No other organ in the human body is as integral to our functioning as the brain: from involuntary functions like breathing and digesting, to complex problem-solving, from gross motor skills, to the formation of speech, from the interpretation of sensory input to personality, the brain is constantly active. When an injury to the brain occurs, consequences can be either short or long-term. In many cases, medical professionals can only advise that you wait and see.
Types of Brain Injuries
The most common type of brain injury is a concussion. Concussions do not require an impact to the head, but frequently do occur when a sudden impact to the head causes the brain to move violently, slamming into the sides of the skull and causing bruising and swelling. Concussions often occur as workplace injuries (possible even when wearing a hardhat) or as the result of the sudden deceleration in a car accident. They are also common in sports such as football, particularly when proper precautions, such as ensuring age-appropriate padded helmets, are not taken.
On the other end of the spectrum from the concussion is a catastrophic injury to the brain, which permanently alters a person’s way of life. Traumatic brain injuries (or TBI’s) have a high risk of being catastrophic, simply because of the integral role that the brain plays in basic functioning.
In addition to TBI’s, which are injuries caused by violent impact or force, injuries to the brain can also result from other situations. Drowning or strangulation, for example, can deprive the brain of oxygen for an extended period, causing brain cells to die and have long-term implications for health and functioning. Neurodegenerative disorders also cause deterioration in brain function, but are rarely grounds for a personal injury lawsuit, unless the disorder’s progression can be attributed to a medical professional’s misdiagnosis or failure to recommend appropriate treatment.
Can I File a Personal Injury Claim?
The most important factors in determining grounds for any personal injury lawsuit are fault and negligence. “Fault” means that the injury must have been a direct result of someone else’s actions (or failure to act). In Kentucky, partial fault in causing an accident can impact the amount of compensation you can pursue. “Negligence” means that the entity in question failed to act in a way that a “reasonable person” could be expected to act under similar circumstances. So, even if someone’s actions resulted in your brain injury, they may not be legally responsible if their behavior was considered reasonable, rather than negligent.
If your case meets the legal criteria, then you should consider filing a personal injury lawsuit to recover damages to cover the extensive costs of treating and living with a brain injury. Medical care, including both immediate treatment and long-term care, can add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in the first year alone. A TBI often negatively impacts the person’s ability to generate income through employment. Furthermore, TBI victims oftentimes also experience a significant loss in quality of life, as well as extensive pain and suffering.
Kaufman & Stigger, PLLC are here to help. To have a Louisville personal injury attorney assess your brain injury case, contact us at (800) 937-8443 and schedule a free consultation today.
Auto Accidents and TBI
Most automobile accidents in Louisville and elsewhere in Kentucky and around the world have some sort of impact, and when this impact occurs to the victim, he or she can suffer brain damage. The injury itself is called a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), which is a blow or jolt to the head of body of the victim that causes trauma to the brain.
Not all victims of a TBI are left with brain damage, but TBI’s are the leading cause of permanent brain damage. The determining factor in when a TBI will result in brain damage is how much of the brain was permanently damaged. Often times, the effects of a TBI can damage cells and cause bruising on the brain, but the damage is naturally repaired and the bruising can eventually go away.
Symptoms of a TBI
Once an injury to the head takes place, it is important to determine if the injury is a TBI or something less. According to the Mayo Clinic, the following are symptoms of a mild to severe TBI:
- Loss of consciousness from several minutes to hours
- Persistent headache or headache that worsens
- Repeated vomiting or nausea
- Convulsions or seizures
- Dilation of one or both pupils of the eyes
- Clear fluids draining from the nose or ears
- Inability to awaken from sleep
- Weakness or numbness in fingers and toes
- Loss of coordination
Cognitive or mental symptoms
- Profound confusion
- Agitation, combativeness or other unusual behavior
- Slurred speech
- Coma and other disorders of consciousness
What is Brain Damage?
It’s important to determine if a person has a TBI or a less serious injury such as a concussion or a contusion. If the injury is a TBI, then brain damage is possible. Brain damage is caused by the death of brain cells which can happen, let’s say, by a bullet or something penetrating the skull. These cells die instantly and most likely never regenerate.
However, if the person suffered a non-penetration wound TBI, then the cells are damaged by a loss of oxygen which can then cause those cells to die. Many times, this is caused by a swelling of the brain which can put pressure on the brain and deny oxygen to parts of the brain. When this happens, that portion of the brain can die and possible not be regenerated.
Symptoms of Brain Damage
The symptoms of brain damage are clouded by the symptoms of the TBI. However, if enough time has passed and some of these symptoms persist, then these can point to brain damage beyond the injury itself.
There are four categories of brain damage symptoms: cognitive, perceptual, physical and behavioral. A person doesn’t have to have symptoms in all four to be considered to have brain damage, but many times this is the case.
Cognitive symptoms of brain damage include:
- Difficulty processing information
- Difficulty in expressing thoughts
- Difficulty understanding others
- Shortened attention span
- Inability to understand abstract concepts
- Impaired decision-making ability
- Memory loss
Perceptual symptoms of brain damage include:
- Change in vision, hearing, or sense of touch
- Spatial disorientation
- Inability to sense time
- Disorders of smell and taste
- Balance issues
- Heightened sensitivity to pain
Physical symptoms of brain damage include:
- Persistent headaches
- Mental Fatigue
- Physical Fatigue
- Sensitivity to light
- Slurred Speech
- Loss of consciousness
Behavioral symptoms of brain damage include:
- Less tolerance for stress
- Flattened or heightened emotions
- Denial of disability
- Increased aggressiveness
Treatment for Brain Damage
Treatment for brain damage consists of a diagnosis and then a response to the particular injury in each case. Once a brain injury is suspected, the primary goal is to stabilize the patient by getting adequate oxygen flow to the brain.
Once this is accomplished, the next steps will be determined by the extent of the injury. Doctors can treat some symptoms with medication, and many times this will be part of the stabilization of the brain. Long term, the patient will most likely undergo cognitive therapy to help with recapturing the functions of the brain that were lost.
The greatest healer of the brain is going to be the body of the injured. Some of it will just take time to heal and regenerate. Those areas of the brain that were damaged may never come back, and the patient will often have to learn how to talk, count, walk or eat again, to name a few functions. This comes about by therapy, a lot of hard work and a fair amount of frustration. But in many cases, even with a severe brain injury and significant damage, a person can regain some or many of their former functions.
Louisville Brain Injury Lawyer
This type of injury will take a long time to resolve and a lot of hard work. This can put a substantial stress on the finances of the victim. The best thing to do if you have a brain injury due to someone else’s negligence is to talk to an attorney who is experienced in these types of cases and can get you the compensation you deserve. Contact Kaufman and Stigger, PLLC, today.