Traumatic Brain Injury | Ellis Injury Law 
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Traumatic Brain Injury

Approximately 1.5 to 2 million people will suffer traumatic brain injury (TBI) in America each year. Of these, at least 235,000 are hospitalized with moderate to severe injury, and another 50,000 will die from the trauma. Trauma-induced head injuries may be caused by the head forcefully hitting the dashboard in a car accident, a football tackle that causes the head to impact the hard ground, a penetrating gunshot wound, sudden forceful shaking, or a slip and fall accident. If the cause of the injury involves another person’s negligence, recklessness, or willful misconduct, you may be eligible to recover compensation for your losses with a personal injury lawsuit.  

How are traumatic brain injuries diagnosed? 

Medical professionals often use the Glasgow Coma Scale, along with diagnostic imaging, to determine brain injury severity and long-term prognosis. Mild TBI involves loss of consciousness for 30 minutes or less and post-traumatic amnesia of less than one hour, though brain imaging results may look perfectly normal. With moderate TBI, there is a loss of consciousness from 30 minutes to six hours and post-traumatic amnesia ranging from one to 24 hours. Severe TBI reveals abnormal brain scans and involves loss of consciousness or coma for six hours or longer. 

Types of traumatic brain injuries

Traumatic brain injuries occur with sudden physical damage to the brain. Primary injuries may involve a specific lobe of the brain, affecting function, or may generally affect the entire brain. The sudden impact can cause the brain to crash back and forth inside the skull, causing widespread bruising, bleeding, and nerve fiber tears. Confusion, blurry vision, dizziness, and loss of consciousness are common side effects. At first, a person may “seem fine,” but his or her condition deteriorates rapidly. Following the initial impact, the brain begins to swell, reducing blood and oxygen flow. This secondary injury can cause worse damage than the initial impact. 

Types of TBI include: 

  • Concussion – The brain moves back and forth inside the skull, potentially causing alteration of mental state and a brief loss of consciousness.  
  • Contusion – A “brain bruise” occurs when small blood vessels leak into the brain tissue. 
  • Diffuse axonal injury – Shearing and stretching of the nerve cells cause damage to the axons that connect one nerve to another, disturbing a person’s physical and cognitive abilities. 
  • Traumatic subarachnoid hemorrhage – Bleeding into the cerebrospinal fluid that floats around the brain can cause coma, paralysis, or death.   
  • Hematoma – Blood clots may form when a blood vessel ruptures. Side effects include vision or speech impairments, seizures, or general weakness. A blood clot may be reabsorbed by the body, but it may also cause a stroke if the clot breaks free.   
  • Inflammation – Secondary brain injury involves the accumulation of extra fluid and nutrients in an attempt to heal the injury. Excessive swelling can occur up to five days after the injury. 

Most people who suffer TBI have a combination of injuries with varying levels of severity. Diffuse injuries like a concussion or axonal injury will cause an overall decreased level of consciousness, whereas focal injuries like contusions or intracerebral hemorrhage will display symptoms related to the particular brain area affected.  

Common general symptoms of TBI include fatigue, headaches, visual disturbances, poor concentration, sleep disturbances, depression, irritability, memory loss, confusion, disorientation, dizziness, loss of consciousness, seizures, and vomiting. The effects can be short-term or permanent.  

Life with brain damage 

A traumatic brain injury can result in permanent brain damage or disability that interferes with the quality of daily life. Moderate to severe TBI can cause: 

  • Physical effects – paralysis, muscle stiffness, uncontrolled movements, problems walking or talking, difficulty swallowing, the inability to carry objects, loss of fine motor skills used to button a shirt, vision problems, hearing disorders, sleep disorders, fatigue, appetite changes, chronic pain, loss of bladder/bowel function, seizures, difficulty regulating body temperature, or hormonal imbalances.    
  • Cognitive effects – difficulty thinking or remembering, distractibility, memory problems, slow processing speed, confusion, persistent repetition of words, problems with abstract thinking, difficulty determining right from wrong, problems with reading and writing, or slurred speech. 
  • Sensory effects – the inability to recognize something based on touch, difficulty perceiving the movement of arms and legs, or inability to understand information gained through the five senses.  
  • Emotional effects – trouble with social relationships or activities, loss of motivation to keep a job or go to school, impulsiveness, denial, lack of self-awareness, dependency, or aggression. 

People with TBI may get by with cognitive therapy or they may require lifelong caregiving. The lifetime costs of a traumatic brain injury can total $85,000 to $3 million, not including social services or lost productivity.  

Should I file a traumatic brain injury lawsuit? 

Filing a lawsuit may be one way to recover losses associated with this catastrophic injury. To file, you will need: 

  • Cause to sue: Suing in court is an attempt to restore balance after a person has committed harm due to negligence, recklessness, or intentional malice. Motor vehicle accidents, premises liability slip/trip/fall accidents, and workplace injuries may be grounds to sue in civil court. An assault or violent attack can be heard in both criminal and civil courts. 
  • Injury and loss: You must be able to verify the nature and extent of a relevant injury through a medical care provider. Tangible losses may come in the form of medical bills or lost time off work. 
  • Timeliness: The state of California allows plaintiffs to sue for personal injury within two years of the date of the injury or within three years of the discovery of harm.  

It costs nothing upfront to investigate your injury further. Should your traumatic brain injury lawsuit result in a settlement or jury award, the legal fee will come out of the total amount recovered. 

What does A TBI lawyer do? 

A TBI attorney will conduct an independent investigation to determine liability and gather sufficient evidence to begin formal negotiations with the at-fault party. A demand letter will outline your case and ask for a specific amount of money to compensate you and your family for your losses. If the demand is not met, the case continues and the TBI lawyer continues preparing a case that can be won before a judge and jury in court.  

Most cases settle before trial, but you will be consulted prior to acceptance of an offer. No amount of money can undo the damage that has been done, but taking legal action can be an empowering experience that helps protect others from similar harm.  

If you have any questions about a traumatic brain injury lawsuit in Los Angeles, contact a Los Angeles accident lawyer at Ellis Injury Law. We’re here to help you.