There are dozens of injuries that one can incur due to someone else’s careless or reckless actions. However, one of the most serious and impactful injuries a person can incur is a traumatic brain injury (TBI), which involves damage to the brain due to a sudden blow or jolt to the head or body. These injuries are one of the leading causes of death among individuals in car, truck, or motorcycle accidents or who have suffered a fall due to a premises liability matter, such as slipping on a wet floor or falling down the stairs.
Unfortunately, TBIs aren’t something the injured party just gets over. Instead, they commonly produce impacts that can impair the sufferer’s ability to earn an income or to have mutually satisfying relationships with friends or relatives. Personal injury claims related to traumatic brain injuries are often among the most high-valued as TBIs result in significant economic losses and pain and suffering. A traumatic brain injury attorney will be able to guide you throughout the complex claim process and insure that you recover the best settlement possible.
Why Traumatic Brain Injuries Are Among the Worst Injuries
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 76 people in the U.S. die each day from a traumatic brain injury. And each day in the U.S., another brain injury will hospitalize 611 individuals. Males are more likely to suffer this injury, and about one-third of all TBIs in the U.S. involve a person over 75. The leading causes of TBI include falls, motor vehicle accidents, assaults, and firearms.
The brain is perhaps the body’s most important organ, as it controls virtually every function and involuntary response. The brain and spinal cord make up the body’s central nervous system. While the brain is very important, it is also extremely limited in its ability to heal from injuries.
The sufferer of a TBI has a high likelihood of permanent disabilities as a result of the injury.
Some common disabilities include:
- Memory loss
- The inability to control one’s behaviors or impulses
- Difficulty communicating or understanding communication
- Loss of balance and coordination
- Changes to the sufferer’s vision, including loss of depth perception or the ability to identify the size or shape of objects
- The inability to control one’s breathing, heart rate, or sleep/wake cycle
Affects That Commonly Accompany a TBI
Damage to the brain can cause:
- The inability to perform job-related tasks. Many never return to the workplace.
- Lifelong medical treatment for issues resulting from the injury, such as spasticity (abnormally rigid muscles), seizures, chronic pain, fatigue, and even the development of progressive diseases, such as Parkinson’s. Traumatic brain injury sufferers can expect their lifetime medical expenses related to the injury to range from $85,000 to $3 million.
- Isolation from friends and changes in relationships with family members due to physical limitations from the injury or the inability to control emotions or behavior.
- Loss of the ability to participate in activities that the sufferer previously enjoyed.
TBIs are often categorized as mild, moderate, and severe. However, it is important to note that even concussions considered a mild form of TBI can have lifelong impacts on the sufferer, such as memory loss, mood swings, and fatigue that can make it hard for the individual to function.
Seeking Compensation for Financial and Psychological Impacts of a TBI
When an individual suffers a TBI due to someone’s negligence, they can generally seek compensation for both the expenses and quality-of-life impacts of their injury through the personal injury claims process.
- Economic damages involve compensation for the out-of-pocket expenses incurred due to the injury, such as medical expenses, wage loss, and loss of earning capacity.
- Non-economic damages involve compensation for the psychological impacts of the injury, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, or loss of enjoyment of life.
In the legal arena, claims involving traumatic brain injuries are considered catastrophic injury claims due to the part of the body injured and the high likelihood of permanent deficits that can result in an inability to work. They’re more highly valued than other types of claims, as compensation is needed to address the expenses and impacts that the injured party experienced shortly after the injury and those that are likely to occur in the future.
Non-Economic Damages in a Personal Injury Claim
Non-economic damages are often referred to as “pain and suffering damages,” which is one of the main psychological impacts individuals face after a serious, life-changing injury. However, there is no price tag on pain and suffering.
Instead, attorneys use formulas to determine the fair value of the claim, involving:
- Adding up the out-of-pocket expenses to arrive at the total economic damages.
- Multiplying the number of economic damages by a number is called a multiplier. The more serious the injury is, the higher the multiplier, as serious injuries typically result in more severe and long-lasting impacts. This new number is the total amount of non-economic damages for the claim.
- The economic and non-economic damage totals are added to form the claim’s value.
Determination of All Sources of Liability
When you hire an attorney to assist a claimant in obtaining compensation for the impacts and expenses of their injury, one of the first services the attorney performs is an investigation to determine all sources of liability and the relevant insurance policies that can provide compensation.
The problem with high-valued TBI claims is that they often require more compensation than coverage available through the policy. However, in these cases, there is often more than one source of liability and more than one insurance policy involved. In a high-valued claim, including all liable parties and their insurance is important to ensure the claimant can recover full compensation.
Protection From the Insurance Company’s Tactics
Insurance claims adjusters evaluate claims through the lens of protecting their employer’s bottom line. To do this, they commonly engage in questionable tactics meant to reduce or even eliminate the value of a claim.
Some of these tactics include: telling the claimant there are no non-economic damages available for their claim, pressuring the claimant to accept a low settlement on the claim under the insistence that if they don’t take the settlement, the claim won’t be compensated, or even convincing the claimant to authorize the release of their entire medical history to look for pre-existing conditions to blame for the claimant’s symptoms.
Having an attorney assist with the claim means having someone to protect the claimant from these tactics and communicate with the insurance provider on your behalf.
The Quality of Evidence
A personal injury lawyer can help prove the source of liability for the accident that resulted in injury and justifies the claim’s value. They can also obtain medical, employment, and other documentation necessary to support your claim, a task that would be nearly impossible for the claimant to gather on their own or even with the help of family and friends. An attorney has a team of legal professionals to accomplish this task while their client focuses on recovering from the injury.
Proper Valuation of the Claim
As noted, TBI claims are often among the highest-valued, as the compensation received must be enough to last through a lifetime of financial and psychological impacts in many cases.
When establishing the value, the attorney considers many factors, including:
- The availability of insurance to provide compensation.
- The evidence of permanent disabilities will impact the sufferer’s ability to earn an income or live independently.
- Issues arising in treating the injury such as the need for frequent medical appointments or the presence of particularly debilitating impacts such as spasticity of the muscles, or a consciousness disorder such as coma or persistent vegetative state.
Filing Your Claim on Time
To have the right to use the court process when seeking compensation for the claim, you must file a lawsuit within the state’s statute of limitations. This state law dictates how long a person has to file a claim following an injury. For example, in New York, personal injury claimants usually have three years to file a personal injury lawsuit.
If the claimant fails to file within the statute of limitations, the court can bar them from having their claim heard and lose the ability to garner a fair settlement on the claim from the insurance provider. Litigation is a legal consequence for insurance providers who fail to compensate claims, as it is expensive, time-consuming, and has an uncertain outcome. If the claimant can no longer sue for compensation, the insurance company has no consequence for not settling with the claimant.
An attorney is aware of the statute of limitations and will manage the timing of the claim so that there is ample opportunity to file a lawsuit to get you the compensation you need for the impacts and expenses of your TBI.
Settling Medical Liens Against Your Claim
The medical expenses of treating a TBI are generally significant. Many sufferers exceed their personal or employer-sponsored health insurance policies and incur debt. If the claimant has a pending settlement or lawsuit, health insurance providers can seek to recoup their expenses through the claimant’s award by asserting a medical lien.
Likewise, healthcare providers who provide medical treatment can also place a lien on the claim. After the claim, the attorney will receive their compensation and work to negotiate a settlement on these medical liens.
If you suffered a TBI due to someone else’s negligence, contact an experienced TBI attorney for your free case evaluation. You deserve compensation for your injury, and the right attorney can make all the difference in ensuring you recover for all your losses.
Mr. Finkelstein is the Managing Partner of Finkelstein & Partners, LLP. He has become a noted consumer activist through his representation of injured individuals against corporate wrongdoers and irresponsible parties.
An accomplished litigator, Mr. Finkelstein has represented Plaintiffs in wrongful death and catastrophic personal injury cases. He has successfully handled dozens of multi-million dollar cases.