According to the CDC, traumatic brain injury (TBI) is one of the most prominent causes of death and disability in children and young adults, but it can occur at any age.
About 1.5 million people in the US suffer a TBI each year, resulting in about 230,000 hospitalizations and 50,000 deaths. Of these 1.5 million TBI patients, between 80,000 and 90,000 will develop a long-term disability due to their head injury.
Should You Call a Summit County Brain Injury Attorney After Your TBI?
Yes. TBIs often require a large amount of medical care, not just in the hospital, but after you’re released – follow-up appointments, physical or occupational therapy, and sometimes even in-home nursing care in severe cases.
In most circumstances, health insurance only covers some of these costs, and if you need long-term therapy, you will probably run into a policy limit at some point (such as only 20 occupational therapy appointments a year).
Many people struggle to afford the care they need and may wonder if their car insurance or another party should be responsible for their bills.
If your TBI resulted from someone else’s negligence – another driver, a business, or a property owner – then we may be able to pursue compensation for not only your medical bills but other damages as well.
What Causes a TBI?
Most frequently, TBIs are caused by a blow to the head. However, in some situations, they can happen due to a head wound that pierces the skull or a strong jolt that shakes the brain.
These injuries are typically caused by one of the following situations:
- Car accidents
- A gunshot wound or other violent encounter
- Falls (the most common cause of head injuries in the elderly)
What Should You Do After a Head Injury?
The best thing you can do is see a healthcare provider as soon as possible, even if you don’t think your head injury is a big deal.
Sometimes you may initially feel normal after a head injury but develop pain or other symptoms later. Seeking medical care right away will allow you to be screened for more severe effects of a brain injury, such as a brain bleed.
It will also ensure you receive treatment, which can reduce the risk of more serious complications.
Are You Getting the Right Follow-up Care For Your Brain Injury?
We often ask our clients about their follow-up care because, in some cases, we find that people with mild TBIs are released from the hospital without a treatment or care plan.
Unfortunately, even a mild TBI can increase the risk of later issues, including endocrine, neurological, and psychiatric disorders.
It’s essential to follow any discharge instructions, including concussion protocols, then follow up with your own doctor if you aren’t given instructions to see a specialist.
People who have suffered TBIs should also be on the lookout for symptoms that may be related to their injury. Some of these are not noticed in the emergency room after a head injury.
If you’ve suffered any kind of head injury – even if you didn’t go to a doctor about it – you should be aware of these potential symptoms of long-term difficulties:
- Memory loss. It’s possible you may forget some previous memories, have no memory of the accident that caused your head injury, or have difficulty forming new memories in the future.
- Headaches. Some people develop persistent headaches following head trauma. If you have repeated headaches, please speak with a medical professional rather than relying on over-the-counter pain relievers or hoping the headaches will go away.
- Seizures. There is an increased risk of developing epilepsy following a TBI, especially if you have brain swelling, bleeding into the brain, a penetrating injury, or an extended loss of consciousness.
- Dizziness or vertigo. For some patients, these symptoms can become debilitating.
- Paralysis or movement difficulties. After a brain injury, some people may develop weakness or paralysis, usually on one side of the body. Others may have problems with balance or coordination.
- Cognitive difficulties. People with concussions (a mild form of TBI) often feel “brain fog” or trouble thinking clearly. In many cases, these symptoms clear up after a few days or weeks as the patient recovers. But in other situations, the injured person may continue to have a hard time thinking, making decisions, or completing complex mental tasks.
- Language or speech issues. Aphasia is a condition where a person has difficulty understanding or communicating with language. One symptom might be feeling like a word is on the tip of your tongue, but you can’t remember it. This happens to most of us occasionally, but if it occurs more frequently after a head injury, it could be caused by your TBI. Other people may suddenly have a hard time understanding words or phrases they previously knew.
- Mood or behavioral changes. Mental health issues like depression and anxiety frequently happen after a TBI. In fact, one study suggests as many as 1 in 5 patients who suffer a TBI could develop mental health symptoms in the six months following their injury. Sometimes these symptoms are related to the emotional trauma of the incident that caused the injury, but in other cases, they are caused by physical damage to the brain. If you feel depressed or anxious or if those around you have noticed a change in behavior, a mental health specialist can diagnose and treat your condition.
How Can You Pursue Damages for Your TBI?
Many people with brain injuries require months of therapy and other assistance, leading to medical debt and lost time at work. Some can’t return to work for a year or more, and others may become permanently disabled.
If you’re recovering from a brain injury, you may be wondering how to pay for the many expenses involved in treatment, as well as living costs.
When someone else’s negligence caused your injury, it seems fair that this party should cover your costs, but they may disagree about the fault. Additionally, if you have trouble remembering the details of the accident, you may not even know who was responsible.
There are many situations where a Summit County brain injury lawyer can help you determine who may be liable and seek compensation from that person/entity or their insurance carrier. Here are some examples:
- Car accidents. If the other driver was mostly at fault (more than 50 percent), you could collect damages for your injuries. The key is proving that the other driver was primarily responsible – they may claim you caused the accident. In some cases, the police report on the collision is inconclusive because the officer found limited evidence at the scene. Fortunately, your lawyer can help by thoroughly investigating the accident and gathering evidence to support your case.
- Gunshot wounds or other violent encounters. Sometimes we meet people who want to sue the perpetrator for their injuries, but this may not be a viable solution. If the perpetrator has no assets we can seize, you could go through a stressful, time-consuming lawsuit only to receive nothing. However, we will always look for alternatives, and in some cases, we find that the client has grounds for a premises liability lawsuit. For example, if you were the victim of an act of violence in a store, the store might be liable if they failed to provide a reasonable level of security to keep customers and employees safe.
- Falls. If you slipped and fell on another person’s property or in a public venue, the property owner could be liable. For instance, sometimes people fall because a hazard like a puddle under a leaky roof wasn’t adequately addressed. It’s not a problem if you don’t know or remember why you fell – our investigators will visit the site and speak with witnesses to determine what happened.
What if Your Insurance Claim Was Denied?
Please bring the denial letter to your attorney. This happens often in car accident cases and sometimes other types of claims.
Frequently the reason is that the policyholder says the victim was at fault, sometimes with little to no evidence. The insurance company doesn’t care – it’s an excuse to deny the claim and save the company money.
Once we present evidence showing the other party was at fault, the insurance adjuster is usually willing to negotiate until we reach a fair settlement.
Do You Have to Go to Trial to Collect Damages for Your TBI?
We understand that the last thing you may want to do while dealing with a brain injury is go through a long and exhausting trial. Fortunately, this is not necessary in most situations – the majority of cases are settled out of court after we negotiate with the relevant insurance carrier.
However, our philosophy is to prepare to go to trial, not because we will in all cases, but because this strategy actually helps us avoid it. The better prepared we are with evidence and rebuttals to the other side’s claims, the easier it will be to settle the case in our client’s favor.
How Can You Find a Summit County Brain Injury Law Firm?
Please contact the Olson Law Firm for a free consultation about your brain injury case and options for pursuing damages. If there’s a way to collect compensation for your injuries, we’ll find it.
Your consultation is free, and there is no obligation, so you can ask questions and learn the possibilities in your case. Call us today at (303) 586-7297.