Brain Injury through the Lens of the Law
by James Lambka
At about 30% of all deaths, traumatic brain injury (TBI) is one of the major causes of death and disability in the US (CDC). Every day, 153 people die from brain injuries or brain-injury-related conditions (CDC). And survivors of TBI often have to deal with the life-long effects of the injuries – impaired cognitive ability and/or memory, limited movement, impaired sensation, and altered emotional functioning. These effects not only impact the individual victims, but their families and communities as well.
In addition, because brain injuries are so complicated and diverse, they involve complex legal issues. A personal injury claim or lawsuit for a brain injury can involve not only negligence and tort law, but administrative law like worker’s compensation, social security, and disability. Brain injury law has become in a way its own specialized legal area.
Top Causes of Brain Injuries
In 2013, according to the CDC, the number-one cause of brain injuries was falls, especially for the very young and very old. Falls accounted for “47% of all TBI-related ED visits, hospitalizations, and deaths in the United States.” Coming in at number two was being struck by or against some object, “accounting for about 15% of TBI-related ED visits, hospitalizations, and deaths.” Motor vehicle accidents were the number-three top cause of brain injuries among all age groups.
For all of these variously caused brain injuries, brain injury law often comes into play. This is for the simple reason that the injuries were very often the result of another party’s fault or negligence. And this means that damages are often recoverable.
Brain Injury Overview
Brain injury is usually simply defined as some kind of physical trauma to the head and brain that results in a disruption of the brains’ normal functioning. In reality, though, it’s not quite that simple.
First of all, there is a whole spectrum of brain injuries ranging from mild (with very subtle and hard-to-detect symptoms) to extremely severe (with life-altering consequences). The most common form of brain injury is a concussion, also known as a “closed” head injury. It can be the result of a motor vehicle accident, a workplace accident, a sports mishap, or even assault.
Brain injuries can also sometimes be asymptomatic, that is, without visible or readily detectable signs and symptoms. Other injuries can be so severe the ultimate result is coma. To further complicate matters, symptoms may only appear over a long period of time.
And brain injuries in children may be even harder to detect. Many times the injury becomes apparent only after personality changes or decreasing school performance reaches a noticeable level.
What this all means in practical terms is that anyone who has suffered a brain injury needs expert medical attention and should seek out an a top-notch attorney who has knowledge of and experience in this complex legal area.
Brain Injury Law
As noted above, brain injury law is a complex area of legal practice, and success in a claim or lawsuit requires an attorney with the specialized knowledge and experience. First, brain injuries vary widely in both severity and symptoms and often don’t noticeably manifest themselves right away. In addition, new legislation aiming to reduce incidence of recreational, sports-related, and motor-vehicle-related brain injuries may impact both the approach and success of a personal injury claim or lawsuit in this area. Further, brain injury law embraces several practice areas, including personal injury, tort law, and administrative law.
Very often, a brain injury is classified as a catastrophic injury. It’s often the case that attorneys in these instances are representing people who have been injured as the result of another person’s or party’s wrongful conduct or negligence. Brain injury law also has to take a longer view because the effects of brain injury can last a lifetime. This also means that damages will be much greater than with other injuries, so your attorney must have the skill to get you compensation that will cover the huge and ongoing expenses.
Your Best Recourse in the Case of Brain Injury
Returning to a normal life after suffering a TBI can be a long difficult process and may require special accommodations for a successful transition. If, for example, you’re trying to return to work, you may need more rest breaks, shorter work days, and more time to complete certain tasks. And, sometimes, getting these needed concessions takes some special skill on your attorney’s part.
The key takeaway here is to seek out attorneys who pride themselves on representing people who are unable to do so themselves. Your attorney must be willing to put in the extra effort required in cases involving brain injury.
About the Author
James Lambka is one of the attorneys of Wiener and Lambka P.S. Law Firm. They are experienced, professional, compassionate attorneys helping people who have been injured through the negligence of another person, corporation or government. They have a long track record of success and excellent client reviews that make them confident we can help you.