The recent interest in brain injuries in the media might make people think that this is an injury unique to only NFL football players. The fact is though, that traumatic brain injuries in athletes account for only about 20% of these injuries. Motor vehicle crashes are actually the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries that result in hospitalizations. In a report by the Centers for Disease Control to Congress, it was reported that each year approximately 1.7 million people suffer a traumatic brain injury, over 50,000 people die per year and between 80 and 90,000 people are left with a long term disability.
The term “mild” traumatic brain injury is a bit misleading. Since there are mild, moderate and severe traumatic brain injuries it seems logical to think that mild means a minor or temporary injury. Unfortunately this is not the case because the term mild, in this case, relates to the severity of the trauma that caused the injury and not the severity of the consequences of the injury.
How does a traumatic brain injury happen? The brain is confined inside of the skull and it floats in cerebral spinal fluid. The brain itself is soft, almost like Jell-O. So if, in a motor vehicle accident, the head goes forward and backwards rapidly or hits something inside of the car, the brain can be damaged when it strikes the inside of the skull or when the delicate nerve cells of the brain, the axons, are stretched. A person does not have to be rendered unconscious to have a mild traumatic brain injury that has serious and permanent consequences. More information on our site: Causes of Brain Injuries
A mild traumatic brain injury can cause headaches, dizziness, confusion, memory loss and other problems that can be temporary. However, a traumatic brain injury can also cause persistent and sometimes permanent problems with concentration and attention; it can cause personality changes, excessive fatigue, sensitivity to light and sound and it can also result in depression and anxiety. It isn’t unusual that on top of a traumatic brain injury because of the trauma of the accident itself, a person also suffers from a post-traumatic stress disorder.
If you suffer a concussion in an accident, you have a mild traumatic brain injury. It is essential that you get the proper medical treatment as soon as possible for this injury because a delay can have serious consequences and can make your recovery less likely. It is also very important that the lawyer you choose to help you in your case has experience with handling traumatic brain injury cases.
The problem with a traumatic brain injury case is that the victim frequently does not look injured. An insurance adjuster or a jury can’t “see” a headache, a loss of memory or the inability to concentrate. Consequently, it is critical that the proper steps are taken to fully explain and prove the full scope of a traumatic brain injury.
Two cases handled by Jeffries, Kube, Forrest & Monteleone Co., L.P.A. illustrate these issues. In one case, we represented a tow truck operator who was standing on the berm of the turnpike preparing to tow a tractor trailer that slid off the road in the snow. The defendant driver was driving too fast and attempted to pass another vehicle, losing control of his car causing it to strike the tow truck operator and throwing him into the side of his tow truck. Among our client’s other injuries, he was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. The traumatic brain injury caused him to be unable to concentrate and to forget simple tasks like turning off the stove. He was no longer able to drive, and because of how significantly his life and personality had changed, he became depressed.
Even though a mild traumatic brain injury cannot usually be seen on a CT or an MRI of the brain, the defendant tried to argue that the injury could not be so severe since these tests were normal and because the driver was able to speak with the witnesses and police at the scene of the accident. To prove the seriousness of the traumatic brain injury we involved a neurologist to explain the mechanism of this injury; a neuropsychologist to perform the tests that in fact do prove a traumatic brain injury; a vocational rehabilitation specialist to establish the full extent of the disability caused by a traumatic brain injury; and a life care planner to explain what changes and accommodations needed to be made to allow the driver to lead a productive life. Also, an economist was asked to establish the costs that would be incurred for the rest of our client’s life for his care and treatment.
In another case that we handled, a man received a traumatic brain injury when the roof of his vehicle was crushed in an accident. He already suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression from his experience in Vietnam. The defendant in this case tried to argue that his mild traumatic brain injury was not the cause of his problems because he already suffered from those other conditions. In addition to all of the experts discussed above, his psychiatrist was able to demonstrate the very distinct changes that occurred because of the traumatic brain injury on top of his other problems.
In both of these cases our clients were faced with an insurance company that claimed that they did not look injured but we were able to fully establish the true damage caused by the traumatic brain injury.
A person who suffers a traumatic brain injury because of another’s negligence must fully and completely show the extent of the damage done before settling a claim. Once a claim is settled a release is signed and the case cannot be reopened if problems develop later. At Jeffries, Kube, Forrest & Monteleone Co., L.P.A. we understand this and will use our experience to help our clients be fully compensated.
Author: David A. Forrest
About the author: Attorney Biographies