Brain Injury Lawyer & Traumatic Brain Injury Attorney
Talk to a Lawyer for Free 24/7 at (314) 361-4242 :: Almost half of all reported TBI’s, Traumatic Brain Injuries, are the result of a car accident.
Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are responsible for a number of deaths and permanent disability cases each year. Over half of these traumatic brain injury cases are attributed to car accidents. Many TBI’s are mild, causing concussions. While other TBI survivors face life-changing effects that leave them disabled.
What is a TBI?
A traumatic brain injury is a head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain. TBI is caused by a blow, bump, or jolt to the head and can also be the result of a penetrating head injury.
In a car accident, trauma to the brain can occur if the skull hits something inside the car, such as a windshield or steering wheel. There may or may not be an open wound to the skull. In other auto accident cases, the sheer force of the vehicle being hit can cause the brain to strike the inside of the skull. This can happen if a head that is moving stops too quickly. This type of car accident injury can cause a contusion or bruising of the brain, and brain hemorrhage, or bleeding in the brain. When injuries like this occur, there may or may not be visible signs at the time of injury.
Traumatic Brain Injury Symptoms
According to the Mayo Clinic, there is a wide range of physical and psychological effects of a traumatic brain injury. There may be immediate signs and symptoms, while others may take days or weeks to appear. TBI’s can be placed into two categories, mild traumatic brain injuries and moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries.
Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Symptoms:
- Loss of consciousness up to a few minutes
- Dazed, confused, disoriented
- Nausea or vomiting
- A headache
- A feeling of drowsiness or fatigue
- A difficult time sleeping
- Sleeping more than normal
- Loss of balance or dizziness
In addition, a person may experience sensory symptoms such as ringing in the ears, blurred vision, bad taste in the mouth, or changes in smell. Mental or cognitive symptoms can include problems with memory or concentration. Changes in mood and depression or anxiety.
If a car accident victim suffers a moderate to severe traumatic brain injury, they may have any of the signs and symptoms mentioned above, as well as the following. Again, it may take a few hours or even days for some of these to appear.
Moderate to Severe Traumatic Brain Injury Symptoms:
- Loss of consciousness up to many hours
- Definite vomiting and nausea
- One or both pupils dilated
- Clear fluid draining from ears or nose
- Numbness or weakness in fingers and toes
- Lack of coordination
- Slurred speech
Common physical indicators of TBI include:
• Any type of seizure.
• Spasticity in the muscles.
• Low, double, or blurred vision, as well as blindness.
• No sense of taste or smell.
• Speech problems such as slurred or slow speech.
• Serious headaches.
• Fatigue and low energy.
• Having trouble balancing.
Common cognitive indicators include:
• Temporary or permanent amnesia.
• Difficulties in processing information.
• Lack of concentration or attention.
• Communication problems or disorders.
• Disorganized and faulty judgment.
• Incapable of doing two things at the same time.
• Incapable of starting or completing jobs without any reminder.
Common emotional indicators of TBI include:
• Heightened apprehension.
• Rapid mood changes and melancholy.
• Ego-centric attitude and difficulty in seeing the effect of the attitude on other people.
A TBI will often first present with memory problems, but it is usually not permanent, and therefore easy to dismiss. The emotional toll of a car accident could potentially explain why a person is forgetting some things right after the impact, so when the symptoms disappeared many don’t give it a second thought. However, it also takes the victims’ ability to form new memories, specifically things that take place after the accident. So, you need to watch out for these signs.
Out of Character Emotional Response
Complete lack of emotional response such as laughing, crying, smiling, or showing enthusiasm when appropriate should be worrying too. Such moments can occur even after a TBI has been diagnosed and treated. From the outside, people with TBIs can sometimes seem to lack empathy because of their inability to show emotion.
Extreme Mood Swings
A person with a TBI can go though opposite emotions in a short amount of time, usually with little to no trigger. They can appear happy one minute and uncontrollable sob the next, leaving those around them confused.
Behavioral issues are different from mood swings, because they are not just short, unpredictable emotional outbursts. These symptoms can cause great changes to an individual’s personality, making them behave in a way they otherwise wouldn’t.
For instance, people suffering from a TBI may stop showing affection to family or friends, and start displaying a more cold connection towards them. Behavioral changes generally happen suddenly, and without a cause per se. For instance, a person may start being cold with their family members, even if no episode that would explain this behavior took place.
TBIs can also cause spikes in aggression, both verbally and physically, which affects the lives of everyone close to the car accident victim. Additionally, aggression can increase even if the person was previously not perceived as short-tempered or aggressive at all.
TBI victims can also present with difficulty concentrating or remaining focused on a particular thing, including following a conversation from start to finish. They may seem disengaged, or even ask the same questions over and over.
Depression or Anxiety
A TBI may also cause a chemical imbalance in the brain, which could potentially lead to mental health disorders like anxiety or depression. The problem here is that the car accident in itself is a traumatic event that could trigger these disorders. A person could experience depression after a car crash even if they don’t have a traumatic brain injury. People should check for one if they experience any mental disorder signs after the crash.
In some cases, a TBI can affect you emotionally, cause behavioral issues, and leave you with conditions you end up struggling with the rest of your life.
If you are involved in an auto accident and suffer any type of head injury, seek immediate medical care. Even a mild traumatic brain injury needs prompt medical attention. Additionally, if you wait to have a head injury looked at, the injury to the brain can become worse.
Traumatic Brain Injury Car Accident
It is estimated that 50,000 people die each year from traumatic brain injuries, while an additional 230,000 are hospitalized for TBI’s. Of those that survive, an estimated 90,000 suffer long-term disabilities from their injury. Car accidents are one of the leading causes of traumatic brain injuries.
While not all TBI’s are equally as serious, a head injury should be examined by a doctor. However, it is important to note that TBI’s are not always initially diagnosed as such. So if you or a loved one are in a car accident but begin to experience any TBI symptoms at a later time, contact your health care professional.
What can you do to help a loved one who has gone through such a trauma?
A victim who has suffered a TBI in a car crash is most likely unable to defend themselves or initiate the personal injury suit and all the legal actions. Depending on what your relationship is with the victim, you might take some of these responsibilities on yourself.
Recognize the Signs of TBI
As a family member or friend of a car crash victim, you should monitor their well-being after the incident. Many injuries are unseen at the time of the accident but can be serious and even fatal if left untreated. A TBI may or may not be associated with an open injury to the head. Here are some of the symptoms that can point out towards a TBI:
- Slurred speech
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Unusual tiredness
- Limb weakness or numbness
- Headache and/or neck pain
If you notice one or more of these symptoms, get your friend or family member to a doctor, and explain that they were involved in a car crash. Anyone involved in a car accident should be checked by a doctor, just to make sure everything is ok.
Helping Them Through Recovery
TBI victims will need medical treatment and monitoring, and they will have to be transported to the medical office and back, most likely. If you have to miss work for that and spend money on transportation, be sure to include these expenses in the personal injury claim.
Be sure to get them to the doctor for 6-months and 12-months check-ups to observe how permanent the injury is. This will help estimate future medical expenses and other damage TBI causes.
Even a minor car accident can cause serious head injuries.
While car accidents can cause a wide variety of injuries, the head and the neck are particularly vulnerable. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), car accidents are responsible for over 14% of all brain injuries in the U.S. Brain trauma is challenging to treat, and victims face a lengthy recovery period. Some victims cannot return to work and can never have the same active lifestyle they have before the injury.
Car accident injuries that a driver may sustain can vary from mild to severe. When it comes to a brain injury, the consequences and long-term repercussions are typically far more significant than other types of injuries. Due to the nature of inertia, when the car stops suddenly, and the passengers don’t, they can easily collide with the dashboard or window. When the impact is hard enough, the sustained brain injury can cause disability for a lifetime.
The reason that brain injuries can be complicated for car accident compensation is that sometimes the damage from a car accident-related brain injury will not surface until later. Often, the full consequences of a brain injury take time to show. If you don’t know that you have been injured or have the proper tests done after the accident, then there is no way to anticipate what type of medical treatment you may need or consequences you can suffer as time goes on.
Seek Medical Attention ASAP
Seeking medical attention is imperative – not just to know the extent of your brain injury, but also to prove a chain of causation for your car accident case. Your St. Louis car accident attorney will need the documentation either when they are negotiating for a settlement with the insurance company, or if the case should proceed to court, to get you all that you are entitled to receive.
The treatment for a brain injury is usually very expensive, and often involves multiple surgeries and months of rehabilitation.
Signs That You May Have a Brain Injury
- Foggy brain
- Feeling nauseous
- Being sensitive to sounds and lights
- Having difficulty with your balance
- Extreme fatigue
- Not appropriately dealing with your emotions
- Uneven or dilated pupils
- Being confused
- Having a slow response time
If you notice any of these signs after a car accident, even if you weren’t aware that you hit your head, you must seek treatment and get the right tests done to eliminate the potential that you have suffered a traumatic brain injury.
What is Cognitive Ability?
Cognition refers to our ability to be able to think clearly and understand the world around us. Cognition allows us to function normally in our everyday lives. A traumatic brain injury can cause a loss of cognitive ability, which may dramatically change the course of your future. Cognitive ability includes:
- Attention and concentration
- Being able to process and then understand information
- Your memory – both short and long-term
- How you can communicate
- Skills for planning and organizing
- Your ability to reason, solve problems and make decisions
- Impulse control
These skills are used every day, and the sudden loss of one or more from a car accident is devastating. You may be left unable to go to work, raise your family, or even live alone without assistance. The level of injury to the brain and the cognitive ability lost will determine how much therapeutic and living assistance you will need in the future.
Common brain injuries resulting from car crashes
- Contusion – These are bruises on the brain that, in some cases, require surgical treatment. A powerful impact on the head can cause a contusion. In a car accident, the head is prone to contact with the side window, windshield, or the steering wheel, so there is always a possibility of the victim suffering a contusion.
- Concussion – While many people think that concussions are not too serious, these can be a sign of severe brain damage. A victim can suffer a concussion from a sharp blow to the head. There is usually no open wound when a person suffers a concussion, so people tend to think that they are fine. A concussion can cause blood vessels in the brain to stretch, and this can cause nerve damage. Most concussions do not cause long term problems; however, if the symptoms get worse, brain damage may become permanent. If you experience persistent dizziness or disorientation after a car accident, you should immediately see a doctor.
- Penetrating injuries – In a car crash, broken pieces of metal, plastic projectiles, and glass shards can cause serious injuries. If a foreign object penetrates the brain, the victim will likely require immediate surgery. The surgeon will remove the object from the brain and stop the bleeding. Severe brain penetration injuries can cause permanent disability or paralysis.
- Diffuse Axonal Injury – These injuries occur due to sudden acceleration and deceleration. This can cause the brain to jerk forward and backward within the skull and can cause nerves and blood vessels inside the brain to tear. It can also cause internal bleeding and loss of certain brain functions.
Diagnosing Traumatic Brain Injuries
Advancements in medical technology has made it easier for doctors to evaluate and detect the severity of TBIs. In 2015 researchers have discovered a type of blood test that can gauge the severity of TBI and predict the best treatment method to be used. These blood tests measure brain derived neurotrophic factor proteins (BDNF), which helps determine if the patient requires a higher level of treatment. These newly developed blood tests may prove extremely helpful to doctors by enabling them to quickly diagnose brain injuries and the severity of damage.
Blood Testing to Diagnose Traumatic Brain Injury
The test involves taking BDNF protein from the patient within 24-hours of the injury and then measuring it to predict the severity of the injury. Healthy individuals normally have 60 nanograms/ml of the BDNF protein. However, a patient who has suffered a brain injury will have 20 nanograms/ml or less. If the patient has sustained severe brain damage, he or she will have extremely low levels of BDNF protein, typically in the range of 4 nanograms/ml. When the tests are performed around 6 months after the injury, the BDNF levels may have restored to the normal 60 nanograms/ml levels. However, if the patient still registers low levels of BDNF protein, the patient may complain of symptoms and other problems that have developed over time.
The Long Term Cost to Treat TBI
A mild head injury can cost more than $85,000 in medical and treatment costs, while a severe brain injury may result in over $3 million for treatment. The lifetime economic cost of TBI, including direct and indirect medical costs, was estimated to be approximately $76.5 billion (in 2010 dollars) according to the CDC. When you factor in other consequences and their treatment, the amount can be much larger.
Some potential costs to take into account include:
- Emergency care
- Medical bills for subsequent treatment
- Rehabilitation therapy
- Counseling or psychological therapy
- Medication to treat emotional distress or mental disorder
Additionally, TBIs can cause various types of disabilities. In the best-case scenario, victims can suffer from a temporary disability and recovered completely following therapy. However, not everyone is so lucky, and TBIs could potentially leave you permanently disabled.
According to the CDC, there are reportedly 5.3 million Americans currently living with permanent TBI related disabilities:
- Cognitive impairment
- Coordination issues
- Vision or hearing loss
- Severe changes in personality
This can have a negative impact on the quality of your life, as the TBIs can make you lose your job, or prevent you from taking part in activities that previously brought comfort or pleasure.
Illnesses Related to TBI
TBI can lead to several short-term and long-term illnesses, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and epilepsy. These diseases bring along their own set of complications. For example, TBI patients become more prone to Parkinson’s due to the loss of a specific neuron, affecting the motor skills of the patient and causing symptoms such as stiffness, trembling, slowed movement, poor and unsteady gait, and shuffled walking. Research has also established a link between patients who have previously suffered a traumatic brain injury and Alzheimer’s.
Who Calculates the Cost?
In your car accident claim, the insurance company of the other driver will review the case and make an initial offer, based on your medical bills, the severity of injuries, and any other costs the accident may have caused.
TBIs don’t only have immediate costs, and your final settlement should also account for future medical expenses relating to your injury or its complications. The insurance company will always push for the lowest compensation amount possible, but your lawyer can fight to get you the compensation you are legally entitled to.
What About Situations Involving Life Support?
Life support is when a normal bodily function is being directed by a machine. This may just be a temporary solution as the wounds from a car accident heal, or it could be necessary to sustain life if grave injuries have harmed the brain beyond repair.
Tragic car accidents often cause brain trauma, preventing the brain from controlling the body the way it is designed to do. When this happens, heart and lung function often ceases. Mechanical ventilation is a process in which a machine will force air into the lungs, allowing oxygen to infuse cells and hopefully keep the other organs functioning while the brain is given time to heal. Artificial nutrition may also be administered via an IV. These solutions contain water, sugar, and nutrients that the body needs to stay alive.
How Long Will Life Support Be Continued?
The brain can go into a number of different states after the trauma of a car accident, including coma, vegetative state, and brain death. How long life support is given to sustain other body functions is dependent on the family and any known wishes of their injured loved one. In cases where there is no detected brain activity, the family may choose to cease life support as there is no chance of recovery. This is a painstakingly difficult decision for any family to have to face.
What Happens If the Life Support Was Necessitated By a Brain Injury After Car Accident?
If a car accident results in brain death, the family is given the right to file a wrongful death claim on behalf of their family member. Not only is maintaining life support financially draining, but it is also emotionally damaging to the family. An attorney will work with the family to ensure that the financial burden is compensated for, including the loss of companionship and support.
Contact our St. Louis Brain Injury Lawyer
If you or a loved one have suffered a TBI in a car accident due to another’s reckless or negligent behavior, this may result in medical bills, lost wages, lost earning potential, and long-term medical treatment. At The Hoffmann Law Firm, L.L.C., our attorneys will help you understand your legal options and the best strategies for full and fair compensation from an auto accident or truck accident claim.
Free Consultation with a St. Louis Car Accident Lawyer
Don’t talk to an insurance claims adjuster before speaking with The Hoffmann Law Firm, L.L.C. We can help you avoid making statements that may affect the outcome of your case. The consultation is free; you don’t pay unless we get you money!