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 range of conditions, from a mild concussion to an open head wound exposing the skull or brain tissue. Symptoms can include headaches, confusion, nausea and dizziness, memory loss, and even personality changes. Brain injuries usually require long-term treatment, often in a dedicated facility, and that treatment can be incredibly expensive.
Every year, roughly 2.9 million people suffer traumatic brain injuries, 56,000 of which result in death. The total number of incidents overall has slowly been on the rise, but the number of car accident TBI deaths, once the leading cause if TBI-related deaths, has fallen dramatically over the last decade. In fact, falls are now the leading cause of TBI-related deaths.
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
If you or a loved one has suffered a brain injury, and you believe someone else may be responsible, you may be entitled to compensation. You should consult with our Colorado personal injury attorneys as soon as possible to examine your options and determine your best case of action.
Once you begin the process of a legal claim, the strategy is pretty straightforward. Your brain injury lawyer will fight to prove negligence in that the responsible party owed you a legal duty of reasonable care, failed to fulfill it, and resulting in your injury. This liability theory is standard when it is believed someone’s action (or even inaction) led to the injury. Fill out a Free Case Evaluation form now for help from our Colorado personal injury lawyers.
Causes of Traumatic Brain Injury
There are several activities that can lead to 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 serious head injuries occurred in 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, because of a big drop the number of auto accident head injuries. Nevertheless, car accidents remain the leading cause of TBI deaths among those between 15-34 years old. Research also shows that 70 percent of the 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 can often go undetected.
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 causing slips/trips and falls, are all examples of preventable causes of falls. The CDC data also includes falls on stairs or from ladders, falls from one level to another and falls into swimming pools. Finally, the CDC has found that there’s been a disturbing increase in falls as a result of intentional self-harm.
- Sports and Recreation
Contact and non-contact sports and recreational activities also can result in brain injury. Hundreds of thousands of sports-related traumatic brain injuries occur in the United States each year. In fact, the highest rate of brain injuries as a result from being struck by, or against, an object fell in the category sports and recreation activities. As a result, high school athletes, and in particular football players, are at a much greater 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 turned out to be 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, can also be perpetrated by caregivers outside of the home, can lead to permanent disability or 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. 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. An open injury simply means the skull has actually been fractured. This typically is the results of a fall or other accidents 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. The most serious injuries – regardless of whether it is open or close – can cause paralysis, loss of consciousness, and even death.
A mild traumatic brain injury caused by a blow to the head or a violent shaking of the head and body.
Simply put, a contusion is a bruise, or bleeding on the brain due to localized trauma. These are also usually the results 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.
This is just 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. Ironically, slower moving objects can cause more damage since they tend to ricochet within the skull. That being said, more than 90 percent of firearm-related brain injuries result in death.
- 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. The resulting buildup of blood compresses the brain tissue while also forcing inflammation in the brain. Damages can include seizures, lifelong disabilities, coma, and death. Warning signs include irritability, distorted eating patterns, exhaustion, ragged breathing, dilated pupils, and vomiting.
- Second impact syndrome
Recurrent traumatic brain injury, as it is often called, 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?
Not all brain injuries are the result of a direct blow to the head and not all are severe. Some are the result of severe skull fractures, while others are closed head injuries. But even a mild concussion sustained in closed head injury event can cause someone to suffer cognitive, functional, and emotional problems.
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 – but not necessarily in all cases
• Dilated 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 straight, 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 might 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. It is also worth remembering that the signs of any head trauma might not be apparent right away. Symptoms can take days or even weeks to develop. If you have suffered from a brain injury, contact our personal injury lawyers before it is too late!
What are the Long-term Effects of Traumatic Brain Injury?
Traumatic brain injury affects 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, Parkinsonism and endocrine dysfunction, particularly hypopituitarism, are linked with moderate to severe head injuries. Many consider TBI 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 simply because of missed education and work experience during recovery.
Symptoms of traumatic brain injury do not always present themselves right away. In fact, they might not appear for several months or even years and when they do, victims and their loved ones do not always make the connection with the head injury, which can make the experience that much more confusing and frightening.
Generally speaking, it is incredibly difficult to predict the repercussions of TBI for someone 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 head trauma victims is to implement a “disease management,” regimen similar to how someone might 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. The injury attorneys at Burg Simpson are here to help!
What is Post-Concussion Syndrome (PCS)?
According to the Mayo Clinic, “post-concussion syndrome is a complex disorder in which various symptoms — such as headaches and dizziness — 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 post-concussion syndrome does not appear to be associated with the severity of the initial injury.
In most people, post-concussion syndrome symptoms will become visible within the first week or two. In most cases, symptoms fade within the first few months, but can often linger for a year or more.
The most common post-concussion symptoms include:
• Loss of concentration and memory
• Noise and light sensitivity
Post-concussion headaches can vary and could feel like either a tension-type headache or a migraine. These could also be associated with a neck injury that happened at the same time as the initial head injury.
In some cases, people can experience behavioral or emotional changes after a mild traumatic brain injury. Family members should monitor victims closely for signs the person is irritable, suspicious, argumentative, or stubborn.
Seizures & Traumatic Brain Injury
Brain injuries can often lead to 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 happen in one 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 – if they come at all – 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 bullet-wound brain injuries experience seizures. On the other end of the spectrum, only 20 percent of people with closed head TBIs suffer from seizures.
Medication can treat anywhere from 70 percent 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 remain at a constant risk of further injury.
Traumatic Brain Injury & Personality or Behavioral Changes
As mentioned earlier, TBIs can also 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. Or they may emerge from recovery with what experts call a “flat affect,” a muted or emotionless demeanor.
Specific behaviors that might emerge as a result of a TBI include:
• Verbal and/or physical outbursts
• 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 Colorado Traumatic Brain Injury Victims
Traumatic brain injuries often are a result of 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/or 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, MRIs, PET scans, and SPECT scans can be helpful in diagnosing and proving brain injury claims. Neuropsychological testing might 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 thing you can do is to take care of yourself or your loved ones 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 reach out to 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 already running out on bringing a claim. You need someone on your side to help make sure your rights are protected.
These injuries are not always apparent, and the effects can take days, weeks or months to emerge. If you believe you have suffered brain injury, it is critical to keep and maintain meticulous medical records.
It is also highly recommended that you contact a Colorado personal injury attorney because navigating the paperwork and requirements for determining damages and compensation for brain injuries is difficult.
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 Colorado personal injury lawyers have helped thousands of people suffering from serious personal injuries—such as traumatic brain injury—rebuild their lives. Our lawyers 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 those who will not take responsibility.
Burg Simpson Cares.
Burg Simpson’s dedication to helping brain injury victims goes far 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 institutions. Shareholder Peter Burg is a past member and chairman of the Craig Hospital Board of Directors and is 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. Fill out a Free Case Evaluation form today!