Every year, thousands of people in the U.S. suffer severe brain injuries, with dramatic, life-altering consequences. If you or your loved one has sustained brain injury through the negligence of another, contact an Indianapolis brain injury attorney as soon as possible. Merry Fountain is a dedicated advocate for brain injury victims.
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Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is an injury to the brain caused by external trauma. It is a disruption of the normal function of the brain. TBI can be caused by a blow, bump, or jolt to the head, or by a penetrating injury, such as a gunshot wound. The three types of brain injuries range from mild (also known as a concussion), moderate to severe.
The most common situations in which people get brain injuries are falls, fire-arm related injuries, car accidents, sports injuries, medical mistakes, child abuse and assaults.
The symptoms of a brain injury are not always obvious or quick to appear. Traumatic brain injuries can range from mild injury, causing brief changes in mental status, to severe TBI, resulting in an extended period of unconsciousness or amnesia. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) classifies brain injury symptoms into four different categories:
Some symptoms of traumatic brain injury may appear soon after the accident or injury. Other symptoms may not be noticed until days, weeks, or months later, when the injured person tries to resume his or her normal life. Signs and symptoms of TBI may be difficult to sort out, and problems may be overlooked early on by victims, their family members, and physicians.
Head trauma can happen in a number of ways. No matter how a person hits their head, however, there is always the risk of damage to the brain that results in a traumatic brain injury (TBI). The following are the most common causes of head trauma and TBI in the U.S. according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDC reports that 40.5 percent of brain injuries are caused by falls. People can fall in many situations and the resulting injuries – including TBI – can be more serious than you would think. The National Safety Council (NSC) reports that almost 32,000 people died from fall injuries in 2014 alone.2 Falls commonly result in a victim hitting their head on the ground or on an object. The most common locations for falls include stairs, cluttered walkways, slick or wet surfaces, uneven floors, ramps, doorways, ladders, unstable work areas, and unguarded heights.
The second-most common cause of TBI in the U.S. is being struck by or against some type of object, which results in 15.5 percent of head injuries. This can occur when an object falls from above and hits your head or when your head is knocked into a wall, dashboard or a car, or another stationary object.
Indianapolis car accident lawyers know that car crashes cause a large percentage of traumatic brain injury cases. Trauma to the brain can occur when the head strikes an object, such as the windshield or steering wheel, in a crash. TBI can also occur even when the skull does not come into contact with an object in the vehicle. The sheer force of a motor vehicle accident can cause the brain to strike the internal hard bone of the skull when the head comes to a sudden, jolting stop.
Violent assaults result in 10.7 percent of brain injuries every year. Assaults such as blows to the head or hitting someone with a blunt object can result in closed-head injuries, while assaults involving stabbings or shootings can result in penetration of the skull and brain and open-head injury.
No matter how your head and/or brain injury occurred, you may have the right to recover financially if another person caused your injury.
The causes of the remaining head injuries are either unknown or from miscellaneous accidents. No matter how your head and/or brain injury occurred, you may have the right to recover financially if another person caused your injury.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), closed head injury, concussion, brain damage, or post-concussion syndrome are all terms synonymous with acquired injury to the brain. Any incident with or without skull fracture that produces an external physical force that produces a diminished or altered state of consciousness can produce a brain injury.
Most people are unaware of the scope of traumatic brain injury (TBI) or its overwhelming nature. TBI is a common injury and may be missed initially when the medical team is focused on saving the individual’s life. Before medical knowledge and technology advanced to control breathing with respirators and decrease intracranial pressure, which is the pressure in the fluid surrounding the brain, the death rate from traumatic brain injuries was very high. Although the medical technology has advanced significantly, the effects of TBI are significant.
Brain injuries can be classified in many different ways, most of which we will briefly summarize here.
Primary Versus Secondary Injuries
A primary brain injury occurs anytime an injury is induced by mechanical forces. This means that the injury was caused by an object striking the head or the brain striking the inside of the skull, as well as by acceleration and deceleration forces.
Secondary brain injuries are usually caused by a cascade of events where the symptoms of a brain injury are delayed from the moment of impact only to affect the brain later. Often, these injuries are caused by blood flow or oxygenation issues within the body.
Focal Versus Diffuse Injuries
A focal brain injury is typically caused by the head sustaining some sort of impact. These injuries are typically detectable by MRIs, PET scans, or CT scans. Focal brain injuries might present as skull fractures, contusions, or bleeding inside the skull.
Diffuse brain injuries are typically caused by acceleration or deceleration forces, and a resulting concussion effect can cause a diffuse axonal injury and swelling of the brain. These injuries are harder to diagnose with the scans mentioned above, and they often result in the tearing of nerve tissue that disrupts the brain’s communication processes.
Open Versus Closed Injuries
Open brain injuries typically occur as a result of an object penetrating the skull and entering into the brain, including bullets, knives, or some other sharp object that forces bone, skin, and hair into the brain.
Closed head injuries refer to those caused by outside forces that affect the head and body but do not cause any penetration of the skull.
Brain injuries are classified as mild, moderate, or severe. Mild brain injuries typically only affect brain cells temporarily. However, moderate to severe brain injuries can lead to a range of long-term complications or even death.
The final way to classify brain injuries is based on the symptoms. Traumatic brain injuries can cause a range of physical, cognitive, physiological, and psychological effects either immediately or over a period of time after the injury occurs. The symptoms typically differ depending on the severity of the brain injury, but that is not always the case.
TBI is classified into two categories: mild and severe. A brain injury can be classified as mild if loss of consciousness and/or confusion and disorientation is shorter than 30 minutes. While MRI and CAT scans are often normal, the individual can have cognitive problems such as a headache, difficulty thinking, memory problems, attention deficits, mood swings, and frustration. These injuries are commonly overlooked. Even though this type of TBI is called “mild,” the effect on the family and the injured person can be devastating.
Individuals who sustain a mild TBI can experience symptoms immediately or gradually over the next few hours or days. These symptoms may clear up in a matter of days with proper rest. However, some patients experience symptoms that may persist for weeks following the initial trauma. Some of these symptoms include:
In addition, while a person is recovering from a concussion, their brains are at a high risk of being injured again. If a person with a mild TBI is not diagnosed properly and participates in risky activities, including sports, they are in danger of sustaining a subsequent brain injury. Subsequent brain injuries before the first one has healed can have significantly more serious effects, some of which may be life-threatening.
For the above reasons, you should always take a mild TBI very seriously. You may need more medical attention than you first imagined and may lose income from missing work while you recover. If another person caused your injury, it is important to know your rights to recovery for your medical bills, lost wages, and other related losses.
Severe brain injury is associated with a loss of consciousness for more than 30 minutes and memory loss after the injury or penetrating skull injury longer than 24 hours. The deficits range from impairment of higher level cognitive functions to comatose states. Survivors may have limited function of arms or legs, abnormal speech or language, loss of thinking ability or emotional problems. The range of injuries and degree of recovery is very variable and varies on an individual basis.
The effects of TBI can be profound. Individuals with severe injuries can be left in long-term unresponsive states. For many people with severe TBI, long-term rehabilitation is often necessary to maximize function and independence. Even with mild TBI, the consequences to a person’s life can be dramatic. Change in brain function can have a dramatic impact on family, job, social and community interaction.
If you are in any type of accident and bump your head or suffer a jolt of the head, it is highly important that you see a medical professional to determine whether or not you have a head injury. Head injuries can be very serious and can have many symptoms that can affect various aspects of your life. Without a proper diagnosis and treatment, you can experience complications from your injury and can put yourself at a high risk for subsequent injuries.
Head injuries can include skull fractures, contusions or bleeding on the brain, traumatic brain injuries, and more. All of these can result in many symptoms or few symptoms. Some examples of head injury symptoms can include:
Even if you experience few or relatively minor symptoms, do not underestimate the importance of seeking a medical evaluation. Symptoms can arise over time or can be limited but that does not mean you did not suffer a serious injury.
There are different ways a doctor can diagnose a head injury. First, imaging tests can identify whether there is a fracture or visible damage to your brain tissue. In addition, there are tests that doctors use to identify how significantly your abilities and faculties have been affected. The major tests used to diagnose head or brain injuries include:
Once you are diagnosed with a head injury, your treatment will vary depending on the nature and severity of the injury. Treatment often includes physical and cognitive rest, which can require time off work or school. In more serious cases, you may need to be hospitalized to monitor bleeding or brain pressure and some patients require surgical procedures. Rehabilitative therapy is also a major part of head and brain injury treatment in many situations.
Getting a diagnosis is not only imperative for your health but also for any potential legal claim you may bring in regard to your head injury. Having a complete medical record and timely diagnosis can help you prove the extent of your injuries and losses if you file a personal injury lawsuit or insurance claim against any party that caused your injury.
Just as no two people are exactly alike, no two brain injuries are exactly alike. For some, brain injury is the start of a lifelong disease process. Brain injury treatment is a complex field of medical rehabilitation. When someone has a moderate to severe injury, treatment can involve the combined efforts of neurologists, psychiatrists, physiatrists, an array of rehabilitation therapists, case managers, and social workers, along with a person’s network of friends and family. For mild traumatic brain injuries, treatment often involves resting the body and the brain. If symptoms of brain injury persist, further evaluation by a neurologist and/or a neuropsychologist may be helpful.
The Brain Injury Association  of America suggests that there are numerous treatment options for those suffering a severe brain injury:
Intensive Care Unit
After receiving emergency medical treatment, persons with a moderate to severe brain injury may be admitted to a hospital’s Inpatient Intensive Care Unit. The goals in the ICU include achieving medical stability, medical management, and prevention of medical crisis.
As early as possible in the recovery process, individuals who sustain brain injuries will begin acute rehabilitation. The treatment is provided in a special unit of the trauma hospital, a rehabilitation hospital or another inpatient setting. During acute rehabilitation, a team of health professionals with experience and training in brain injury works with the patient to regain as many activities of daily living as possible.
When patients are well enough to participate in more intensive therapy, they may be transferred to a post-acute rehabilitation setting, such as a residential rehabilitation facility. The goal of post-acute rehabilitation is to help the patient regain the most independent level of functioning possible.
Following acute or post-acute rehabilitation, a person with a brain injury may continue to receive outpatient therapies to maintain and/or enhance their recovery. Individuals whose injuries were not severe enough to require hospitalization or who were not diagnosed as having a brain injury when the incident occurred may attend outpatient therapies to address functional impairments.
Home Health Services
Some hospitals and rehabilitation companies provide rehabilitation therapies within the home for persons with brain injury.
Independent Living Programs
Independent living programs provide housing for persons with brain injury with the goal of regaining the ability to live as independently as possible. Usually, independent living programs will have several different levels to meet the needs of people requiring more assistance and therapies as well as those who are living independently and being monitored.
The most common causes of traumatic brain injury are vehicle crashes, slip and falls, sports injuries, and violence. Other acquired brain injuries can be caused by medical events such as hypoxia or anoxia (loss of oxygen to the brain), aneurysms, infections to the brain, tumors, or stroke.
The outcomes of acquired brain injury are unique to the individual and the severity of the trauma. A severe brain injury can leave an individual in a permanently altered state of consciousness. A moderate to severe brain injury can cause physical, cognitive, and/or behavioral/emotional impairment.
Even a mild brain injury can lead to “post-concussion” syndrome, a cluster of symptoms evidenced by fatigue, dizziness, slowed mental functioning, and headaches that last for months, even years, with varying amount of severity. For some people a brain injury can be temporary, others suffer permanent partial or total functional impairment.
Mild traumatic brain injury occurs frequently in car accidents and is clinically defined as loss of consciousness of thirty minutes or less. The jerking of a head back and forth when a seat belted passenger is hit by another vehicle may even be enough to cause it. Unfortunately, brain CTs and MRIs rarely show any objective injury. Emergency room physicians and even family doctors may tell you that there is no sign of a head injury and you are probably fine.
However, approximately one out of every seven people with mild traumatic brain injury will have problems for a year or more. Short term issues include failure to be able to concentrate, headaches, difficulty sleeping, and fatigue.
Because of the lack of objective evidence on tests, both the short term and long term effects of mild traumatic brain injury are minimized by medical providers and insurance companies.
Given the likelihood that a mild traumatic brain injury will not be identified or treated medically, it is very important to ensure that your medical providers recognize the above symptoms as those of an ongoing traumatic brain injury.
There have been few studies of the long term effects of mild traumatic brain injury. A recent one conducted on 350,000 veterans found that those with mild traumatic brain injury were more than twice as likely to suffer from dementia later in life. While no similar long term studies have been conducted on car accident victims, the results are certainly very concerning.
Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can occur for a variety of reasons and can range in severity from minor concussions to catastrophic injuries that may lead to serious disabilities. Recent data indicates that even mild TBIs can cause serious medical complications. As a result, professional sports organizations such as the National Hockey League (NHL) and the National Football League (NFL) have made high-profile rule changes in an attempt to reduce the incidence of athletes sustaining TBIs. Sports injuries and accidents are just one way that people can sustain brain injuries, and even everyday activities can pose a risk. When TBIs are the result of someone else’s negligence victims may be able to recover through an Indiana personal injury lawsuit.
According to data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 1.7 million TBIs occur each year either as isolated injuries or combination with other injuries. Knowing the most common causes of traumatic brain injury is a good way to reduce the risk of sustaining one. TBIs occur when a bump, blow, or jolt to the head causes a disruption in normal brain function. Minor concussions are probably the most common form of TBI, and often resolve on their own without any treatment. On the other hand, more serious TBIs can result in a person requiring ongoing medical attention and having difficulty performing everyday tasks. The most common causes of traumatic brain injuries include:
Even if you think your injury is minor, don’t settle with any insurance company until you receive a complete evaluation. Many injuries are not found during initial visits to the doctor or emergency room. Sometimes people do not experience problems until years later.
In 2012, the subject of brain injuries gained well-deserved widespread international attention when some four thousand former NFL players joined civil lawsuits against the League, seeking damages over the League’s failure to protect players from concussions.
On August 30, 2013, the NFL reached a $765 million settlement with the former NFL players over the head injuries. The settlement created a $675 million compensation fund from which former NFL players can collect from depending on the extent of their conditions. Severe conditions such as Lou Gehrig’s disease and postmortem diagnosed chronic traumatic encephalopathy would be entitled to payouts as high as $5 million. From the remainder of the settlement, $75 million will be used for medical exams, and $10 million will be used for research and education. The amount is still being contested with many thinking it is just not enough to cover all of the victims.
Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) afflict millions of people every year with extremely serious symptoms. Despite their prevalence, the general public still doesn’t understand these injuries. Here are four facts that you may not know about TBIs and how they can damage people’s lives.
Seemingly Minor Accidents Can Cause Severe TBIs
Even people who justifiably think of TBIs as serious injuries are often surprised to learn that relatively minor accidents can cause severe brain trauma. Accidents that can result in TBIs include sports and recreation accidents, slips and falls, bicycle accidents, playground injuries, and slow speed car accidents. Because seemingly minor accidents can produce TBIs, get checked out by a doctor after any incident involving head trauma.
Mild TBIs Can Result in Weeks or Months of Symptoms
Many people do not realize that even a mild TBI can put victims out of commission for a significant period of time. Symptoms like dizziness, headaches, sensitivity to light and sound, memory problems, and difficulty concentrating can make going to school or work impossible for weeks or even months.
People Who Sustain TBIs in Accidents May Receive Substantial Compensation
Traumatic brain injuries are serious matters that can result in significant economic and noneconomic losses. These losses often include medical expenses, lost income, physical and emotional pain and suffering, and lost the quality of life. In many cases, these losses will go on for months or even years. For this reason, victims should retain a lawyer who understands the unique issues posed by TBI cases and who has a successful track record representing victims.
Call a Lawyer as Soon as You Can After You Receive a TBA Diagnosis
Time is of the essence in TBI claims, so call an attorney as soon as possible after you receive a TBI diagnosis. The longer you wait to start an investigation, the greater the chance that someone will lose or destroy evidence important to your case. A lawyer, however, will begin to investigate your case as soon as possible and may put certain parties on notice about their duties to preserve relevant evidence.
If you or your loved one has suffered serious brain injury caused by someone else’s negligence, your best course of action is to consult with an experienced Indianapolis brain injury lawyer as soon as possible. This type of injury can have devastating, long-term effects for victims and their families. The brain injury attorneys at Fountain Law Firm, P.C. can:
If you or a loved one have suffered a traumatic brain injury, please call us today for a free consultation. Indianapolis personal injury attorney Merry Fountain wants to help you deal with these difficult times and recover full compensation for your injury and lasting brain damage. She has the experience in settling claims for traumatic brain injury and is dedicated to helping you cope with many of the other problems you are probably facing, including medical bills and insurance issues.
We will manage your case with personal, compassionate attention while you focus on your recovery. There is never a cost to you until you receive your settlement. Call Fountain Law Firm today for a FREE personal injury consultation.
Indianapolis traumatic brain injury lawyer Merry Fountain will ensure that you understand your rights, your options and the legal consequences of your decisions before proceeding with representation. Fountain Law Firm, P.C. is committed to obtaining the best possible settlement for you. If we represent you in your injury case, we will not charge any fees until you receive a fair settlement. If it is difficult to come to the office, Indianapolis injury lawyer Merry Fountain will come to your home or other location of your choosing.