Brain injuries take many forms, from concussions to massive cerebral trauma. But although their particulars can differ, all brain injuries hold the potential to disrupt your life, cause you pain, and burden you with crushing expenses. For that reason, it’s critical to seek the help of an experienced lawyer if you or someone you love sustained a brain injury because of someone else’s negligent or intentionally harmful actions.
Read on to learn more about types of brain injuries, their causes, and how a skilled brain injury attorney can secure funds to help you pay for medical care and rebuild your life after you suffer one.
Overview of Brain Injury Types
Broadly defined, a brain injury consists of any harm to the brain that disrupts its normal functioning. In this article, we limit our discussion to brain injuries with external (non-congenital) causes, sometimes referred to as acquired brain injuries. We group those injuries into three general categories: perinatal, traumatic, and non-traumatic.
Perinatal Brain Injuries
A perinatal brain injury occurs immediately before, during, or after childbirth. The most common cause of this injury is deprivation of blood or oxygen flow to the infant’s brain (hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy). Still, it can also result from bleeding in the infant’s brain (intracranial hemorrhage), stroke, and maternal health conditions like high blood pressure or an infection.
Perinatal brain injuries can have severe impacts on the affected child. They may result in brain death, cerebral palsy, long-term cognitive or behavioral challenges, and neurodevelopmental delays. As they grow, children may suffer from significant emotional difficulties as well. Families of infants born with perinatal brain injuries often endure severe emotional strain and face substantial expenses for medical care and support services.
Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when an external application of force, like a blow, jolt, or gunshot wound, causes damage that interferes with the brain’s proper functioning. An impact can cause the brain to shift, deform, or twist within the skull, damaging brain tissues and structures. Damage can also occur from bleeding or swelling after the initial impact and changes in brain chemistry.
Traumatic brain injuries can cause a range of negative consequences for the victim, including brain death, coma, paralysis, and severe cognitive, motor, or behavioral deficits. Some TBIs may heal with proper care, but recovery can be slow and inconsistent. TBI victims commonly lose the ability to work, attend school, or live independently for some time, if not permanently.
A concussion is a common form of traumatic brain injury. Despite its reputation as a supposedly minor injury, a concussion can have serious repercussions that disrupt daily life, including sleep disturbances, fatigue, and cognitive difficulties. A concussion also increases the risk of developing a degenerative brain disease, such as dementia or chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), later in life.
Non-Traumatic Brain Injuries
A non-traumatic brain injury does not result from a traumatic force but from some other adverse event. Most non-traumatic brain injuries involve damage to brain tissue and structures due to deprivation of blood flow or oxygen to the brain or bleeding or swelling in the cranium. A non-traumatic brain injury may occur, for example, after a drowning or near-drowning incident, a stroke, or an infectious disease.
Non-traumatic brain injuries take the same toll on a victim’s life as TBIs. They can lead to death, loss of consciousness, and prolonged neurological deficits, often interfering profoundly with a person’s health, well-being, and daily life.
Brain Injury Victims Have Rights to Compensation
If you or someone you love suffered a brain injury under circumstances that were someone else’s fault, you may have a right to compensation. The law generally allows victims of other people’s wrongful acts to hold those wrongdoers (and their insurance companies) legally and financially accountable.
Through liability insurance claims and lawsuits, brain injury victims can often recover money to pay for their:
- Past and future medical expenses in treating a brain injury and any health complications it causes, including hospitalization, long-term rehabilitation, in-home care, medication, and medical equipment;
- Other past and future costs of living with a brain injury, such as services to assist with living independently or modifications to a home to accommodate a brain injury-related disability;
- Lost wages while out of work because of a brain injury, including the value of vacation and sick time used;
- Lost future income and job opportunities, due to a brain injury limiting the ability to work or pursue a chosen career;
- Physical pain and discomfort;
- Emotional suffering and mental health challenges;
- Social and relationship challenges;
- Loss of quality and enjoyment of life.
Additional compensation for a brain injury can come in the form of punitive damages, which aim to punish the party at fault for doing harm. The most reliable way to find out the types and amounts of compensation available for a brain injury is to speak with an experienced brain injury lawyer in your area.
Brain Injuries and Wrongful Death
In the event of a fatal brain injury, the law typically permits the deceased victim’s surviving spouse, heirs, or personal representative to take legal action against the party at fault. Every state has its own wrongful death statute that describes who can file such a lawsuit and the types of damages they may seek.
Depending on the law of the state where a fatal brain injury occurs, a wrongful death lawsuit or insurance claim could result in payment for:
- The victim’s medical expenses before death;
- The victim’s pain and suffering before death;
- Loss of the victim’s income or inheritance;
- Loss of the value of the victim’s services;
- Loss of the victim’s companionship, guidance, or consortium;
- A surviving spouse or family member’s pain and suffering resulting from the death; and
- Funeral and burial expenses.
A wrongful death lawsuit may also seek punitive damages in appropriate cases. The best way to learn about your rights to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit following a fatal brain injury to your loved one is to speak with a skilled lawyer in your area.
How an Experienced Lawyer Can Help After a Brain Injury
Victims and their families often face extreme difficulty after a brain injury accident. They face daunting challenges that can touch every aspect of their lives, from school, to work, to future plans. Under those difficult circumstances, hiring a lawyer may not seem like a top priority—but in many cases, it should be.
A brain injury lawyer can be the advocate, advisor, and trusted resource brain injury victims and their families need to navigate their suddenly changed lives. The lawyer’s principal job is to secure compensation to help pay for medical care, rehabilitation, and the costs of living and coping with a brain injury.
In accomplishing that goal, the lawyer will often provide a wide range of services, such as:
- Taking immediate action to protect the brain injury victim’s rights, such as by filing notice of a potential claim to potentially liable parties;
- Investigating, with the help of experts when necessary, the root causes of a brain injury to identify how it happened and who should bear legal and financial liability for it;
- Evaluating the current and future needs of the brain injury victim to ensure that any legal action taken seeks appropriate compensation;
- Answering the victim’s and family’s questions and advising them on important decisions that may affect their legal and financial interests;
- Connecting the victim and family with support services in the community to assist them in meeting challenges common in brain injury cases;
- Preparing and filing lawsuits and insurance claims seeking full compensation for a brain injury;
- Representing the victim’s interests in all dealings with investigators and insurance company representatives;
- Negotiating a favorable settlement of the victim’s brain injury claim whenever possible;
- Advising the victim on when to accept or reject a settlement offer;
- Going to trial to press the brain injury victim’s case for damages to a judge and jury;
- Collecting and distributing all money owed under a settlement, insurance award, or court judgment.
These are not necessarily all of the services a brain injury lawyer might offer. And a lawyer might only need to provide some of these services in some cases. But having someone on your side who can represent your interests in such a wide variety of ways can often bring a sense of order and security to a challenging moment in your life.
Contingent Fees Make Brain Injury Lawyers Affordable
A brain injury can threaten to bury you and your family with a mountain of medical and other costs. The last thing you need now is to worry about taking on still more expenses. Brain injury lawyers understand that and strive to make their services affordable regardless of your financial circumstances.
They do that in two ways. First, they routinely offer a free consultation to anyone who has suffered a brain injury and wants to learn more about their legal rights. In a consultation, the lawyer can learn about the victim’s injury and begin to explore the victim’s options for obtaining money through legal action.
Second, brain injury lawyers virtually always agree to represent their clients on a contingent fee basis. A contingent fee is an arrangement in which a lawyer’s fee consists of a percentage of any money recovered for the client. The lawyer does not charge the client hourly rates or a flat fee. Instead, the lawyer only gets paid by getting results.
Tips for Protecting Your Rights After a Brain Injury
In the wake of suffering a brain injury, your decisions can affect your legal and financial interests. The tips below can help to protect your rights to receive the compensation you need to pay your bills and meet the challenges ahead.
Always Seek Medical Care for a Concussion
Concussions are the most common—and most ignored—of all brain injuries. Most Americans have suffered and healed from one at some point. And unfortunately, many think of concussions as minor injuries, akin to bumps and bruises that they can brush off and soon forget.
But that is not the case. A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that you should take seriously. Without proper medical attention, it can worsen and increase your risk of a subsequent, more severe brain injury. Always seek immediate medical care after sustaining any blow or jolt that makes you feel unsteady, see stars, or momentarily lose consciousness.
Never Agree to a Quick Settlement Without a Lawyer’s Advice
The party who caused the accident leading to your brain injury, or their insurer, may try to avoid full liability by offering a quick settlement of your potential damages claim. Do not agree to it without first consulting an experienced attorney.
Direct settlement offers to injury victims rarely amount to enough to meet your current and future financial needs. Instead, leave the negotiation of your brain injury claim to a skilled lawyer who can secure the maximum compensation to which the law entitles you.
Contact a Brain Injury Attorney Right Away
A brain injury attorney can serve as your loyal ally and fierce advocate during the difficult weeks and months after you suffer a brain injury, fighting to get the money you need to pay for care and return to living your life. Contact an experienced personal injury attorney in your area today for a free consultation.