Head injuries frequently occur as a consequence of car accidents and traffic incidents involving motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians, particularly when negligence or misconduct is involved. These injuries may manifest externally or internally, affecting the brain to varying degrees, ranging from minor concussions with full recovery prospects to lasting impairments characterized by brain damage.
The symptoms and consequences of head injuries can materialize immediately or gradually appear over hours or even days. Hence, individuals who experience a head injury in an accident should promptly seek medical attention and receive supervision for several days to ensure timely medical intervention if symptoms emerge.
A head injury encompasses harm to the scalp, skull, or brain. Even in cases without skull fractures, the brain can sustain injury due to the forces exerted during acceleration, impact, or head trauma. Such incidents can result in brain bleeding and damage to the tissues surrounding the brain, potentially leading to hemorrhages, swelling, and increased pressure within the skull. These secondary injuries can significantly compound the initial damage sustained at the time of the accident or event.
Severe traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) affect quality of life
Severe traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can significantly impair an individual’s ability to lead a normal life and perform work-related tasks. The issue of TBIs gained widespread attention due to high-profile lawsuits, such as the concussion settlement involving the National Football League. However, even prior to the NFL scandal, TBIs had emerged as a major concern as more information was discovered about the nature of these injuries.
In 2014, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that 2.87 million Americans sought medical assistance or required hospitalization for TBIs. These injuries varied from minor head injuries sustained at home or in work environments to more severe cases involving skull penetration.
Depending on the severity of the injury, the symptoms can persist for months or even years, greatly impacting the victim’s daily life. In extreme situations, individuals may experience memory loss, leading to the loss of fundamental motor skills or job-related abilities that necessitate months or years of relearning. The families of the victims also bear the brunt of these injuries, often facing significant challenges as they assume the role of caregivers or hire professionals to assist their loved ones, all while coping with the loss of income previously provided by the injured family member.
What are the factors that contribute to traumatic brain injuries?
The primary cause of TBIs is falls, with children and the elderly being particularly vulnerable. Falls account for nearly half of all TBI-related emergency room visits for children aged 0 to 17. Similarly, approximately 80% of older individuals who experience a TBI do so as a result of a fall.
Additionally, other common causes of TBIs include:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Sports-related injuries
- Being impacted by objects such as hammers, knives, or bats
- Blast injuries caused by explosions
Navigate Your TBI Lawsuit Successfully with These Strategies
Dealing with personal injury claims can be daunting, and when it involves a traumatic brain injury (TBI), the complexity increases. Symptoms like memory loss and difficulty finding words can make a lawsuit seem insurmountable. However, don’t lose hope. By taking small steps, you can regain control of your situation.
At Oak Tree Law, we have built a strong reputation for our approach to handling brain injury lawsuits. Combining a top-notch client experience with state-of-the-art technology and advanced legal tactics, we provide guidance and support. In this blog, we will outline what you should anticipate during a brain injury lawsuit and share our best advice for individuals involved in a TBI claim.
Understanding the Stages of a Brain Injury Lawsuit
When another party’s negligence caused your brain injury, whether it was a reckless driver, a trucking company, or a business like a trampoline park, you have legal rights. However, filing a TBI claim is a complex process. Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect as you pursue your insurance claims.
Pre-litigation refers to the phase before filing a lawsuit. During this period, your brain injury lawyer will investigate your claims, identify all parties at fault, assess your damages, and determine the applicable insurance coverage. Essentially, your legal team will lay the groundwork for your lawsuit.
It’s important to distinguish between the insurance company’s investigation and your lawyer’s work during this stage. Although their activities may appear similar, their motives differ. For instance, in some cases involving commercial vehicles, the insurance company may swiftly dispatch a team to the accident scene, aiming to influence the police investigation and weaken your claims. Conversely, your lawyer will focus on preserving evidence, identifying the true causes of your injuries, and determining the appropriate settlement value.
Litigation entails formally filing a lawsuit and preparing your case for trial. Initially, the judge will issue a “scheduling order” that establishes deadlines for specific tasks, such as the exchange of information (known as discovery) and the filing of motions. During this period, your lawyers will likely conduct your deposition, where you will answer questions under oath, and you may participate in mediation as a form of dispute resolution.
Settlement negotiations will continue throughout the litigation process. If you and the insurance company reach a settlement agreement, the litigation will conclude. However, if an agreement cannot be reached, your case will proceed to trial.
Trial and Appeals
During the trial phase, both sides will present testimonies from witnesses and experts, along with evidence and legal arguments, to a judge and jury. This process can extend over several days, especially if the case is complex. At the conclusion of the trial, the jury will determine whether to grant or deny your request for compensation.
However, it is important to note that either party can appeal the verdict. If you are awarded compensation, the insurance company may choose to appeal the decision in a higher court. Your lawyer will guide you through this process.
10 Effective Tips for Brain Injury Lawsuits
Managing a personal injury lawsuit, particularly with a brain injury, is not a simple task. Here are some tips that can significantly assist you:
Organize Your Case Documents and Evidence
Having strong evidence is crucial for a successful TBI lawsuit. While you may not have to connect with expert witnesses, such as neurologists, life care planners, or accident reconstruction engineers, there are steps you can take to support your injury lawyer. For instance, keep all your medical bills, doctor’s notes, and correspondence from the insurance company in a binder or folder. This way, you can easily provide copies to your lawyers or reference them when needed.
Start a TBI Journal
If you find it challenging to articulate your daily symptoms and the impact your injury has had on your life, a journal can be immensely helpful. It allows you to document your difficulties and gain a deeper understanding of how your TBI affects your daily routine.
In your journal, you can track doctor’s appointments, physical and mental health concerns, pain levels, and other challenges. While expressing your thoughts and emotions helps you process the injury and its consequences, it’s also beneficial to include structured symptom tracking. For example, you can record:
- Your emotional state (feelings of anxiety, depression, or social isolation)
- Healthcare professionals you consulted that day, including doctors and therapists
- Levels of pain experienced
- Significant changes in your daily activities, such as unexpected breaks, canceled plans, or the need for assistance with previously “easy” tasks.
Establish an Effective Calendar System and Plan Ahead
Maintaining consistency and routine can be invaluable following a TBI. To achieve this, it is crucial to have a reliable calendar and reminder system in place. Whether you prefer a whiteboard, a mobile app, alarms on your phone, or assistance from a supportive housemate, tracking essential appointments, court dates, and deadlines throughout your claim is highly recommended.
While it’s important not to overwhelm yourself with excessive calendar entries, consider including the following:
- Doctor’s and therapy appointments
- Meetings with your personal injury lawyer
- Depositions, hearings, and other court dates that require your attendance
- Mediation and alternative dispute resolution appointments
- Deadlines for submitting forms or providing information to your lawyer
By proactively organizing and staying on top of these important events, you can ensure you receive the necessary support.
For instance, let’s say driving poses challenges for you, especially in unfamiliar areas. If the insurance company schedules your defense medical examination (DME) in a distant suburb of Los Angeles, you may need someone to drive you there. It would also be beneficial to arrange a call or video appointment with your lawyer to discuss the DME process. Planning these arrangements in advance will alleviate stress and enable you to perform your best during the medical examination.
Cultivate a Supportive Network
Living with a traumatic brain injury can be challenging, and you may require assistance with daily tasks such as cooking, cleaning, running errands, and medication management. However, you don’t have to face these difficulties alone.
It is crucial to lean on your network of support, whether it comprises your spouse, family members, friends, or a community support group. Seeking help is a sign of strength and can facilitate a smoother transition back to a semblance of “normal” life.
Familiarize Yourself with Your Legal Rights
Following a motor vehicle accident, fall, or any other incident, numerous questions may arise. However, relying solely on the insurance company for answers is not advisable. Their primary goal is to resolve your case swiftly and inexpensively, rather than empowering and educating you.
For instance, the insurance company might attempt to pressure you into providing a statement if you don’t have legal representation. During such a meeting, their representatives may ask vague or misleading questions, hoping that you inadvertently harm your case. Nevertheless, even if the claims adjuster persists, you can politely decline the opportunity.
When the time comes to hire a lawyer, it is crucial to seek someone well-versed in handling head injuries, rather than someone who dabbles in various areas. You and your family deserve exceptional representation from a personal injury lawyer who comprehends the unique challenges associated with TBIs and possesses a proven track record in handling complex TBI claims.
Recovering from a traumatic brain injury can be an arduous process, leaving you physically and emotionally drained. Coupled with the stress of a personal injury lawsuit, it’s easy to become consumed by your injuries and their causes.
If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, take a moment to pause and breathe. It’s essential to allocate time for self-care. Whether it’s going for a peaceful walk, ensuring you get a full eight hours of sleep, or dedicating an hour each day to journaling, exercising, or engaging in activities you love, allow yourself the necessary time to recharge.
Be Wary of Undervaluation by the Insurance Company
As mentioned earlier, always assume that the insurance company’s primary aim is to settle your brain injury claim swiftly and at minimal cost. When they present a settlement offer (especially if you don’t have legal representation), it is highly likely that the offer is insufficient. When determining the value of a traumatic brain injury claim, lawyers take into account various factors, including:
- Applicable insurance coverage
- Current and future medical expenses
- Loss of income and earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Inability to participate in beloved hobbies and activities
- Need for replacement services if daily tasks cannot be performed
- Long-term needs, such as medical equipment and nursing care
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Punitive damages
If you fail to consider all these factors and more, you won’t have a comprehensive understanding of the true settlement value of your case. Before accepting any settlement offer from the insurance company, it’s advisable to schedule a free consultation with an experienced brain injury lawyer. Our team will provide honest advice in a supportive environment, without any pressure. Unlike the insurance company, we are here to advocate for your best interests.
The Role of an Attorney in Traumatic Brain Injury Cases
Traumatic brain injuries are among the most severe types of injuries a person can experience. When these injuries occur, numerous concerns arise that the affected individual has never had to face before. It is crucial to contact an attorney during these early moments.
The role of a traumatic brain injury lawyer extends beyond providing legal support to help recover damages. They also serve as your advocate, ensuring that you receive not only financial compensation but also emotional compensation for the impact these injuries have had on your life.
At Oak Tree Law, we understand the challenges faced by injury victims and their families. We are prepared to handle all the necessary legal aspects to present a strong injury claim to the insurance company, aiming for maximum benefits. If the claim does not result in a settlement that adequately reflects the injuries, our firm will vigorously litigate on behalf of the victim in court. With over 20 years of practice, we have achieved numerous favorable outcomes in this field, securing millions of dollars in recovery compensation for our clients.