According to TBI statistics, approximately 2.8 million individuals suffer a brain injury every year in the U.S. About 30% of injury-related deaths cause traumatic brain injuries, and car accidents contribute to 14% of those cases. Often brain injuries can result in life-altering disabilities. If the brain injury results from physical damage caused by another person's negligence, the victim can recover compensation with the help of an injury attorney. You can continue reading to learn how brain injury is classified as an injury and how a personal injury attorney can help.
Non-Traumatic Brain Injury
A non-traumatic brain injury, also known as acquired brain injury, can happen during or after birth. These injuries are typically not the result of an accident but an ongoing illness. Sometimes, when TBIs are not diagnosed or treated initially, they can develop into non-traumatic brain injuries. Acquired brain injuries can also occur chemically or spontaneously; for example, drowning can cause permanent brain dysfunction, prolonged exposure to specific chemicals can result in brain cancer, and birthing injuries can cause cerebral palsy. The following are the common types of non-traumatic brain injuries:
- Anoxic Brain Injury: This results from a lack of oxygen to the brain in events such as heart attacks, drowning, overdosing, choking, or suffocating. Death of brain cells occurs quickly after four minutes without oxygen. Brain cell death can result in long-term complications such as personality changes or mobility issues.
- Hypoxic Brain Injuries: When the brain suffers from partial loss of oxygen, it can result in a hypoxic brain injury, such as during a stroke. The inability of the lungs to oxygenate the blood, excessive carbon monoxide exposure, or altitude sickness can cause hypoxic brain damage.
- Dementia or Alzheimer's: Dementia is a major cognitive disorder that results in a decline in an individual's cognitive ability. Alzheimer's is a specific brain injury that gradually progresses and affects an individual's behavior, memory, and thinking. It can also lead to dementia.
- Aneurysm: The bulging of a brain artery that disrupts blood supply to the brain is known as an aneurysm.
- Hemorrhage: The bursting of a brain artery that causes bleeding in the surrounding tissues.
- Encephalitis: A brain inflammation caused by an infection.
- Meningitis: The infection of the protective tissue of the brain.
Diagnostic procedures, such as open MRI, can help rule out brain injuries. Healthcare professionals will select the most appropriate imaging technique based on the patient's condition, medical history, and the information needed for an accurate diagnosis.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Traumatic brain injuries can result from a hard impact to the head. TBIs are the leading cause of disabilities. The angle and force of impact determine the nature of the traumatic damage. Such injuries inhibit normal brain function and can have long-term complications. Any object that impacts brain cells or goes through the brain tissue can cause TBI. These are further grouped into two types:
Open Traumatic Brain Injuries
Open traumatic brain injuries can occur when sharp objects impale the skull, causing fractures and multiple complications. These injuries can result in permanent brain damage. Open traumatic brain injury, such as brain swelling, can disrupt blood flow in the brain and, in severe cases, cause hypoxic brain damage.
Closed Traumatic Brain Injuries
These injuries occur when the brain collides with the inside of the skull due to a violent jolt. Closed brain injuries can be mild, moderate, or severe, but even mild ones can result in permanent brain damage and disability if not treated immediately. Closed traumatic brain injury types include DAI (diffuse axonal injuries), coma, and brain contusions.
The Most Common Causes of Traumatic Brain Injury
Suffering from a fall is one of the leading causes of traumatic brain injuries. Additional causes are car accidents, assault, self-harm, being struck in the head by an object, explosions, domestic violence, sports injuries, and combat injuries. Generally, children under four years old are highly at risk of suffering a traumatic brain injury if they get hit in the head or suffer any accident. Adults over 60 can suffer TBIs from a slip and fall accident, while traumatic brain injuries are common in young people who get involved in car accidents.
Proving Fault in a Brain Injury Case
Sometimes brain injuries are not known right after the accident, so avoiding medical treatment when you get involved in an accident can be a big mistake. Medical experts generally take images of a brain through a CT (computerized tomography) scan and run additional tests such as MRIs (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), GCS (Glasgow Coma Test), etc. These tests help them determine the nature of the brain injury and can serve as sufficient evidence in court in a brain injury case.
Personal injury attorney T. Madden states that a lawyer can be beneficial, as they can build a strong case for you to get compensation for your suffering from the brain injury. They can also help you gather evidence, such as medical reports and physician testimony, that can reinforce your case and prove the opposing party's fault in the brain injury.
Treating Brain Injury
Immediate medical attention is crucial, focusing on stabilization, which may involve addressing life-threatening issues, ensuring oxygen supply, and controlling bleeding. Surgery may be required in some cases to address hematomas, damaged blood vessels, or intracranial pressure.
Medications manage symptoms and complications like pain, swelling, seizures, and infections. Rehabilitation, encompassing physical, occupational, and speech therapy, is essential for moderate to severe cases to help patients regain lost functions. Neurological monitoring and pain management are integral, along with cognitive and behavioral therapy, to address emotional and behavioral changes. Supportive care and a caring environment, coupled with proper nutrition and hydration, facilitate healing. Assistive devices and safety precautions may be necessary, and long-term management plans are required for ongoing needs.
Regular follow-up care and educational support for both patients and families are critical. Treatment plans must be tailored to the patient's needs to optimize recovery and quality of life. Moreover, the patients and their families also need psychological support with the help of a family counselor or psychiatrist.
Recovering Compensation After a Traumatic Brain Injury
Calculating damages is crucial because it lets you know how much compensation you deserve for all your economic and non-economic losses. For example, you can seek compensation for medical expenses, loss of income, and additional out-of-pocket payments.
In addition, you can also obtain non-economic damages for the emotional trauma you have been through because of the accident. However, calculating non-economic damages can be tricky, and you might settle for less in a settlement. This is one of the reasons why hiring a qualified personal injury attorney is vital. They are well-versed in laws regarding personal injury claims and can help you obtain full and fair compensation through settlements or a court verdict.