When a loved one is in an accident that results in a serious injury (or even death), it is not uncommon for a family to hire a personal injury attorney to represent their interests. Medical bills, lost wages, the inability to pay for basic things in life because of a loss of income, pain, rehabilitation, loss of life or loss of the enjoyment of life – these are all things that no one is truly able to understand until they have to go through it. If a serious injury or death is caused by the negligence of another person, that person needs to be held accountable for the harm they caused.
One of the most serious, but hard to see, injuries that people suffer in accidents is a traumatic brain injury. The CDC defines a traumatic brain injury (TBI) as 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. Mild traumatic brain injury may affect your brain cells temporarily. More-serious traumatic brain injury can result in bruising, torn tissues, bleeding and other physical damage to the brain. These injuries can result in long-term complications or death. Everyone is at risk for a TBI, especially children and older adults.
CAUSES OF A TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY
According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, this occurrence is referred to as a closed head injury. Closed head injuries can occur when the head hits the steering wheel or side window of the car during an accident. A hard impact can cause the brain tissue to bruise, bleed and swell. Open brain injuries can also occur when flying objects in the car penetrate the skull and damage the brain tissue.
In 2014, there were 56,800 TBI-related deaths in the US, including 2,529 deaths among children.
Intentional self-harm, unintentional falls, and car crashes were the most common mechanisms of injury contributing to a TBI-related death. These three principal mechanisms of injury accounted for 32.5%, 28.1%, 18.7%, of all TBI-related deaths.
Rates of TBI-related deaths per 100,000 population were highest among older adults aged ≥75 years (78.5), those aged 65-74 years (24.7), and individuals 55-64 years (19.1).
SYMPTOMS OF A TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY
Brain trauma can result in a constellation of symptoms ranging from mild to profound. These include, but are not limited to CTE, headaches, loss of memory, fatigue, confusion, problems with impulse control, dementia, intermittent explosive disorder and other mental disorders. It is now believed that some types of problems associated with TBI can actually get worse over time.
Some of these symptoms may appear right away. Others may not be noticed for days or months after the injury, or until the person resumes their everyday life. Sometimes, people do not recognize or admit that they are having problems. Others may not understand their problems and how the symptoms they are experiencing impact their daily activities.
People that sustain severe head trauma that includes bleeding, open skull injuries, loss of consciousness and comatose activities are always immediately treated by emergency rooms in hospital or urgent care centers. Many diagnostic tools are available to doctors and neurologists today and are extremely helpful in limiting the permanency of brain injuries if immediately used. Cat Scan and Brain MRI are a powerful diagnostic tool to determine whether there is bleeding on the brain or other acute factors inside the head that may impact the treatment and care following a severe and acute traumatic brain injury. If bleeding does exist in the brain early and immediate detection can allow for an evacuation procedure that will drain the blood and prevent further injury to the head and brain.
For some time now, there have been developments that have raised public awareness of the dangers and prevalence of brain injuries. In January 2016, a federal district judge in Chicago gave preliminary approval to a reworked head injury settlement between student athletes and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Under the terms of this proposed settlement a seventy-million-dollar fund would be established to test for brain trauma. In addition, the NCAA is required to strengthen return-to-play rules after a brain injury. U.S. District Judge John Lee also suggested removing an across-the-board prohibition from future class action lawsuits relating to concussions. This announcement regarding the NCAA settlement follows an earlier settlement of the National Football League’s (NFL) concussion related lawsuits. The NFL settlement involved the payment of $765 million in potential compensation.
In evaluating the injuries to victims of traumatic brain injury it is important for a personal injury attorney to be able to accurately assess what a client’s present and future problems are or will be, as well as assist the victim and their families understand their legal rights and recover compensation. As medical science learns more about these sometimes-mysterious problems, an attorney will be able to get the client adequate and reasonable compensation for their injuries.