Our brain is complex and vital — for sensing, moving about, understanding and interacting with the world and other people. But it is also a very delicate organ. That’s why it’s protected in a hard shell — our skull. Unfortunately, many kinds of head injury can result in brain damage that can have life-changing and long-lasting effects for you or a loved one. Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a major cause of suffering and long-term disability. If you or someone you care for has suffered a TBI, you’ll need the best medical care, but you’ll also need the help of a knowledgeable and compassionate Decatur brain injury lawyer to help you get what’s fair and just, to compensate you for your losses and assist with recovery. To learn more or get started on your case, consult with an experienced injury attorney today.
Brain Injury Facts
According to the CDC, in a single year in the United States, there were over 2.8 million TBI-related emergency department (ED) visits, hospitalizations, and deaths; and over 837,000 of these serious health events occurred in children. In that year,
- TBI contributed to the deaths of 56,800 people, including, sadly, 2,529 children
- TBI was diagnosed in about 288,000 hospitalizations, including over 23,000 among children
When the CDC studied a recent span of eight years in the U.S., they found that the rates of TBI-related ED visits had increased by 54% over that time period. And those who survived a TBI faced effects that can last for a few days, or for the rest of their lives. One CDC estimate was that over 5 million Americans currently have a long term need for assistance as a consequence of suffering brain trauma. Damaging effects of TBI included impairments related to thinking or memory, movement, sensation (like vision or hearing), or emotional functioning (like personality changes and depression). These serious health issues not only affect the individuals, but also have lasting effects on their families. Some estimate the direct medical costs and other indirect costs associated with TBI amount to over $56 billion a year.
If you, or a loved one, suffered a head injury resulting in TBI, you need an experienced central Illinois personal injury attorney in your corner fighting for your rights. If the injury resulted from a preventable accident, those whose careless or reckless actions caused or contributed to it may be held liable for their negligence. If the injury was caused by an attack, the perpetrator may be held civilly accountable, as well as in criminal court.
Types of Brain Injury
One way to classify brain injury is based on the kind of associated head injury that caused it:
Closed Head Injury
In a closed head injury, the skull remains in tact but the brain is injured. Of the millions sustaining a TBI each year, the overwhelming majority suffer a closed head injury. They are often the result of blunt force blows to the head (as might occur in a construction site accident), but can also occur as a result of acceleration-deceleration trauma. In that case, the head isn’t even struck, but accelerates forward in one direction and then stops and goes back in the other direction (very common in car accidents). When that happens, the forces act on and are transferred to the brain, causing the injury. Most closed injuries result in a mild TBI, or concussion. It often occurs without an obvious blow to the head or loss of consciousness, and may not have any abnormalities on typical CT imaging scans. But the symptoms of this, often called postconcussion syndrome, can be very incapacitating. Of course, closed head injuries can also result in more severe TBI that can cause permanent disability or death.
Open Head Injury
An open head injury, also known as a penetrating brain injury, occurs when an object actually penetrates the brain. It can be an external object (like a piece of metal in a truck crash or a bullet in an assault) or, in the case of a skull fracture, fragments of bone that pierce the brain. This kind of TBI tends to be more severe and have more complications.
Common factors with closed and open head injuries
Either kind of TBI can result in bleeding inside the brain (intracranial hemorrhage), or around the brain (subdural or epidural hematoma). And, both can be associated with primary injury that’s the direct result of the initial trauma, as well as with secondary injury that evolves over time — such as brain swelling, elevated intracranial pressure, infection, seizures, etc.
Anoxic brain injury
There is another type of brain injury that can occur with without physical trauma to the head. Anoxic brain injury occurs when either part, or all, of the brain is deprived of oxygen or of the blood carrying the oxygen. If prolonged, it can lead to severe injury to the brain. This kind of brain injury can be seen with drowning, choking, smoke inhalation, carbon monoxide poisoning, and strangulation. But it can also be the result of birth injury or other kinds of medical malpractice.
Severity of Brain Injury
Finally, whatever the cause, brain injury, is sometimes classified based on the extent of the damage, from mild to severe. An example of mild is a concussion; more severe injuries would include coma, a vegetative state, paralysis, an inability to speak, etc.
You can see that assessing the type, severity, and cause of brain injury is complicated. Early consultation with a skilled brain injury attorney is crucial for a proper analysis of your case and assessment of damages.
Causes of Brain Injuries
According to the CDC report noted above, falls (such as a slip and fall accident) and motor vehicle crashes (such as a motorcycle accident) were the first and second leading causes of all TBI-related hospitalizations. Some other common causes of TBI include:
- accidental blunt trauma, such as getting hit with a falling object on a construction site
- a blast injury, such as might occur with an explosion
- work related injuries, such as when an employee is injured because OSHA guidelines weren’t followed
- medical malpractice, such as failure to properly monitor a patient or administer anticoagulants
- birth injury resulting from a poorly managed delivery
- physical assault or abuse — as many as 10% of all brain injuries are caused by violent attacks
- injury resulting from the use of a product that was defective or dangerous
Whatever the cause, if the injury resulted because of the negligence, recklessness, carelessness, or intentional bad behavior of someone else, you’re entitled to recover damages for whatever losses you suffered. You should have an experienced head and brain injury attorney working for you to make sure that you get what you deserve for the injuries you’ve suffered.
Symptoms of Brain Injury
The symptoms of brain injury can be subtle and mild, or obvious and severe. Because the brain is such a vital organ, the symptoms can affect every aspect of life —
- nausea and vomiting
- changes in hearing, or ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- changes in vision, like blurred or double vision, or light sensitivity (photophobia)
- dizziness, or loss of balance
- numbness or loss of sensation
- weakness or paralysis
Mental or cognitive symptoms
- confusion or disorientation
- memory problems such as short term memory issues or amnesia
- poor concentration or attention difficulties
- poor judgment
- trouble finding words
- problems processing information
- persistent or episodic anxiety
- sleep disturbances, either sleeping too much or too little
- irritability and agitation
- social withdrawal or isolation
- wide mood swings
- personality changes
Every Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is different. The duration of symptoms can be prolonged, and not everyone fully recovers. And, there is often a significant risk of future harm from the acute TBI. Even mild TBI, or concussion, has been shown to have long-term risks of post-concussion headaches (including migraine), persistent vestibular disorders (such as tinnitus and vertigo), an increased risk of degenerative disease (such as dementia and Parkinson’s), and the risk of post traumatic epilepsy.
A knowledgeable and experienced attorney, working for you as early as possible, can help you determine the extent of your current and future losses to ensure that you get just compensation.
Brain Injury FAQs
Can there be a TBI without loss of consciousness?
Yes. It’s certainly possible to suffer a TBI, especially a mild one, without losing consciousness. That’s one of the reasons that these types of injuries can be missed or misdiagnosed. But even a mild TBI or concussion can lead to serious long-term problems if not properly diagnosed and treated.
What should I do if I suffered a head or brain injury?
The actions you take affect not just health, but also your ability to get fair compensation for the injuries. Some suggestions:
- Don’t assume your symptoms are minor without a medical evaluation. Don’t assume they’ll just get better with time. Get evaluated as soon as possible and follow the medical advice you’re given.
- Don’t let the fear of costs or the uncertainty about who will be responsible for payments prevent you from getting proper evaluation and treatment.
- Keep track of all the providers you see, so your attorney can accurately account for all your medical expenses — in the case of a brain injury, these may include physical and occupational therapists, speech and language therapists, psychological counselors, etc.
- Keep track of all other economic losses and expenses resulting from the injuries: lost work or wages, and expenses for services you can’t do now.
- But, don’t make the biggest mistake of all. Avoid the natural temptation to sign a settlement offer quickly, but prematurely — before all injuries, damages, and losses have become apparent, and before eventual outcomes become clear. Insurance companies may quickly offer a sum of immediate cash to get you to sign a settlement to resolve the case. Consulting with an experienced head injury attorney will almost always result in negotiating a better settlement and get you the financial resources needed to help you or your loved one with their recovery.
What kind of damages can be recovered in a Brain Injury Case?
A skilled personal injury attorney is critical to ensuring that you recover for all of the damages allowed under Illinois law. These include:
- the expense of any necessary medical care, treatment, or rehab services you’ve received or are reasonably certain to need in the future
- the value of any wages or benefits lost because of the injury or likely to be lost in the future
- separate damages for any shortening of life expectancy related to the injury
- any caretaking expenses or other necessary help resulting from the injuries, now or in the future
- “loss of normal life” — things you can no longer do or enjoy — whether temporary or permanent
- current or future disabilities resulting from the TBI
- compensation for the risk of any future harm stemming from the injury
- pain and suffering or emotional distress caused by the injury
- if you lost a loved one to TBI, you’re entitled to compensation for the wrongful death caused by the responsible party.
What can a brain injury lawyer do for you?
You already know that a TBI can be devastating and that it affects all of your life. Never mind the physical and psychological problems, the paperwork alone can seem overwhelming. Don’t deal with this by yourself. You have enough to do to recover and get back to as normal a life as possible. We have the experience to completely assess the scope of your injuries, including consulting with any needed experts, to determine all the medical consequences of the brain injury. We can carefully listen to you to evaluate your situation, gather the evidence, determine what caused your TBI and what parties are responsible, collect all the documents to fully assess your damages and losses, build your case, make a timely claim, and work to successfully resolve it in your favor. In many cases we can built a strong case for our clients and negotiate a fair settlement to help our clients outside of court.
How much will it cost to get representation by a legal professional?
In brain injury cases, costs should not stand in the way of your ability to get legal help. We represent clients in these cases on a contingency fee basis. That means that there are no charges to you upfront and we are only paid from the settlement if and when we successfully obtain a recovery for you.
Speak with a Decatur Brain Injury Attorney Today
Please contact us now for a no-obligation, free legal consultation, so that a Decatur brain injury lawyer can inform you about all your options and rights. The sooner you reach out, the faster we can get to work for you and let you get back to your life.