A traumatic brain injury (TBI) happens when the head suffers a trauma that may be caused by a sudden and forceful blow to the head; if the head hits an object; or when an object pierces the skull and penetrates the tissue in the brain. The National Institute of Health (NIH) states that each year, millions of Americans suffer brain injuries.
Traumatic Brain Injury Classifications
TBI isn’t a single diagnosis; instead, it has many different classifications, including:
- Diffuse axonal injury. This TBI is most common with shaken baby syndrome.
- Contusion. This occurs when someone is struck in the head and could suffer bleeding on the brain.
- Penetrating injury. These injuries can be caused when someone is struck in the head, causing a skull fracture; when they suffer a gunshot wound or knife wound; or when they suffer from a crushing injury.
- Open head injury. Skull fractures are another type of brain injury that must be immediately addressed. Victims can suffer additional complications, including hypoxic brain injury from insufficient oxygen or anoxic brain injury due to a complete lack of oxygen.
- Concussion. The most common TBI is a concussion. Victims can suffer concussions in a number of ways, including automobile accidents, a sporting event when they are struck in the head by an object, on the job, and even after a fall.
Brain Injury Sustained in a Car Accident or Slip and Fall
Car accident and slip and fall victims often suffer TBIs, specifically concussions. Even though this is considered a minor brain injury, it can still be serious. It results from bruising of the brain after the impact.
Symptoms of a Concussion
- Lack of concentration
- Focus anxiety
- Headache disorientation
- Memory issues
- Difference in eye pupil size
- Nausea and vomiting
- Inability to think clearly
- Slurred speech
- Noise and light sensitivity
- Balance problems
Some concussion victims develop seizures and experience extreme confusion. A person suffering a concussion may think they are fine, but family and friends recognize that the individual has undergone noticeable physical or mental changes.
More serious TBIs are generally apparent immediately after the accident. Those suffering a severe TBI generally lose consciousness for at least 30 minutes after the accident; some people never regain consciousness but persist for years in a vegetative or semi-vegetative state.
Those who regain consciousness may experience one or more of the following problems:
- Loss of cognitive ability
- Loss of motor function
- Communication and speech problems
- Emotional disturbance
Some TBI victims require long-term rehabilitation and may never regain the capability to care for themselves. A TBI doesn’t just affect the victim but also their entire family. It is a profound tragedy.
Lasting Effects of a TBI
A TBI usually affects the victim for the rest of their life and can result in the following:
- TBI patients often never regain the ability to work.
- Mobility may be permanently compromised.
- Every TBI situation is unique, but typically, TBI victims may have problems with the sorts of issues the able-bodied take for granted: making decisions, planning ahead, keeping track of or telling time, and participating in social interactions.
Some people with a TBI may appear “normal” but cannot function at anywhere near the same level as they did prior to their accident.
That is frustrating not only for the patient and their family but for strangers and new acquaintances who do not understand the person’s mental and behavioral slips. Because there is no obvious outward sign of disability, some TBI patients may receive flak for having handicapped plates on their vehicles or parking in handicapped designated spots.
While you may have your hands full dealing with your family member’s TBI and treatment, do not agree to any quick settlement with an insurance company. You need an experienced Dallas-Fort Worth brain injury attorney to represent you and fight aggressively for the compensation you or your loved one needs to bring back the person as much as possible and allow them to live comfortably.
Local Resources for Brain Injury Victims in Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex
The Dallas/Fort Worth area boasts one of the country’s best rehabilitation institutes for those suffering from a TBI: the Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation. It is one of just 16 facilities in the country designated by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research as a “model system of care” for TBI patients. Other noteworthy TBI centers in the Metroplex include the Brain Injury Transitional Services program at Texas Health, Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth, and Pate Rehabilitation, Dallas. There is also the Texas Brain Injury Alliance, a non-profit, statewide organization “dedicated to improving lives for individuals who live with brain injury, their families, and the professionals who serve them through awareness, prevention, advocacy, support, research, education, and community engagement.”
Traumatic Brain Injuries and Rights to Recovery
Victims of a TBI require long, extensive rehabilitation. They may need wheelchairs or motorized vehicles to get around and/or a special automobile or van for transportation. People with severe TBIs may need long-term, even lifelong, nursing home care. A patient’s current home may require remodeling in order for the person to live there. Such remodeling may include making the house wheelchair accessible, which means installing ramps, roll-in showers, widening doors, an accessible kitchen, and possibly an elevator. Some homes are not suitable for handicap- accessible renovation, and the TBI victim and his or her family will have to move.
All of this is very expensive, and the person experiencing the TBI may not be able to work. A spouse or other family member may have to stop working to care for them. Right to recovery refers to the amount of compensation a plaintiff may receive in a lawsuit. For a TBI, a plaintiff may receive compensation for:
- Medical expenses, past and future
- Rehabilitation expenses
- Lost wages, past and future
- Lost earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
Insurance companies will try to get the victim or their family to settle as quickly and inexpensively as possible.
What You Should Know About Concussions
A concussion is a type of brain injury. Common in those who play sports, a concussion occurs after a blow to the head causes the head to move quickly back and forth in a violent manner, hitting the inside of the skull. This movement can cause bruising of the brain.
Many lifelong brain injuries occur in cases where a person never loses consciousness. Often, these injuries are not detected in the Emergency room because the injured person fails to “recognize” the injury in the moment of confusion. Other times, the injury is not detected because the diagnosis is dismissed when it is learned that the person did not lose consciousness. In those cases, family members, friends, or even a skilled concussion attorney are the first to identify the concussion symptoms and bring them to the attention of the victim.
Most people recover from a concussion within several weeks of the accident. However, the brain must have time to heal. If a second concussion occurs before the brain recovers—a situation known as “second impact syndrome”—the results are often fatal.
What Can Happen After a Concussion
A concussion can put a person out of work for several weeks and can lead to serious complications. A person diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome (PCS) may experience constant headaches, difficulty concentrating, and emotional instability.
There is no real treatment for PCS, and the symptoms may last a year or more. During that time, a person may be unable to perform their job duties, and their overall quality of life suffers. A Dallas-Fort Worth personal injury lawyer familiar with concussions and other brain injuries can help accident victims sidelined by a concussion receive the compensation they deserve.
Founder of The Bonneau Law Firm, Hunt Bonneau, has experience recovering from concussions he sustained while playing college football and offers a strategic advantage to all of his clients because he understands what they’re experiencing.
Concussions and Legal Liability
Because any type of concussion or brain injury can cause long-term health concerns, victims of TBIs may need additional medical care up to and including around-the-clock nursing care. If the incident that caused the concussion was a result of someone’s negligence, it may be possible to seek a monetary award to help cover the additional care the victim needs.
Texas uses the “modified comparative negligence rule” in personal injury cases. This means if another person is at least 50 percent responsible for the injury the victim suffered, the victim may be entitled to compensation. However, it’s also important to be aware that under Texas personal injury statutes, a civil lawsuit must be filed within two years after the date of the injury. This is why it is so important to contact a concussion attorney who has experience with personal injury cases as soon after an accident as possible.