, the statute of limitations may increase to three years.
Because filing a timely lawsuit is critical, and because certain circumstances may extend or “toll” a statute of limitations, it may be worthwhile to consider discussing your case with a personal injury attorney.
Get Help from Zinda Law Group
The lawyers at Zinda Law Group focus their legal experience on personal injury claims including traumatic brain injuries. Our experienced attorneys have years of direct involvement in personal injury law including successful litigation and representations throughout Colorado. The entire Zinda Law Group legal team approaches traumatic brain injury cases with the goal of seeking the best compensation possible for their clients.
For a free consulation with an attorney, contact Zinda Law Group today at 512 246 2224. If we are unable to secure compensation in your case, you will not owe us anything.
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AWARDED TO JOHN C. (JACK) ZINDA BY THE NATIONAL TRIAL LAWYERS ASSOCIATION (2016-2020)
AWARDED TO JOHN C. (JACK) ZINDA (2009, 2011-2012, 2014-2021), JOE CAPUTO (2019-2021), BURGESS WILLIAMS (2019-2020), & NEIL SOLOMON (2020-2021)
AWARDED TO JACK ZINDA (2016-2020), JOE CAPUTO (2016 – 2020) & BURGESS WILLIAMS (2016-2017)
LIFETIME MEMBERS JOHN C. (JACK) ZINDA & JOE CAPUTO