Brain injuries are among the most serious injuries that a person can suffer. Brain damage can leave a victim unable to walk or speak. After an accident, an injury victim could be in a coma or need constant in-home nursing care. Accident victims have the right to receive compensation for injuries and losses caused by another person’s negligence. When injuries are serious, compensation can be much higher, and it is even more important for the injury victim to protect their legal rights.
The experienced Port Richey brain accident lawyers at the Nicoletti Walker Accident Injury Lawyers are here to help brain injury victims and their families. Learn more about how brain injuries occur and how you can protect your legal rights after suffering injuries in an accident. The sooner you have an experienced Port Richey brain injury lawyer from Nicoletti Walker Accident Injury Lawyers fighting by your side, the better you may protect your legal right to compensation.
There are many ways a brain injury can occur.
Here are some of the most common accidents our lawyers encounter in our brain injury practice:
Brain injuries are not an uncommon problem here in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were approximately 2.87 million emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and deaths across the country due to traumatic brain injuries in 2014. Nearly a million of these cases involved children. This large number does not even include mild TBI cases (such as “minor” concussions) in which the victim did not go to a hospital. Traumatic brain injuries and brain damage are a widespread problem across Florida and the United States.
Some parts of Port Richey are simply more prone to accidents than others. Auto accidents, for example, are common wherever traffic is heaviest. Use caution when traveling on our main thoroughfares such as the 19. You should also beware of heavy traffic on major surface streets such as Richey Drive, Pine Hill Road, and Washington Street. Pedestrians should be especially cautious when crossing busy parking lots where drivers regularly have to back up, or in dark parking garages with limited visibility.
Brain injuries can also occur when playing sports. Local families enjoy recreation at SpinNations, Pinehill Park, the 5 Star Baseball Academy, and the New Port Richey Recreation and Aquatic Center. Enjoy these facilities, but use caution, and always be mindful of the risk of injury that comes with playing any sport.
Water sports can also lead to brain injuries. Be careful when sailing, riding jet skis, water skiing, wakeboarding, scuba diving, or even snorkeling. Be sure that other boats and watercraft in the area can see you. Be mindful of slippery boat decks, and never drink so much that you lose your sense of caution while out on the water.
Our attorneys determine compensation for any brain injury based on the actual amount of your financial losses and the degree of your physical and emotional suffering. Because of this, more serious injuries require more compensation in a Port Richey brain injury lawsuit.
Some brain injuries might resolve on their own after a few days of discomfort, and these will require far less compensation than a severe injury that leaves the victim with permanent brain damage. Protect your legal rights after any type or degree of brain injury. But the stakes are higher with severe injuries, and then you need to protect your legal rights by hiring an experienced brain injury lawyer.
In recent years, brain damage from sports injuries has become a hot topic in the news. Major football stars in the NFL reported that they suffer serious, permanent brain damage after playing even a couple of seasons of professional football.
These effects do not only apply to professional, or even adult, athletes, as a study at Boston University examined brains donated to science by the families of football players. The scientists looked for evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a syndrome that develops when the brain experiences repeated traumas over an extended time.
Researchers found evidence of CTE in 99 percent of former NFL players’ brains and 91 percent of college football players’ brains. Even teenage victims showed evidence of CTE, as 21 percent of the brains of high school football players also had this disease. This shows that you do not have to play professional football to suffer brain damage, and even young athletes can sustain repeated brain injuries due to the negligence of coaches, trainers, or other sports supervisors.
So what can be done? The recent backlash by professional athletes and parents’ organizations spurred some change in this deadly area. Companies are working to develop helmets that offer more comprehensive protection. High school athletic associations considered rule changes that will limit the amount of contact and trauma that young brains might experience during play. These changes will take time, and some sports programs will continue to largely ignore the issue and allow players to be at risk of serious and life-altering brain injuries.
Many brain injury victims experience unexpected symptoms. One common outcome of brain injuries is behavioral changes. Unfortunately, many patients do not expect this effect, and that can make it more difficult for their loved ones to recognize the symptoms and seek needed treatment.
According to the Brain Injury Alliance, an estimated 90 percent of victims who suffer severe disabilities from a brain injury will exhibit some emotional, behavioral, or psychiatric problems. Nearly half of these patients (40 percent) will still experience ongoing behavioral issues five years after the injury. And even those who suffer from mild brain injuries can experience lasting mood changes, irritability, and fatigue.
Recognize these symptoms and get the appropriate treatment for them. In many cases, the patient has no more control over these symptoms than over the physical effects of the brain injury (such as an inability to walk or hold objects).
Many factors can determine whether a patient will experience behavioral changes after a brain injury, what types of changes will occur, and how long these changes will last.
Neurologists, psychiatrists, and psychologists examine:
Many medical experts can help brain injury victims identify and treat these symptoms. A neurologist can identify physical changes in the brain, while a neuropsychiatrist can help determine how these changes affect the patient’s behavior. Both are medical doctors who can prescribe any necessary medications.
A neuropsychologist can administer tests that will help identify the exact changes in the patient’s mood, behavior, memory, attention, and cognitive processing. A clinical psychologist can help the patient identify and respond to triggers to better adapt to the changes caused by the brain injury.
All of these professionals can work together as a team to develop a comprehensive treatment plan that covers all of the patient’s needs, though this treatment is costly. You want to be sure that you financially recover for your medical expenses with the help of a brain injury attorney.
Another common source of brain injuries—especially in older patients—is falling. The CDC projects that falls will continue to increase over the next decade. The Baby Boomer generation is entering retirement, and as they age, the average age of the American population will increase. This means that certain diseases and injuries which are more common among the elderly will create a disproportionate burden on our healthcare system.
In one recent year, the CDC reported that 52 million Americans over the age of 65 suffered 36 million falls that year. By 2030, the CDC estimates there will be 73 million Americans over the age of 65 who will suffer 52 million falls that year.
While you might think of a fall as a relatively minor incident, the fact is that even a minor fall can cause serious injuries to an elderly victim—especially one who has underlying health conditions that complicate the recovery. Falls are also particularly dangerous when they lead to brain damage.
Older adults are more likely to slip and fall in parts of the house that do not pose much danger to younger residents. They can slip while getting out of a wet shower or get a walker’s leg stuck on a rug. They might have a difficult time seeing uneven pavement due to poor eyesight, or they might have a hard time quickly getting out of the way of harm due to declining cognitive skills that are a natural part of aging.
The fact of the matter is that falls are a serious problem that often leads to brain injuries. If you have an elderly loved one in the care of a hospital, nursing home, or care facility, that business has an obligation to take reasonable measures to protect your loved one from the foreseeable risk of a fall and brain trauma. Failure to do so can lead to liability, which creates a legal duty to compensate the victim for his or her injuries.
Though it is not pleasant to think about, the threat of violence is very real in our society. A victim can suffer serious brain damage from an assault, gunshot wound, or another violent attack. In some cases, the police can’t find the assailant. Even if this is the case, there could still be another party who owes you compensation for your injuries.
Employees who suffer an assault on the job can access workers’ compensation benefits. If you were assaulted at a business or a professionally managed property, you might sue the property owner for allowing the dangerous condition (violent criminals) on the premises. And if the assailants later face criminal charges, you could have access to the Victim Compensation Program through the State Attorney General’s office.
However, this compensation is often far less than you need to cover your brain injury-related losses, so discuss the matter with a trusted Port Richey brain injury lawyer.
Many potential defendants can be held liable for violent crimes. Crime victims need to hold assailants accountable in civil court, so they do not subject future victims to further violence and to ensure victims receive the full financial recovery they deserve.
Few criminals have enough assets to justify a lawsuit, but if an assault took place on a business’s premises, the owner may owe you compensation for negligent security—and there you may find an insurance policy that will cover your injuries.
A brain injury is a devastating and life-changing event. You do not have to face these overwhelming changes on your own. An experienced Port Richey personal injury lawyer can help you navigate the claims process and protect your legal rights every step of the way. A lawyer will also handle the claims paperwork and other administrative hassles so that you can focus on your recovery—and spending time with your loved ones during a difficult life change.
The experienced brain injury lawyers at Nicoletti Walker Accident Injury Lawyers are here to help. We prepared this guide of common questions our attorneys hear to help brain injury victims and their families better understand their legal rights. Of course, we cannot answer every question here, and we cannot give you answers specific to your unique case. This is why you need to call for a consultation with one of our Port Richey injury attorneys as soon as possible. Call our office directly for your free consultation. The sooner you have an experienced Port Richey brain injury lawyer fighting on your side, the better protected your legal rights will be.
Many accidents can lead to serious brain injuries.
Some cases our lawyers commonly see involve:
These are not, of course, the only ways that a brain injury can occur. Ask a qualified injury lawyer about your particular case to determine who is legally responsible for causing your injury.
The person or company who is legally responsible for causing your injury (“liable”) also has a legal obligation to compensate you for all losses you suffer due to that injury. You need an experienced brain injury lawyer who can find all potential defendants and prove their liability in court if necessary.
The person who is liable for your injury will depend on the facts of the accident. For example, an auto accident often happens due to a negligent driver. In this case, that negligent driver would have to compensate you for your brain injury.
But a car crash could also happen due to defective brakes or other malfunctions. In this case, the company that manufactured the defective vehicle could also be liable for brain injuries suffered in the auto accident.
In other cases, a brain injury can occur at a medical institution that you expect to protect the patient from injury. This could constitute malpractice if the doctor failed to properly diagnose a blood clot that eventually went to the brain and caused a stroke. In such a case, both the negligent doctor and the hospital that hired him might be held liable for the patient’s injuries.
A brain injury could also occur in transport if the orderlies do not use proper techniques to move the patient or allow a patient to move without assistance when needed. Here, too, the hospital that hires these workers might be liable for their negligence in completing their work.
There are many, many potential defendants in a brain injury case. If you do not have legal advice from an experienced injury lawyer, you could miss out on the compensation you need and deserve. You could also end up filing a claim against the wrong defendant or even missing the statute of limitations against the proper defendant. This is why it is important to have an experienced lawyer handling your case from the start.
To prove a brain injury claim, you and your attorney must establish that:
There are different methods of proving each element. Different cases will also require different strategies to prove all the elements of a claim.
For example, the defendant’s insurance company might accept liability and admit that they should pay for your injuries. But they are likely to dispute the value of your injuries and offer you less than is fair in your particular case. An attorney approaches this type of case very differently from one in which the defense denies liability altogether. A good brain injury lawyer knows how to prove all of the required elements in any accident case.
According to the CDC, symptoms of TBIs generally fall into one of four categories:
Of course, some of these symptoms can indicate a more serious brain injury, and should receive treatment right away. The CDC recommends that you see a doctor right away if you experience a headache that gets worse and does not go away, decreased coordination, continued nausea or vomiting, slurred speech, drowsiness, difficulty waking up, mismatched pupil sizes, convulsions, seizures, or any other unusual behavior. Losing consciousness is also a sign that the victim needs immediate medical attention.
It is wise to seek medical treatment after any head trauma.
Children can also experience serious brain injuries. You must monitor children even more carefully after an accident because children might not understand and describe their symptoms the way adults do.
In addition to the symptoms listed above, parents and caregivers should monitor children for changes in behavior. Infants who will not stop crying and are inconsolable might be suffering from a brain injury. Changes in eating patterns, such as refusing to nurse or eat, can also be danger signs.
It is always best to err on the side of caution when evaluating a child with a potential brain injury. Only a qualified medical professional can determine the extent of your child’s injuries after an accident.
If your brain injuries are permanent, you will endure financial and physical losses for the rest of your life. You might never return to work. You will have ongoing medical bills from your primary care doctor, medical specialists, and ongoing rehabilitation treatments (such as speech therapy or occupational therapy). You will also endure pain and suffering for the rest of your life.
But you cannot wait to file a claim until you have actually incurred all of these losses. The statute of limitations on most injury claims is four years in Florida, and you have to file your claim in court by this time or lose your right to sue forever. Some circumstances can shorten this deadline.
So how will your injury lawyer ensure that you receive compensation for these future losses? Brain injury lawyers work with expert witnesses to make accurate estimates of the future costs and losses associated with your injuries. An economist can take the wages you earned before the accident to calculate the wages you would have earned after the accident. They can adjust these numbers for inflation to get the total value of the wages you would have earned between the time of the accident and your expected retirement.
The economist will also calculate the value of employment benefits, such as an employer’s contributions to your health insurance premiums or retirement accounts. All of these figures allow the economist to make an educated projection about the value of your future lost wages.
Similarly, a life care planner or medical expert can testify about the projected cost of the medical care you will require for the rest of your life. The defense can counter these estimates with their own experts, but these professionals have experience making defensible estimates that you can prove in court.
Every injury case is different. Some cases are simple and flow smoothly, such as when the defendant’s insurance company accepts liability, the victim finishes medical treatment quickly, and the parties can negotiate the value of the claim with little resistance on either side. These claims can wrap up within a couple of short weeks of finishing your medical treatment.
Unfortunately, not all cases are quite this easy. In some cases, the defendant’s insurance company denies liability altogether. After all, if their client wasn’t at fault for the accident, they have no obligation to pay anyone for their injuries. In this case, your injury lawyer might have to present expert witnesses (such as an accident reconstructionist) to testify about how exactly the accident occurred.
The lawyer might need to present complex legal arguments about what the defendant’s duty of care was—and how he or she violated it. Simply establishing liability can be challenging legal work.
Even if the issue of liability resolves, the defendant and their insurer will almost always dispute the value of your claim. Some losses are easy to document, such as medical bills, for example, which you can show on detailed and itemized statements. But even this clear evidence can be a target for attacks by the defense. They might say that you got too much treatment or that your providers charged more than is reasonable for the care they rendered.
The defense might even say that you made your own injuries worse by failing to see a doctor right away or by failing to follow through on your provider’s recommended treatment. An experienced injury lawyer will know how to rebut these arguments with evidence from your own doctors.
Lost wages are another financial loss with clear documentation but areas for attack. Your employer can easily provide a statement that shows how many hours you missed from work and what your hourly rate is. (If you receive a salary, they can prorate your salary based on a forty-hour workweek.)
But the defense is likely to claim that you missed more work than was necessary. They might dispute your overtime, bonuses, or commissions. These can be compensable, but they are difficult to prove with certainty because these added wages are discretionary. This means the defense likes to attack these losses.
Pain and suffering is often the largest part of compensation in a Port Richey brain injury settlement or jury award. It is also the most subjective. It covers intangible losses, such as the physical pain of your injuries and your emotional suffering, that are difficult to prove with a dollar value. Because of this, it is one of the most popular areas for a defense attorney or claims adjuster to attack.
When a claimant does not have their own attorney, the claims adjuster will often try to tell them that their claim isn’t worth very much. This is legal advice. Never take legal advice from someone who is actively working for the other side. Only your own lawyer can give you a fair assessment of what your claim is worth by comparing it to similar cases in your area involving similar accidents and injuries.
Unfortunately, all of these areas of dispute mean that some claims take a long time to settle. Your lawyer might have to file a lawsuit to show the insurance company that you are serious about getting fair compensation for your case. Sometimes, this is enough to get a fair settlement offer, and your case can resolve quickly. Other times, the case must work through the litigation process.
Your attorney will have to exchange evidence with the other attorney in a process called discovery. The lawyers might have to work with a mediator or arbitrator to try to resolve the case. Your claim can settle at any point in this process. If, however, your case must go to trial, it can take time to get a trial date, present your case, and get a jury’s verdict.
The good news is that the vast majority of Port Richey brain injury cases settle outside of court. The bad news is that some brain injury cases involve very complicated medical issues that result in significant amounts of damages. These factors can make your case more likely to go to trial.
A brain injury can be a catastrophic event for any family. It can affect not only the victim, but his or her loved ones, for the rest of their lives. You might have the right to receive compensation for all of the tangible and intangible losses you will suffer for the rest of your life as a result of a brain injury.
Nicoletti Walker Accident Injury Lawyers are your resource for legal protection after any type of brain injury in South Florida. Our experienced Port Richey brain injury attorneys fight hard to protect your legal right to receive compensation for all of your injuries and losses, past and future. Call (727) 845-5972 or contact us online to set up your free consultation.
Don’t delay, as you need an experienced attorney who is familiar with insurance company tactics and knows how to fight insurance companies to ensure you get the compensation you deserve. Let the experienced brain injury lawyers at Nicoletti Walker Accident Injury Lawyers fight for you today.
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