Traumatic Brain Injuries
If your accident left you with a traumatic brain injury, we want to hear your story. No two cases are alike, and having an experienced brain injury lawyer analyze your potential case is critical to protecting your rights.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
The following document is designed to be a comprehensive resource for personal injury victims who have suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI).
In more than 20 years of representing injured people throughout Indiana, Boulton Law Group has witnessed every type of injury imaginable. Of all the injuries our clients have sustained, it is difficult to name one more unpredictable or serious than a traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Unlike other injuries, a significant number of third-party resources will be needed to ensure the victim returns to the highest level of health, both physically and psychologically.
Depending on the severity of the TBI any number of professionals can play a key role in the person’s follow-up care, including specialized health care specialists, experienced legal representation, occupational therapists, financial planners, neurological doctors, etc.
With regard to legal help, attorney Matt Boulton and his staff guide brain injury victims and their families through each of the appropriate channels and monitor all recovery efforts to help ensure clients not only reach peak recovery in terms of their health, but that they are also justly compensated for their injuries.
No matter your question or concern, Boulton Law Group is here to help brain injury victims and their families with all of their needs.
How common are brain injuries?
Our clients are often surprised when we talk to them about brain injury statistics. In fact, the yearly incidents of brain injury and the frequency with which they occur can easily lead one to believe that our country faces a silent epidemic.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2014 saw 2.87 million people who suffered a brain injury that resulted in an ER visit, hospitalization, or death. This statistic alone makes it quite evident that brain injuries are hardly rare.
CDC statistics also note that between 2006-2014, the number of people who suffered a brain injury that led to ER visits, hospitalization, or death, increased by more than 50%, and in 2014, 155 people died each day from a brain-related injury.
Types of brain injuries
Depending on the severity of the accident and mechanisms involved, brain injury victims may suffer one or more of the following types of TBIs:
Contusion – Often the least severe of brain injury types, a contusion occurs when small blood vessels leak onto the brain’s surface, otherwise known as bruising.
And while the term “contusion” does not always conjure up a high level of seriousness or concern, these brain injuries can in fact be severe, depending on the force of the blow to the head.
It is always suggested that you seek out a doctor’s opinion with regard to any head injury.
Concussion – Largely due to widespread sports media coverage over the last several years, concussions have become one of the most well-known brain injury types.
Put simply, a concussion occurs when the brain strikes the inner surface of your skull. The mechanism responsible for this contact is caused by a sudden acceleration and deceleration of the head.
As such, concussions are one of the most common head injuries associated with car accidents. Collisions often cause a vehicle occupant to either strike their head on a hard object, or result in a sudden stop or jerking motion that whips the head, leading to the brain striking the inside of the skull.
If it is not termed severe by your doctor, a single concussion will often times not result in a long-term medical diagnosis, however, repeated concussions can lead to significant or permanent conditions.
Diffuse Axonal – Similar to a concussion in that it occurs as a result of brain movement, Diffuse Axonal Injury (DAI) is also one of the most severe TBI’s a person can sustain.
For the injury to occur, a person’s brain must have incurred a tearing of its long connecting nerve fibers (axons) as a result of rapid acceleration and deceleration.
DAI often causes damage to many areas of the brain and leaves the person in a coma, though loss of consciousness may last for a shorter period in some cases than others.
Penetration – Victims who suffer a penetrating brain injury will require immediate emergency surgery.
The injury often occurs when a foreign object penetrates the skull and makes contact with the brain, often a result of violent incidents such as a gunshot, stabbing, or being struck with any number of blunt objects.
In some cases a penetration brain injury occurs as a result of a fall or other accident that causes the skull to fracture and make contact with the brain.
Coup-Contrecoup – This injury occurs when injuries occur simultaneously on opposite sides of the brain.
To better understand how the injury can occur, it is best explained by using a car accident as an example.
Imagine a person is struck from behind at a high rate of speed, causing them to hit their head on the dashboard or other hard surface of their vehicle. The initial point of impact is made with the person’s forehead, causing the brain to strike the front of the skull, or the “coup” injury, and then bounce back to hit the back wall of the skull, or the “contrecoup” injury.
This type of TBI can result in severe damage that will require immediate emergency care and long-term care.
In some instances, accident victims have also been found to have incurred secondary effects from a brain injury and ultimately suffered from the following types of acquired brain injuries:
Anoxic – This type of brain injury occurs after the brain is completely cut off from an oxygen source, resulting in cell depletion.
Near drownings or other accidents near water are commonly associated with Anoxic brain injuries, as are exposure to toxic materials.
Hypoxic – This type of brain injury is diagnosed when there has been a restriction on the levels of oxygen that is available to the brain.
What about skull fractures?
While a skull fracture does not technically qualify as a brain injury, it is important to understand why this injury type often leads to one of the diagnoses listed above.
Because the majority of our bones contain bone marrow, it enables them to absorb the shock of a blow, however, it also leaves them more susceptible to fracture. By contrast, our skull is without bone marrow, leaving it unable to soften the force of an impact, thus increasing the likelihood of a brain injury.
No two brain injuries are alike. Depending on the severity of your accident and circumstances that caused the injury, each person will sustain unique after-effects and require individualized care.
How serious is your brain injury?
Once an accident victim has been diagnosed with having suffered a brain injury, it is important that doctors objectively categorize the injury according to a standard unit of measure.
Founded and published by professors at the University of Glasgow in 1974, the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) is a 15-point test used to define the seriousness of a person’s brain injury and how it affects their level of consciousness.
The GCS measures three types of functions and assigns them a score based on various reactionary abilities:
Eye Opening (E)
4 – spontaneous
The person’s ability to open their eyes and blink at a baseline.
3 – to sound
The person is only able to open their eyes or blink in response to verbal commends or other audible stimuli.
2 – to pressure
The person opens their eyes in response to stimulation/pain on any area of the body that does not include the face.
1 – none
NT – not testable
Verbal Response (V)
5 – oriented
The person is able to communicate in a normal manner.
4 – confused
The person is able to engage in conversation but might have prolonged periods of confusion or misunderstanding.
3 – words, but not coherent
The person will be able to speak recognizable words, but they are unable to engage in meaningful conversation, or supply answers to questions.
2 – sounds, but no words
The person is unable to engage in conversation or produce words that have meaning.
1 – none
NT – not testable
Motor Response (M)
6 – obeys command
The person is able to move their limbs in response to a direct command.
5 – localizing
The person’s limbs respond to physical stimuli, e.g., pain.
4 – normal flexion
The person’s limbs withdraw from pain.
3 – abnormal flexion
The person exhibits spastic flexion in their limbs.
2 – extension
The person exhibits rigidness in their limbs.
1 – none
NT – not testable
Once doctors have recorded scores for each of the 3 group functions, they add the total to determine the seriousness of the person’s brain injury.
A top score of 15 has the best prognosis, meaning the person will very likely make a full recovery.
In fact, a score of 8 or above indicates that a person will see marked improvement with the appropriate therapies and treatment.
A score of 3-5 indicates some of the most serious of brain injuries.
What are common causes of traumatic brain injuries?
Any number of accidents and incidents can result in a traumatic brain injury, however, the majority of Boulton Law Group’s clients acquire a TBI as a result of one of the following four causes:
Auto accidents – Whether it’s a single-car accident, motorcycle crash, or a collision with a semi-truck, automobile accidents have long been a leading contributor to traumatic brain injuries.
The violence and unpredictability of an automobile accident can easily surpass the skull’s ability to protect our brain. In fact, we have witnessed seemingly minor crashes result in serious brain injuries.
Victims who fail to wear a seat belt, or helmet when riding a motorcycle, have a greater likelihood of suffering a traumatic brain injury, however, there is no guarantee that any safety measure can fully prevent the injury.
Slip and falls – According to the CDC, slip and fall accidents that resulted in a head injury accounted for 48% of emergency-related care in 2014. Slip and falls continue to be the primary cause of brain injuries in the U.S.
Boulton Law Group has worked on several cases that involved a head injury from the result of a slip and fall, including falls that occurred in shopping centers, parking lots, nursing homes, and places of employment.
Brain injury treatment and therapies
Depending on the severity of a person’s brain injury and/or Glasgow Coma Scale score, a victim may be prescribed a number of various treatments and therapies, including:
Rest/OTC medicines – For mild brain injuries, a doctor may simply prescribe time off work or school and/or recommend over-the-count er pain relievers for headaches or other mild discomfort.
Despite being diagnosed with a mild brain injury, it is still critical the person be closely monitored at home for signs of any new or worsening symptoms. Victims must also be sure to keep all follow-up appointments with their doctors.
Emergency care – If the seriousness of a brain injury requires emergency intervention, doctors will be focused on ensuring the victim is receiving the necessary oxygen levels and blood supply to ensure the injury does not worsen or regress.
Prescribed medications – For brain injuries that score lower on the Glasgow Coma Scale, doctors may prescribe the following types of medicines:
- Diuretics – Designed to lessen the amount of fluids in a persons tissue, diuretics will lessen the amount of pressure on a person’s brain, thus reducing the chance of any secondary injuries or further complications.
- Anti-seizure medicine – More serious brain injuries may induce seizures in the days and weeks following the accident. Doctors will sometimes prescribe anti-seizure medication to reduce or eliminate he chance that a person will seize and cause further damage to their brain.
- Coma-inducing medication – If doctors determine that a victim’s brain is not getting the appropriate oxygen levels, and all other options are unavailable, they may recommend the person be placed in a temporary coma. A person’s brain requires less oxygen in this state and is thus aided by the inactivity.
Brain surgery – As expected, brain surgery is reserved for severe TBI’s.
In instances where there is bleeding on the brain, clotting, or a skull fracture, doctors may recommend emergency surgery immediately following the accident.
It is also possible the doctors will monitor the brain injury victim for a short period of time before deciding whether or not to resort to surgical intervention.
Physical and cognitive rehabilitation – Almost all victims who suffer a severe TBI will require various types of physical and cognitive rehab to re-learn basic everyday skills.
The type of therapist required will depend on the seriousness of the injury as well as the victim’s abilities and goals.
Examples of the types of therapists and care workers who would be involved in a brain injury victim’s care and rehab may include one or more of the following:
- Physical therapist
- Speech pathologist
- Social worker(s)
- Vocational counselor
- Rehabilitation nurse
There a large number of other professionals who may be involved in a brain injury victim’s recovery, however, it is important to understand that each case will be unique and require personalized care.
Traumatic brain injury lawsuits
Depending on the severity of a person’s brain injury, as well as the liability factors surrounding the accident, TBI lawsuits account for some of the most vigorously litigated cases inside our office.
Because these cases have the ability to be worth large amounts of money, the insurance company will be sure to use every defense possible to limit their exposure. Fortunately, attorney Boulton knows how to overcome their objections and seek the maximum amount of available compensation.
Boulton Law Group has represented a number of brain injury victims and their families, with the source of the TBI commonly occurring from one of the following:
No matter how the TBI occurred, it is critical that you retain the services of an experienced brain injury lawyer as quickly as possible. Evidence can disappear, witnesses memories can fade, and insurance companies will be seeking statements and signatures for releases that can damage or bar any potential recovery.
One of the more difficult aspects of a TBI lawsuit is the invisible nature of the injury, especially in cases that don’t exhibit significant physical effects, such as a concussion.
Insurance companies will use the lack of physical symptoms against TBI victims. It is not unheard of for victims to be told that they are exaggerating their symptoms, or they need to wrap up their treatment. Do NOT be pressured by an insurance company into settling until your doctors have granted you a full release and declare you have reached a maximum point of recovery.
Boulton Law Group always recommends that you consult with an experienced brain injury lawyer before speaking with the insurance company. While your injury may be obvious, it will not make the fight to receive fair compensation any easier.
No two cases are alike, and this is especially true when dealing with a traumatic brain injury. Several factors can come into play when trying to determine the value of your TBI case, including type of accident, severity of the TBI, liability factors, insurance coverage, treatment methods, your age, long-term prognosis, and medical documentation, etc.
If any of these factors are ignored or misrepresented, a person runs the risk of having their personal injury claim significantly undervalued.
Additionally, the time it takes to settle broken bone cases can vary greatly. Attorney Boulton will be able to determine when it is time to make a demand from the insurance company, largely based on your overall recovery.
Having an experienced attorney handle your claim will help to ensure your case is appropriately reviewed as well as reduce some of the hassle that may follow your injury, such as calls from bill collectors.
Indiana traumatic brain injury attorney
TBI cases are complex and expensive to pursue. Victims and families without an experienced Indiana brain injury attorney on their side will face monumental challenges in seeking compensation from the insurance company.
With this in mind, Boulton Law Group offers a Zero Fee Guarantee to all of our clients who have suffered a traumatic brain injury. This means brain injury victims and their families will never pay consultation or initial investigation fees. In fact, we only receive payment after we win the case.
Our goal is to help you through this time with friendly guidance and trusted legal advice, while always protecting your rights from an insurance company whose only goal is profit.
To speak or meet with attorney Boulton at a place and time of your choosing, you can call him direct by dialing 317-350-2680. If you prefer to write to us with the details of your brain injury story, please fill out our confidential contact form.
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