Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are a devastating outcome of many personal injury incidents. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 1.5 million Americans sustain a TBI each year. Of those, about 50,000 die from their injuries. Many more suffer permanent disabilities that dramatically alter their lives. In San Diego County alone, brain injury affects more than 11,000 people annually.
Successfully litigating TBI cases requires extensive medical evidence and expert testimony to prove the extent of disabilities caused by brain damage. When the victim can no longer work, financial compensation becomes necessary for a lifetime of medical treatment and lost income.
Table of Contents
What Are Traumatic Brain Injuries?
Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) include bumps, blows, jolts, or penetrating head injuries that disrupt normal brain function. The severity can range from mild concussions to severe, life-threatening brain damage.
The impact causes the brain to move back and forth forcefully inside the skull, damaging brain cells and tissue.
Concussions and brain contusions are common impact-related TBIs. Concussions involve a temporary loss of normal brain function, while contusions are bruises on the brain that can cause hemorrhaging and permanent damage.
More severe closed-head injuries include diffuse axonal injuries, where damage occurs across a wider brain area.
Penetrating injuries that pierce the skull, such as gunshot wounds, can destroy localized areas of the brain or cause brain tissue to tear. These open head wounds pose a high risk of infection and brain bleeding.
TBIs frequently cause long-term complications affecting cognitive, physical, and emotional functioning. Common symptoms include headaches, dizziness, memory and concentration problems, sleep disturbances, vision changes, and personality changes like irritability. Victims may also suffer seizures, swelling or fluid buildup in the brain, blood clots, and delayed neurological damage.
What Evidence Should I Collect for a Traumatic Brain Injury?
Successfully litigating personal injury claims involving traumatic brain damage hinges on extensive medical evidence and testimony. Documentation starts immediately after the accident with emergency room records, followed by hospitalization details, specialists’ evaluations, and diagnostic test results.
Medical imaging such as CT scans, MRIs, X-rays, EEGs, and neuropsychological testing help identify physical damage to the brain and cognitive deficits. These records prove not only the diagnosis but the severity of the TBI.
Expert opinions from neurologists, neuropsychologists, and rehabilitation physicians provide critical evidence on how the accident caused the injury, the resulting impairments, and the prognosis. They can explain complex diagnoses and translate how brain damage equates to lifelong disability and care needs.
Beyond medical details, the evidence must demonstrate how the TBI has impacted the victim’s life and will continue to do so. Documentation of cognitive and physical challenges in daily functioning helps put a human face on the injury. Testimony from family members, coworkers, and friends shows the stark contrast between pre- and post-accident life.
How Are Traumatic Brain Injury Damages Calculated?
In personal injury litigation, calculating damages consists of economic and non-economic losses. Economic damages represent tangible monetary costs, while non-economic damages cover more intangible impacts on the victim’s life.
For TBI cases, economic damages include all medical expenses from the initial emergency through rehabilitation. Experts project future costs of medical treatment, medications, assistive devices, and extended therapies. The calculation must also account for lost wages and reduced earning capacity based on the prognosis.
Your legal team should also calculate non-economic losses for pain, suffering, and emotional distress with creativity and humanization. The plaintiff’s testimony should convey how a brain injury has devastated their emotional well-being and quality of life.
Damages can account for personality changes that strain relationships, loss of independence, inability to enjoy hobbies and chronic symptoms like headaches or dizziness.
While there is no formula for assigning a monetary value to such losses, juries will consider the victim’s age, severity of impairments, and extent of lifestyle limitations. Plaintiffs’ attorneys may suggest a per diem amount for pain and suffering damages based on a daily rate extended over the victim’s life expectancy.
Should I Go to Trial for a Traumatic Brain Injury?
After filing a personal injury lawsuit, with a personal injury attorney, victims with traumatic brain injuries will eventually face a choice: Accept a settlement offer or take the case to trial. There are pros and cons to each option.
Settlements provide closure faster and avoid uncertainties of trial. However, TBIs make predicting long-term costs and challenges difficult. Victims must weigh immediate financial needs against potential complications years later, requiring more significant resources.
Preparing for trial enables plaintiffs to fully develop the evidence and argue for maximum damages. Educating the jury about TBIs is critical so they understand the life-altering ramifications. Compelling medical testimony and documentation of the lost quality of life clearly show how much the injury has affected the victim.
Compelling arguments will convey the economic and emotional toll, with a suggested damages amount supported by meticulous calculations. Settlement ranges tend to increase as plaintiffs demonstrate a willingness to go to trial if needed.
While a trial verdict could garner a higher award, it also presents risks should the jury not fully grasp the TBI’s implications. There are no guarantees. Settlements allow plaintiffs more control over the outcome.
Legal Strategies and Considerations
Successfully navigating a TBI case requires strategic legal skills and preparation. Plaintiffs’ attorneys must partner closely with medical experts to establish accurate diagnoses, prognoses, and causation links that will withstand scrutiny.
Thorough neurological and neuropsychological testing over an extended timeframe is crucial after an accident. These tests frame an irrefutable picture of how the brain damage resulted from the incident. Experts can explain to jurors how the trauma caused observed impairments in plain language.
The defense may argue the symptoms pre-dated the accident or suggest alternative causes. Counsel must be ready to refute unsupported speculation with facts, highlighting pre-injury evidence like work performance reviews showing no prior deficits.
Comparative negligence allegations claim the plaintiff’s negligence contributed to causing the accident–which can limit damages.
Win With Experienced Legal Support From Our Attorneys at HHJ
Traumatic brain injuries resulting from accidents present complex challenges to recovery and justice for victims. By understanding these catastrophic injuries and the legal processes involved, personal injury victims and their families can make informed decisions during grueling circumstances.
If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury due to negligence, do not struggle alone. Contact HHJ Trial Attorneys today for a free consultation and to work with our experienced Traumatic Brain Injury attorneys for your personal injury litigation.