Brain injuries can cause irreversible damage to your quality of life and the lives of those around you. Traumatic brain injuries often impact your cognitive abilities to control bodily functions and can drastically change your personality and decision-making skills. Our personal injury attorneys in Orlando understand the difficulties brain injury victims and their families face following an accident. We can answer your traumatic brain injury questions and help you fight for justice and compensation for your pain and suffering.
If you or a loved one has suffered a brain injury, please contact Colling Gilbert Wright in Orlando today at (407) 712-7300 to discuss your potential catastrophic injury claim. We serve clients throughout Florida and across the nation.
Head injuries can have a devastating impact on the victim, their family, and their community. These are some disturbing statistics about traumatic brain injury in our country:
- Seven million head injuries occur annually in the United States.
- 500,000 individuals are admitted to hospitals for head injuries each year.
- One in every 220 people in the U.S. is suffering from the effects of a head injury.
- Males sustain nearly two times as many head injuries as females.
- Motor vehicle accidents cause nearly one-half of all head injuries.
- Head injuries occur in more than two-thirds of all auto accidents.
Some of the most common aspects about brain injuries our lawyers believe you and your family members should know include:
- Causes of Brain Injuries
- Symptoms of Brain Injuries
- Types of Head Injuries
- Open Head Injuries
- Closed Head Injuries
- Seizure Disorders Caused by Brain Injuries
- How to Avoid a Head Injury
- Recoverable Damages for Brain Injuries
- How to File a Brain Injury Claim
Causes of Brain Injury
Many head injuries are caused by auto accidents. Even at a moderate speed, the head can be pierced by a steering wheel, by broken windshield glass, or from a bone fragment resulting in a severe open-head injury. Brain injuries can occur from any incident or accident that causes other injuries. They can even occur from small accidents, such as a child falling over or a minor fender-bender.
Traumatic brain injury, or TBI, is classified as either a closed or open injury. An open head injury is a penetrating injury caused by the impact of a bullet, knife, or some other sharp object.
Many of the brain injury cases we handle are caused by:
- Auto accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Truck accidents
- Construction accidents
- Railroad accidents
- Aviation accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Boating accidents
- Birth injuries, including cerebral palsy
Symptoms of Brain Injuries
Some symptoms of brain injuries surface immediately following the accident, but others can develop weeks or months later. This is why it’s important to seek medical attention after any sort of head injury. Symptoms vary from physical manifestations to cognitive and emotional deficits.
Some of the cognitive and communication problems that can occur due to a brain injury include:
- Slurred speech
- Problems concentrating and organizing thoughts
- Forgetfulness and confusion
- Difficulty learning new information
- Problems in social situations
- Difficulties in solving problems, making decisions, planning, and judgment
- Language problems including poor sentence formation, word-finding difficulties, and excessive explanations or descriptions
Focal damage from brain injuries:
- More prevalent in open-head injuries
- Other areas of the brain may be able to replace functions of the damaged areas
- Children’s brains are more flexible therefore progress more quickly than adults
Moderate to severe brain injuries:
- Swelling causes pressure on the lower part of the brain which controls consciousness or wakefulness
- Some coma patients are more responsive and can move, make noise, or respond to pain
- Can be completely unresponsive in a deep coma
Once a brain injury patient’s physical condition becomes stable, treatment can begin. The rehabilitative process can last for months or years with the following medical help:
- Speech pathologist evaluates cognitive and communication skills
- Neuropsychologist evaluates other cognitive and behavior abilities
- Occupational therapist evaluates patient’s abilities to perform everyday activities such as dressing and preparing meals
Types of Head Injuries
There are two different types of head injuries:
- Open-head injuries: Occur any time the skull is penetrated. This type of brain injury is very easy to detect, and the consequences are usually very serious and may cause death.
- Closed-head injuries: Occur when the brain is forced against the inside of the skull.
Brain injuries can also lead to seizure disorders.
A through-and-through injury occurs when an object, such as a bullet, goes through the brain and exits the skull shearing, stretching, and/or rupturing the brain tissue. Firearms are the single largest cause of death from an open-head injury—Approximately 91 percent of brain injuries from bullet wounds result in death according to the CDC.
According to the Brain Injury Association of America:
- Every 21 seconds, one person in the United States sustains a traumatic brain injury.
- An estimated 5.3 million Americans, a little more than 2 percent of the population, currently live with disabilities resulting from traumatic brain injury.
- 1.5 million Americans sustain a traumatic brain injury each year.
- More than 50,000 people die every year as a result of traumatic brain injury.
The physical and cognitive problems resulting from traumatic brain injury (TBI) can vary from person to person. The damage depends on the magnitude and location of the injury.
When a driver is hit by another car driving 45 mph or faster, in an instant, the victim’s brain moves from a rate of speed of 45 miles per hour to zero. The brain is propelled against the hard skull, squishing the tissues and tearing the blood vessels. The brain bleeds with no place to go within the hard, brittle skull. Pressure builds within this closed-head injury, causing critical areas of the brain to stop working.
The pressure from the traumatic brain injury can affect breathing and/or heart rate, leading to a life or death situation within hours after the accident.
Closed-head injuries can be very difficult to diagnose because they can arise months after the incident. Brain injuries like this can usually be identified by changes such as:
- Loss of vision
- Loss of memory
- Loss of taste
- Aggressive behavior
- Hearing loss
- Attention difficulties
- Bladder/bowel control difficulties
- Poor balance
- Poor motor skills
- Change in speech
The injury can be deceiving. Victims of closed-head injuries may seem fine immediately after the accident, walking and talking normally. But, within a short period of time, they start to experience symptoms of confusion and may even lapse into a coma.
The symptoms depend on the extent and location of the injury and can be subtle or major in nature. They might include:
- Cognitive symptoms:
- Short or long term memory deficits
- Difficulties concentrating, learning
- Struggles with attention, perception, judgment, and planning
- Problems with communication, reading, and writing
- Physical issues:
- Impaired speech, hearing, and vision
- Headaches, dizziness and vertigo
- Sexual dysfunction
- Muscle spasms or seizures
- Behavioral problems:
- Personality changes
- Mood swings and restlessness
- Fatigue, anxiety, and depression
- Inability to cope, agitated and unmotivated
- Excessive crying or laughing
Seizure Disorders Caused by Brain Injury
The possible lifelong effects of a brain injury are vast. Changes to the structure and function of this organ may affect movement, speech, development, health, vision and many other areas. Seizure disorders are one of the ways a brain injury may manifest in the life of the victim.
Certain brain injuries cause seizures, sometimes recurring seizures. A seizure disorder passed on genetically without an outside cause is not usually eligible for a lawsuit; however, you should pursue damages for a brain injury caused by an outside source of negligence. You deserve full and fair compensation for injuries caused by someone else’s carelessness. For example, you may have a case if the seizure disorder is linked to:
- Birth injury
- Complication or negative reaction after receiving a vaccine
- Incorrectly prescribed or dosed medication
- Failure to diagnose a brain tumor or other serious health condition
- Medical malpractice leading to an injury or health problem that causes seizures
These causes are preventable. When an injury of this nature occurs, the implications can be life-altering for the family involved: Depending on the severity, a seizure may cause loss of consciousness, physical injury, disability, impairment or death.
Epilepsy vs. NES Disorders
The most widely known seizure disorder is epilepsy. Epileptic seizures are caused by an electrical disturbance in the brain. There are also seizures not caused by epilepsy, which are referred to as non-epileptic seizures, or NES. It is these NES events that are most often associated with negligence, such as deprivation of oxygen to the brain of a baby during labor and delivery.
Organic NES have an underlying physical cause that usually can be identified. These seizures may be triggered by an underlying heart condition or may be brought on by medications or even immunizations. In one famous case, a 4 year old boy and his family were awarded over $4 million after suffering severe seizures after receiving a DPT immunization.
The signs and symptoms for these types of seizures are mostly the same. Oftentimes, epileptic seizures are obvious to the people near the victim. It may be marked by convulsions and loss of consciousness. NES signs and symptoms may be similar to a generalized epileptic seizure or to a partial seizure, and may include:
- Crying out
- Fainting or loss of consciousness
- Confusion after regaining consciousness
- Twitching motions
- Emotional swings
- Repetitive motions
If you think you have had a seizure or that you witnessed a seizure, medical attention should be sought immediately. It’s critical to get care right away. Call our attorneys once you (or whomever has suffered the seizure) are stabilized and thinking clearly. We can help you determine if you have a case to pursue compensation.
How to Avoid a Head Injury
Prevention is the best defense, especially on our highways. Here are some ideas to keep you and your loved ones safe on America’s roadways:
- Use seatbelts and support legislation requiring protective restraints, including headgear for motorcyclists and bicyclists.
- Drive within the speed limit.
- Don’t drink and drive and support legislation that enforces drunk driving laws.
- Wear protective headgear when participating in all group and adventure sports including: baseball, football, skiing, and bicycling.
Recoverable Damages for Brain Injuries
Brain injuries are often deemed catastrophic injuries because of the lifelong affect they have on your quality of life. The term “damages” refers to the monetary compensation you are seeking for your brain injury. Generally speaking, there are a few major areas of damages involved in brain injury cases such as:
- Medical bills (current and future)
- Lost wages (current and future)
- Cost of assistance for daily life activities
- Pain and suffering
- Diminished quality of life
- Loss of consortium (interference with spousal relations)
Pain and suffering and diminished quality of life are classed as “non-economic damages” since they are intangible and do not directly relate to a specific monetary amount. Calculating your damages in these categories and proving them in your case requires the skill and know-how of an experienced attorney.
How to File a Brain Injury Claim
If you have suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI), you know the impact it has had on your life. You may have lost your job, spent time in therapy, and be buried under the weight of medical bills. Performing daily tasks can suddenly become overwhelming, and your relationship with your spouse and family may be compromised.
All of this negative change may be obvious to you, but in order to win a brain injury case against the negligent party who caused your TBI, you will need to prove the specific damages that your brain injury has incurred. This is where our personal injury attorneys in Orlando come in.
We work with a team of expert medical witnesses to gather the evidence, documentation, and testimonies you need to not only prove the type and extent of your injury, but link it to the third party who caused it. Brain injury cases are complex by nature, but our firm’s resources and years of experience have equipped us to communicate your injury clearly, helping you pursue the justice and fair compensation you deserve.
If you or someone you know has suffered a brain injury, please contact our attorneys at Colling Gilbert Wright in Orlando today at (407) 712-7300 for a FREE consultation. Our personal injury law firm serves clients in Florida and nationwide.