Traumatic Brain Injuries and Head Injuries: What Are Your Rights?
You don’t need to be a doctor to know that your brain affects literally every aspect of your life. That’s why we go through such lengths to protect it: airbags in cars, hardhats at construction sites, and helmets for motorcycle riders. We prioritize head protection.
When you suffer a head injury, the result can be life-altering, debilitating, and even permanent. If that injury was due to someone else’s negligence, you need someone who knows the far-reaching complications that could result, and who will fight for the compensation you deserve. You need a personal injury attorney with experience dealing with head injuries.
Types of Head Injuries
Head injuries are divided into three primary classifications: traumatic brain injuries, open head injuries, and closed head injuries. The tricky thing about brain injuries, particularly in cases of closed head injuries, is that sometimes it can be difficult to gauge their true severity. For example, people who have been profoundly affected by a brain injury that does not reveal itself in a standard MRI of the brain. Science is still unraveling the mysteries of the brain and how it works. As such, head injuries and injuries to the brain are unpredictable.
It’s important to note that you can have a traumatic brain injury and open or closed head injury at the same time. They are not mutually exclusive. Any compensation you recover will take into account the totality of your injuries, so you would not file a claim for separate injuries.
Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)
Generally, a traumatic brain injury is a very serious head injury. It usually results from a serious blow to the head and can also occur due to a severe whiplash of the head that does not result in the head coming in contact with another object. Car accidents, motorcycle wrecks, truck accidents, and workplace mishaps like falls or falling materials can cause them as well. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) compiled data regarding the causes of traumatic brain injuries.
According to the CDC, these are the causes of TBI and their prevalence:
- Falls (28%)
- Motor vehicle crashes (20%)
- Being hit by or colliding with an object (19%)
- Assaults (11%)
- Others (12%)
The CDC defines TBI as “a disruption in the normal function of the brain that can be caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or penetrating head injury.“ This kind of injury can severely degrade your quality of life. Symptoms or results of a TBI can include:
- Impairment of higher level cognitive functions
- Persistent pain
- Memory loss (amnesia)
- Loss of vision
- Sensitivity to light
- Sensitivity to sound
- Tinnitus or ringing in the ears
- Limited functions of one or more extremities
- Abnormal or limited speech
- Inability to think clearly or properly
- Emotional problems
According to the last available data from the CDC (2014) about 2.8 million people suffer traumatic brain injuries in the U.S. each year. For more than 55,000 of those people, the injury is fatal.
Traumatic Brain Injuries and their many complications can lead to massive medical bills and lengthy rehabilitation as the patient tries to claw back their quality of life. Meanwhile, the majority of patients are unable to work or at least have reduced ability to do so, resulting in lost wages. There can be unforeseen costs in the future as well. These factors make it critical that someone who suffers a TBI through someone else’s negligence seek maximum compensation.
Open Head Injuries
An open or “penetrating” head injury means you were hit with an object that broke the skull and entered the brain. It’s usually the result of either you or an object moving at high speed or colliding. If you were to be thrown through the windshield of a car, you could suffer an open head injury. Objects traveling at high speeds also pose a threat, like construction materials falling several stories. Gunshots to the head cause open head injuries.
Open head injuries are obviously serious and potentially fatal. These injuries usually result in prolonged hospitalization and can require extensive rehabilitation. Many victims face consequences like:
- Traumatic Brain Injuries (see above)
- Shortened lifespan
- Chronic headaches or pain
In the case where someone dies from an open head injury, family members may decide to purse a wrongful death lawsuit. Our firm engages medical experts to evaluate and consider the short and long-term effects of your injury, and seeks compensation accordingly – from lost wages to medical reimbursements and even the shortening of your expected life span.
Closed Head Injuries
Closed head injuries are typically not as serious as open head injuries, but they can be more sinister in that they are often difficult to diagnose. There are not always outward signs of an injury. People may not even be aware they’ve suffered an injury, even though they experience its side effects. Family members and coworkers may notice that someone is showing the effects of a head injury. If left untreated, closed head injuries can still result in fatalities.
Some serious conditions caused by a closed head injury include:
- Subdural Hematoma – a collection of blood between the brain’s covering (dura) and its surface
- Epidural Hematoma – a collection of blood between the skull and the brain’s covering
- Intracerebral hemorrhage – bleeding within the brain itself
- Increased Intracranial Pressure – dangerous pressure on the brain from fluid or swelling in the skull
Often, these conditions are not visible to the naked eye and require medical evaluation to determine. Left untreated, they could cause further damage to the brain which can be permanent. This is why it is critical to seek treatment and close observation any time you take a blow to the head. That headache you feel may be a sign of a much more serious problem.
Concussions: An Injury With Unpredictable Consequences
Many people equate concussions to closed head wounds, and that’s not entirely inaccurate. Recent studies and research have given us more insight into the causes, symptoms, and long term consequences of concussions.
Concussions are brain injuries.
Concussions vary in severity, and research is finding that their effects are cumulative. People who suffer multiple concussions – even minor ones – are more likely to develop Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a form of dementia. So what exactly is a concussion?
According to the Concussion Legacy Foundation, a concussion is a “brain injury caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. Rapid movement causes brain tissue to change shape, which can stretch and damage brain cells. This damage also causes chemical and metabolic changes within the brain cells, making it more difficult for cells to function and communicate. Since the brain is the body’s control center, the effects of a concussion can be far-reaching.”
It may take a few days for concussion symptoms to appear. Here is a list of common symptoms:
- Losing consciousness (blacking out)
- Losing memory (amnesia, forgetting instructions, not being able to account for time)
- Delayed cognition (having trouble answering questions)
- Confusion (not knowing where you are, what you were doing, and so on)
- Trouble maintaining balance (staggering, coordination issues)
- Emotional inconsistency (inappropriate laughter or crying, mood swings)
- Sensitivity to light and sound
- Nausea (feeling sick, vomiting)
- Appearing vacant (a dazed look in the eyes, inability to pay attention)
The causes of concussions are numerous; anything from a car accident to bumping your head on a cabinet. They’re relatively common in contact sports as well. Whatever the case, seek treatment immediately, and if you believe your concussion was the result of someone else’s negligence, you should also seek legal advice.
Contact the Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin
A head injury of any kind is a serious threat. If someone else’s negligent act causes you or a loved one a head injury, contact us online, chat with us, or call 1-866-900-7078 right away for a free case evaluation. Let us put our experience dealing with head injury cases and our depth of resources and knowledge to work, fighting for the compensation you may deserve.