Brain Injury Lawyers Serving Rhode Island
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a form of acquired brain injury. That is, it is caused by an outside force, not genetics or a birth defect. It is virtually always the result of sudden trauma such as a severe car accident, blunt force trauma, or a fall that involves a substantial impact to the head.
Traumatic brain injuries can be caused by both closed (nonpenetrating) head injuries and open (penetrating) head injuries. As the names for these injuries imply, an open head injury involves damage that fractures the skull and possibly penetrates the brain while a closed head injury involves damage that does not fracture the skull. Both types are considered to be serious injuries and are equally dangerous when it comes to TBI.
Damage to the brain caused by these injuries can be confined to a single area of the brain or it can affect multiple areas.
Because the brain is so delicate, almost any type of accident that jars the head can cause brain injury. Car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, and even slip and fall accidents can all land someone in the hospital with a traumatic brain injury. Many people don’t realize it, but what we commonly refer to as a concussion is, in fact, a form of traumatic brain injury.
The signs and symptoms of TBI vary depending on such factors as age and severity. Brain injury victims may experience symptoms immediately or they can develop several days or even weeks after a traumatic event. Brain injuries can also involve both short and prolonged periods of unconsciousness, but that’s not always the case.
Some common symptoms of TBI include:
- Feeling dazed or not like yourself for several days or weeks after the initial injury
- Headaches (intermittent or constant)
- Confusion, lightheadedness, dizziness, restlessness, agitation or loss of coordination
- Blurred vision or tired eyes
- Ringing in the ears
- Bad taste in the mouth
- Fatigue or lethargy
- Changes in sleep patterns or inability to awaken from sleep
- Behavioral or mood changes
- Trouble with memory, concentration, attention, or thinking
- Repeated vomiting or nausea
- Convulsions or seizures
- Dilation of one or both pupils of the eyes
- Slurred speech
- Weakness or numbness in the extremities
Small children with moderate to severe TBI generally exhibit symptoms such as persistent crying, an inability to be consoled, and refusal to nurse or eat.
Brain Injuries Require Immediate Medical Attention
As you probably know, the brain controls everything that happens in our bodies. If something malfunctions in the brain, then something will malfunction in the body, too. That’s what makes brain injuries so dangerous. If you hit your hand with something and it swells up, you can put some ice on it and wait for it to heal. If you hit your head and your brain swells, it could kill you.
Never take a head injury lightly. You should always seek medical attention as soon as possible, especially if you lose consciousness, even if it’s just for a moment.
Common Causes Of Brain Injuries
Slip And Fall Accidents – Simple slip and fall accidents are the leading cause of head and brain injuries in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls are behind about half of the head injuries suffered by children 17 or under and responsible for more than 80% of brain injuries occurring in people over 65.
Motor Vehicle Accidents – Car crashes and accidents involving other motor vehicles account for about 20% of all TBI related hospitalizations. They are also the leading cause of death involving traumatic brain injuries for people ages 15 to 34.
Blunt Trauma – Blunt trauma accidents—either an object hitting the head or the head hitting an object—are responsible for 28% of TBI-related emergency room visits for children 17 years old or younger and 17% of TBI-related emergency room visits overall.
Assault – Criminal assault is responsible for about 10% of all brain injuries. It is, unfortunately, the leading cause of brain injury in children 4 years old and younger.
Long-Term Effects Of Traumatic Brain Injury
Depending on the severity of the auto accident, fall, or blunt force trauma, someone can suffer anything from a mild concussion to severe TBI.
Concussions usually cause temporary damage. Most injury victims will recover from a concussion although they may go through what is known as post-concussion syndrome. This includes symptoms such as intermittent headaches and dizziness for days or weeks after their accident. Suffering one concussion can make you more vulnerable to another in the future. Multiple concussions can also lead to permanent brain damage.
More severe brain injuries can have long-lasting or permanent effects. Victims can experience changes in their personality such as mood swings or behavioral and emotional changes including anxiety, aggression, or depression. A TBI can also affect someone’s ability to think, their language skills, their ability to reason and cause temporary or permanent memory loss. The basic senses can also be affected. Someone suffering from TBI may notice differences in their ability to taste, smell, hear, or communicate.
In the most severe traumatic brain injury cases, the injured person may fall into a coma—either temporarily or permanently—and it’s also possible that either the injury itself or complications caused by it can prove to be fatal.
The Costs Of TBI Over Time
A traumatic brain injury has the potential to cause immense physical, emotional, and financial damage to both the victim of the injury and everyone around them. Medical bills associated with TBI can easily reach into hundreds of thousands of dollars, even if the injury proves to be fatal. For survivors of severe traumatic brain injuries, lifetime care costs can reach into the millions.
If you or a loved one suffer a traumatic brain injury, chances are that you will need the help of your insurance company to deal with the costs of things like loss of income, medical expenses including general treatment, prescriptions, therapy, assistive devices, professional assistance such as a nurse, or living space modifications.
Traumatic brain injuries can cause long-term, life-altering consequences. Some of the long-term effects of TBI include:
- Motor Deficits and Disabilities: A brain injury can permanently affect a person’s fine motor skills, making it difficult or impossible to carry objects, get dressed, and avoid falling. TBI can also impair someone’s ability to walk, drive, or move freely.
- Other Physical Effects: Traumatic brain injuries can cause a number of physical effects, such as fatigue, chronic pain, seizures, and the loss of bladder and bowel functions. TBI victims may also experience trouble with visual perception skills, making it challenging to navigate buildings, make sense of common images, or recognize certain objects or faces.
- Cognitive Effects: Depending on the severity of the injury and the area of the brain that was damaged, a TBI can affect someone’s language and problem-solving skills, as well as memory, concentration, and speed of thought.
- Effects on Speech and Language: A severe brain injury can make it difficult for an individual to communicate effectively and be understood by others.
- Effects on Vision: TBIs can cause photophobia (light intolerance), diplopia (double vision caused by eye muscle weakness), blurred vision, and partial or total vision loss.
- Effects on Hearing: While TBI victims can suffer hearing loss due to damage to the bones in the inner or middle ear, they can also experience tinnitus (ringing in the ears) or problems caused by the way their brains process sound after the brain injury.
- Effects on Smell and Taste: Damage to certain areas of the brain can harm the olfactory nerve (the nerve that carries smell sensation from the nose to the brain). Loss of smell often results in a loss of taste, as well.
- Loss of Employability: TBI can cause the loss of essential cognitive and motor skills, preventing some victims from ever working again. Not only can this harm the financial future of a TBI victim and his or her family, but it can negatively impact a person’s sense of purpose.
- Damage to Relationships: TBI victims often stop feeling like themselves anymore, which can make their partners feel as though they are involved with a completely different person. A number of cognitive and physical challenges can affect existing relationships and prevent new relationships from forming.
- Long-Term Financial Issues: Financial struggles are common after sustaining a traumatic brain injury. Medical treatment for TBIs can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Lifelong care can cost victims of severe TBI millions of dollars.
Damaged brain cells cannot repair or regenerate themselves. This means that brain damage caused by a traumatic brain injury (TBI) can be permanent. While some brain damage can be confined to an isolated area of the brain, it can also affect multiple areas. The impact of a brain injury can range from mild to severe, depending on the extent of the damage.
The majority of TBI recovery occurs within the first two years after the injury. Any improvement beyond that point is uncertain, although some patients experience further improvement as late as 5-10 years following the injury.
Statistically, individuals aged 15-24 are at the highest risk for head injuries. Injuries in this age range can disrupt crucial developmental processes, such as forming social networks, completing school, securing employment, and achieving independence from parental support. The disruption of this development can lead to poor self-esteem, social isolation, and family burdens.
Some brain injuries can worsen over time. It is believed that there are three primary reasons why certain TBI patients may experience a decline over time:
- Inadequate Treatment: Symptoms can get worse if the TBI victim is not given proper treatment.
- Chemical Changes: Harmful chemical changes can occur within the brain following a traumatic injury. For example, Brain injury can cause an excessive accumulation of neurotransmitters, such as glutamate, in the brain tissue, which can overstimulate neurons and cause neuronal death.
- Secondary Brain Injury: Complications that occur after the initial brain injury are referred to as secondary injuries. These can include hematomas (pools of primarily clotted blood that form in organs, tissue, or areas of the body) and infections. In some cases, an injury may cut off blood circulation to certain areas of the brain, causing neuronal death.
While the risk of sustaining a traumatic brain injury is significant for people of all ages, the risk is highest among adolescents, young adults, and people over the age of 75. The risk of TBI among men is twice the risk among women. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports the primary causes of TBI deaths are:
- Falls account for 29.9% of TBI-related deaths. Adults over the age of 75 have the highest rate of TBI-related deaths due to falls.
- Motor Vehicle Accidents account for 17% of TBI-related deaths. Individuals aged 15–24 years and 25–34 years have the highest rates of TBI-related deaths due to auto accidents.
Every traumatic brain injury, and its effect on a victim’s life, is different. Therefore, the value of any personal injury lawsuit, including those that involve traumatic brain injuries, vary significantly between cases. TBI-related medical bills can easily amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Lifetime care for a TBI victim can cost millions.
When determining the value of a traumatic brain injury case, an attorney will assess the economic and non-economic impact the injury has had on the victim’s life.
These damages include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Diminished earning capacity
These damages include:
- Mental anguish
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
Speak To An Experienced Providence Brain Injury Lawyer Today
A traumatic brain injury case goes far beyond what we’d consider being average personal injury cases. A claim involving traumatic brain injuries requires a law firm familiar with this specific type of injury and the special circumstances that come with it.
Don’t risk your physical, financial, and emotional health by accepting legal representation from just any personal injury lawyer. You need a legal team behind you with the experience and expertise to go the distance and make sure that you get the full and fair compensation that you’re entitled to receive.
If you or a loved one have suffered a traumatic brain injury—whether the TBI was caused by an accident or medical malpractice, or even if it resulted in wrongful death—the law offices of Mandell, Boisclair & Mandell can help. Our team of qualified Rhode Island brain injury lawyers has not only years of experience but the case results to prove what kind of legal services we provide for our clients.
We’d be happy to go over the details of your case and discuss exactly what we can do to help you. You can contact us online anytime or call (401) 273-8330 to schedule a free consultation.
Medical and health information adapted and available from NINDS and the National Institutes of Health.