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Traumatic Brain Injury Lawyers

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Traumatic brain injury, usually known by the abbreviation “TBI” is any insult or damage to the brain, either temporary or permanent, that is caused by an external force applied to the head. Traumatic brain injury is not:

  • A congenital condition

TBI is an acquired condition rather than a condition that was present at birth. While head trauma can certainly affect congenital brain conditions, these conditions are genetic in origin rather than caused by some external factor.

  • A degenerative condition

A degenerative condition is characterized by gradual changes in, or loss of, nerve cells in the brain. Although many degenerative diseases are either known or strongly suspected be genetic in origin, symptoms of degenerative brain disease do not appear until well after birth. Examples of better-known degenerative brain disease are Alzheimer disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig disease).

Since traumatic brain disease, by definition, is caused by an external force it stands to reason that the strength or intensity of that force is a predictor of the severity of the injury. With some exceptions this is indeed the case: the harder the external force, the greater the extent of brain injury.

Causes of Traumatic Brain Injury

Any event that results in the sudden application of a force to the head is capable of producing a traumatic brain injury. The more commonly encountered of such events are:

  • Motor vehicle accidents, particularly automobile and motorcycle accidents
  • Sports injuries
  • Fighting, particularly amateur and professional boxing
  • Being struck on the head with a heavy object
  • Gunshot injuries

Types of Traumatic Brain Injuries

There are many clinical techniques that can be used to describe and categorize traumatic brain injuries and none of these are considered to be entirely satisfactory for predicting which victims will survive, which victims will survive but with serious to severe impairment, or even which victims will suffer what degree of compromised brain function.

The first categories to which brain injury are initially placed, even before their arrival at a hospital are closed head injury or open head injury.

Closed head injury means that there is no injury to the soft tissues of the head and scalp, while open head injury denotes injuries that involve lacerations that may or may not extend to the level of the skull itself. Either type of injury may coexist with any of the more serious conditions such as skull fracture, concussion, or bleeding into the brain tissue.

One of the most common types of closed head injury, and the one that is most familiar to the general public, is concussion. Concussion usually does not involve a loss of consciousness but may include being “knocked out” briefly. The chief sign of concussion is confusion, but this usually clears in a few hours. Treatment of concussion is usually observation, either at home or as an overnight admission to a hospital.

A more serious type of closed head injury is bleeding between the skull and the brain. In many cases this bleeding will stop on its own, but surgery may be necessary.

Much more dangerous is diffuse axonal injury, which is the result of the brain being violently thrust from side to side. This “shearing effect” often results in death from swelling of the brain or in profound brain damage if the victim should survive.

A skull fracture is when there has been enough force applied to cause one of the skull bones to crack. Although skull fractures can be relatively harmless, they often signal the presence of a more severe injury whose symptoms may not appear until days later.

Open head injury, particularly penetrating trauma, is always very serious and is fatal in a large number of cases.

Prognosis After a Traumatic Brain Injury

Predicting the survival of a TBI, or even the degree of impairment following an injury, is difficult for even the most experienced medical professionals. It is not uncommon for what appears to be a minor injury to progress into a life-threatening or even a fatal injury or for what appears to be a critically injured victim to make a slow but eventually full recovery.

Practically all survivors of moderate to severe traumatic brain injury will remain in one of two clinical conditions, or states, for the remainder of their lives: a persistent vegetative state or a minimally conscious state.

In a persistent vegetative state the TBI victim shows no evidence of awareness to surroundings and makes no response to any external simulation such as pinpricks or an ammonia capsule held under then nose. Although they will make sounds that may be mistaken for an attempt to respond to questions, these sounds are random and are not a sign of recovery.

In the minimally conscious state the victim may show evidence of sleep / wake cycles such as eye opening and may even show signs of recognizing family members or attempting to speak. As is the case with persistent vegetative state, there have been no verified reports of a full recovery from this state.

It cannot be stressed enough that once a diagnosis of persistent vegetative or minimally conscious state is confirmed, there is no reasonable expectation of a full recovery and that the victim’s current condition will not improve.

Liability and Traumatic Brain Injury

The legal principle of liability, the doctrine that one who causes an injury to another is responsible for the consequences of that injury, has no greater demonstration than in the liability for a traumatic injury. Since those victims that do survive the more severe forms of TBI will experience, at best, a life of moderate to profound disability, their long term care will be expensive and even under the best of conditions will produce considerable emotional distress among family members.

Family members of TBI survivors who are unsure of what heir course of action should be should arrange a consultation with a personal injury attorney who has experience in managing TBI lawsuits to discuss their legal options. An attorney can often assist in identifying additional parties that may share a liability for a family member’s injuries and therefore should be held accountable for their part in the injury.

Only a personal injury attorney is in a position to assure that the legal rights of TBI victims and their families to recover compensation for the consequences of these devastating injuries.

What You Need to Know About Traumatic Brain Injury Lawsuits

A TBI or traumatic brain injury is caused by a jolt or blow to the head. It can be a penetrating wound that disrupts the brain’s ability to function normally. A TBI occurs when the head is hit suddenly by an object or when something pierces the skull injuring the tissue inside. We often see brain injuries when there is a serious automobile, motorcycle or truck accident, or a person was involved in a dangerous situation in personal or business property. The brain is a precious organ that is vital to survival. Any damage to this area can be devastating.

TBI Symptoms

The symptoms of a severe brain injury are usually apparent. Unfortunately, when dealing with milder injuries, the symptoms may not always instantly present. Sometimes, it may take days or weeks for the full scale of the impact to be known. In fact, the symptoms can be so subtle that the person, a doctor, and family cannot detect them. The most common symptoms include headaches, confusion, inability to speak in clear sentence patterns, dizzy, blurred vision, lightheadedness, tinnitus, fatigue and a metallic taste in the mouth. Victims may also experience sleep disturbances and mood or behavioral changes.

Dealing With Moderate to Severe TBIs

When a person has a loss of consciousness and is confused or disoriented, it is classified as a traumatic brain injury. The confusion and disorientation should last more than 30 minutes to be placed in this category. Even though the MRI or CAT scan results will come back normal, they will have a headache that won’t go away. It is often accompanied by dilation of one or both pupils, sleep disturbances, seizures, confusion, loss of coordination, and agitation.

Anyone presenting with these symptoms must be seen by a doctor immediately. The goal is to stabilize the patient and ensure they have a proper oxygen flow to the brain and body. Also, the blood pressure must be controlled. Many people who are involved in a car accident suffer from TBIs that are serious in nature. Hitting your head on a windshield or being hit by a flying object can cause severe injuries. The risk is greater when you are traveling at a high rate of speed, though, injuries can and do occur at even a moderate rate of speed.

Typical Injuries

There are three main injuries that we see when dealing with TBI patients. First bruising or bleeding is quite common. When the head receives a jolt, the brain tissues slams against the skull. This causes blood vessels to tear and leak into other areas of the brain. There is no room for extra blood in the skull, and this causes the brain tissue to swell and eventually die. When the neck area experiences “whiplash” the brain has the same effect. As it bounces against the skull, it causes serious damage. These “contra coup” injuries must be handled by a medical professional immediately.

Secondly, tearing is often observed. A tear in the brain is like “cutting the wires” to a power source. While this injury may not show up on a routine scan, it would be equivalent to someone turning off the power to an area of a home. This part of the brain would cease to function normally. Lastly, we see swelling. The body has a defense mechanism that responds to any kind of trauma. It sends agents to the area. The body is only doing what it was designed to do. Unfortunately, there is no room for the skull to swell. Swelling puts pressure on the brain’s tissues and causes damage. Many times, these damages are permanent.

Diagnosing A TBI

There are many medical techniques that are used to diagnose a TBI. The most common methods are:

•MRI
•Cat Scan
•X-rays
•DTI or Diffusion Tensor Imaging
•MRA or Magnetic Resonance Angiography
•EEG or Electroencephalogram
•Pet Scan or Positron Emission Tomography
•SPECT Scan
•MRS or Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
•Lumbar Puncture

Long Term Effects of TBI

Many TBI victims do not require hospitalization, however, many patients will need to have surgery. Unfortunately, many patients need rehabilitation and physical therapy to regain the use of areas affected by brain tissue damage. While surgery may repair the immediate threat, many suffer for long periods of confusion, agitation, memory loss, concentration loss, speech problems, vision loss, depression, sleep disorders and chronic pain. Those who have TBIs are at a greater risk for Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s. If the injuries are severe enough, a patient can be in a coma and require nursing home care for life.

Alarming Statistics

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported some alarming statistics regarding traumatic brain injuries. More than 1.7 million people have a TBI yearly. There are more than 230,000 people in American hospitalized each year from TBIs. More than 80,000 Americans are disabled each year because of these injuries. 50,000 people die each year because of a brain injury. The highest risk group are those over the age of 75 years of age. Nearly 40 percent of all injuries to the brain occur in a car accident. Falls are the second leading cause of brain trauma.

Traumatic Brain Injury Consultation

Those who suffer from traumatic brain injuries need professional representation to get the compensation they richly deserve. If someone else is at fault and has caused this injury, a case needs to be pursued. Dealing with a brain injury is a complex and unique type of case. Our NYC based personal injury law firm has ample experience in dealing with these medical and legal cases. If you or a loved one is a victim of a TBI or a wrongful death caused by a brain trauma, you need our help. You deserve compensation for your pain and suffering. Contact our legal team to schedule a free consultation. We will evaluate your case and tell you how we can help. The statute of limitations dictates how long you have to file a claim, make sure to call today!

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