When loved ones fall into a coma, they are still alive but lack the ability to consciously respond to external stimulation. A coma can last for days, weeks, or even years. Visits can be difficult, but it can help to read cards that have been sent or talk about your day with the person, as you normally would. Some people remember every conversation vividly when they wake up, while others do not. Ask the medical staff how you can be actively involved in the care of the patient as a positive way to spend time with your loved one.
You may also put anxious energy to good use by looking into the cause of the catastrophic accident that led to the coma. In some cases, it may be possible to pursue financial recovery to help pay for treatment and future disability. A coma caused by someone else’s negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct is a tough pill to swallow, but you do not have to face this realization alone. Compassionate catastrophic injury lawyers at Ellis Injury Law in Los Angeles provide free legal consultations and contingency-based representation, making it easy to uphold your loved one’s rights.
What causes a coma?
A coma is a type of brain injury brought on by a number of physical conditions, such as:
- Excessive blood loss
- Loss of blood flow (stroke)
- Lack of oxygen (hypoxia)
- Physical trauma, causing swelling
- Intense physical pain
- The buildup of toxins
- Electrolyte imbalances
- Large brain tumors
- Cerebral aneurysms
- High blood pressure
- Continuous seizures (status epilepticus)
- Accumulation of urea (kidney failure)
- Accumulation of ammonia (liver disease)
- Accumulation of carbon dioxide (asthma attack)
- Excessively low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia)
- Excessively elevated blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia)
- Disrupted neuron functioning due to drug or alcohol abuse
- Central Nervous System infections (such as meningitis or encephalitis)
- Damage to the Reticular Activating System (the part of the brain responsible for arousal/awareness)
Many comas are traced back to motor vehicle accidents, medical errors, drownings, strangulations, acts of violence, exposure to dangerous products, workplace accidents, slip and fall accidents, and falls from a height. The brain and body injuries sustained can be temporary or permanent.
What’s the prognosis for a coma?
A coma’s prognosis depends upon the cause, the ability to correct the damage, and the length of time in an unconscious state. Sometimes consciousness can be swiftly restored with immediate medical attention. Other times, it’s more complicated and comatose patients can exist in a vegetative state for years.
In coming up with a realistic assessment, most medical professionals assess the severity of traumatic brain injury using the Glasgow Coma Scale. They look for patient responses and assign a value from 3 to 15 based on:
- Eyes do not open.
- Opens eyes in response to pain.
- Opens eyes in response to voice.
- Opens eyes spontaneously.
- Does not make sounds.
- Makes incomprehensible sounds.
- Says inappropriate words.
- Speaks, but confused.
- Speaks normally.
- Doesn’t move.
- Extends limbs in response to pain.
- Flexes limbs in response to pain.
- Withdraws from pain.
- Moves toward pain.
- Obeys commands.
Patients in a typical coma would have a Glasgow Coma Score of 3, where they appear unconscious – eyes unmoving, limbs unmoving, and voice silent. Scores of 8 or below indicate severe brain injury. Scores between 9 to 12 indicate a moderate injury. Scores between 13 to 15 indicate mild injury with a favorable prognosis for recovery. A patient’s score can improve or worsen over time.
Costs associated with comas
Medical costs vary widely based on geographical locations, medical providers, and insurance companies. In one study, half of the traumatic comatose patients died, but the average ICU stay cost families roughly $5,000. Long-term medical care of a comatose loved one in a persistent vegetative state could cost up to $7 billion annually. Even if a comatose loved one awakens, the lifetime economic cost of living with a severe traumatic brain injury was estimated at $76.5 billion, including direct and indirect costs.
Need a top-rated Los Angeles accident lawyer?
Injuries can upend life at a moment’s notice. Fortunately, there are legal remedies for those occasions where another person’s negligence, recklessness, or intentional malice causes the accident. With the help of an accident lawyer, victims can collect compensation for all related medical costs, lost past and future wages, and an estimated amount of pain and suffering. Spouses may be able to file their own lawsuits seeking recompense for the loss of companionship, household services, and financial support. Children can seek damages like loss of guidance and future inheritance. No amount of money can undo your suffering, but a substantial sum can ease the financial worries that often accompany extensive medical care.
Ellis Injury Law has the personnel and resources necessary to seek maximum compensation in these cases. We work with a wide range of expert witnesses to lend credence to your claim. Call our Los Angeles accident lawyers for free legal advice. We have secured more than $350 billion for our clients. Should you decide to work with an accident lawyer at our firm, you pay nothing upfront. Our legal fees come out of successful settlements and jury awards.