Traumatic brain injuries can lead to a lifetime of detrimental and debilitating effects. You or a loved one may have suffered a brain injury from a slip and fall, motor vehicle accident, or as the result of a workplace injury. You’re not alone – according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1.7 million Americans sustain a brain injury each year in the United States. Following a brain injury, it’s imperative to talk to a Houston brain injury lawyer who is familiar with the signs, symptoms, and treatment of these debilitating conditions.
If you or a loved one recently suffered a TBI under any circumstance, contact brain injury attorney Brian White to schedule a free review of your legal options. Our law firm commits itself to protect the rights of people who suffer the consequences of brain injuries by offering contingency-fee based legal services. You’ll pay nothing unless we win a settlement or court judgment on your behalf.
Common Signs of a TBI
Traumatic brain injuries present with a wide range of signs and symptoms. Unfortunately, in many instances, the symptoms of a brain injury may not fully manifest until hours or even days following an accident. Therefore, it’s essential to understand some of the classic warning signs of a TBI that merit medical intervention.
Signs Immediately Following an Injury
A victim of a traumatic brain injury may report any of the following serious symptoms in the moments following an accident:
- Loss of consciousness, lasting anywhere from a few seconds to hours
- Changes in alertness, for example, difficult to awaken
- Double vision or difficulty tracking an object visually
- Clear fluid draining from ears or nose
- Vomiting or nausea
- A peripheral weakness of the legs or arms
- Loss of balance
- Slurred speech
In the Hours or Days Following an Accident
Friends and family should monitor victims of head trauma closely. Seek additional medical advice if any of the following symptoms present in the time following an accident:
- Vertigo, dizziness, or lightheadedness
- Sensory issues such as the ringing of the ears, bad taste in the mouth, or loss of smell or taste
- Sensitivity to light
- Sudden changes in behavior or mood swings
- Depression or anxiety
- Drowsiness or fatigue
- Lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities
- Changes in sleeping patterns, such as insomnia or excessive sleepiness
- Inability to concentrate
- Cognitive issues such as inability to communicate thoughts, read, or think clearly
Certain symptoms like dizziness and headaches may appear immediately after a head trauma but may resolve with time. However, symptoms like changes in behavior or cognition tend to have a delayed onset and may be indicative of a serious problem. A routine medical exam immediately following an injury may not pick up on some of these symptoms. It’s essential for victims of head injuries to describe the full range of symptoms they’re experiencing to a medical provider, whether they occur moments or even days after an injury occurs. Over time, victims of TBI may experience comorbid depression or other mental health issues.
How Negligence Can Lead to TBI
Just as traumatic brain injuries have a range of symptoms, they can also have a myriad of causes. Unfortunately, many brain injuries arise from the negligence of other parties. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the following causes represent the majority of reported TBIs in the United States:
- Falls – These are the number one cause of TBIs in the U.S. and account for almost half of all cases. The elderly are the most likely to experience a brain injury from a fall. These may result from nursing home negligence, slip and fall accidents, premises liability negligence, employer negligence, and more.
- Motor Vehicle Accidents – Car crashes are the second leading cause of all reported TBI’s in the U.S. Drivers and passengers may experience brain injuries from the force of striking a dashboard, steering wheel, or airbag. They may even result from severe whiplash.
- Struck by an Object – Blunt force trauma is the third leading cause of TBI and might occur in a recreational or workplace setting. Construction workers are particularly vulnerable to this type of injury, as are children, especially if they play recreational sports. Employer negligence or negligent supervision may play a role in these types of injuries.
- Violent Crimes – Lastly, violent criminal behavior, such as assault, battery, or armed robbery, are the fourth leading cause of TBI. Many victims of violent crime don’t realize that they can file civil charges against the defendant in addition to any criminal penalties, on the grounds of gross negligence or malicious intent. In some cases, a third-party claim may exist on the grounds of negligent security.
These are not the only ways another party’s negligence may lead to brain injury, however. Other common examples include:
- Bike accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Accidents arising from the use of defective products
- Premises liability concerns
- Motorcycle accidents
- Trip and falls
- Swimming pool accidents
- Accidents in the workplace
- Negligence by the government – for example, resulting from improper road or sidewalk maintenance.
Negligent parties can be responsible for the losses a TBI victim sustains under Texas law. This includes both the tangible and intangible losses suffered by the victim and his or her family. Examples of damages available in a TBI case include compensation for:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Loss in earning capacity
- Cost of future medical care, such as therapy and rehabilitation
- The cost of accommodations to a home, if applicable (e.g., wheelchair ramps, wider doors, lower countertops, etc.).
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional anguish
- Loss in life quality
Types of Traumatic Brain Injury
Traumatic brain injuries may range in severity and scope. The most common classifications include:
Concussions are by far the most common type of TBI. They result from direct trauma to the head, causing the brain to make contact with the skull. Concussions may result from falls, motor vehicle accidents, or an object striking the skull. It’s important to remember that a loss of consciousness is not a precondition for a concussion. While many victims do lose consciousness for a short time, a person may sustain this type of injury without blacking out for any length of time. Be aware of symptoms such as headache, mental confusion, or sensitivity to light. Victims of any head trauma should follow up with a medical provider as soon as possible.
A brain contusion results from bleeding within the organ itself. In many cases, brain contusions require surgical removal to prevent death or further damage to the surrounding tissue. Fatal blood clots can occur without prompt treatment and care. Victims of head trauma should visit an emergency room immediately to treat severe headache, blurry vision, or other troubling symptoms.
Diffuse Axonal Injury
This severe type of brain injury results when external forces create tears throughout the brain, which can lead to coma or death. A person with a diffuse axonal injury may experience motor dysfunction, sensory dysfunction, loss of smell, memory loss, difficulty with cognition, and more. The most common cause of diffuse axonal injury is shaken baby syndrome, but anyone who experiences a violent shaking motion may be vulnerable to the injury. It occurs with higher frequency in babies and toddlers.
Lastly, a penetration injury results when a sharp object goes through the hard covering of the skull and into the brain itself. This severe type of brain injury can have a range of detrimental effects, particularly “shearing” of the brain tissue. The type of symptoms a person produces will depend on the area of the brain affected. However, anyone who survives this type of injury will likely display long-term, negative effects like loss of cognitive function, inability to speak or express oneself, emotional issues, and even issues with basic self-control.
The Elements of a Brain Injury Case
A person who sustains a brain injury as the result of someone else’s negligence may be able to collect compensation for the full extent of his or her injuries, pain, and suffering. Our experienced Houston brain injury lawyers will collect all evidence pointing to negligence. However, achieving this requires proof of the following essential elements:
- The defendant (party allegedly liable for the accident) owed the victim a duty of care. For example, a person who sustained a brain injury in a car accident could argue that the motorist owed a duty of care to everyone on the road.
- The defendant violated his or her duty of care by committing negligence. Negligence refers to a failure to act in a way that another reasonably careful person would. In a car accident example, a person may commit negligence by disobeying traffic laws or driving distracted.
- The defendant’s negligence led directly to the plaintiff’s injuries. In other words, the brain injury was a direct result of a person driving negligently or acting in another reckless manner.
- The plaintiff suffered damages as a result. Examples of damages include medical bills, lost wages, loss in life quality, or physical pain and suffering.
Total Number of Brain Injury Hospitalizations by Age Group and Cause
According to the CDC, people 65 and older sustained the most traumatic brain injuries. Unsurprisingly, the majority of these injuries are due to slip and falls. A common way for people of all age groups to get traumatic brain injuries is through car accidents.
Here is a breakdown of the data shown in the graph above:
|Age Group||Motor Vehicle Traffic||Falls||Assault||Struck by/Against||All Other Causes||Unknown|
Contact a Houston Brain Injury Lawyer
A brain injury is a serious medical condition that requires prompt and careful medical attention. Victims should take the following steps:
- Receive emergency medical care by reporting to the nearest emergency room in light of symptoms such as severe headache, sensitivity to light, or disorientation.
- Follow all provider’s orders. Even a mild concussion has the potential to become more severe if the victim does not follow appropriate procedures. Observe the medical provider’s instructions, rest, and take it easy.
- Contact a brain injury attorney. A lawyer can help hold the responsible party accountable for his or her actions by filing a civil claim on the grounds of negligence.
If you or a loved one recently suffered a traumatic brain injury, contact our firm today at (713) 224-4878 and schedule a free initial consultation.