For countless Missouri residents, suffering from a traumatic brain injury can be a life-altering experience. When such injuries occur in the workplace, due to medical malpractice, or after a car accident, many questions arise about the legal options available.
At Holman Schiavone, LLC, we understand the challenges and have the experience and understanding to guide you to the best possible outcome in personal injury claims.
Traumatic Brain Injury – Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when an external force, like a sudden jolt or impact, disrupts the normal brain function. Although often caused by a blow to the head, a head injury can also result from the brain moving rapidly inside the skull, causing brain tissue damage.
Some common causes of a head injury include falls, sports injuries, and motor vehicle accidents. The symptoms of a traumatic brain injury vary depending on the severity of the injury and the affected area of the brain.
Typical Symptoms and Treatment
After a traumatic brain injury, individuals might experience physical symptoms like headaches, dizziness, and blurred vision. Cognitive difficulties can also arise after a head injury, making it challenging to concentrate or remember information.
Some people might also notice emotional symptoms such as irritability or anxiety. The treatment for a traumatic brain injury depends on its severity. Mild traumatic brain injury might require rest and pain management, while more severe injuries could necessitate surgery and rehabilitation.
Prevalence of Traumatic Brain Injury After Car Crashes
Motor vehicle crashes are among the leading causes of traumatic brain injury. The impact during an accident can cause the head to move violently, leading to the brain hitting the inside of the skull. This can result in brain tissue damage.
In Missouri, the prevalence of severe TBI resulting from motor vehicle accidents has been of significant concern of late, and is one factor among many that has led to recent changes in rules about distracted driving. For those involved in such accidents, understanding the symptoms of a severe TBI, seeking prompt medical attention, and getting professional legal help are all paramount considerations.
Mild Traumatic Brain Injury
Mild traumatic head injuries, often referred to as concussions, are the most common form of brain injury. After a mild TBI, individuals might experience a brief loss of consciousness or feel dazed. Common symptoms include headaches, fatigue, and slight changes in sleep patterns.
While many people with a mild TBI recover fully with adequate rest and monitoring, it’s essential for us to remember that even a “mild” injury can have lasting impacts. It’s crucial to seek medical attention after any head trauma, as symptoms can sometimes appear days after the incident.
Moderate to Severe TBI
In contrast to mild TBIs, moderate or severe brain injury involves a longer period of unconsciousness or amnesia after the injury. Symptoms are more pronounced and can include persistent headaches, repeated vomiting, seizures, an inability to wake up, dilation of one or both pupils, and weakness in extremities.
Such injuries can lead to complications like brain swelling or infections. Severe TBIs demand immediate medical attention and often require extensive rehabilitation. The prognosis varies, with some individuals making significant recoveries after a severe traumatic brain injury, while others face lifelong challenges.
Recognizing a traumatic brain injury in children can be more challenging than in adults. Children, especially the very young, might not be able to communicate their symptoms effectively. However, certain indicators can signal a potential brain injury in a child.
Unexplained irritability, changes in eating or nursing habits, persistent crying without a clear cause, and any alterations in a child’s sleep patterns can all be warning signs. Additionally, you should seek medical attention if a child displays unusual drowsiness, refuses to play, or loses interest in their favorite toys after a head injury (or even a suspected head injury).
Physical symptoms can also manifest as seizures, difficulties in balancing, or a loss of newly acquired skills, such as toilet training. Remember, even if the injury seems mild, it’s crucial to consult a medical professional. The developing brains of children can react differently to trauma compared to adult brains, and early intervention can make a difference in recovery.
Where Can I Find More Information About Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)?
We recommend referring to recognized medical institutions, neurological surgeons, and research centers for more information after any traumatic injury to the brain cells. The Brain Injury Association of America offers in-depth resources on traumatic brain injuries, including data, treatment guidelines, and preventive measures.
The Brain Trauma Foundation is another excellent resource on the cutting edge of research aimed at improving health outcomes for those with brain damage and injury. Other reliable sources include the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and your own personal healthcare provider, who can refer you to the best resources in your local area.
How Can I Help Someone With a TBI?
Improving care for those with traumatic brain injuries starts at a personal level. Firstly, understanding and educating oneself about the nature of the injury is essential.
By joining support groups, you can also share experiences and gain insights from others who have faced similar challenges. Advocating for research funding, participating in awareness campaigns, and volunteering at local rehabilitation centers can also make a significant impact.
Furthermore, family members can help by attending therapy sessions with the injured person, understanding their needs, and providing a supportive environment at home.
By donating to organizations focusing on TBI research or participating in clinical trials, you can directly contribute to the advancement of knowledge and treatment options. You can also work to push for stricter safety regulations, especially in sectors like construction or transportation, where the risk of head injuries is higher.
Education shouldn’t be overlooked, either. By raising awareness in your community by hosting informational sessions or partnering with local schools, you can emphasize the importance of protective gear in sports, which is a major cause of TBIs.
In the legal realm, ensuring that those responsible for causing traumatic brain injuries are held accountable can also pave the way for better safety standards and practices.
How Is a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Diagnosed and Treated?
Upon suspecting a traumatic brain injury, medical professionals typically begin with a physical examination and gather details about the incident. Tools like the Glasgow Coma Scale may be employed to evaluate the severity of the injury by assessing the person’s ability to speak, open their eyes, and move.
Imaging tests such as computed tomography (CT) scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are used to get a clearer picture of the brain and identify any damage or bleeding.
Treatment for traumatic brain injuries varies based on the severity of the injury. Mild TBI might only require rest and over-the-counter pain relievers. However, moderate to severe TBIs might necessitate hospitalization. During this period, doctors monitor blood pressure, blood flow, and oxygen supply to prevent secondary brain injuries. Some cases may require surgery to reduce swelling, remove blood clots, or repair skull fractures.
If you or someone you know experiences a blow to the head or any form of head trauma at all, it’s always a good idea to seek medical attention. Even if the initial injury seems minor, complications can develop over time. Even if you believe you have just a mild concussion, be sure to seek medical help.
Symptoms like persistent headaches, changes in behavior, weakness, numbness, or trouble with coordination indicate the need for immediate medical care. In children, if they refuse to eat, display unusual irritability, or exhibit any change in their normal activities, a medical consultation is advisable.
What Are the Top Causes of Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs)?
Falls top the list as the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries. This is especially true for older adults and young children. Motor vehicle-related accidents are another major contributor. Others include being struck by or against objects, sports-related injuries, and physical assaults.
It’s also worth noting that certain professions have a higher risk of TBIs due to the nature of the job. Always practicing safety precautions, no matter the scenario, can minimize the risk factors associated with traumatic brain injuries. However, it’s not always possible to prevent these injuries, especially when the negligence of another party causes an accident.
What Are the Complications of a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)?
The aftermath of a traumatic brain injury can lead to a myriad of complications. In the short term, individuals may experience seizures, fluid build-up in the brain, or infections. Over time, persistent post-concussive symptoms can develop, including dizziness, headaches, and cognitive problems.
More severe TBIs can result in long-lasting issues such as cognitive difficulties, mood changes, and even neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s or chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
A particularly concerning complication is secondary brain injury, which isn’t caused directly by the initial trauma but rather from the subsequent inflammation, reduced blood flow, or increased pressure within the skull. This can exacerbate damage to brain tissue and negatively affect recovery outcomes.
What Are the Types of TBIs?
Traumatic brain injuries can be broadly categorized based on the nature and mechanism of injury. A closed head injury is one of the most common types. Here, the brain is injured due to a blow to the head or rapid acceleration and then deceleration, without any penetration of the skull. Concussions are a typical example of this type of injury.
In a closed head injury, the skull remains intact, but the force of the trauma can cause the brain to move within the cranial cavity. This can lead to bruising of the brain tissue, blood vessel damage, and swelling.
Despite the absence of visible external wounds, closed head injuries can be severe and necessitate prompt medical intervention. Symptoms might include persistent headaches, nausea, memory problems, and mood swings.
A penetrating head injury, meanwhile, involves an object actually breaking through the skull and entering the brain. These injuries are particularly grave as they directly harm the brain tissue and can introduce foreign objects or bacteria, leading to infections. Immediate medical attention is especially crucial to assess the extent of the injury and to prevent further complications, like meningitis or brain abscesses.
Gunshot wounds are a prime example of penetrating head injuries, but car crashes or falls and workplace injuries can also cause penetrating head damage almost as bad as those seen in gunshot wounds.
Finally, diffuse axonal injuries can be especially devastating. Diffuse axonal injuries involve widespread tearing of the brain’s neural network, impairing normal brain function. Symptoms can range from mild confusion to a persistent vegetative state, depending on the extent of axonal damage.
A diffuse axonal injury typically results from a violent rotation or shaking of the head, as is often seen in car accidents or shaken baby syndrome. The rapid movement of a diffuse axonal injury can cause brain structures, especially axons, to tear, leading to widespread damage.
In all types of traumatic brain injuries, early diagnosis and appropriate intervention are paramount. At Holman Schiavone, LLC, we’ve seen firsthand the toll such injuries can take on individuals and their families. Our commitment is to ensure that you understand your rights and get the support you need during such challenging times.
What Are the Complications of a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)?
Traumatic brain injuries can lead to a host of complications, some immediate and others that can develop over time. Depending on the injury’s severity, these complications can range from minor temporary disturbances to permanent disabilities.
These may include seizures, chronic headaches, dizziness, and vertigo. There’s also the risk of fluid buildup in the brain, which can increase intracranial pressure and lead to brain swelling. Blood vessel damage could lead to strokes, blood clots, or other vascular issues.
Cognitive and Communicative Challenges
People with TBIs often face difficulties with attention, memory, and reasoning. There can be challenges in understanding and expressing speech. Such cognitive difficulties might require specialized therapies and interventions.
Emotional and Behavioral Changes
It’s not uncommon for individuals with a TBI to experience emotional symptoms. This can manifest as mood swings, depression, anxiety, or even more aggressive behaviors. It’s crucial to understand that these changes can be a direct result of the brain injury.
Degenerative Brain Diseases
Over time, a traumatic brain injury might increase the risk of developing degenerative brain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease.
Understanding the Legal Aspects of Dealing With Brain Injuries
When injuries occur due to the negligence or wrongdoing of another, legal avenues can provide victims with the necessary compensation and justice they deserve.
Navigating the legal complexities of personal injury law following a TBI can be beyond overwhelming, but an expert in personal injury law can take the burden off you and help you get the compensation you need to move on after a mild, moderate or severe TBI.
Why Pursue a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
After head injuries, victims and their families face immense challenges. From mounting medical bills to long-term rehabilitation needs, the financial strain can be debilitating, and the ongoing costs can be enormous.
Beyond the economic costs, TBIs can also significantly alter one’s quality of life, affecting personal relationships, career prospects, and even basic day-to-day functioning.
In cases where the TBI is the result of another party’s negligence, victims have the right to seek compensation for their suffering, pain, and economic losses. If another party was not just negligent, but engaged in gross negligence or willfully malicious behavior, punitive damages are meant to punish this behavior and deter it in the future. This is where personal injury lawsuits come into play.
The Role of Personal Injury Lawyers in TBI Cases
Lawyers specializing in personal injury law and, more specifically, traumatic brain injury cases, are well-equipped to assess the validity of your claim. Not every accident or injury warrants a lawsuit, after all, and an experienced attorney will be able to determine if your case has the necessary elements for a legal claim.
A good attorney can also gather evidence. This includes getting all the medical records concerning severe traumatic brain injuries and their treatment, consolidating eyewitness testimony to accidents or medical malpractice, accessing accident reports, and finding any other relevant documentation or evidence that will support your claim.
A legal professional can also help you establish liability. Establishing who is at fault is crucial. This could be a careless driver, a property owner who didn’t maintain safe conditions, a manufacturer of a faulty product, or any other party whose negligence led to the injury. In some cases, more than one party may be at fault.
Negotiating with insurance companies can be one of the hardest parts of the aftermath of a severe head injury. Insurance adjusters often aim to minimize payouts and push victims to sign off on settlements quickly, before they’ve had a chance to fully evaluate their losses and assess all ongoing costs. A seasoned attorney will negotiate on your behalf to ensure you receive a fair settlement.
Finally, if negotiations don’t yield satisfactory results, the next step might be going to court. A competent attorney will present your case there to get you the compensation you deserve.
Long-Term Consequences and Compensation
The aftermath of a traumatic brain injury can be life-altering. Even a mild concussion can have effects that go on for years, and in the most extreme cases, brain death or actual death can even result. The effects can be both physical and psychological, with some victims requiring lifelong care. Cognitive difficulties, persistent post-concussive symptoms, emotional changes, and neurological disorders are just a few of the possible long-term consequences of a TBI.
Given the profound impact of these injuries on a victim’s life and the lives of their loved ones, compensation from a personal injury lawsuit must cover many issues. Medical bills can include both past and future expenses related to the injury, and these must all be paid for. From initial emergency care to ongoing rehabilitation, these costs can be staggering.
If a victim is unable to work, either temporarily or permanently, compensation for lost earnings is crucial also crucial. TBIs can also compromise future earning potential, which must also be considered. These injuries also lead to immense physical pain and emotional distress. While it’s hard to put a price on such suffering, the law acknowledges this aspect in damage awards and allows for noneconomic damages to be recovered in a lawsuit.
Loss of consortium is another potential result of brain damage. This legal term refers to the negative impact the injury might have on a victim’s relationship with their spouse or family, which the family can claim compensation for. TBIs can also result in the need for long-term care, like medical expenses, therapy and rehabilitation, home modifications, or other future necessities. These can be very expensive and should be factored into a settlement package.
Mild Head Injury or Major TBI: Get the Compensation You Need to Recover
Experiencing a traumatic brain injury, or watching a loved one go through it, can be one of the most challenging situations one will ever face in life. Amidst the medical concerns and emotional turmoil, it’s essential to know your legal rights and pursue them. By seeking the expertise of skilled legal professionals, you can focus on recovery, knowing that your financial and legal interests are being safeguarded.
At Holman Schiavone, LLC, we stand beside those affected by traumatic brain injuries. We are committed to helping victims receive the compensation they deserve, ensuring they have the resources and support needed for the challenging journey ahead. If you or a loved one has experienced a TBI due to someone else’s negligence, reach out to us at 816-399-5149. Your journey towards justice and final healing begins when you give us a call.