Our brains are fragile. Any bump or jolt, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem at first, can cause damage, Whether mild or severe, a traumatic injury to the brain can have long-lasting effects. No one is immune from this insidious condition that can have lasting consequences.
The Consequences, Causes, and Costs of a Traumatic Brain Injury
The full impact of a closed head injury can often take days, and frequently longer, to become evident. The symptoms can be as subtle as they are devastating. The Brain Injury Center Of Georgia reports 50,000 suspected traumatic brain injuries each year. Depending on the area(s) of the brain affected by the injury, a victim of a catastrophic accident can be left with any combination of physical, behavioral, and cognitive impairments. Some of the signs and symptoms of TBI are:
- Loss of consciousness
- A state of being dazed, confused or disoriented
- Nausea or vomiting
- Fatigue or drowsiness
- Sleeping more than usual
- Dizziness or loss of balance
- Balance and coordination problems
- Full or partial paralysis
- Impaired motor skills
- Memory loss
- Problems with concentration
- Loss of organizational skills
- Difficulties with expressive language
- Difficulties controlling emotions
- Anxiety, depression, and anger issues
- Personality changes
- Sensory difficulties
- Problems with spatial perception
- Balance and Coordination
- Skilled Motor Activity
- Visual Perception
While any accident can cause a closed head injury, some of the most common causes may be:
- Automobile and truck accidents
- Medical negligence
- Nursing home injury
- Bicycle accidents
- Workplace injury
It is also possible to suffer a brain injury as a result of exposure to toxins and chemicals, or from a defective product.
The costs of living with a traumatic brain injury are staggering:
- The direct and indirect costs of traumatic brain injury in the U.S. have been estimated to be $48.3 billion annually.
- Lifetime costs for one person surviving a severe TBI can reach $4 million.
- An estimate of medical and non-medical per TBI survivor averages $151,587.
- Acute rehabilitation costs for survivors of a severe TBI have been shown to average about $1,000 a day and the average stay is about 55 day
The National Institute Of Neurological Disorders and Stroke tells us almost 50 percent of TBI patients will need to undergo surgery to address the issues of ruptured blood vessels and bruised brain tissue. In addition, a brain injury can:
- Severely limit social skills and the ability to interact with family and co-workers
- Restrict mobility
- Require expensive on-going medical care
- Prevent a victim from returning to his or her chosen profession
The Numbers and Statistics
In the United States, an estimated 1.7 million people will become the victim of a traumatic brain injury every year. According to recent data revealed on a CDC study, an estimated 2.5 million high school students nationwide admitted to having had at least one concussion.
What Is Probable and What Is Possible
At Brauns Law, we pride ourselves in providing each client with superior legal representation. We stand firm on the fact no family should have to bear the financial burden of someone else’s negligence. We take the time to thoroughly investigate every detail of a brain injury claim, and we leverage our experience and resources to help our clients receive fair and just financial compensation for their injuries. We stand with each family to the end. When the insurance company’s out-of-court settlement offer is not satisfactory, we do not hesitate to take the case before a jury.
Some of the economic damages typically associated with a severe brain injury claim include:
- Current and future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Adaptive equipment
- Cost of necessary home and automobile modifications
In Georgia, it is possible to be financially compensated for mental anguish, pain and suffering, and changes to one’s quality of life. Based on the details and merits of each personal injury case we handle, victims of another person’s negligence may be entitled to financial compensation for:
- Current and future medical expenses
- Household service expenses
- Loss of enjoyment of fife
- Loss of Companionship and Society
- Lost earning capacity
- Lost wages
- Medical expenses
- Mental anguish
- Pain and suffering
- Permanent disability
On the Cutting Edge
In August 2018 the Athens Banner-Herald reported exciting news about an important scientific breakthrough concerning the treatment of brain injuries. A team of researchers at the University of Georgia’s Regenerative Bioscience Center have been able to reproduce the effects of a traumatic injury in neuron cells and stimulate recovery in a petri dish. The newspaper article went on to state, “This makes them the first known scientific team in the country to do so using stem cell-derived neurons. The procedure, detailed in a new paper in Nature Scientific Reports, has significant implications for the study and treatment of such injuries.”
A Community Remembers
Close to a million and a half people follow the heartbreaking saga of young Tripp Halsted, the toddler from Barrow county who suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2012 when a tree limb fell on him. For six years, the Halsteads captured the hearts of this community as we witnessed the very real daily struggles a family faces when dealing with a catastrophic brain injury. Sadly, Tripp lost his battle in 2018, but his story and his courage will continue to inspire and help others facing similar injuries.”Trippadoodles Trot,” a charity run, is planned for October 2019. The event, which we hope will become an annual tradition, will benefit SOARD, a Roswell-based nonprofit that renovates homes for families of children with special needs. Information about the event can be found on the Halsteads’ Facebook page.
Gwinnett County Brain Injury FAQ
Brain injuries affect millions of people each year, sometimes with devastating results. Most people don’t realize that pretty much any brain injury, from minor to severe, that is caused by physical forces is referred to as “traumatic brain injury.” Because the injury is caused to the brain by trauma—some kind of outside force—it is deemed traumatic in the medical community.
Obviously, there are levels of trauma—a bump on the head in a game of tag is not considered as serious as the kinds of head injuries that can result from a traffic accident or other such incidents of extreme violence—but all brain injuries are serious.
Most people don’t give a lot of thought to brain injuries. After all, most people never suffer anything much worse than the bump on the head during a game of tag that results in nothing worse than a headache. However, millions of Americans every year suffer brain injuries. Some of them aren’t all that bad, and some of them are devastating. All of them are serious, though, and it is important to understand the implications of brain injuries, including those that don’t seem to be much worse than that childhood bump on the head.
The truth is, you only get one brain, and damaging it can have dramatic impacts on your entire life. After all, the brain is Mission Control for the entire body. Damage to the control center can affect any function of the body, from the ability to think clearly or speak to the ability to move. That means all brain injuries are serious, and it is important to understand more about brain injuries. If you suffer one—even one you don’t believe is serious—you need to know what kind of treatment to get, and what kind of assistance you might need to get compensation for your injuries.
The lawyers of the Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm can help with these issues. There are questions you should know the answers to, including:
What is a traumatic brain injury?
The federal Centers for Disease Control define a traumatic brain injury, or TBI, as a “bump, blow, or jolt to the head” that disrupts normal brain function. This can range from mild to severe—from a bump on the head that raises a knot and gives you a headache up to a head injury that penetrates the skull and causes permanent brain damage. Roughly two million TBIs every year are at least severe enough to get treated or reported.
Doctors categorize the vast majority as “mild,” although some TBIs diagnosed as “mild” cause lifelong disabilities. Severe TBIs can result in catastrophic injuries that result in permanent severe impairment of brain function or even death. The most severe TBIs involve penetration of the skull and often are the result of major traffic accidents. All TBIs—even those considered mild—can have long-term consequences.
What are the most common causes of traumatic brain injuries?
Federal statistics indicate that the vast majority of TBIs are a result of everyday life. Nearly half of all TBIs are the result of falls. Being struck by or against an object—getting hit in the head by a ball or standing up into a fixed object, for example—ranks second on the list. The third leading cause of TBIs is traffic accidents. Sports injuries, assaults, and self-inflicted wounds—generally from suicide attempts—also are leading causes. Motorcycle accidents, a small subset of traffic accidents, tend to result in more severe TBIs, especially when the rider is not wearing a helmet.
However, a federal study determined that modern safety equipment in automobiles has reduced the number of severe TBIs in car crashes while actually increasing the number of milder TBIs. You can stop the head from going through the windshield, but the skull still gets tossed around, and the brain bounces around inside the skull, resulting in TBIs such as concussions. Of the roughly two million TBIs suffered every year, about 1.1 million of those cases—including from traffic accidents—will involve only a mild TBI that doesn’t result in admission to a hospital.
What constitutes a “mild” TBI?
A mild TBI involves either no period of unconsciousness at the time of the injury or less than 30 minutes of unconsciousness. Mild TBIs are also caused concussions and show few apparent effects beyond temporary disorientation, at least at the time of initial diagnosis. Many sports injuries where a player “got his or her bell rung” fit this description, with the injured player “seeing stars” for a bit after impact. Most such injuries don’t result in a trip to the emergency room and thus are not diagnosed as concussions, even though they might actually involve brain damage.
Even if such an injury results in a trip to the emergency room, doctors generally will call a brain injury “mild” so long as the injury results in a period of unconsciousness lasting less than 30 minutes. The disorientation or cloudy thinking also would be expected to last less than half an hour in the event of such a minor brain injury. Even so, a TBI that fits these parameters still could cause lifelong disabilities, so don’t discount seeing a doctor right away.
What constitutes a severe TBI?
While a mild TBI can range from almost undetectable symptoms to a significant concussion, a severe TBI is considerably easier to diagnose. Severe TBI involves either a loss of consciousness lasting more than a half-hour accompanied by at least some memory loss after the injury, or an injury that penetrates the skull and injures the brain. Severe TBIs can impair high-order brain functions or physical functions, or even result in long-lasting comatose states. In fact, more than 150 people die each day as a result of TBIs.
Severe TBIs, depending upon how bad the injury is, can cause emotional problems, lasting loss of memory, an inability to concentrate or think through complicated issues, speech impairment, paralysis, coma, or even death. Even if the injury is not fatal, conditions arising from severe TBIs often require years of treatment or even life-long medical care, which can be extremely costly in the short term and add up to millions of dollars over a lifetime.
Why should I worry about a mild TBI?
Even a head injury diagnosed as a mild TBI can have long-term effects. Because a minor TBI involves less-serious initial symptoms than a severe TBI, doctors in hospital emergency rooms, where many mild TBIs are first diagnosed and treated, are sometimes inclined to take a lack of immediate symptoms at face value and not pursue further treatment.
Even so, a mild TBI that yields a normal brain scan can nonetheless eventually cause lasting health problems if not properly treated, including persistent headaches, loss of memory, difficulty concentrating or paying attention for extended periods, shifting moods, or an inability to focus on complicated issues. Studies indicate that about 15 percent of those suffering mild TBIs have many of these continuing symptoms that can prove debilitating for extended periods of time.
Failure to obtain proper treatment at the time of the injury can exacerbate this effect, and a continued lack of treatment can make the symptoms difficult or even impossible to treat later on if doctors fail to make the connection between the symptoms and the initial TBI.
What impact can a TBI have on my life?
The consequences of TBIs can be lifelong, completely disabling, and resistant to rehabilitation. Even in instances where healing time or therapy, or both, can help return you to your pre-injury condition—or even just to a condition where you can once again function independently—it also is possible that such a recovery simply isn’t in the cards.
You could permanently suffer from limited use of some or all of your limbs, total loss of function of your arms or legs, impaired speech, impaired brain functions that interfere with your ability to concentrate or solve even simple problems, memory loss, or emotional regulation problems. Therapy may help you recover from some or even all of these problems, but it also is possible the conditions you suffer as a result of a severe TBI will be with you for the rest of your life.
Following a severe TBI, you may have to undergo years of rehabilitation therapy for both physical and mental impairments and still never totally recover. You may never regain the ability to properly perform your job, take part in community activities, or fully participate in your family life. In turn, these issues can harm your behavioral and emotional health above and beyond the immediate physical and mental injuries you already suffered.
Will my auto insurance or health insurance policies pay for any treatment or therapy I need?
The answer generally is yes to both. Your medical claims should be filed against your auto insurance first. If you reach your coverage limits for your auto insurance medical coverage, you can then file against your health insurance, subject to any deductible. If you have sufficient medical coverage under your auto insurance policy, you might not have to pay anything for your medical bills. However, if your medical bills exceed your auto coverage limits, anything you submit to your health insurance company will be subject to the deductible, which is the amount you have to pay yourself before the insurance company begins to pay.
The amount of your deductible depends upon your policy. Also, your health insurance policy likely has a subrogation clause, meaning if you recover damages for your injuries from another party, either the person responsible for your injuries or their insurance company, you must reimburse your health insurance company from that settlement for claims paid by the health insurance company. If you put your health and auto insurance companies in contact with each other regarding your injury claims, they can work together to sort out who is paying for which claims and also settle any subrogation issues.
If someone else is responsible for my injuries, can I get them to pay for my treatment, any resulting therapy, and further health care needs?
If someone else was at fault for your injuries, whether in a traffic accident or in some other kind of accident, then you may hold that party responsible for your damages. Initially, you can deal with the other person’s insurance company regarding your claims, but when it comes to TBI, it pays to take no chances. Even with a so-called “mild” TBI, you can suffer serious and long-lasting effects.
You might accidentally agree with the insurance adjuster or other party regarding something that limits the amount you can recover for your damages in a way that favors the other side. To ensure you can recover a settlement (or a judgment at trial) sufficient to cover your medical costs and other damages, retain an attorney early in the process. With experience negotiating with insurance adjusters and in litigating claims, if necessary, an attorney is much less likely than you to agree to a deal that shortchanges your interests and needs.
Help Can Begin Now
Founding partner of Brauns Law, attorney David Brauns, is singularly focused on helping residents in Duluth, and surrounding areas, recover fair and just compensation for catastrophic injuries caused by someone’s negligence. Mr. Brauns’s experience as a former insurance defense attorney gives him a distinct advantage when litigating on behalf of a victim and his or her family. Traumatic brain injury claims can be complex, and the road to recovery can be time-consuming.
At Brauns Law, we are committed to giving each client our full attention. We have the necessary resources, and we take the time to thoroughly investigate each case and to get to know each client on a personal level. We’re not afraid of doing whatever it takes, for as long as it takes.
Reach out today and let us help get you and your family on the road toward financial recovery. Call the personal injury firm of Brauns Law at (404) 418-8244 to schedule a no-cost, no-obligation consultation. We look forward to serving you.