Brain injuries are among the most costly of all personal injuries. This is because a brain injury affects every aspect of a victim’s life – it can leave a person unable to work or engage in hobbies. The victim might be unable to dress or feed themself. And even the mildest brain injury cases can result in mood swings, personality changes, and other symptoms that seriously affect interpersonal relationships with family and friends. The designation of brain trauma as “mild” can be misleading. Even mild brain trauma can result in medical complications that can prove fatal.
The designation of “mild” traumatic brain injury only refers to the initial presentation – not the long-term prognosis and not the full scope of the victim’s new limitations. Mild TBIs can also quickly turn into serious or fatal conditions. For example, a condition that a medical professional initially diagnoses as a concussion might cover symptoms of bleeding in the brain. By the time the bleeding causes noticeable symptoms, it could be too late to repair the damage, and the victim could bleed out.
This is why monitoring any injury victim after any type of trauma to the head is so important. As soon as the patient is medically stable, it is also important to consult with a Zephyrhills brain injury lawyer about your legal rights. Even mild trauma can result in permanent changes to a person’s personality, income, hobbies, and interpersonal relationships.
Injury victims are entitled to fair compensation for all of these devastating losses. The sooner you have an experienced brain injury lawyer fighting on your side, the better protected this legal right will be. Speak with Nicoletti Walker Accident Injury Lawyers about a possible case today.
The Centers for Disease Control reports that there were nearly 61 thousand deaths related to traumatic brain injuries in 2019 across the United States. Hundreds of thousands of victims also suffered from brain injuries that were not fatal but affected their lives in very dramatic ways. The problem is pervasive here in Florida as well. The Florida Department of Health reported nearly four thousand deaths related to TBIs across the state in 2012.
There were nearly twenty thousand hospitalizations that year for serious brain injuries. These injuries are not only emotionally devastating for victims and their loved ones – they can be financially devastating, as well. The Department of Health reports that the cost of these hospitalizations was over $1.5 billion. This does not account for the financial costs of ongoing medical treatment, lost wages, and other ongoing financial losses that brain injury victims must bear for the rest of their lives.
There are many ways that a person can sustain a TBI. Here are some of the most common injury scenarios in a TBI case:
There has been extensive media coverage of the devastating brain injuries suffered by football players in recent years. Scientists have found evidence of massive brain damage in even the youngest football players. Though sports leagues work to develop safer rules and manufacturers work to develop more effective safety equipment, players are still suffering from serious TBIs. This phenomenon is not limited to football. Any contact sport can result in repeated TBIs that lead to massive brain damage. In some cases, a sporting organization can be liable for these injuries.
Car accidents produce a massive amount of force due to the collision of heavy vehicles. If the crash directs this force at the head, it can lead to a serious TBI or permanent brain damage. Negligent drivers are legally responsible for compensating injury victims for all their losses. This includes all the financial and emotional losses associated with a serious brain injury, whether the condition is permanent or not.
Property owners have a legal obligation to maintain their land in a safe condition. This includes private homeowners, retail store managers, and the owners of public venues (such as sporting arenas or concert halls). If you suffered an injury due to dangerous conditions at any of these locations, the property owner could be found legally responsible (“liable”) for your injuries.
The United States has enacted strict consumer protection laws to protect consumers from defective products. If a defective product injures you, the manufacturer has a legal obligation to pay for the injuries it caused. The “strict liability” rule means that you do not even have to prove that the manufacturer was negligent. So long as the user was using the product as the manufacturer intended, the manufacturer must pay for all losses caused by your injuries.
Many different products could cause a brain injury. A defective helmet might make you more susceptible to brain injuries during a football game. A car with defective brakes could make you more susceptible to brain injuries in a car accident. A defective cleaning product could even cause non-traumatic brain damage with a dangerous chemical formula. In all these cases, the manufacturer would be liable for your brain injuries and obligated to pay fair compensation for all the financial and emotional losses they cause.
Though most brain injury cases involve physical trauma, there are also some brain injuries that medical professionals can cause. These cases usually involve medical malpractice.
Here are just a few examples of how medical malpractice can cause a brain injury:
These are just a few of the many ways that medical malpractice can cause brain damage. It is important to consult with a brain injury lawyer as soon as you suspect medical malpractice has occurred because there are statutes of limitations that begin to run as soon as the injury occurs. A brain injury lawyer will also need to act quickly to preserve evidence of your medical providers’ negligence.
Brain injuries can produce serious consequences. A TBI results in permanent physical and mental changes that affect them for the rest of their lives for many victims. It is important to work with a brain injury lawyer who understands these effects to secure adequate compensation for them.
A study published by the Journal of Neurotrauma reports that there are many medical conditions that they attribute to traumatic brain injuries. Seizures, sleep disorders, neurodegenerative diseases, neuroendocrine dysregulation, and psychiatric problems are just some of the many conditions that medical researchers have found in TBI patients. These conditions can persist for months – or even years – after a brain injury.
Many brain injuries result in mental health complications, as well. Some of these conditions are a direct result of the physical changes that have occurred within the patient’s brain. Other conditions develop as a secondary effect of dealing with the painful changes in the patient’s life.
For example, sleep disorders can worsen the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Frustration over new mental limitations can result in chronic frustration, which can, in turn, result in personality changes. All of these problems make it far more difficult to function daily. They can also impair relationships with friends and family members who make up a patient’s vital social support network.
Even if a TBI victim can deal with the medical and mental complications of their injury, the awful fact remains that they will likely have a shortened life expectancy. TBI can cause both progressive brain atrophy and an increased vulnerability to neurodegenerative disorders.
These outcomes decrease both the quality and quantity of life. Decreased life expectancy is one of the worst potential outcomes of TBI. As strange as it may seem, you are entitled to compensation for this loss. Injury lawyers have experience in helping jurors to consider and value this loss.
While it is impossible to put an exact value on the loss of two, three, or ten expected years of life, it is still a real loss. TBI victims are entitled to fair compensation for this loss.
You are entitled to compensation for all the financial and emotional losses you suffer due to someone else’s negligence. This includes compensation for the future losses you will suffer after your case has reached its resolution. In the case of a serious brain injury, these losses can continue for the rest of your life. It can take a lot of money to fairly compensate you for years of financial and emotional losses. It is important to work with an experienced brain injury lawyer who knows how to prove the value of these future losses.
In most cases involving a permanent injury, your accident lawyer will hire a life care planner as an expert witness. Lifecare planners have certification in projecting the cost of future medical care and expenses.
This expert will review your medical records to determine what future medical care you will require. Your future care includes assistive devices (such as a walker or wheelchair) and any modifications you must make to your home to accommodate your disability. Future expenses can also include the cost of in-home health workers, cleaners, and other assistants who help to accommodate your new limitations.
The life care planner lists all of these future expenses, then projects their cost and adjusts the total for inflation.
If you have a serious brain injury, you may never be able to return to any type of gainful employment. Even if you can return to work, you will likely have some sort of restrictions or limitations that limit your earning potential. You may have to work part-time. You may have to accept a lightened workload or fewer responsibilities, which in turn limits your opportunities for promotion. All of these scenarios represent a decrease in your future earning capacity. You can recover these financial losses in a personal injury lawsuit as future lost wages.
So how do you figure out your future lost wages? Again, expert witnesses may address this issue. You might require a vocational expert to testify about your earning capacity with your new limitations. An economist can review your earnings before the accident to compare them to your earning capacity after the accident.
(The difference is then calculated to your expected retirement age, adjusted for inflation, and added to the value of any lost employment benefits.) Experienced brain injury lawyers know how to work with expert witnesses to prepare reports with accurate projections of the value of your future lost wages.
The law entitles injury victims to compensation for the pain and suffering they will endure after the case has settled. In the case of a serious brain injury, this suffering can be dramatic. What is the value of the lost sense of pride in being unable to work ever again? What about the value of the personality changes and frustrations that often occur with brain injuries? What about the value of the impaired relationships that suffer because of these personality changes?
All of these losses can dramatically affect a person’s quality of life. Though it can be difficult to place a value on these losses, injury lawyers know how to present a compelling case to a jury. Jurors understand the frustration of not feeling well, the difficulty of strained relationships, and the very real sense of loss at missing out on major life events. Accident attorneys present these losses in a very real way to help jurors understand the fair value of your future pain and suffering.
Here are some questions that accident victims and their families commonly ask about brain injuries.
This depends on the severity of the injury and the treatment that the accident victim receives. Medicine has significantly advanced, but some TBIs are serious enough that they will cause permanent damage.
Some accident victims can recover from a mild TBI. However, they need to be vigilant about their symptoms. If they find that they are still suffering effects long after the accident, chances are that they will need more intensive care. By that time, the damage may already be permanent. This is why accident victims need medical care immediately after an accident if they suspect that they have suffered any form of TBI. Even mild TBIs can have lasting effects and complications.
Moderate TBIs will generally cause longer-lasting symptoms that could impact the victim for the rest of their lives. Here, the patient is more likely to need some type of surgical procedure or more intensive rehabilitation. This can include occupational, physical, and speech therapy. Many patients will recover most of their brain function, but they may still never fully return to normal. Cost is also an issue with these treatments, as rehabilitation from a brain injury can be expensive, and the accident victim may not work in the meantime.
With a severe TBI, the odds of a full recovery are much lower. It all depends on the location of the injury and the availability of more immediate interventions to relieve the pressure on the brain. The victim will likely need multiple surgeries just to stabilize their brain and get them out of short-term danger.
In this case, the extent of the recovery may not be known for some time after the injury. It depends on the amount of time in a coma and how long it took to control the bleeding and swelling in the brain. What is almost certain is that any amount of recovery will be slow and will come as a result of extensive intervention and rehabilitation.
All of this means accident victims will suffer some type of monetary damage, even with a mild TBI. It will begin with medical treatment and continue with the time that they miss from work and activities that they need to forgo.
The costs of traumatic brain injuries can remain with you for the rest of your life. If you or a loved one cannot fully recover from the injury, you may be dealing with effects many years into the future. The anxiety and symptoms that you feel may never go away. While it is hard now to know what may happen far in the future, it is something you need to anticipate now and be able to prove with as much certainty as possible.
You only have one chance to settle a brain injury claim. The obligation falls on you to document all the effects now, and you can only recover to the extent that you can prove the damages. You cannot file two claims or lawsuits for a brain injury.
With every settlement agreement with an insurance company, you will have to sign a release agreement. This means that you will not be able to file another claim for more money if you settle your case for too little. If your recovery is not enough to support you in the future, you are the one who is out of luck. The same thing goes for a lawsuit. Once the jury speaks, it is the final word on the amount of money that you get.
This means that you need to do all the work now to get the best possible settlement or award. The last thing that you want is not to have the money you need to care for yourself or family members many years in the future. Especially when you are dealing with a brain injury, you need an attorney who can work with experts to establish the amount of money that you will need to care for the injury for a lifetime.
You cannot fully recover financially with just an eye toward what you need today. Instead, you will need to establish a life care plan and bring evidence of what medical services may cost in the future. While you cannot know the future with absolute certainty, you at least need to make the best efforts possible right now.
The important thing is that a TBI victim gets treatment immediately. Some people may not even realize that they have suffered a TBI until they see a doctor. Patients should keep a close eye on their symptoms and seek medical help.
The first thing that a doctor will do is assess the severity of the TBI. They will administer the Glasgow Coma Scale test. The patient will be scored on a scale of three to 15 to assess their abilities after the injuries. The score may determine the extensiveness of medical treatment.
Some TBIs will require immediate surgery to treat bleeding and swelling. The key thing is for doctors to relieve the pressure. This is what can cause long-term damage. The brain does not recover the same way as other parts of the body. While the brain is bleeding, critical tissue and cells can permanently die. This is because oxygen cannot reach the brain while it is bleeding.
In the aftermath of surgery (or if surgery is not necessary), the patient will usually need to embark on a long period of rehabilitation. They will need to work with a variety of specialists and professionals to recover to the extent that they can.
Beyond this, the treatments that could benefit an accident victim include:
Needless to say, all of these treatments can be prohibitively expensive, including out-of-pocket costs for families that may already be struggling financially. In 2015, one estimate placed lifetime costs for treating TBIs at up to $3 million. That is just in today’s dollars, and medical costs go up over the years far faster than inflation. This is another reason why you need an attorney to fight for every dollar that you legally deserve.
As a claimant or plaintiff, you have the burden of proof to not only show that you suffered injuries but also to demonstrate the extent of your injuries. Without the evidence that shows your damages, you will not be able to fully recover. The insurance company or a jury wants to see everything fully explained, and they want to easily understand your situation.
First, here is what you may be entitled to if you can show that someone else was responsible for the brain injury:
When you are dealing with a brain injury, the chances are that damages may be greater than other personal injury claims. This is why proof and certainty are a must.
With a brain injury, you will need witnesses and documentation to prove your damages.
Here is what could help you:
Each of the individual elements of accident damages could be considerable. The accident victim is not just entitled to damages that they have already suffered, but they can also recover for what they will suffer in the future. This is why precision is a must, and a lawyer can value the claim. Otherwise, one may be in the position of guessing when they are dealing with the insurance company. It is hard to reject a low settlement offer and make a counteroffer when you do not know the exact extent of your damages. This is why you need a professional who has handled brain injury claims before.
The compensation process is difficult enough for injured accident victims. When you or a loved one is dealing with a brain injury, it can be even more difficult because you lack the bandwidth and capacity to deal with the legal process. Beyond that, insurance companies will intentionally make the claims process difficult to both wear down claimants and to save themselves money.
The best thing that you can do for yourself for the claims process is to hire an experienced attorney. Your lawyer will understand what needs to be done because this is what they do every day. They will know how to present your claim to the insurance company.
Equally as important, they will know how to value your claim. They can work with the appropriate experts to understand how much care will be necessary for the future and to learn the full extent of your damages. It is impossible to get the right amount of money unless you know how much your claim is worth, and you need a lawyer experienced in handling large claims.
Your lawyer will also know how to negotiate with the insurance company. A claim is a large negotiation, especially when you are dealing with larger dollar amounts. The insurance company will present an offer, but it will likely be for far less than you deserve. This is why you will usually need to reject one or more settlement offers before possibly agreeing to a deal.
You may not even reach a settlement agreement and need to file a lawsuit against the defendant. In some cases, this is what is necessary to obtain full compensation because the insurance company will not offer the money up on its own in the settlement process. They are not the ultimate decision-maker when it comes to your legal rights. This is what a jury does. Whether you file a lawsuit or try to settle is a decision that you will make with your attorney based on how negotiations are going.
At Nicoletti Walker Accident Injury Lawyers, our legal strategists have a track record of helping our clients choose the most effective way to get the financial compensation they deserve.
If you suffered a concussion or severe brain injury in any type of accident, you want a Zephyrhills brain injury lawyer from Nicoletti Walker Accident Injury Lawyers on your side. Contact us at our Zephyrhills office at (813) 489-6485 for your free case evaluation.
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