Brain injury is among the most serious of injuries that can occur in an accident. The brain is the center of human cognition, and any potential damage to the brain, however nominally small, is a major cause for concern.
There are a variety of different types of brain injuries. Minor ones (such as concussions) may be fully recoverable with time, although even these can have long-lasting effects and should not be taken lightly. More serious brain injuries can have effects lasting a lifetime.
Types of Brain Injuries
Some people are born with brain damage.
If a brain injury occurs after birth, then it is known as acquired brain injury (ABI). ABI can further be divided into traumatic brain injury (TBI and non-traumatic brain injury (nTBI).
Traumatic brain injuries come about as the result of some external force, or trauma, that injures the brain. Non-traumatic brain injury involves other causes, typically medical in nature (such as an illness or a brain tumor).
Both TBI and nTBI have the potential to be very devastating. However, the precise legal response to a brain injury will vary depending on what caused it.
In a traumatic brain injury, the party which caused the blow or external force may be liable. In a non-traumatic brain injury, you may be able to hold another party liable if you were exposed to a toxic substance (or other situation) which caused the injury.
Prevalence of Brain Injury
According to the CDC, there are around 2.8 million recorded cases of traumatic brain injury in the United States every single year. That’s not a small number; in fact, it’s nearly 1% of the population, every single year.
Of these, the vast majority merely lead to emergency room visits, and around 75% of reported traumatic brain injuries are mild. However, 282,000 people are hospitalized with traumatic brain injury, and 50,000 die.
70,000 people suffer permanent brain damage as the result of TBI every year, and 5.3 million Americans are living with a traumatic brain injury today.
Causes of Brain Injury
Traumatic brain injuries are frequently caused by a blow to the head.
The most common cause of traumatic brain injury is a fall. Other common causes include motor vehicle accidents, being struck by or against an object, and violence. Intentional self-harm may also be a factor, and for people who have been in combat zones, gun or bombshell blasts can injure the brain as well.
However, not all traumatic brain injuries are caused by a direct blow to the head. Some, including those which may occur in car accidents, come about as a result of rapid acceleration or deceleration, which causes the brain to impact against the inside of the skull, sometimes multiple times.
Sports are especially dangerous for TBI, with a few particular sports, including football, baseball, basketball, boxing, and cycling, posing some of the highest risks. Skateboarding and scootering, ice skating, and trampolines are also known to be dangerous, especially for children.
TBI can affect anyone of any age, but certain groups face higher levels of risk. Children and teenagers are most likely to suffer TBI, while the elderly are the most likely to be hospitalized or to die as a result of a TBI. African Americans, Native Americans, and men are also at higher risk.
nTBI is typically caused by a disease affecting the brain. There are a variety of such diseases, including hemorrhages, aneurysms, tumors, meningitis, encephalitis, and strokes, and these can have devastating effects on brain function.
Loss of oxygen to the brain for a period of a few minutes or longer can also cause damage.
Consequences of Brain Injury
The effects of a brain injury can be very serious. However, they will vary depending on how severe the initial injury was.
With a mild brain injury, such as a concussion, in which the sufferer loses consciousness for fewer than thirty minutes or so, they may experience headaches, disorientation, mood changes, nausea, irritability, blurred vision, and short term memory loss, among other symptoms.
If you are a parent, it is important to look for these symptoms in your child after they have suffered a blow to the head, because not every concussion victim loses consciousness.
With a moderate or severe brain injury, the symptoms can be even more serious. If the sufferer survives, then they may end up in a comatose or vegetative state, or lose function at almost any level of cognition. They may have trouble moving, sensing, speaking, remembering, planning, or interacting socially, and they may experience a variety of emotional and psychological problems.
The brain is a flexible organ, and with the right treatment a lot of progress can be made. New areas of the brain can be taught to take over the functions that were performed by the injured areas. However, some brain injuries are simply irreparable.
Brain Injury Recovery
Brain injuries can take a long time for the sufferer to recover, if they recover at all. Improvements are fastest during the first six months after the injury, and most will occur within two years, although improvement after this is also known to occur.
Brain injury recovery will inevitably be a difficult process, as well as an economically costly one. Medical expenses pile up quickly, and can range into the millions of dollars. For top-quality care, the costs may be even higher. Lost wages and long-term care will also be expensive.
In addition to these expenses, there will also be a lot of less tangible costs. The sufferer will have lost a part of who they are, and that part can never be fully replaced. In a million little ways, they will be reminded of this every day.
Recovering Damages in a Brain Injury Lawsuit
Fortunately, if you have suffered a brain injury, there are many legal avenues for you to pursue compensation. If you were in an accident which was caused as the result of another party’s negligence, then you can file a lawsuit against the party which caused your injury.
Brain injuries are a type of catastrophic injury, and the damages will likely be high. This means that you may be eligible to recover a very large judgment or settlement. Judges, juries, and insurance adjusters will recognize the magnitude of your loss and compensate you accordingly.
Nothing can undo a brain injury. These damages, however, will have a tangible effect on the quality of life after your brain injury. You may be eligible to receive very large sums of money, and these can afford you an unprecedented degree of freedom and autonomy, as well as improve the quality of care you receive.
The law can be difficult to navigate, especially if you are dealing with any cognitive challenges as a result of a brain injury. Do not let this intimidate you! Our team of skilled legal professionals will do all the legal heavy lifting for you, and ensure that you are able to handle the process and get the justice that you deserve.
If you have been injured, or a loved one killed, in a serious accident involving a closed head injury due to another party’s negligence, then contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible.