Traumatic Brain Injury Lawyer
Contact Reiner, Slaughter & Frankel LLP For Help Today
Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) can cause permanent disability or death. Even a mild TBI can disrupt daily living, reduce your income, and increase your expenses. Because the brain controls all functions of the body, any interruption in the brain’s normal operations is problematic, regardless of the severity. If a person’s negligence causes a TBI, that person should compensate the victim.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says a traumatic brain injury is “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.” Children and older adults are most at risk of TBI, and the most common causes are:
- Being struck by or against an object
- Motor vehicle crashes
- Intentional self-harm.
Traumatic brain injury lawyers help people recover from TBIs. Their clients include victims of car accidents, boating accidents, trucking accidents, construction site accidents, and other serious personal injuries. Accident victims suffering from mild TBIs may face skepticism about their injuries because their symptoms aren’t always obvious. People suffering from severe TBIs may face difficulty obtaining the care they need and calculating the future costs of their care. Regardless of where a TBI falls on the spectrum from mild to deadly, an experienced traumatic brain injury attorney will advocate for the care and compensation victims deserve.
How Common Are Traumatic Brain Injuries?
The CDC estimates that more than 2.5 million TBI’s occur each year in the US. Acquired brain injury, which is a non-hereditary brain injury occurring after birth, affects more than 13 million people and is the second most common disability in the US. Older people and children are most at risk for TBI, with falls being the leading cause of TBI for both age groups. Vehicle wrecks are the second leading cause of TBI-related hospitalizations and a leading cause of TBI-related deaths.
What are the Different Types of Traumatic Brain Injuries?
Concussions or Mild TBI
Concussions are the most common type of TBI, and they are typically mild, with symptoms resolving within a few weeks. The typical treatment is rest and over-the-counter pain relievers for headaches. Mild TBI (MBTI) is another term for a concussion. Concussions can be severe, though, and anyone suffering a head injury should have a medical examination followed by observation for changes in symptoms or behavior.
Contusions are bruises on the brain caused by bleeding. Contusions are often caused by a strong impact to the head, like a head hitting a windshield in a car crash or construction equipment striking a skull. The impact causes the brain tissue to bleed, and the brain can swell as a result. Contusions often require surgery, especially when accompanied by swelling. Swelling may occur slowly, with maximum swelling occurring several days after the impact.
Diffuse Axonal Injury (DAI)
Diffuse axonal injury results from the brain forcefully shifting and rotating in the skull, which tears the brain’s connecting nerve fibers. The act of shearing or tearing the fibers disrupts the brain’s communications and chemical processes. DAI can cause permanent brain damage, coma, or death. The long-term impact depends on where in the brain the tears occur. High-speed vehicle collisions are a leading cause of DAI.
Coup-contrecoup injuries are bruises or injuries on both sides of the brain, even though only one side of the head gets hit. When the head is hit, the brain is injured at the point of impact. If the impact is strong enough, the force causes the brain to slam into the other side of the skull, resulting in an injury on that side as well.
Second Impact Syndrome (SIS)
Second Impact Syndrome occurs when a person who is still recovering from a concussion suffers a second concussion. This is a rare and usually deadly occurrence. After experiencing a TBI, a person should take steps to prevent any additional head or neck injury. Even a minor impact to the head, chest, or back can cause SIS.
Post-concussion syndrome occurs when concussion symptoms persist for weeks or months after the injury. Most concussions are mild, and symptoms clear up within a few weeks to a few months. When symptoms do not go away as expected, doctors may diagnose this TBI complication. Post-concussion syndrome is complicated and can disrupt normal activities and cognitive abilities.
Common Symptoms of TBI
People experiencing a head injury should always seek medical attention. While the following symptoms are common with a traumatic brain injury, not everyone will experience these symptoms. Additionally, TBI symptoms may not show up until hours or days after an injury. The safest plan is to get a medical evaluation as soon as possible after any type of head or neck injury or accident that could have caused such an injury.
Symptoms Associated with Mild TBI
- Brief loss of consciousness
- Feeling dazed, confused, disoriented
- Dizziness or problems with balance
- Nausea, vomiting
- Fatigue, drowsiness
- Changes in speech
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Sensitivity to light or sound
- Changes in any of the senses
- A decline in cognitive abilities, including memory and concentration
- Changes in mood, including feeling depressed or anxious
Symptoms Associated with Moderate or Severe TBI
- Loss of consciousness
- Persistent or worsening headache
- Ongoing nausea or vomiting
- Seizures or convulsions
- Difficulty breathing
- Dilated pupils
- Clear fluids draining from nose or ears
- Weakness, tingling, or numbness in fingers, toes, or other body parts
- Loss of coordination
- Extreme confusion
- Changes in personality or behavior
- Slurred speech
How a Traumatic Brain Injury Lawyer Helps Accident Victims
TBI’s are complicated. Every brain is unique, so head injuries affect each person differently. Insurance companies aren’t set up for individual considerations, though. They try to standardize everything from the checklist of head injury symptoms to the TBI treatments they will cover to how much treatments should cost. The experienced personal injury attorneys at Reiner, Slaughter & Frankel take a different approach: they know every client is unique, so they provide individualized advocacy. Each client has distinct circumstances, backgrounds, jobs, families, and social circles that affect how an accident impacts that client’s life.
Traumatic brain injury lawyers work to obtain the maximum compensation to which their clients are entitled. While each case is unique, the lawyer’s role and the steps to build a persuasive case are similar across clients. California law provides the framework and requirements for winning a negligence claim for traumatic brain injury. Actions that lawyers take include those described below.
Proving the Injury Occurred
A critical step toward obtaining compensation is proving that a client sustained a brain injury. Some people can withstand severe blows to the head with only minor injuries, while others experience severe symptoms after what appears to be a relatively small impact. Such a wide range of reactions means that proving TBI can be complicated.
Medical professionals use a variety of exams and tests to diagnose a concussion or TBI. These include some or all of the following:
- Obtaining a patient history
- Understanding the circumstances of the injury
- Conducting a neurological exam, which tests a person’s senses, coordination, balance, reflexes, strength
- Cognitive testing
- Diagnostic brain imaging such as CT scan or MRI
- Observing the patient for a period of time.
A CT scan (computed tomography) or an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) cannot detect most mild TBIs. These scans are best at detecting swelling and bleeding. Some specialized MRIs can identify microscopic changes in the brain structure, but most people with a concussion do not get these.
Most evidence of minor TBI is subjective—how the victim feels, what the doctor thinks based on her knowledge of TBI, what the victim’s caregivers observe—there is no definitive test to determine the existence of a mild TBI. An experienced attorney knows how to support the subjective evidence with concrete information about the TBI victim to provide a persuasive, compelling argument about the TBI.
Proving the Injury Caused the Symptoms
The symptoms of TBI are not exclusive to TBI. They could have many causes. A traumatic event of any kind, from an accident to a natural disaster to getting laid off, could easily cause headaches, fatigue, nausea, mood swings, irritability, confusion, inability to concentrate, and problems sleeping. These are also symptoms of stress. Because of this, proving that a TBI caused them is hard. Seasoned attorneys often depend on expert witnesses to help insurance companies, judges, and juries understand the links between the injury and the symptoms. Timelines of events, symptoms, and behaviors are useful. The testimony of people who spend a lot of time with the victim is also persuasive.
Proving Who Caused the Injury
To obtain compensation, a victim must prove who caused the injury. Skilled personal injury attorneys understand the legal requirements for proving fault and the evidence required to build a persuasive case. For example, if a store patron hits his head while falling, the store will blame the patron for the fall. A detailed review of the evidence, however, may show the store was at fault because it created a dangerous situation that led to the fall. A dangerous situation might be liquid on a floor, frayed carpet, unsecured mats, missing handrails, or objects limiting a customer’s vision or mobility. The evidence may include store surveillance camera footage; store maintenance, incident, and sweep logs; photos or videos from the victim; testimony of witnesses; medical records.
Advocating for the Best Treatments
Traumatic brain injury lawyers cultivate networks of experts on TBI. They stay abreast of TBI developments and treatments and connect with people conducting cutting-edge research. As a result, their arguments reflect the most current information, and they advocate for their clients to benefit from advanced treatments.
Obtaining Payment for Medical Care, Therapies, and Other Assistance
Experienced TBI attorneys consider many factors when calculating a client’s total damages. As with most personal injury cases, TBI damages can include the following:
- Lost income
- Future lost earnings
- Property damage
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
- Medical treatment not covered by insurance
- The cost of rehabilitative and ameliorative services, therapies, and treatments related to physical and emotional injuries
- Future medical and treatment expenses
Because TBI manifests differently in every person, treatments to address symptoms should be individualized. In addition, injured people should have access to the most effective treatments and therapies, even if they aren’t covered by insurance, are located far away from the victim, or are expensive.
Seasoned TBI attorneys advocate for clients to obtain the treatments most likely to improve their functioning. They work to persuade insurance companies to approve treatments. When calculating damages, they include the costs of all necessary treatments, not just those that insurance companies typically cover.
Get Help Today From an Experienced Traumatic Brain Injury Lawyer
The seasoned personal injury lawyers at Reiner, Slaughter & Frankel in Redding, California, help accident victims heal. Their advocacy is designed to obtain the maximum compensation possible. If you have been injured through someone else’s negligent actions, don’t move forward alone. Contact Reiner, Slaughter & Frankel today for your free no-obligation consultation.