When a person strikes their head or neck in an accident, they may suffer a traumatic head or brain injury (TBI) that leaves them debilitated. In some instances, TBIs cause short-term symptoms, while at other times, they can cause lifelong impairments. In the worst-case scenario, an accident victim who suffers a TBI may need to rely upon full-time caregivers at a nursing home or assisted living facility for their daily needs.
If you or someone you care about suffered a TBI in a recent accident, you should speak with a knowledgeable traumatic brain injury lawyer as soon as possible about your legal matter. Your lawyer can meet with you to determine if you are eligible to file a personal injury claim for damages. If so, your lawyer can file the claim on your behalf and pursue the full monetary damages you deserve for your TBI and its aftermath.
Common TBIs and Symptoms
TBIs usually occur when someone strikes their head on something in an accident. For example, in a motor vehicle crash, a driver or passenger might strike their head on the steering wheel, headrest, door frame, or window, sustaining a traumatic head injury in the process. The same is true when an accident victim strikes their head or neck on the ground in a slip-and-fall accident that occurs on someone else’s premises.
One of the more common types of TBIs is headaches. While some headaches are relatively minor, others turn into full-blown migraines, which can affect an accident victim’s sensitivity to sound or light and cause constant pain.
Another common type of TBI is a concussion. A concussion is a bruise to the brain that happens when an accident victim’s brain strikes the side of their skull in an accident. This movement can also disrupt the neurons and axons that serve as the “internal hardware system” for the brain.
When something severs a neuron or axon in an accident, it may prevent the brain from communicating with other parts of the body, causing significant damage. Long-term symptoms of concussions include post-concussive syndrome, painful migraines, and even comas.
When an accident victim suffers a significant enough head injury, they may wind up in a coma that lasts several days or weeks. In the most serious cases, comas may be permanent and cause the accident victim to remain in a vegetative state. When that happens, they must rely upon life support.
As soon as possible after suffering a head injury in an accident, you should visit your family doctor, urgent care facility, or hospital emergency room for medical treatment. This is because TBIs are often difficult to self-diagnose. Moreover, TBI symptoms may not appear until days or weeks after your accident, and the longer they go untreated, the worse they may become.
Moreover, if you later file a personal injury claim or lawsuit arising from your TBI, the insurance company handling your claim may become skeptical if you delay treatment. In fact, the adjuster may believe that your injuries were not all that serious and do not warrant monetary compensation. Therefore, your best bet is to seek medical treatment, preferably on the same day as your accident.
When you go to a local urgent care facility or hospital emergency room, the medical provider on duty can order brain scans and other imaging studies to determine the extent of your condition. The provider can also physically examine you and, if necessary, make recommendations for future care. For example, depending on the severity of your TBI, you may need to follow up with your primary care doctor or a neurologist if your symptoms worsen.
While you focus on recovering fully from your TBI whenever possible, a personal injury lawyer can begin the claims filing process for you. Specifically, your lawyer can gather important documents to use as potential evidence in your personal injury claim. Those documents may include copies of your medical treatment records, lost earnings statements from your employer, photographs of property damage, and copies of relevant police and incident reports.
Once your medical treatment nears completion, your lawyer can submit these documents to the insurance company and begin pursuing a personal injury claim on your behalf.
How Do TBIs Frequently Occur?
TBIs can occur under a variety of circumstances when others behave negligently.
Some of the most common occurrences that lead to TBIs include:
- Car crashes are where a negligent driver operates their vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, violates rules of the road, engages in distracted driving, or exhibits road rage. People often hit their heads or experience a violent jolt in collisions.
- Motorcycle accidents when another driver crashes their car into a motorcyclist. Even when a motorcyclist is wearing a helmet, they can still be vulnerable to head trauma and brain injuries. A proper helmet cannot protect against 100 percent of head injuries, especially if a motorcyclist gets thrown from the bike.
- Commercial truck accidents involving large, heavy vehicles that can easily crush smaller vehicles and cause catastrophic injuries. These accidents are often the result of a truck driver’s negligence, though other parties can share liability for a resulting TBI.
- Premises accidents occur on someone else’s property, where a property owner fails to maintain their premises in a reasonably safe condition or fails to warn about or correct a hazard within a reasonable time, and a property visitor hits their head on the ground. These can include falls from high places or on stairs, which often cause victims to hit their heads. A TBI can even result from a slip and fall on level ground, as many people hit their heads on the floor or nearby objects when they unexpectedly fall.
You are not alone if you sustained a TBI in one of these occurrences and believe it resulted from a person or company’s negligence. Remember, you have legal options that you should explore with the right professional assistance.
An experienced personal injury lawyer can meet with you to discuss your accident and how your TBI occurred. Your lawyer can then help you file a claim with the appropriate insurance company and negotiate with the adjuster. If the adjuster refuses to offer you a fair monetary value for your case, your lawyer can file a lawsuit and litigate your TBI case in court.
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How Do You Prove a TBI Claim or Lawsuit?
Proving a personal injury claim that involves a TBI is sometimes an uphill battle. This is because insurance companies want to pay out as little money as possible to satisfy a personal injury claim or a lawsuit. After all, insurance companies are big businesses, and first and foremost, they are concerned only about their bottom line. Therefore, they will do everything possible to deny liability in a TBI case or try to minimize the injury consequences.
A knowledgeable TBI lawyer can help you prove the legal elements of your claim and aggressively negotiate with insurance company adjusters.
In a TBI case, the injured accident victim has the sole legal burden of proof. If they cannot satisfy their burden, they will not be eligible to recover any monetary damages. The at-fault individual or entity, however, does not need to prove anything in the case.
First, the injury victim must demonstrate that the occurrence resulted from someone else’s carelessness, negligence, or recklessness. To prove this legal element, the accident victim’s lawyer may need to retain an accident reconstructionist who can review witness statements, visit the scene of the occurrence, and review incident reports to piece together exactly how the incident occurred. Accident reconstructionists are especially necessary in cases where insurance companies dispute fault for the accident.
In addition to proving the liability element of a personal injury claim or lawsuit, the injured accident victim must establish that they sustained a head injury in their accident and their head injury resulted from the accident.
To prove this legal element, an accident victim’s lawyer may need to retain a medical expert to testify at a deposition or in court. The expert may be willing to state, to a reasonable degree of medical probability, that the accident in question and not a preexisting injury or medical condition caused the TBI. The medical expert can also establish that the accident victim sustained a permanent head injury in the accident. Permanent head injuries often cause the accident victim to experience pain, discomfort, and other symptoms for the rest of their life.
What Monetary Damages Can I Recover for a TBI?
Accident victims who have suffered TBIs may experience ongoing headaches, cognitive impairments, and other damages some of which are permanent. The damages that TBI victims can recover will vary from case to case, depending upon the circumstances.
Factors that influence the types and amounts of monetary damages that TBI victims may recover include the specific TBI that the accident victim suffers, the circumstances surrounding their accident, and the pain and suffering they have endured and which they may continue to endure.
Common damages and TBI cases include compensation for:
- Lost income, to compensate TBI victims for their lost work time due to attending medical appointments or if they cannot work due to the effects of their injuries
- Lost earning capacity, such as when an accident victim suffers a permanent cognitive impairment that limits their ability to make money going forward, and they must switch to a lower-paying
- Lifetime care costs, when a TBI prevents an accident victim from caring for themselves, requiring that they reside at a nursing home or assisted living facility on a permanent basis
- Mental anguish, compensating the accident victim for all of the emotional distress they have experienced due to their TBI
- Loss of the ability to use a body part due to the TBI, for example, when the TBI leads to a full or partial paralysis injury that prevents the accident victim from moving the affected body part(s)
- Loss of life enjoyment, to compensate the accident victim for their inability to partake in the social, family, and recreational activities that they once enjoyed due to their TBI
A knowledgeable TBI lawyer can help you maximize these damages so that you become whole again to the greatest extent possible following your accident.
Call an Experienced TBI Lawyer About Your Legal Matter Today
If you or a person you care about suffered a TBI in an accident that someone else caused, you should talk with a personal injury lawyer about your legal options right away. In a TBI case, as with all personal injury cases, the accident victim has only two years from their accident date in which to file a personal injury claim or lawsuit seeking monetary damages.
This two-year time clock starts running on the accident date and expires exactly two years later, to the day. If the accident victim has not filed a lawsuit in the court system by that time, the court will dismiss their claim, and they will not be eligible to recover monetary damages for their TBI. Therefore, you should speak with an experienced TBI lawyer as soon as possible.
If the statute of limitations clock is running short in your case, your lawyer can promptly file a lawsuit on your behalf in the court system, safeguarding your right to recover the monetary damages you need. In addition, your lawyer can pursue a favorable settlement offer from the insurance company and, if necessary, threaten the insurance company with litigation.
If litigation becomes necessary in your TBI case, your lawyer can aggressively advocate for your interest while your case proceeds to the court system. Your lawyer can also explore alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, such as mediation or binding arbitration, as an alternative to a jury trial in your case.
Your TBI may have caused extensive and life-changing losses, but no matter which way your case proceeds, your lawyer will do everything they can to help you recover the maximum damages you need.