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Seattle Brain Injury Attorney
Brain injuries are more common than you might think. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the nation’s largest public health agency, around 1.4 million people in the U.S. suffer a brain injury every year. Brain injuries can be caused by any number of factors, from a car crash to a slip and fall incident at a local business. Brain injuries can be difficult to detect, especially if the injured party doesn’t see the doctor right away. When left untreated, they can become even worse, leading to a lifetime of health problems.
What Is A Traumatic Brain Injury?
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is classified as any brain dysfunction that occurs as the result of outside force. Common causes of TBIs are car crashes, falls, and playing recreational sports. TBIs disrupt the normal functioning of the brain, and they range in severity. Mild TBIs can result in a brief change in mental status, while severe TBIs can result in unconsciousness or amnesia.
Symptoms of TBI can be wide ranging and may include:
- A persistent headache
- Memory loss
- Inability to concentrate
- Changes in behavior or cognitive functioning
- Blurred vision
Symptoms of TBI might not appear immediately; they can appear over time. In fact, it’s common to experience a delay between the injury itself and the symptoms, which is why they’re sometimes missed at emergency departments.
What to do if You Suspect a TBI
If you suspect you or someone you love has been a victim of TBI, seek immediate medical attention. Left untreated, TBIs can worsen and lead to permanent injury. Next, if you believe someone was legally liable for your injury, contact a personal injury lawyer in Seattle with experience in brain injury litigation. Even if you’re in the middle of negotiations with an insurance company, having a knowledgeable advocate by your side who has your best interests in mind during meetings may lead to better compensation.
Brain injury cases can involve complex legal and medical issues, and each case in unique. Generally speaking, however, your brain injury lawsuit will be based on the theory of negligence. This means that the plaintiff will have to prove the defendant is legally responsible for the brain injury.
A brain injury case hinges on providing sufficient evidence for the following:
- The guilty party owed you a duty of care. For example, if you were injured in a car accident, the other driver was legally bound to follow traffic laws.
- The defendant violated his or her duty of care. In the collision example, it might be by speeding or texting while driving.
- Those actions (or inactions) directly led to your TBI.
- Your TBI or other injuries led to specific damages. These damages can be medical bills and lost wages from missing work.
In some cases, your personal injury claim will be against an individual, such as in a car accident. In others, your suit will be against a company, as when your injuries are the result of a product defect, or a school if your child was injured while playing sports. Each case of TBI is different, and each requires a qualified and experienced hand.
Research also shows that those who have suffered one TBI are at a higher risk of a second, so if a coach sent your child to play too soon after a head injury, the school might be liable.
Types of TBIs
Multiple types of injuries arise within both classes of TBI:
Intracranial Hematomas involve bleeding and/or blood clots in and around the brain and within the skull.
- Epidural hematoma – Blood clotting outside of the brain, under the skull
- Subdural hematoma – Blood clotting between the brain and the dura
- Subarachnoid hemorrhage – Bleeding within the layers of the dura
- Intracerebral hematoma – Bleeding inside of the brain’s tissues caused by a ruptured vessel
- Intraventricular hemorrhage – Bleeding that leaks into the ventricles
Skull Fractures can cause additional brain damage due to exposure and/or encourage infection.
- Linear skull fracture – A thin line or crack in the skull
- Depressed skull fracture – A depression, or crushed in, portion of the skull
- Basilar skull fracture – A fracture at the base of the brain that causes spinal fluid leakage
Causes and Risk Factors
The main cause of TBI is falling that results in a blow to the head. In fact, 49 percent of TBI cases in individuals under 18, and 81 percent of TBI cases in adults older than 65 are the result of a fall. The second most common cause of traumatic brain injuries is a direct blow to the head, making up nearly 17 percent of all cases. These cases relate to emergency department visits in which the hospital releases the patient after treatment. These numbers shift in in cases of hospitalization, in which falls cause 52 percent of all severe TBI cases, and car accident-related blows account for 20 percent of severe TBI cases.
Though falls and direct blows to the head are the two leading causes of traumatic brain injury, one risk factor dictates how likely an individual will sustain a TBI – age. Overall, adults 65 and older are at the highest risk for traumatic brain injury in all contexts, with falls being the leading cause of this group’s TBI incidence.
What Are the Symptoms?
Traumatic brain injury causes a range of symptoms dependent on the severity of the case. Generally, TBI causes differing levels impairment in four aspects of functioning:
- Difficulty thinking clearly or forming coherent thought during a conversation.
- Lethargy, or feeling thought formation is taking a long time even in responding simple ideas/tasks.
- Difficulty concentrating on simple tasks.
- Difficulty creating new memories, though older memories may still be easily accessible. This signals a flaw in working memory
- Irritability that is not indicative of the individual’s previous countenance. This is easily mistaken for “grumpiness”.
- Excessive sadness.
- An increase in the frequency of intense emotion or mood swings.
- Feeling an abnormal level of anxiety or nervousness.
- Blurry vision
- Lack of balance
- Lethargy/excessive tiredness
- Excessive sleeping
- Sleeping less than the individual typically sleeps
- Difficulty falling asleep.
These symptoms are common in mild to moderate cases of TBI. However, the following symptoms occur in severe cases that warrant immediate medical attention:
- Seizures or convulsions
- Repeated nausea/vomiting that does not reduce in frequency after the initial incident
- One pupil is larger than the other
- Cannot remember familiar people or locations
- Slurred speech
- Does not wake from sleep
- Numbness of body parts
If you suspect that you or a loved one is suffering from traumatic brain injury resulting from a third party’s negligence, immediately seek a professional opinion. See a doctor who will document your injury and treat it promptly. Meanwhile, find a personal injury lawyer to help you file a claim.
Why Seek a Lawyer?
Deciding whether you should seek a lawyer depends on your specific case. Cost often comes into play when making this decision. However, claims that involve personal injury can become complicated because of the level of detail and proof required to gain fair footing. A professional lawyer comes with knowledge and know-how regarding how to prepare and gather evidence for your case. A personal injury lawyer can help you file your claim forms. They understand your rights as a claimant and ultimately provide invaluable guidance throughout the court and/or settlement processes.
Personal Injury Law
The basis of a personal injury claim revolves around the assertion that the negligence of a third party directly caused the claimant’s injury. Personal injury law corresponds with negligence law, which requires several key pieces of proof to confirm the following:
- The third party (defendant) owed a duty, or responsibility, to the claimant. For example, maintaining a safe premise that prevents unnecessary falls.
- The defendant breached this duty to provide adequate warning and/or safe conditions.
- The defendant’s breached duty directly caused the claimant’s accident.
- The claimant sustained verifiable injury. Medical records and bills are sufficient evidence for this category.
Gathering evidence for your personal injury case can seem daunting, but a personal injury lawyer will help through every step. A lawyer can help interview witnesses, gather documentation, and will even go back to the scene of the accident to gather physical evidence (like pictures) when applicable. Remaining thorough in your personal injury case is crucial in satisfying each burden of proof.
Statute of Limitations
All states possess their own statute of limitations that dictates the period of time that an individual can file a claim. These limitations are in place to prevent evidence/witnesses from becoming outdated, lost, or altered in some way. Seattle’s statute of limitations to file a personal injury claim is three years.
What Damages Can I Recover After a TBI?
A lawyers can help you recover two types of damages.
General Damages (non-economic loss)
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of society and companionship
Special Damages (economic loss)
- Lost wages
- Medical bills (including recurring costs of medication and related items)
- Therapy bills
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Property damages
Your lawyer will help you file for as many damages as are applicable to your specific case. This ensures fair compensation for all types of damages that the injury incurred. Some of the most recent awards for brain-related injuries range from $100,000 to $26 million. Traumatic brain injuries can be life-altering. Seeking a personal injury lawyer will give you a fair chance in receiving compensation for this damage.
Brain Injury Statistics
Traumatic brain injury is a significant cause of disability and death in the United States, its incidence increasing by 53 percent between 2006 and 2014. The statistics surrounding TBI and its impact on victims reveal that they are extremely common:
- 8 million individuals suffer from traumatic brain injury each year.
- 30 percent of all injury-related deaths are the direct result of TBI.
- 153 people die from severe TBI each day.
- A majority of TBI cases are mild, typically referred to as concussions.