Brain injuries are one of the worst personal injuries anyone can endure, whether it is the result of a car accident or a workplace incident. Brain injuries describe a wide variety of conditions, from a mild concussion to an open head wound exposing the skull or brain tissue. Symptoms can include headaches, confusion, nausea, dizziness, memory loss, and even personality changes. Brain injuries usually require long-term treatment, often in a dedicated facility, and that care can be incredibly costly.
If you or a loved one have suffered a traumatic brain injury and you believe someone else’s negligence may have been the cause, you could be entitled to compensation. Consult with Burg Simpson’s personal injury lawyers as soon as possible to examine your options and determine the best course of action. Call us at (720) 500-5995 or fill out our FREE case evaluation form now.
Effects of Brain Injuries
Not all brain injuries are caused by a direct blow to the head and not all of these 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 a closed head injury 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
Common Causes of Brain Injuries
Every year, roughly 2.9 million suffer traumatic brain injuries, 56,000 of which result in death. The total number of incidents has been gradually increasing, but the number of car accident TBI deaths – once the leading cause of brain-injury-related deaths – has fallen dramatically over the past decade. In fact, falls are now the leading cause of TBI-related deaths.
There are several activities that can cause brain injuries, and most are completely preventable. The top three causes of TBIs, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control, are falls, being struck by or against an object, and motor vehicle accidents. These three incident types make up 70 percent of all TBI incidents. It is also worth noting that the overwhelming majority of serious head injuries occurred in the oldest and youngest age groups of the CDC study.
- Auto accidents: Auto accidents are the third-leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal traumatic brain injuries. Car accidents remain the leading cause of TBI deaths among people 15-34 years old. Research also shows that 70 percent of injuries in this age group involve the vehicle occupants, 12 percent involve motorcycle passengers, and roughly 8 percent involve pedestrians. 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 that often go undetected.
- Falls: Falls are now the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries and occur most often in the elderly and young children. Alcohol and medications can be contributing factors. Unsafe playground equipment, nursing home hazards, and perilous stairs and walkways leading to slips/trips and falls are all examples of preventable causes of falls. The CDC data includes falls on stairs or from ladders, falls from one level to another, and falls into swimming pools.
- Sports and recreation: Contact and non-contact sports and recreational activities can result in brain injury. Thousands of sports-related traumatic brain injuries occur in the U.S. every year. As a result, high school athletes – football players in particular – are at a much greater risk for brain injury. Bicycle crashes are another significant cause of traumatic brain injury.
- Violence: 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, can also be perpetrated by caregivers outside of the home, and it can lead to permanent disability or even death. Sadly, this is the leading cause of TBI-related deaths among those under the age of four.
What Are the Different Types of Traumatic Brain Injury?
There are two general types of head injuries: open injuries with visible damage to the head or skull or closed head injuries that show no visible damage. An open injury simply means the skull has actually been fractured. This typically is the result of a fall or other accident or from the head’s impact with a hard object or surface.
A closed head injury does not involve a fracture, but can be just as serious because of potential swelling and blood clots and treatment may be delayed because they are not always discovered right away. The most serious brain injuries, regardless of whether they are open or closed, can cause paralysis, loss of consciousness, and even death.
- Concussion: A mild traumatic brain injury caused by a blow to the head or a violent shaking of the head and body
- Contusion: A contusion is a bruise, or bleeding on the brain due to localized trauma. These are also usually the result of a blow to the head
- Coup-contrecoup contusion: This is a bruise that occurs at both the site of initial impact as well as on the opposite side of the brain. This happens when the force against the head actually slams the brain against the opposite side of the skull, creating the second bruise.
- Diffuse axonal: This injury results from a violent shake or strong rotation of the head, such as with shaken baby syndrome or a motor vehicle accident. Specifically, this happens when the static brain is slow to follow the skull’s movement, tearing structures in the brain.
- Penetration: This is exactly like it sounds – an injury from the impact of a bullet, knife, or any other sharp object that enters the brain, along with hair, skin, and bone.
- Shaken baby syndrome: Shaken baby syndrome occurs when someone violently shakes a baby or young child. The whiplash-like brain injury ruptures the blood vessels between the brain and skull, and the resulting buildup of blood compresses the brain tissue while forcing inflammation in the brain. Damages can include seizures, lifelong disabilities, coma, and death. Warning signs include irritability, distorted eating patterns, exhaustion, ragged breathing, diluted pupils, and vomiting.
- Second impact syndrome: Also known as recurrent traumatic brain injury, this is a second traumatic brain injury before an earlier one has healed. The second injury is more likely to cause swelling and more serious damage.
What Are the Signs of Traumatic Brain Injury?
There is a great deal of variation in brain injuries. Even a mild concussion can cause someone to suffer cognitive, functional, and emotional issues.
According to the Brain Injury Association of America, symptoms, which can be delayed or immediate, include:
- A thin water-like liquid (spinal fluid) exiting the ears and/or nose
- Loss of consciousness
- Diluted or irregular pupils
- Changes in vision that can include blurred or double vision, sensitivity to bright light, loss of eye movement, blindness
- Respiratory failure
- Comatose or semi-comatose state
- Paralysis, weakness, poor coordination
- Slow pulse
- Slow breathing rate, with increased blood pressure
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Ringing in the ears, or changes in ability to hear
- Difficulty thinking clearly, memory problems, poor judgment, poor attention span, slowed thought-processing speed
- Inappropriate emotional responses (irritability, easily frustrated, inappropriate crying or laughing)
- Difficulty speaking, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing
- Body numbness or tingling
- Loss of bowel control or bladder control
Milder brain injuries may not generate any of these symptoms and might require more extensive examination and analysis. A variety of imaging technologies, such as a CT scan or an MRI, can help diagnose the specifics of the brain injury. The signs of any head trauma might not be apparent right away. Symptoms can take days or even weeks to develop.
What Are the Long-Term Effects of Traumatic Brain Injury?
Traumatic brain injuries affect everyone differently, but research suggests that TBI is associated with seizures, cognitive deficits, depression, aggression, unemployment, or social isolation later in life. Researchers also found that premature death, declines in cognitive function, progressive dementia, and more are linked with moderate to severe head injuries. Many consider TBIs to be a chronic health condition that can have a long-term effect on overall health.
Some of the longer-term effects of TBI can include:
- Ocular- and visual-motor disturbances
- Cognitive deficits
- Post-concussive symptoms
- Social isolation
- Premature death
- Progressive dementia
- Diabetes insipidus
- Endocrine dysfunction
- Growth hormone insufficiency
Life After Traumatic Brain Injury
Some traumatic brain injury patients will make a full recovery. Others may experience lifelong disabilities, ranging from mild limitations to the need for full time care. Those who go on to live an independent life could still suffer from a diminished earning capacity due to cognitive, emotional, or physical impairments, or as the result of missed education or work experience during recovery.
Symptoms of traumatic brain injury do not always present themselves immediately following an accident. In fact, they may not appear for several months or even years later, and when they do, victims and their loved ones do not always make the connection with the head injury, which can make the experience even more confusing.
Generally speaking, it is incredibly difficult to predict the repercussions of TBI later in life. According to doctors at Mount Sinai Medical Center, variables include:
- The severity of the original injury
- The rate and extent of physiological recovery
- What functions were originally affected
- Available resources to assist in recovery
Some researchers have suggested the best way to improve the quality of life for TBI victims is to implement a “disease management” regimen similar to how someone may treat other chronic conditions, such as diabetes or hypertension. Additionally, early detection and treatment protocols could prevent or even reduce more serious complications later in life.
What Is Post-Concussion Syndrome?
According to the Mayo Clinic, post-concussion syndrome (PCS) is a complicated disorder with various symptoms, such as headaches and dizziness, that last for weeks and sometimes months after the injury that caused the concussion.
Concussions are mild traumatic brain injuries, typically incurred from a blow to the head. The injury does not necessarily include loss of consciousness, and the risk of PCS does not appear to be associated with the severity of the initial injury.
In most people, PCS symptoms will become visible within the first week or two following the injury. In most cases, symptoms fade within the first few months, but can often linger for a year or more.
The most common PCS symptoms include:
- Loss of concentration and memory
- Noise and light sensitivity
Post-concussion headaches can vary and may feel like either a tension headache or a migraine. These could also be associated with a neck injury that happened at the same time as the initial injury.
In some cases, people can experience behavioral or emotional changes after a mild TBI. Family members should monitor victims closely for signs the person is irritable, suspicious, argumentative, or stubborn.
Seizures and Traumatic Brain Injury
Brain injuries can often lead someone to develop seizures, which occur as a result of abnormal electrical activity in the brain that can take the form of strange body movements, such as stiffening or shaking, unresponsiveness, and/or staring, chewing, lip smacking, or fumbling movements. Other indicators are strange smells, sounds, feelings, tastes, or visual images, and sudden weariness, or dizziness.
Seizures can develop in approximately 1 out of every 10 people who have suffered a TBI that required hospitalization. Most seizures will occur within the first several days or weeks after a TBI, and some can take months or years to emerge. Certain factors that can contribute to seizures are high fevers, lack of sleep/extreme fatigue, drug and alcohol use, or any other chemical changes in the body.
Additionally, different brain injury types are more likely to lead to seizures than others. Nearly two-thirds of people who experience a bullet wound brain injury will develop seizures. On the other end of the spectrum, only 20 percent of people with closed head TBIs suffer from seizures.
Medication can treat 70 to 80 percent of victims, allowing them to return to most activities. Seizures can create lifelong safety issues, limiting employability and enjoyment of life. Many people with seizures can never drive or go swimming without supervision, and they remain at a constant risk of further injury.
Traumatic Brain Injury and Personality or Behavioral Changes
TBIS can lead to a number of behavioral or emotional changes. Depression, outbursts of unprovoked anger, a loss of inhibitions, or uncontrollable impulses to cry can occur after traumatic brain injuries and can result in frightening episodes. These can lead to dangerous consequences including violent criminal behavior or even self-harm or suicide. Often symptoms will not start to appear until long after the initial injury.
For example, someone with damage to the frontal lobe, which governs personality and impulse control, can suffer from uncontrollable outbursts even after recovery. They may emerge from recovery with what experts call a “flat affect,” a muted or emotionless demeanor.
Specific behaviors that may emerge as a result of a TBI include:
- Verbal and/or physical outburst
- Poor judgment and disinhibition
- Impulsive behavior
- Rigidity and inflexibility
- Risky behavior
- Lack of empathy
- Lack of motivation or initiative
- Depression or anxiety
Damage Compensation for Traumatic Brain Injury Victims
Traumatic brain injuries are often caused by negligence or recklessness of others. TBI 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
- Loss of consortium by an affected spouse
Obtaining compensation for a brain injury can be a difficult process. 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 objective physical injuries that can be shown to a jury. Brain imaging, such as CT scans, MRIs, PET scans, and SPECT scans can be helpful in diagnosing and proving brain injury claims. Neurophysical testing may be recommended for identifying cognitive difficulties and deficits. Experienced brain injury lawyers use qualified experts, evidence, and proven strategies to obtain the compensation brain injury victims deserve.
What Should You Do If You or a Loved One Have Suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury?
The most important thing you can do is take care of yourself or your loved ones and obtain the necessary medical treatment. If you or a loved one have suffered a traumatic brain injury because of someone else, it is crucial that you reach out to a brain injury lawyer as soon as possible. You need someone on your side to ensure your rights are protected.
These injuries are not always immediately apparent, and the full effects can take days, weeks, or months to emerge. If you believe you have suffered a brain injury, it is critical to maintain detailed medical records.
It is recommended that you contact a personal injury attorney experienced in handling brain injury claims because navigating the paperwork and requirements for determining damages and compensation for brain injuries is difficult.
Contact the Brain Injury Attorneys at Burg Simpson Today
Our experienced personal injury lawyers have helped thousands of people suffering from serious personal injuries, including concussions, traumatic brain injuries, and closed head injury cases, rebuild their lives. Our firm has the experience and resources to help brain injury victims navigate the many legal issues that surround these cases, including accident and medical investigation, insurance claims, settlement negotiations, and litigating in court.
If you have suffered a traumatic brain injury, time may be limited to file a claim. Call us now at (720) 500-5995 or fill out our FREE case evaluation form.