More than 50 million people suffer traumatic brain injuries every year. Head injuries can cause severe deficits in cognitive ability and personality changes. People who suffer traumatic brain injuries due to someone else’s negligence may be eligible to file a claim for compensation against the responsible parties.
Compensation amounts generally correspond to the severity of damage but sometimes severely injured victims don’t get the award they deserve. Hiring an attorney with extensive head injury claim experience increases your chances of getting a fair settlement.
Common Types of Brain Injuries
The area of the brain damaged determines the injury’s effects on your life. Different regions of the brain have different functions, like speech, personality, emotions, and memories.
If you receive a blow to the head followed by loss of consciousness, nausea and vomiting, fatigue, dizziness, dilated pupils, uneven pupils, or clear fluid leaking from your nose or ears, seek immediate medical care.
After any head trauma, getting a medical evaluation can help you prove causation if you need evidence for your claim later. There are several common types of traumatic brain injuries, including:
A hematoma in the brain results from broken blood vessels that allow blood to pool in one area. The excessive bleeding clots the injury so that it won’t worsen, but the pressure can damage the brain.
A hemorrhage is an active bleed in the brain, which increases pressure in the injured area. Your doctor may choose to monitor the bleed if it’s minimal, but you may need a neurosurgeon to repair it.
Edema is an excess of fluid trapped in the brain tissue. This fluid causes increased pressure, impairing nerve function and compressing blood vessels.
Diffuse axonal describes the injury you receive when your brain slides around your skull. This movement happens when your head moves in one direction and stops or changes direction suddenly. It tears the nerve axons and usually affects large areas of the brain.
Penetrating trauma may be caused by a gunshot wound, car accident, or workplace accident. The penetration injures the tissues around the wound, increases the chances of infection, and can lead to hematoma, hemorrhage, or edema.
The type and severity of your injury affects your legal claim. The personal injury lawyers at Nessler & Associates can explain all the nuances of a head injury lawsuit and advise you of legal action you can pursue.
The most common causes of these head injuries include slip and fall accidents, motor vehicle accidents, and sports. Other causes include chemical exposure, fights, near drowning, and choking.
Evaluating Whose Actions Caused Your Brain Injury
A brain injury lawyer can examine the facts of your case and determine that the actions of the negligent parties led to your injury.
Slip and fall negligence
Slip and fall accidents caused by ice, wet floors with no sign, broken concrete, or failure to clean up spills can result in your pursuing a personal injury claim. Premises liability law states that property owners have a duty to provide a safe environment for visitors, and if they don’t, they can be liable for your injuries.
Car accidents frequently cause head injuries and are the most common cause of diffuse axonal injuries. Most car accidents lead to closed head injuries but may cause penetrating injuries or skull fractures. Severe brain injuries are more likely in truck accidents and motorcycle accidents.
Illinois requires drivers to maintain bodily injury liability policies of at least $25,000 for one person injured in a crash and $50,000 for more than one person injured in the same incident. Many drivers carry a higher coverage amount, and some have umbrella coverage.
Sports are a common cause of brain injuries, especially full-contact sports like football, ice hockey, and martial arts. If your sports injury was exacerbated by playing too soon after a concussion, or you received delayed medical treatment, you might have a personal injury claim.
Illinois requires school sports coaches to receive training on recognizing concussions and reporting concussions. Recreational youth sports coaches must also receive training on identifying concussions and why they should remove players who show signs of one.
Most chemical exposures happen in the workplace. Exposure to neurotoxic chemicals injures the brain directly, while chemicals like carbon monoxide or nitrous oxide may cause oxygen deprivation. Injuries caused by lack of oxygen are called hypoxic brain injuries and can lead to significant impairment but don’t show up on scans.
Depending on the situation, an injury sustained at work may be covered by workers’ compensation or the employer’s liability policy. If you are exposed to toxic chemicals during a motor vehicle accident or as a result of an industrial accident, you can seek compensation from the responsible party’s insurance company.
Failure to promptly diagnose strokes, blood clots, or heart attacks can lead to brain injuries. Failure to protect your airway, monitor you during surgery, or give the proper medications can injure your brain. Illinois doesn’t cap medical malpractice claims.
Swimming pool accidents resulting from inadequate supervision, drain entrapment, or faulty pool toys can lead to near-drowning and hypoxic brain injury. Swimming pool owners or operators are usually liable in these cases, and premises liability law applies.
Fights or Brawls
Violent fights can cause severe head injuries and spinal cord injuries. Even a minor brain injury should be examined by medical professionals.
Choking leads to hypoxic brain injury and can be caused by defective products. In these cases, the manufacturer or a person who failed to supervise a child who chokes could be named in a lawsuit.
Product liability law applies to manufacturers of defective products. If there is inadequate supervision in a daycare, school, or another setting where there is a duty of care to provide supervision, you might be able to file a claim with that organization’s insurance company.
A traumatic brain injury lawyer at Nessler & Associates can investigate your case and hold all responsible parties accountable.
Hiring a brain injury attorney ensures your settlement is calculated fairly. A skilled and experienced attorney factors in economic, non-economic, and punitive damages when punitive damages are warranted.
Economic losses include medical costs, lost wages, loss of ability to return to work at the level you did before the accident, and long-term care. These damages are easily quantifiable and equate to out-of-pocket expenses like medical costs and lost wages.
Non-economic losses include loss of enjoyment of life, emotional distress, and reduced quality of life. Loss of enjoyment of life means you can no longer do activities you enjoyed doing before your accident, including household chores, recreational, sports, and social activities.
Factors specific to determining non-economic damages in a traumatic brain injury claim include cognitive issues, personality changes, and loss of memory or speech ability.
Punitive damages are appropriate when the responsible party demonstrates a disregard for the safety of others through intentional misconduct or gross negligence. Illinois caps punitive damages at three times the amount of economic and non-economic damages.
Brain injury victims have the best chance of getting fair compensation when they hire personal injury lawyers. Legal action causes significant stress without the added challenge of recovering from a severe injury.
Elements of a Brain Injury Case
A traumatic brain injury attorney investigates your accident to prove the extent of your injury, who is liable for that injury, calculates a fair settlement, negotiates with the insurance company, and takes the case to trial, if necessary.
Extent of injury
Your lawyer examines accident reports and medical records and interviews people who knew you before and after the accident to prove the extent of your injury. Because the damage to your brain doesn’t always show up on scans, the insurance company will claim you are not as injured as you allege. Interviews are a critical part of the process.
The investigation phase will prove that the responsible party’s actions led to your injury, and it will find every person who could be considered liable. Your lawyer can gather police reports, eyewitness statements, and photo or video evidence of the accident or event that led to the injury.
Your traumatic brain injury lawyer will use all the evidence available to calculate a fair settlement.
Insurance company negotiations
Experienced head injury lawyers have extensive experience negotiating with insurance companies and know what they will do to attempt to deny the traumatic brain injury claim.
If the insurance company refuses a fair settlement for your severe brain injury, your lawyer will take the brain injury lawsuit before a judge or jury.
Legal Challenges in Head Injury Cases
A traumatic brain injury attorney knows the unique challenges of these claims. Sometimes, the head injury makes it difficult or impossible for the victim to fully participate in the legal process.
Insurance company tactics
Because brain scans can’t show the full extent of all brain injuries and how they impact your life, the insurance company will attempt to prove you are faking your injury or that it is not as bad as you claim to reduce the payout.
Your lawyer can interview people that knew you before your accident and know you now to learn how you have changed. Cognitive impairments, memory loss, and personality changes affect essential parts of your life and are common effects of head injuries.
The brain is a mystery
Even experts cannot predict with certainty which injuries will heal or to what extent because the brain is still essentially a mystery. Substantial evidence supports the idea that even mild brain injuries can cause effects that can last up to two years. The uncertainty of the injury’s severity is a factor in calculating damages.
Use of Expert Witnesses
Your personal injury lawyer has a vast network of expert witnesses to help juries understand your injury’s medical and economic consequences.
Medical experts examine your medical records and accident reports to prove your accident caused your injury. They will describe your injury, recovery, and impairments so a jury can understand how they impacted your life. They can also recreate the accident so a jury can see precisely how the accident happened.
Economic experts can demonstrate the financial impact of your pain and suffering and illustrate the change in your income from not working the same number of hours with the same responsibilities as before your accident, if you are able to work at all.
Get a Free Consultation
Contact Nessler & Associates at (800) 727-8010 for a free consultation today. We have been fighting for victims’ rights to fair compensation for more than 35 years, and we will fight aggressively for you too.