Legal Rights and Justice for Brain Injury Victims

Head Injury Guide

Legal Rights and Justice for Brain Injury Victims

If you or a loved one has suffered a brain injury, you may be facing a lifetime of recovery. Everyone experiences a brain injury differently, and the extent of your injury will play a large role in everything from your medical treatment, your lawsuit and your future.

A brain injury doesn’t just affect the injured victims, it impacts everyone around them. Many brain injury victims lose motor skills as well as cognitive function. Consequently, you may need help from family members or hired nurses just to accomplish day-to-day activities such as driving, grocery shopping, and even going up or down stairs. Brain injuries could affect your relationship with others, your expenses, and you capability for work.

A Brain Injury Lawsuit

When your brain injury is caused by another person’s negligence, a brain injury lawsuit may help you get compensation so you can pay bills and get the assistance you need.

It is your right to receive compensation for injuries that are caused by another person’s negligence. If the dispute you are trying to settle is with an insurance company, having an experienced brain injury attorney on your side will make a big difference. After all, it is likely that the defendant’s insurance company will try to minimize any payout to preserve its own profits. An experienced brain injury lawyer has the knowledge and resources to fight the insurance company to ensure you recover all the compensation you deserve. Certainly, an experienced attorney will provide peace of mind so you can fully focus on your treatment and physical recovery.

The best way to learn whether a brain injury lawsuit can help you is to talk to an experienced brain injury lawyer. Injury lawyers almost always provide a free initial consultation, and don’t charge their clients up-front. All of the lawyers listed on this website have exceptional credentials and would be a good starting point.

Brain Injury Symptoms to Watch for

Sometimes, a brain injury can be subtle and you may not even know that it has occurred. Children and teens who are active in sports often sustain mild brain injuries without even realizing it. However, if left untreated, a brain injury may get worse over time and result in debilitating symptoms such as:

  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of memory
  • Loss of focus
  • Inability to sleep or sleeping too much
  • Moodiness, depression, or other mood disorders
  • Personality changes
  • Headaches that persist or worsen
  • Nausea
  • Light sensitivity
  • Anxiety
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Blurred vision
  • Dilated pupils
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Slurred speech

You may have suffered a brain injury even if you did not lose consciousness and if the skull did not get cracked. For example, football players often experience concussions while playing, but do not seek immediate medical attention because they are in the middle of game or think that they do not actually have a concussion. Such a situation is extremely dangerous and could lead to long-term mental health problems if the player does not seek medical help as soon as possible.

Types of Brain Injuries

Brain injuries come in many different types and degrees. They manifest in different ways. If you have suffered a brain injury, understanding the different types of brain injuries can help you make decisions about your medical treatment and a brain injury lawsuit, including the selection of your lawyer, the type of damages you seek, and more.

Types of brain injuries – Penetrating trauma.  

Understanding that brain injury can be caused by both penetrating trauma (which breaks the skull), and closed head trauma (which does not break the skull) is important. You may think that if your skull was not damaged, you cannot have suffered a brain injury, but in truth some of the most serious brain injury can occur when your skull is not penetrated.

Penetrating injury tends to result in more severe primary brain injury, but closed head injury can result in more severe secondary brain injury (see below).

Primary and Secondary Brain Injury

Primary brain injury occurs at the moment your brain suffers trauma, and includes such effects as:

  • Contusions (bruises)
  • Laceration (tearing of the brain tissue)
  • Blood clots
  • Damage to the nerves that may sever connections and kill cells

Primary brain injury can begin as a very obvious and serious brain injury, but may improve with time.

Secondary brain injury occurs as a result of the effects of the injury, and includes:

  • Swelling of the brain
  • Increased intracranial pressure
  • Reduced blood flow due to swelling and pressure
  • Brain infection

Secondary brain injury symptoms tend to start minor and evolve with time.

Both types of brain injury can result in permanent disability or death.

Anoxic Brain Injury

This type of brain injury occurs when your brain is deprived of oxygen. It may be the result of secondary brain injury, such as swelling of the brain, or it may be the result of oxygen deprivation. Common causes of oxygen deprivation include partial drowning associated with swimming pool accidents or boating accidents, birth injury, and anesthesia errors.

Brain Injuries in Plain English

Obviously, explaining the science behind what types of injuries can be inflicted to a brain, and how they occur, can be complicated. So let’s break down the process.

The First Impact (Non-Penetrating)

 

Did you know that your brain doesn’t actually touch your skull in it’s normal state? This is due to the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) that surrounds your brain inside of the skull. CSF acts as kind of a buffer when your head is impacted, and will help to absorb a large portion of the energy from the blow. However, the CSF buffer can only absorb so much energy before damage occurs.

When your head hits a hard surface in a fast jolt, there can be two sources of brain injury. The first point of injury can be from where the brain pushes up against the skull. Specifically, this is known as the “primary impact.” The other point of injury, or the “secondary impact” occurs a split second later when the brain bounces back against the skull on it’s opposite side. Both primary and secondary impacts are capable of causing severe injury to the white-matter of the brain.

Read more about Second Impact Syndrome.

The Long-Term Effects of Brain Injuries

 

There are two different types of brain matter; white-matter and grey-matter. The brain’s grey-matter is located mostly on the exterior of the brain and has a firm, gooey insulation that helps to provide additional protection (this “insulation” is actually what gives grey-matter it’s grey color). The brain’s white-matter, on the other hand, does not have insulation and is responsible for conducting electrical information to different parts of the brain (white matter consists of the most fragile cells in the human body).

Concussions, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), and even severe whiplash can all cause damage to the white matter of the brain. Brain injuries that cause a direct puncture to the skull and brain can cause the most damage, and will likely result in permanent damage to brain functionality. Few options are available beyond physical and brain therapy once damage has been done to the white-matter of the brain, although the best chance to recover from any brain injury is to start medical treatment as soon as possible.

When You Can File a Brain Injury Lawsuit

By filing lawsuit, you will be able to seek compensation for medical expenditures, lost wages, pain and suffering, and could even help to deter future injuries like the one you suffered. You can file a brain injury lawsuit when someone else’s actions or failure to act led to your brain injury.

Every injury case is different, though the issues in many brain injury cases can be similar; what caused me to have this injury, how do I prove it, what expenses and losses did I incur, how did my brain injury impact my life, and how will I be compensated for my injury?

First, lets answer the question of what specific type of case you have. Brain injuries frequently occur under the following circumstances:

Each type of claim requires you to prove the defendant was negligent and different laws may apply depending on where the incident occurred. For example, if your brain injury was caused by a negligent driver, your attorney will need experience in traffic-related cases, dealing with insurance companies, and should have in-depth knowledge of your state’s traffic laws. On the other hand, if your injury was the result of a sports injury, your attorney will need to determine other factors such as if the helmet manufacturer made a faulty product, the coach did not enforce safety guidelines, or if the facility in which you practiced your sport played a part in your injury. Regardless of what specific case you have, your rights to compensation still remain more or less the same, so long as someone else was responsible for your injury. To learn more about the relation between the cause of your brain injury and your rights, please see causes of brain injuries.

Proving Economic Damages

Perhaps the most complicated part of a brain injury lawsuit is proving exactly how much compensation you are entitled to.

The first step your attorney will take is to calculate your “economic damages.” This type of compensation is the easiest type to calculate because the estimation is derived directly from your medical bills, lost wages, and any other out-of-pocket expenditures. (This is why it’s so important to keep any bills and receipts that are a result of your injury!) Future expenditures are also calculated into economic damages, and can be more difficult to estimate. Calculating future expenses always requires expert testimony. For example, future medical expenses can easily amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars, and as a result, only medical experts could accurately predict an amount you will need in the future to cover such expenses. Experts that may be called upon to testify to the amount of economic damages you are owed may include:

  • Therapeutic experts that will be needed to predict expenses based on physical therapy and rehabilitation.
  • Medical experts (as discussed in the previous paragraph) who will estimate future medical care.
  • Life care experts that will estimate the expenses of nursing or any help needed in day-to-day assistance with physical activities. This expense will likely be incurred in your damages even if you have someone to take care of you such as a spouse or close relative.
  • Employment and labor experts of a similar field can also be called to testify to confirm how much losses you may incur do to a loss of your job, loss of hours, or loss of benefits because of your injury.

Proving Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages, including “pain and suffering damages,” are the most difficult to prove in a lawsuit. Non-economic damages also include how your brain injury has changed you as a person, and if you have lost any enjoyment in life. Statistically, brain injuries cause major depressive disorder (MDD) in 53.1 percent of patients.

Depression in people with brain injuries can be a result of life changes and disabilities that cause a person to lose enjoyment in certain aspects of life that they had before, or can be a result of damage to the white matter of the brain. There are many treatments available for people suffering from depression such as therapy and medication. However, the challenge remains of how to put this suffering into the concept of monetary value. Frankly, no amount of money can truly make up for the pain and suffering that a brain injury can cause.

Loss of enjoyment damages require you to prove that your injury keeps you from doing the things you used to do. For example, if you are unable to visit the gym or go for hikes like you used to before the injury.

The Value of a Brain Injury Attorney

A good brain injury lawyer offers more than just representation in your lawsuit. Because of their experience with other cases, brain injury attorneys may be able to direct you to additional resources that can help you in all aspects of your life. This may include finding specialized doctors who use different imaging and diagnosis equipment.  It may also include getting a second opinion about your brain injury. And, your lawyer may also be able to direct you to organizations that can provide assistance and support for you and your family.

Brain injury lawyers can help you express the extent of your brain injury (both to the jury and to the insurance company during settlement negotiations) in a way that allows you to claim fair compensation for your injury. A brain injury lawyer will investigate the different aspects of how you were injured and identify who played a part in your injury. He will also investigate and prove the full extent of your injury and losses. Even mild brain injury can have lasting impact, and it’s important that the compensation you receive reflects that.

What sets brain injury attorneys apart from most other injury attorneys is that brain injury cases tend to have higher rates of compensation for plaintiffs. This, of course, is because brain injuries are the most debilitating form of injury anyone can sustain. Even mild concussions can have tragic long-term effects on people if left untreated, or if the person has suffered multiple concussions. Larger lawsuit payout also means larger expenditures on expert testimonies, medical treatments, and attorney fees which all should paid for in damages if the case is successful. Hence why retaining a competent brain injury attorney is so important.

If you or a loved one suffered a serious brain injury, you need a serious brain injury lawyer. Please contact one of the attorneys listed in this directory for help.

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