According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 1.7 million traumatic brain injuries (also known as a “TBI”) are known to occur in United States annually. TBI is a contributing factor to over thirty percent of all injury-related deaths in the United States. Motor vehicle injury is the leading cause of TBI-related death. But there are also an untold number of people every year who suffer from a TBI, but who do not seek treatment. Because of this, TBI has been identified as a “silent” epidemic, affecting millions of Americans.
Not all brain injuries are caused by a direct blow to the head and not all brain injuries are severe. Some TBIs are the result of severe skull fractures, while some result from closed head injuries. But even a mild concussion sustained in closed head injury event can cause a person to experience cognitive, functional, and emotional problems, including:
- Difficulty performing tasks
- Memory loss
- Mood disorders
- Impairment of motor function
- Other disabilities
Traumatic brain injury affects everyone differently. We know that the results of traumatic brain injuries, as well as the appropriate treatment and rehabilitation methods, are determined by the area of the brain which has been injured rather than the severity of the injury.
Some traumatic brain injury patients will make a full recovery. Others may experience life-long disability ranging from mild limitations to the need for full time care. Those who go on to live an independent life may have a diminished earning capacity due to cognitive, emotional, or physical impairment or simply due to education and work experience missed during recovery.
Symptoms of traumatic brain injury do not always present themselves immediately after injury. Sometimes they do not appear for several months or even years and when they do, victims and their loved ones are not always aware of the cause, making it a confusing and frightening experience.
A combination of disorders called Post-Concussion Syndrome can occur after trauma to the brain. It only takes mild trauma to cause symptoms of PCS that may include:
- Memory problems
- Difficulty concentrating
- Slowed mental processing
- Difficulty with abstract thinking
- Impaired attention
- Personality changes
- Sleep disorders
- Neck pain
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Sensitivity to noise
- Sensitivity to light
- Blurred or double vision
Seizures happen in 1 of every 10 people who have a TBI that required hospitalization. Seizures can create life-long safety issues, limiting employability and enjoyment of life. Many people with seizures can never drive or go swimming without supervision, and are at a constant risk of further injury.
Depression, unprovoked anger, loss of inhibitions, or an uncontrollable impulse to cry, can occur after traumatic brain injuries and can result in frightening outbursts and behaviors. These episodes can lead to dangerous consequences including violent criminal behavior and suicide. Often symptoms do not start to appear until long after injury.
Brain injuries can be caused by many activities, but most are preventable.
- Auto Accidents
Auto accidents are a leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal traumatic brain injuries. Rollovers, ejections, and accidents where a vehicle occupant’s head strikes the windshield, interior of the vehicle, an object, or another passenger can cause obvious head injuries. Whiplash can cause brain injuries which often go undetected.
Falls are a common cause of traumatic brain injuries and occur most often in the elderly and young children. Alcohol and medications can be a contributing factor. Unsafe playground equipment, hazards in nursing homes, and hazardous stairs and walkways causing slips/trips and falls, are examples of preventable causes of falls.
- Sports and Recreation
Contact and non-contact sports and recreational activities can result in brain injury. Hundreds of thousands of sports-related traumatic brain injuries occur in the U.S. each year. High school athletes, and in particular football players, are at a significant risk for brain injury. Bicycle crashes are another significant cause of traumatic brain injury. According to the CDC, in 2010, 26,000 bicycle-related injuries to children and adolescents were traumatic brain injuries treated in emergency departments.
Domestic violence against spouses and children is an all too common cause of brain injury. Shaken baby syndrome, which is sometimes the result of domestic violence, but may also be perpetrated by caregivers outside of the home, can lead to permanent disability or death.
Traumatic brain injury can occur with no visible wounds, and no known impact to the head. Signs to watch for include:
- Dilated or unequal size of pupils
- Slurred speech
- Loss of memory
- Difficulty thinking
- Dizziness or balance problems
- Poor coordination
- Difficulty moving body parts
- Difficulty swallowing
- Numbness or tingling
- Vision changes
- Ringing ears
- Extreme irritability
- Crying or laughing inappropriately
- Loss of bowel control or bladder control
- Slow breathing rate and increase in blood pressure
- Slow pulse
- Respiratory failure
- Lack of responsiveness
Traumatic brain injuries can be open head injuries with visible damage to the head or skull, or closed head injuries that show no visible damage. Types of brain injuries include:
- Coup-contrecoup contusion
- Diffuse axonal
- Shaken baby syndrome
- Second impact syndrome
Many times, traumatic brain injuries result from the negligence or recklessness of others. Traumatic Brain Injury victims may be entitled to compensation from the responsible parties or their insurance companies for:
- Economic Losses, including past and future medical and rehabilitation expenses, lost income, loss of earning capacity, and out-of-pocket costs
- Non-Economic Losses, including pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, mental and emotional distress, inconvenience
- Permanent impairment and disfigurement
- Loss of consortium by an affected spouse
Obtaining compensation for a brain injury can be difficult. Insurance companies are generally skeptical of traumatic brain injury claims and do not put a high value on them. Part of the reason is that traumatic brain injuries—when they do not involve obvious head or skull trauma—are difficult to “see” and prove because of the lack of obvious, objective physical injuries that can be shown to a jury. Brain imaging such as CT scans, MRI’s, PET scans, and SPECT scans can be helpful in diagnosing and proving brain injury claims. Neuropsychological testing may be necessary or recommended for identifying cognitive difficulties and deficits. Skilled brain injury lawyers use the best experts, evidence, and strategies to try and obtain the compensation brain injured victims deserve.
What Should You Do if You or a Loved One Have Suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury?
The most important action is to take care of yourself or your loved one and obtain the necessary medical treatment. But if you or a loved one have suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury because of someone else’s fault, it is critical that you immediately contact a lawyer experienced in handling concussions, brain injury, Traumatic Brain Injury, and closed head injury cases. It can be a confusing and emotional time. Insurance companies may be calling. Time is running on bringing a claim. You need someone on your side to help make sure your rights are protected.
Contact Burg Simpson Now
Burg Simpson is dedicated to helping brain injured people seek compensation after an accident caused by the fault or negligence of another. Our experienced lawyers have helped thousands of persons suffering from serious personal injuries—like Traumatic Brain Injury—rebuild their lives. We have the experience and resources to help injury victims navigate the many legal issues that surround brain injuries, including accident and medical investigation, insurance claims, settlement negotiations, and litigating in court against persons and companies who won’t take responsibility.
Burg Simpson Cares.
Burg Simpson’s dedication to helping brain injury victims goes beyond the courtroom. Burg Simpson lawyers give their time, talents, and resources to the brain injury community including Craig Hospital, one of the nation’s top brain and spinal cord injury rehabilitation hospitals. Shareholder Peter Burg is a past member and chairman of the Craig Hospital Board of Directors and is currently a member of the Craig Hospital Foundation Board of Directors. Burg Simpson has further supported the Brain Injury Alliance, Rocky Mountain Human Services, and Operation TBI Freedom.