According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 1.4 million Americans suffer a brain injury every year. "Brain injury" is a term that encompasses everything from mild concussions to serious trauma. Symptoms may be subtle or obvious. Some of these brain injuries are the result of an accident. There are a number of different situations that can give rise to a brain injury, but some of the more common ones that give rise to lawsuits are motor vehicle accidents and medical malpractice.
It is not uncommon for symptoms of a brain injury to be delayed. In general, if you are in an accident that involves any sort of impact to the head, even a minor impact, you should get immediate medical attention. Often, immediate medical attention is necessary to establish the causal connection between the brain injury and the accident that caused it. While you may not be thinking about a lawsuit at the time of an accident, for many people a lawsuit is the only way they are able to pay all their medical bills and out-of-pocket expenses after a serious accident.
In general, a "brain injury" refers to a physical trauma to the head or brain. These traumas may involve bumping, shaking, or penetration by an object. One of the most common brain injuries is a concussion, which involves a blow to the head or other shaking of the brain. While most people associate concussions with their milder forms, a concussion can involve permanent brain injury.
Closed head injuries are those involving few or no external signs of injuries. If they are the result of a bullet penetration, they may be obvious, but in some cases, they may not be apparent. This is the case in whiplash or neurosurgeries in which the surgeon nicks the brain or otherwise fails to immediately notice his or her error.
Some brain injuries have an internal cause. For example, the brain needs oxygen to continue to function, and oxygen deprivation, either partial or total, can result in serious brain injuries or vegetative states. This type of damage can be the result of a swimming accident, a birth injury, or medical malpractice.
Traumatic brain injury is one of the most common severe types of brain injuries. Signs of a traumatic brain injury include an inability to concentrate, blurred vision, a persistent headache, fatigue, dizziness, cognitive losses, and nausea. Often the person will lose consciousness, but at times a severe injury can happen even though the person remained conscious.
Lawsuits to Recover Damages for Brain Injuries
When an individual suffers a brain injury due to an accident caused by another person or entity, he or she may bring a lawsuit based on the legal theory of negligence. The injured individual will need to prove the defendant’s liability by establishing the defendant’s duty of care, the defendant’s breach of duty, actual and proximate cause, and quantifiable damages. When a brain injury is severe, the damages are likely to be substantial.
Among the economic and noneconomic damages that a person with a brain injury may seek are medical expenses, lost income, out-of-pocket expenses, household services, property damage, cost of household services, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and mental anguish. In many states, the spouse of a person who suffers a catastrophic brain injury will have a claim for loss of consortium based on loss of companionship, loss of sexual relations, loss of affection, and other factors.