Whether you’re involved in a car wreck or workplace accident, there is always a risk that you will suffer some kind of injury. While we certainly hope these injuries will be minor, that’s not always the case.
Too often, our clients come to us suffering from traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). TBIs are caused when the head is suddenly struck or jolted and can result in serious brain damage. These injuries can range from mild to severe and have lifelong effects on the victim.
The brain injury attorneys at Cox, Cox, Filo, Camel & Wilson are here to help victims and their families determine whether they are entitled to financial compensation for their suffering.
Brain Injury Statistics
On average, 138 people in the United States die every day from complications of TBIs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2010 about 2.5 million people visited the hospital with TBIs. Of these, 280,000 people were hospitalized and 50,000 people died from their injuries. The remaining individuals received medical care and were released from the hospital, most with mild concussions.
Brain injuries account for roughly one-third of all injury related deaths in the United States. The leading cause of TBIs is falls, which account for 40% of all TBIs. While these injuries can affect anyone at any time, there are three groups that are especially at risk:
- Children, particularly those between 0-4 years of age
- Young adults, especially those aged 15 to 19
- Adults 75 years old and up
Classifying Traumatic Brain Injuries
Jolts, blows to the head, and penetrating injuries are the most common causes of TBIs. In light of this, TBIs are either defined as open or closed.
Open TBIs are caused when the skull comes into direct contact with another object. This results in the skull being fractured or penetrated as a result of a fall, blunt force trauma, or an attack by another individual. These kinds of TBIs can leave bits of bone, debris, or shrapnel imbedded in the brain tissue, causing further damage.
Closed TBIs can be much more deadly. Since the skull is not fractured in a closed TBI, the brain absorbs most of the impact. These injuries put the victim at a much higher risk for swelling and bleeding on the brain, which can result in blood clots, coma, and wrongful death.
After a TBI has been determined to be opened or close, doctors evaluate it based on the severity of the damage and symptoms the victim displays:
Mild: Some brain injuries are so mild that the injuries may not show up on an MRI. In fact, unless the victim loses consciousness for an extended period of time or shows a change in cognitive function, they may not even be diagnosed.
Moderate: People who suffer moderate TBIs could be disabled for life or they could experience no permanent side effects. In these situations, it’s a matter of how the injury occurred and the exact amount of force exerted on the brain. Victims may lose consciousness for up to several hours and experience physical, mental, and behavioral problems that can be permanent or temporary.
Severe: If a TBI is diagnosed as severe, it is likely hat the victim will experience long term side effects. If severe TBIs don’t result in death, they put the victim at risk for permanent disabilities and increase the likelihood of diseases like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.
Common Causes of Brain Injuries
The majority of TBIs are caused by falls (40.4 percent), being struck by or against an object (15.5 percent), motor vehicle accidents (14.3 percent), and assaults (10.7 percent). The remaining 19 percent fall into the “other/unknown” category, where TBIs can be caused by any number of things, including:
- Sporting accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Malfunctioning or broken equipment
- Construction accidents
- On-the-job accidents
- Truck accidents
- Domestic violence
- Maritime accidents
- War injuries
Signs and Symptoms of TBIs
Brain injuries can be sustained without being diagnosed, as is the case in many mild TBIs. If the injury does not show up on an MRI, the only real way to diagnose it is to monitor the patient and look for warning signs. Symptoms may be apparent immediately or develop over a period of days or weeks.
If you witness or experience any of the following in someone who could potentially be suffering from a brain injury, go to the emergency room or call your family physician immediately:
- Loss of consciousness
- Persistent and worsening headaches or migraines
- Dizziness, disorientation, or trouble balancing
- Extreme drowsiness, fatigue, or an inability to wake up from sleep
- Difficulty sleeping
- Sensitivity to light and/or sound
- Difficulty concentrating or general confusion
- Mood swings (unusually aggressive, combative, etc.)
- Tingling or numbness in arms, legs, fingers, or toes
- Slurred speech
- Changes in smell or taste
- Blurred vision or pupil dilation
- Ringing in ears
If the victim is a child, they may have trouble communicating whether they are experiencing the above symptoms. If you think your child has suffered a brain injury, look out for the following:
- Crying more than normal or unable to be calmed
- A stark change in eating habits or preferences
- Unusual moodiness or irritability
- Inability to concentrate
- Change in sleeping habits
- Excessive sadness or depression
- Loss of interest in their favorite toys, games, or activities
Brain Injury Complications
Many of the complications of a brain injury can be irreversible or fatal. Some may cost the victim their life while others may leave them in a vegetative state or on life support. The complications of brain injuries include:
- Coma: People in a coma will be unconscious and unable to communicate with those around them. Some comas are brief while others can last until death or until life support is switched off.
- Vegetative State: Someone in a vegetative state may be able to open their eyes, move, or make sounds. Like a coma, a vegetative state can be lifelong, but some people may come out of it and go into a minimally conscious state.
- Minimally Conscious State: Those in a minimally conscious state will experience a severely altered level of consciousness but will be aware of their surroundings. While serious, it is possible to make a full recovery from a minimally conscious state.
- Locked-in syndrome: This condition, caused by a stroke, leaves victims aware but unable to communicate or move. Many people with locked-in syndrome can communicate by blinking however.
- Brain Death: When doctors are unable to measure any brain activity, they diagnose the patient as brain dead. Those suffering from brain death must be kept alive with life support and will not live long if it is shut off.
- CTE: Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE, is a condition that people who have suffered multiple brain injuries usually develop. It is marked by severe side effects, such as memory loss, impaired judgment, and a substantial shift in personality. While scientists are researching a way to diagnose and treat CTE, the only way to be 100% sure if an individual has it is through an autopsy.
Hiring a Brain Injury Attorney
Brain injuries must not be taken lightly. If you suspect that you or a loved one may have suffered a brain injury, see a doctor right away. Seeking preventative medical care puts you in a much better place to discover a brain injury before it worsens or causes additional damage.
Dealing with a TBI isn’t easy. It affects the individual and their entire family. It can cause serious financial and emotional struggles, and saddle loved ones with debt from medical bills and extended hospital stays.
At Cox, Cox, Filo, Camel & Wilson, our attorneys understand how much a brain injury can affect your entire family. We’re here to listen, strategize, and act on your behalf to try and recover damages from the negligent party that caused the injury. Contact our TBI lawyers to schedule your consultation. Remember, you don’t owe us anything unless we win your case. Call us at 337-436-9541 or toll-free at 800-836-3702.