While any injury has the potential to result in serious consequences, brain injuries are among the most dangerous. Because the skull and brain are fragile, severe brain injuries are often fatal. If you’ve been involved in an accident where you sustained a head injury, a Chicago brain injury lawyer can help you take legal action to hold the at-fault party responsible for their actions.
If it can be proven that negligence was involved in the accident that caused your brain injury, you could be entitled to compensation to cover your losses. Filing a claim is a complex process, but it offers victims the best chance of getting their lives back in order. To understand the process, let’s first take a look at common accidents that cause head injuries.
Accidents Resulting in Brain Injuries
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a major cause of disability and death in the United States. It’s estimated that in 2014, an average of 155 people died every day from TBI-related injuries. In total, there were 2.87 million emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and deaths involving brain injuries that year.
If you’ve been involved in an accident and sustained a brain injury, it’s in your best interests to seek guidance from an attorney who can help you recover the compensation you need to take care of your accident-related losses. Some of the most common cases we see involve falls, car accidents, and dangerous workplaces.
Slip and Falls
As the leading cause of TBIs, slip and fall injuries caused 52% of all TBI-related hospitalizations in 2014. In some cases, the falls were the result of a dangerous condition like loose carpeting, uneven surfaces, inadequate lighting, or debris. Homeowners and property owners have a responsibility to ensure visitors are safe when they are on their property. If there is a hazard and someone is injured, there may be grounds for a premises liability claim.
Slip and falls are also commonly related to health conditions. Senior citizens and nursing home residents need to take precautions when walking to ensure they do not trip and fall. When a nursing home is negligent and fails to monitor fall-risk residents properly, there is an increased chance they will sustain a TBI.
One in five brain injuries is the result of a traffic accident. When two cars collide, especially head-on, there is a risk an occupant’s head could make contact with the inside of the vehicle. The faster the cars are going at the moment of impact, the worse the head injury is likely to be.
When a car is involved in a collision with a truck, the passengers in the car are more likely to sustain serious head injuries than the truck driver. This is because of the massive size difference between the two vehicles. Often times, head injuries resulting from truck accidents are fatal.
Motorcycle accidents also regularly result in brain injuries. Even with a helmet, a motorcyclist does not have the protection afforded by a standard vehicle. Because of that, it’s likely they’ll be thrown from their motorcycle in the event they are hit by another vehicle. When a rider isn’t wearing a helmet, it’s much more likely for a head injury to be fatal.
Nearly 20% percent of TBI-related ER visits were the result of being struck by or against an object. Accidents like that are more commonly found in dangerous workplaces. Some industries, like construction, logging, and roofing are more hazardous than others simply because of the nature of the work. While there are safety standards set in place by the federal government, there is no guarantee businesses will follow those to keep their employees safe. In the event of a work-related TBI, the victim may be able to seek workers’ compensation benefits.
Diagnosing and Treating a Head Injury
The accident a person is in will play a role in how severe their head injury is. For example, a person is likely to have a worse TBI after a head-on collision or motorcycle accident than a sports-related accident. It’s important to determine the severity of an injury so the proper treatments can be put in place.
A mild TBI is likely to result in cognitive and emotional symptoms like behavior and mood changes, confusion, trouble with memory and concentration, and personality changes. Signs of a moderate or severe TBI are even more serious and may include a headache that does not go away, vomiting or nausea, dilation of one or both pupils, slurred speech, weakness or numbness in limbs, loss of coordination, and confusion.
Any time a person experiences any of those symptoms after sustaining trauma to the head, it’s imperative to seek medical attention right away. If emergency measures need to be taken, surgery may involve removing clotted blood, repairing skull fractures, and relieving pressure in the skull.
Common Traumatic Brain Injuries
No matter what type of accident you’re in, it’s important for physicians to diagnose your brain injury as soon as possible so treatments can begin. Some of the most common injuries we see clients deal with include the following:
- Concussion. Concussions are typically mild TBIs. They occur when the brain is violently shaken inside the skull, which causes a disruption in how it functions. Immediate signs of concussions include headaches, slurred speech, dizziness, confusion, fatigue, and loss of consciousness. In general, the effects go away over time. Doctors typically prescribe rest to allow a concussed brain time to recover.
- Diffuse Axonal. When the nerve fibers in the brain are stretched, twisted, or torn, this is classified as a diffuse axonal injury. The function in many of the brain’s regions is disrupted and it’s likely to cause a coma. This injury often results in a coma that lasts at least six hours. It’s estimated that over 90% of patients with severe diffuse axonal injuries never regain consciousness. Those that do tend to have severe impairments.
- Contusion or Coup-contrecoup. A contusion is another name for a bruise. When this form of bleeding occurs on the brain tissue, it is sometimes referred to as a coup-contrecoup injury. A coup injury is when the brain slams against the skull at the point of impact, while a contrecoup injury is when the brain slides back and hits the opposite side of the skull. Oftentimes, these injuries occur together—like with severe whiplash cases. If the frontal lobe is damaged, it can cause diminished language skills, impaired decision-making, and decreased intelligence. If the temporal lobe is damaged, a person could experience differences in behavior, memory, and learning. The best way to diagnose a contusion on the brain is with a CT or MRI scan. These injuries tend to affect a large part of the brain and the damage is often irreversible.
- Intracranial Hematoma. An intracranial hematoma is when blood vessels rupture inside the skull. This causes bleeding or blood clots in the surrounding tissue. Depending on the location of the blood, the clot could be between the skull and outer layer of the brain, outside the brain but within its outer membrane, or inside the brain tissue itself. Life support and surgeries are often needed to avoid fatalities.
- Penetration. When an object penetrates the brain, immediate medical attention is needed. Open head injuries are life-threatening, as they involve blood loss, seizures, and disruptions to bodily functions. Depending on the severity of the injury, parts of a person’s skull could need to be removed. Penetrating brain injuries are associated with long-term consequences and a long recovery period.
No matter what type of TBI you sustained, taking legal action is often the best way to ensure you have the means you need to recover as fully as possible.
TBI Medications and Therapies
Some TBI symptoms can be treated with medication. Depending on the condition and what a patient is experiencing, a doctor might recommend anti-anxiety medication, anticoagulants, antidepressants, muscle relaxants, or stimulants.
For patients dealing with cognitive issues or motor skill changes, rehabilitation therapies are often used. Therapies can help someone relearn to walk, cook, and develop ways to take care of themselves. Therapies may focus on physical, emotional, or cognitive difficulties. How long therapy is required is dependent upon the severity of the injury. Some patients may only need to seek treatment briefly, while it may be needed on an ongoing basis for others. Examples of rehabilitation therapies include physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, psychological counseling, vocational counseling, and cognitive therapy.
When you work with a Chicago brain injury attorney, they’ll help you determine what your medical bills have cost you and will continue to cost you based on the treatments you need. This way, you’ll receive full and fair compensation for what you’ve lost because of someone else’s negligence.
Proving a Brain Injury Claim in Chicago
Brain injury claims operate in a similar fashion to other personal injury claims. In general, your lawyer will need to establish the four elements of negligence to pursue a successful claim on your behalf. At Thomas Law Offices, we have extensive experience handling injury cases and we have access to the resources and experts needed to build a strong case that proves you’re owed compensation.
First, we need to establish that there was a duty of care. This means that the party that injured you owed it to you to act in a way that did not bring you harm. For example, drivers have a responsibility to focus on the road and follow all traffic laws to reduce the risk of accidents.
Then, we’ll need to show how that duty was breached. To show that the negligent party violated their duty of care to you, we’ll use state laws and evidence from the scene of the accident. If, for example, a driver was texting when they collided with your vehicle, we can request their cellphone records to prove they were texting at the time of the collision.
The third element is damages. We’ll need to calculate what you’ve lost as a result of the accident. We’ll collect medical bills, medical records, employment information, property damage repair receipts, and more to establish that you sustained losses because of what you were wrongfully put through. With more complex damages, we’ll call on testimony from expert witnesses.
Finally, we have to establish causation. This is what connects the other party’s negligence to your losses. Once we’ve established all four elements, we can work on negotiating a settlement or, depending on the circumstances, proceeding to trial to get an official verdict.
Recovering Compensation for Brain Injury Losses
Because of the complexity of brain injuries, it can be difficult to determine how much compensation to seek. Injuries like this have the potential to be unpredictable and the short- and long-term effects vary greatly for victims. Fortunately, our Chicago lawyers have extensive experience determining compensation for clients, so we’ll work to ensure you receive the means you need to recover.
Damages are typically significant in brain injury cases. We can help you recover immediate and future medical expense costs, lost wages and lost future earnings if you’re unable to return to work, property damage costs, and pain and suffering. Physical pain and psychological suffering are hard to place a value on, but our attorneys will make sure you’re compensated fairly for what you’ve been through.
Get Legal Help in Illinois
Brain injury claims can take a long time to settle, which is why it’s best to get in touch with a Chicago brain injury lawyer from Thomas Law Offices as soon as possible after you’ve been injured. The sooner we can start working on building your case, the better your chances will be of receiving the maximum compensation for your injuries and losses.
Filing a claim can seem intimidating, but we’ll be with you every step of the way. To get started or to learn more about your legal rights and options, schedule a free case consultation with our firm today. We’ll begin by reviewing your accident and injuries to help you determine if legal recourse is an option to secure your future.