What Is Traumatic Brain Injury, and How to Seek Compensation After an Accident

Key Points:

  • If you suffered a traumatic brain injury due to an accident, any related costs or lifestyle changes should be considered within your settlement compensation.
  • Traumatic brain injury can cause permanent, life-altering changes that affect physical, cognitive, and sensory functions.
  • A car accident lawyer who specializes in personal injury may help you get full and fair compensation for the harm caused by your accident.
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What Is Traumatic Brain Injury?

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is an injury that alters brain functions. Some TBIs are caused by external forces or trauma to the head. These impact injuries may occur in two ways: A closed brain injury means there was no penetration to the brain or break in the skull, whereas open brain injury refers to penetrating damage or a skull break.

On the other hand, non-traumatic or acquired brain injury is caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain, exposure to toxins, pressure from a tumor, or other internal events that disrupt or alter the brain’s function. Examples of non-traumatic brain injuries include stroke, aneurysm, tumor, infectious diseases, or an event that severely restricts oxygen to the brain.

Symptoms of a Traumatic Brain Injury

A TBI can have a full range of physical and sensory symptoms, which depend on the severity of the injury. Symptoms can sometimes develop immediately after the traumatic event, while others may appear as time passes, showing days or even weeks later.

If you’ve suffered a blow to the head, be on the lookout for common symptoms of TBI.

Symptoms of mild traumatic brain injury may include:

  • Headache
  • Queasy stomach or vomiting
  • Drowsiness
  • Trouble speaking
  • Dizziness or loss of balance

With mild TBI, it’s not uncommon for patients to also demonstrate sensory symptoms, such as light sensitivity, blurred vision, an odd taste in the mouth, ringing in the ears, and changes in their sense of smell.

A patient may lose consciousness for a few seconds or minutes. They may also be disoriented and confused or experience mood swings, memory loss, and difficulty sleeping.

Symptoms of moderate-to-severe traumatic brain injury:

In more severe traumatic brain injuries, the above symptoms may develop along with more dramatic signs of damage, including:

  • Loss of consciousness for several minutes to hours
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • One or both eye pupils may appear expanded or dilated
  • Clear fluid drainage from the nose or ears
  • Numbness or unresponsiveness in the fingers and toes
  • Physical coordination impairments
  • Profound confusion
  • Agitation or combativeness
  • Slurred speech

TBI Can Alter a Victim’s State of Consciousness

Head trauma can vary from minor bumps to severe brain damage, resulting in extended or even permanent changes in a person’s state of consciousness, responsiveness, and awareness.

When severe TBI occurs, it can result in the following impaired states of brain function, including:

  •  When a victim has minimal consciousness, they may show some signs of self and environmental awareness. Victims may be able to establish eye contact, hold objects, respond to commands, and have minimal verbal responses.
  • Vegetative state: Extensive damage to the brain can result in a victim entering a vegetative state. In this state, the victim shows no self or environmental awareness. However, they may have eye twitching or movements, make sounds, respond to reflexes, or move. It’s possible that a vegetative state can become permanent, but sometimes individuals progress to a minimally conscious state.
  • Coma: When a victim is in a coma, they are unconscious, unaware of their surroundings, and unable to respond to any stimulus. Comas occur due to widespread damage to the brain. Depending on the severity, victims may remain in a coma for days, weeks, or even months. A comatose patient may emerge from a coma or enter a vegetative state.
  • Brain death: When a victim is declared brain dead, there is no measurable activity in the brain and brainstem. In this state, removing breathing devices will cause their breathing to cease and heart failure to follow. Brain death is considered irreversible.

Accidents That Can Cause a Traumatic Brain Injury

Any accidents that result in an impact to the head or skull can result in a TBI. Some common accidents where this damage is likely may include:

  • Slips and falls – Falls from a ladder, stairs, in the bath, and at public places are the most common causes of traumatic brain injury. Older adults and young children are often the victims of these types of accidents.
  • Vehicular accidents – Car, motorcycle, and bicycle collisions are a common culprit of TBI. Pedestrians who are hit by motor vehicles can also suffer head trauma.  
  • Sports injuries – Traumatic brain injuries may be caused by accidents from sports, including soccer, boxing, football, baseball, lacrosse, skateboarding, hockey, and other high-impact or extreme activities. These are particularly common when youth are unsupervised, not wearing proper protective gear, or when protective equipment is defective.
  • Work-related injuries – Workplaces where hazardous or slippery conditions occur may have a high likelihood of accidents that result in TBI. Careers where combat may occur or where explosives are used may also be a significant hazard.
  • Other incidents – TBI can also be the result of criminal behavior, such as gunshot wounds, domestic violence, child abuse, and other assaults. Shaken baby syndrome is also a traumatic brain injury that is caused by the violent shaking of infants.

TBI Can Be a Permanent Condition

The workings of the human brain are not fully understood. This makes it challenging to predict how permanent TBI will be and how it may impact a victim’s life.

Sometimes, TBI can heal completely, and the victim will regain full function as if the accident never happened. In these cases, the victim’s brain will find ways to re-route information, skills, and memories, so there are no permanent effects. Other times, the injuries will not fully heal, and the damage will hinder certain functions for the rest of the victim’s life.

Seeking Compensation for Your Injuries

If someone else’s negligence caused your traumatic brain injury, you might be able to recover compensation for those injuries and the effects they’ve had on your life. The recoverable costs should include the following:

  • All related medical expenses and treatments since the accident happened, and if the injuries are long-term or permanent, for the remainder of your life.
  • Financial losses due to missed work. This should also include future lost wages if you cannot return to your job because of your injuries.
  • Your pain and suffering, including a loss of your usual quality of life. If you are no longer able to do everyday activities, from mowing the lawn to coaching a sports team to interacting with family and friends, then these lifestyle changes should be considered in your compensation.

While it can be difficult to quantify many losses a TBI victim experiences, these circumstances should all be factored into a full and fair settlement and can affect the time it takes to settle the case.

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Consult With a Personal Injury Lawyer for Answers

Negotiating a TBI settlement can be challenging. Many of the actual losses a victim will experience involve long-lasting care and the growing expenses that come from permanent disability. Therefore, it’s crucial to look for a law firm that handles these matters regularly.

Being able to successfully protect victims from the costs and losses now and in the future comes from experience. An attorney who specializes in personal injury law will know how to gather proof of your injury and its impact on your life using medical records, work history, as well as witness statements.

The pain of learning to live with a permanent injury or disability is difficult enough, but doubly so when you are also struggling financially because of your injuries.

At The Millar Law Firm, we encourage accident victims to take advantage of our free first consultation. Sitting down with one of our lawyers can help you learn the full picture of what your future expenses may look like and can help you understand what your options are to protect yourself and your family.

Call us today to set up an appointment to speak with one of our experienced injury specialists. Let us advocate for you in this critical time.


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