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Suing for a Traumatic Brain Injury | What You Need to Know

Traumatic brain injuries are among the most poorly understood types of injuries, even though they're the leading cause of death and disability for people under 44 years of age. 

According to the CDC, an estimated 1.7 million Americans sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI) each year. Roughly 52,000 die from their injuries, while between 80,000 to 90,000 experience onset of long-term disability caused by the brain injury. It is currently estimated that 5.3 million Americans live with a permanent TBI-related disability today.

If you or someone you love has suffered a traumatic brain injury as a result of an accident, such as a truck wreck, car crash, or vicious dog attack, then it is important that you seek a free consultation with a board certified Denton personal injury lawyer. Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are extremely serious injuries, with significant financial implications. It is critical that you are fully aware of your legal rights, and that you have an experienced attorney fighting on your behalf to make sure that you receive the full and fair damages you are entitled to under Texas law.

What is a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)?

The Anatomy of a Brain

In order to properly understand how a brain injury can occur, it is necessary to have a better understanding of how the brain functions normally. To put things simply, the brain is a gelatinous mass of white and grey matter that sits cushioned inside viscous cerebrospinal fluid, protected within the cranial cavity of your skull.

When an impact to the head causes the brain to bleed, this can result in a potentially fatal epidural hematoma. This is when the arteries between the skull and the brain’s dura membrane burst. Symptoms of an epidural hematoma can take up to 24 hours to develop following a head injury. A subdural hematoma is when a vein beneath the dura ruptures. Symptoms of a subdural hematoma can take up to two weeks to present themselves, since veins are smaller than arteries and so bleed a lot slower.

Skull Fractures and TBI

An injury that's closely tied to traumatic brain injuries is a fractured skull. When you have a skull fracture it means your cranium is broken, and in most cases there's also damage the brain tissue within your skull – this is what commonly results in a TBI. 

Suing for a Traumatic Brain Injury in Texas

If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury due to an accident that wasn't your fault, you deserve compensation. 

In Texas, you can file a claim against the at-fault party (the person who caused the injury) to recover money for your injuries. So for instance, if you were in a car wreck with a semi-truck driver who fell asleep at the wheel, and that wreck led to a TBI, then you're entitled to compensation through the trucker's insurance under Texas law. 

Though we can't put a price on the emotional and physical anguish that results from TBI, we can estimate how much it costs to treat a single case. According to Brain and Spinal Cord dot org, a mild head injury can cost around $85,000 to treat, a moderate injury costs $941,000, and a serious injury can cost $3 million. 

The financial implications of these costs for a single family are hard to grasp, which is why it's so important that full and fair compensation is recovered through a personal injury claim. 

What Are the Symptoms of TBI?

Traumatic brain injuries fall into three categorizes: mild, moderate and severe. However, even a mild TBI has the possibility of causing severe long-term or permanent consequences, especially in children.

Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Chronic headaches
  • Feeling slowed down
  • Coordination issues
  • Tiredness or lack of energy
  • Vomiting or nausea
  • Difficulty thinking
  • Changes in sleeping habits
  • Nervousness or anxiety  
  • More emotional than normal
  • Slurred speech

Part of the Confusion of TBI Is In The Symptoms

TBI is a complex injury that comes with a wide range of symptoms and disabilities. For this reason, it can be difficult to recognize when a person has TBI or understand all the ways that illness might affect their family and their life. 

One thing that all TBI victims have in common is that the injury was sudden and severe. Unlike other injuries, TBI is defined by the way the accident happened; one minute the victim is normal and the next moment their life has completely changed. Our brains define who we are, so brain injuries of any kind have an effect on our sense of self, our personalities and the way we think. Unlike breaking a bone, a traumatic brain injury alters people both mentally and physically. 

In addition, brain injuries don't show up like other injuries. The injured person might not realize there's anything wrong until days or weeks after the incident. Some TBI victims never realize what happened at all.

As a personal injury attorney, I've spoken to families who struggle to explain the small ways their hurt loved one has changed. Little personality quirks, habits, the way they talk and react to others, their opinions and the things they know - all changed. This in addition to more notable symptoms like lack of concentration, decreased info processing speed, memory loss, headaches, dizziness, fatigue, mood swings and the like.

Children and Traumatic Brain Injuries 

Parents should be vigilant in identifying traumatic brain injuries in their children. It is critical that children who suffer a head injury receive thorough medical attention as TBI symptoms are too often overlooked, meaning the child never receives the adequate medical care they need.

Common causes of traumatic brain injuries in children include:

  • Traffic accidents
  • Dog attacks
  • Daycare negligence
  • Sporting injuries and falls 

Neuroimaging Testing for Traumatic Brain Injuries

Since many traumatic brain injuries involve closed head injuries, testing is needed in order to determine the extent of the damage, including whether any anoxic injuries occurred. Unfortunately, conventional MRI and CT scans are unable to detect subtle brain abnormalities and micro-lesions which are present in traumatic brain injury cases. Instead, it is necessary to undergo neuropsychological testing which can provide objective evidence of a traumatic brain injury occurring even after an MRI or CT scan came back negative.

Neuropsychological testing can prove invaluable when pursuing a personal injury lawsuit against a liable insurance company who is refusing to pay you the full and just compensation you deserve. Using the data from these tests, a qualified neurosurgeon can compare the pattern of the test results with your pre-injury abilities in order to objectively confirm a traumatic brain injury diagnosis.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

An MRI scan uses magnetic fields to create an image of the patient’s brain tissue, allowing for a far better resolution than a CT scan. This means that it has no ionizing radiation like CT scans or X-rays, and it is also far better at identifying Parenchymal Lesions. However, because the patient is required to lie entirely within a magnetic tunnel to undergo the scan, it means that patients who are hooked up to an IV or to other medical equipment cannot receive a MRI scan. It is also far more uncomfortable for the patient in general and takes substantially longer to complete than a CT scan.

Positron Emission Tomography

PET scans are drastically different from CT and MRI scans. Those tests look only at the structure of the brain, whereas PET scans are more focused on the functioning of the brain, making it particularly useful when trying to identify subtle signs of brain injury. This makes PET scans the most useful type of neuroimaging technique when it comes to identifying traumatic brain injuries, putting it on a par with Neuropsych Testing.

Ongoing Medical Treatment Needed for Many Severe TBI Patients

In addition to surgery to, most medical professionals focus on non-surgical treatment that's designed to prevent further brain damage from occurring. This includes ensuring all parts of the brain are getting proper oxygen, as well as maintaining adequate blood flow and controlling blood pressure.

Imaging tests can be used to determine whether any further damage has occurred. X-rays check for skull fractures and spinal instability, and computed tomography (CT) scans check for signs of cerebral contusion, hemorrhage or hematoma.

Patients with a traumatic brain injury categorized as "moderate to severe" will often require expensive ongoing treatment that might involve physical therapy, speech and language therapy, and other rehabilitative services. Roughly 50 percent of patients with a severe TBI will require brain surgery to repair or remove rupture blood vessels or bruised brain tissue. In the very worst cases, serious head injuries can result in a vegetative state, coma, or locked-in syndrome.

How Does TBI Limit Victims Over the Long-Term? 

There are a number of way that a TBI can affect the victim’s ongoing quality of life. These include limitations that impair their ability to participate in everyday activities such as working or going to school, as well as smaller, basic activities of daily living such as personal care.

Other limitations commonly experienced by TBI patients include leisure and recreation, social integration and financial independence.

Since TBI routinely results in long-term permanent impairment or disability, many victims are not only unable to earn a living, but require special assistance to live a relatively normal life.

Experts in brain health agree that TBI may also be associated with substantial neuropsychological problems, though there is little uniform agreement as to the frequency of these sorts of issues. 

One theory states that the severity of TBI consequences may have more to do with individual pre-injury factors (such as age, alcohol abuse, emotional development, and neuropsychiatric history) as well as post-injury factors such as the stress of litigation.

Traumatic Brain Injuries Linked to Suicide and Other Acts of Violence

Two recent studies published by the journals Science Translational Medicine and Neurology (conducted by researchers at the Boston University of Medicine and the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, respectively) have revealed worrying information about what has long been referred to as “the invisible disease.”

That nickname is certainly apt. The studies found that mild and moderate brain injuries do not show up on traditional CT or MRI scans. Researchers examined cadaver’s brains and found that for all intents and purposes a TBI brain appeared strikingly similar to a brain taken from healthy bodies. It was only when the doctors used electron microscopes that the extent of the damage become apparent: axons, neurons and blood vessels within the brains were all damaged in a manner similar to how conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) affect the human brain. CTE is known to cause aggressive behavior, depression, impulsiveness, poor judgment and memory loss.

These findings go some way to explaining the worrying trend of violent and suicidal tendencies among soldiers and football players who have suffered even mild TBI. One of the most prolific such cases is the suicide of the former San Diego Chargers linebacker, Junior Seau. Tens of thousands of U.S. troops who have committed suicide or other acts of extreme violence are also believed to have suffered traumatic brain injuries.

Unfortunately, despite this progress, TBI remains a largely misunderstood medical condition.

What Should I Do If I or Someone I Love has Suffered a TBI in Fort Worth?

One of the most serious types of injuries that can occur in a Dallas-Fort Worth is a car accident concussion. A concussion is a form of traumatic brain injury – and according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), a concussion is the most common form of brain injury.

You are welcome to call the Anderson Law Firm to discuss your case with an experienced brain injury lawyer. We will help you determine whether or not you are entitled to make a claim for compensation. If so, we’ll put a plan into action to recover full compensation on your behalf, meaning you are able to focus on recovering. 

Call us today for a completely free, no obligation consultation with one of our board certified attorneys. 

Mark A. Anderson
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Board Certified Personal Injury Lawyer in Fort Worth, Texas