Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are some of the most complicated conditions, not only to litigate in a personal injury claim, but to diagnose, treat, and live with. Their prevalence is alarming. Approximately 1.7 million people in the United States suffer a TBI every year, whether mild or severe. About 80% of all TBI cases are categorized as mild, but even those cases can result in lifelong disability.
The majority of traumatic brain injuries are caused by auto and motorcycle accidents, falls, and violence. Others may be caused by defective products while playing sports, or by explosive blasts and other combat injuries.
Although every TBI is unique, they share a common trait. The victim of a TBI is not the only one whose life is irrevocably changed. Entire families share the often devastating burden of a brain injury.
At Life Law, our team provides experienced and compassionate representation for clients and their families following traumatic brain injuries caused by the negligence of another party. We help clients in Raleigh, Charlotte, Asheville, Wilmington, and throughout North Carolina pursue personal injury claims and seek justice for victims and their families.
Traumatic brain injuries are caused by a bump, jolt, or blow to the head, or by something penetrating the skull. You don’t need to actually hit your head in order to suffer a TBI. The human brain has little space surrounding it in the skull. That is why even a sharp motion (such as a whiplash injury in a motor vehicle crash) can cause the brain to come into contact with the skull. The impact can break blood vessels, causing the brain to swell or bleed.
Brain injuries range from mild concussions to severe head trauma. Victims can be comatose or in a minimally conscious or persistent vegetative state. Swelling can restrict blood flow and limit the oxygen provided to brain tissue. Dead brain tissue can cause seizures, strokes, or even death.
Diagnosing a TBI is not as easy as diagnosing a bone fracture, laceration, or even a spinal cord injury. For example, a person may appear to be shaken but okay following a motorcycle crash. It can take hours, days, or weeks for symptoms to appear, such as nausea, headache, fatigue, loss of balance, dizziness, or slurred speech. Victims of more severe brain injuries may lose consciousness, suffer seizures or convulsions, lose consciousness and coordination, become profoundly confused, agitated, or comatose. The consequences of a delayed diagnosis can severely worsen the victim’s outcome.
Personal injury claims rest on a physician’s documentation of not only injuries but of the causation of those injuries. Without medical documentation, an insurance company will deny your claim. That is why it is important to seek immediate medical attention if you are involved in a vehicular accident, or suffer a blow to the head or a whiplash injury. In the emergency room, doctors will assess your responses to questions and verbal cues to determine your Glasgow Coma Score, used in diagnosing the severity of head injuries. They may use CT scans and MRI to search for signs of swelling and bleeding.
Insurance companies are motivated by profits, and profitability rests with denying claims. They will work to deny the existence of mild brain injuries and the symptomatology of TBIs make that easy for them. It can be difficult to prove that you can no longer retain information in your short-term memory, concentrate on tasks, or that there is a disconnect between your brain and your limbs.
In personal injury claims involving TBIs, it is vital that your healthcare team is comprised of the specialists necessary to document the full extent of your brain injury. Those include neurologists, neurosurgeons, cognitive rehabilitation specialists, and neuropsychologists. You will need expert medical testimony to support the damages caused by your traumatic brain injury, and a personal injury attorney who knows these specialists.
Although someone with a mild concussion may recover from their brain injury, many victims and their families deal with the consequences for the rest of their lives. Victims may be unable to hold jobs or do any of the activities of daily living, such as getting dressed, bathing, and feeding themselves. Worse, they may be in a vegetative state, unable to do anything — even breathe — on their own.
People who lack the mental capacity to file a personal injury claim on their own will need to have a legal guardian file one on their behalf. In North Carolina, you will need to petition the court to be appointed as the guardian of the incapacitated person. The guardian will be responsible for managing all of the affairs of the person’s estate, business, and property, and handle all duties related to the care, custody, and control of that person.
A North Carolina personal injury attorney will be able to help you through this process. Once the court grants guardianship, your attorney will represent you in a personal injury claim.
You can receive compensation for damages including medical and therapy bills incurred since the injury-causing incident, as well as future medical, therapy, rehabilitation, and equipment expenses. You can include the victim’s loss of income due to their injuries, including lifetime loss if applicable. Damages may also include the victim’s pain and suffering and loss of companionship or guidance for spouses and children.
If the injuries occurred as the result of fraud, malice, willful, or wanton conduct, you may also be able to receive punitive damages.
Traumatic brain injuries can devastate individual lives and families. They simply do not heal like a broken bone. Some victims face a lifetime of disability, medical expenses, and loss of their livelihoods. In a single moment, their lives — and the lives of those who love them — changed forever. Make sure that when you choose a personal injury attorney to represent you or a loved one, you choose one who has experience with the complicated issues of traumatic brain injuries.
At Life Law, we represent families in Raleigh, Charlotte, Asheville, Wilmington, and throughout North Carolina as they fight for compensation. We don’t back down from insurance company attorneys denying or minimizing TBI claims. We fight back. If you have suffered a traumatic brain injury due to someone else’s negligence, don’t wait to reach out to us for a free consultation.