California Brain Injury Lawyer
Brain injuries and brain damage can result from numerous causes, including a botched operation, a bad birthing experience, a vehicle accident, a toxic industrial products accident, a blow to the head, or a slip-and-fall accident. A person who suffers a head injury and subsequent brain damage may lose some, or even all, of what is arguably the most precious of a person's possessions: the mind. The brain controls not only a person's ability to think and reason, but also the ability to control the body. Losing even a portion of one of these capabilities to brain damage caused by a head injury or other brain injury can be significant, if not devastating for the sufferer and for his or her family. The Reeves Law Group are your California Brian Injury Attorneys.
Above all, seek prompt medical attention after a head injury, with a neurologist if possible. Doing so may lessen the likelihood of permanent brain damage and may provide an opportunity to accelerate treatment and rehabilitation. In addition to seeking immediate medical help after an accident, make sure that the victim of a closed head injury or other brain injury:
Just as there are many ways in which someone might sustain a traumatic brain injury, there are untold ways in which the resulting brain damage could affect that person's life. Some people may have no current symptoms of brain damage but may be in real danger of developing them later following a head injury. Others may have been left comatose by a head injury and will need a lifetime of constant medical care. Individuals in such severe head injury cases will also need ongoing assistance with everyday living needs. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control estimates that at least 5.3 million Americans with traumatic brain injuries are currently in need of life-long help with their daily needs and activities.
An experienced attorney can help determine the types of damages a victim of a closed-head injury or other brain injury may be entitled to receive. Following are some of the categories of damages that a brain injury victim may obtain:
In severe brain injury cases individuals are unconscious and may even require a lifetime of medical care and assisted living. However, not all brain injuries are readily apparent, even when caused by an accident with obvious head injury. Doctors can also miss the telltale signs of brain damage from a closed-head injury (an injury involving no penetration of the brain). An accident victim who has had a closed-head injury may not feel symptoms of brain injury immediately. Another brain injury accident victim may be exposed to a toxic substance over a period of time, with symptoms of brain damage taking days, weeks or longer to show up. Often, victims attribute their symptoms to causes other than a brain injury and fail to seek medical attention or help from a lawyer.
What should you look for if a person has recently suffered an accident with open or closed-head injury, undergone surgery or been exposed to toxic chemicals? Certain symptoms of brain injury should prompt an immediate evaluation for brain damage, and a subsequent call to an attorney. Some symptoms of brain damage include:
After a head injury accident, and long before anyone thinks about calling a lawyer, the first questions will be, "Will the victim survive?." This will be followed closely by, "How bad is the head injury," and "will there be permanent brain damage?"
About 50% of people with severe brain injury will need to undergo surgery to remove bruised brain tissue (contusions) or to repair ruptured blood vessels. Beyond that, the extent of temporary or permanent brain injury damage will depend on a number of factors, including the force that caused the traumatic brain injury, the location of the blow or penetration, the age and sex of the victim and the victim's overall health prior to the accident. Even ethnicity comes into play; for example, African Americans are more likely to die of traumatic brain injuries than any other racial group.
Approximately 75% of the traumatic brain injuries that occur each year are concussions or other forms of mild traumatic brain injury. Each victim's traumatic brain injury may be categorized, according to its acuteness, as a "severe head injury," "moderate head injury" or "mild head injury." These classifications are determined in several ways. Following are a few:
Several systems used in research settings and by the medical community calculate the severity of a traumatic brain injury by measuring the amount of time accident victims are unconscious following their head injuries. Such brain injured individuals may experience anything from transient confusion to prolonged unconsciousness. The greater the depths of insensibility and the greater the length of time that a brain injured victim is unconscious after an accident, the greater will be the assessment of the gravity of the head injury.
With these measurement techniques, the severity of a traumatic brain injury is measured by looking at the amount of time it takes (if any) for the accident or battery victim to recover continuous memory. Thus, a brain injured victim who is slightly confused for less than five minutes following a head injury will be considered to have a "Very Mild" traumatic brain injury, while the brain-injured sufferer who has amnesia for more than four weeks has an "Extremely Severe" traumatic brain injury.
A common traumatic brain injury severity measurement tool is a scoring system known as the "Glasgow Coma Scale." To use this scale, the traumatic brain injury victim is observed and subjected to various stimuli to see what their eye-opening, verbal and motor responses are. The scores given are as follows:
Eye Opening Response
The brain-injured victim's scores for these three observations are added and his or her traumatic brain injury is categorized through the Glasgow Coma Scale as follows:
Severe Traumatic Brain Injury - 3-8 Points
Moderate Traumatic Brain Injury - 9-12 Points
Mild Traumatic Brain Injury - 13-15 Points
Choosing a Brain Injury Lawyer
Selecting a brain injury lawyer should be done with care. Brain injury cases are especially challenging and expensive. To increase the chances of a successful result, selecting a brain injury attorney with exceptional resources is essential. The experts required to present a brain injury case to a jury, along with the other costs of trying these cases can exceed $100,000. Time is of the essence in these cases. Evidence needs to be secured or preserved promptly and the underlying facts may need to be investigated without delay.
Acting promptly to secure an effective lawyer's services after a head injury is important to help protect your rights. If you or a loved one has suffered a brain injury or head-trauma, you may contact our law firm at (800) 644-8000 for a free consultation with an attorney.
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Because a brain injury can occur from a multitude of incidents, identifying responsible parties for a victim's brain damage depends on the circumstances in which the brain injury occurs. An experienced lawyer with a record of success in brain injury cases should be consulted without delay. Following are some examples of how brain injury damage may occur, along with potential responsible parties your attorney may identify:
By their very nature, brain injuries pose problems of proof for attorneys. Although the cause of brain injury damage may sometimes be evident from physical harm to the brain's tissues after a head injury, many such brain injuries are not readily identifiable, even with an x-ray or CAT-scan (computer axial tomography scan).
To show that a closed-head injury has caused brain injury, lawyers often call on witnesses who knew the victim before the injury occurred and who have seen the effects of brain damage on the victim. Some of these witnesses are often close relative and friends who are more likely to notice the brain injury symptoms exhibited by the victim. In addition, your lawyer will arrange for the testimony of experts, some of whom may already be treating the head injury. Examples of the experts your attorney might consult include:
A traumatic brain injury is brain damage caused by a head injury through a blow to the head or a penetration of the brain by a foreign object, such as a bullet or knife. In the United States, slip-and-fall events are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries (28%), with motor-vehicle accidents following close behind (20%). Traumatic brain injuries are also caused by falling objects or by physical assaults. Males are about 1 ½ times more likely than females to suffer a traumatic brain injury, and children under four years old, along with teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19, are the age groups with the highest incidence of traumatic brain injury.
Of course, not all head injuries lead to brain damage, and some traumatic brain injuries may cause only temporary harmful effects. However, of the 1.4 million people the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control says will suffer traumatic brain injury each year, 1.1 million will be seen by an emergency department and released, 235,000 will require hospitalization and 50,000 will die of their head injuries.
In most cases, the harmful effects of a head injury are most apparent soon after the brain injury occurs, when the damaged brain may swell or have fluids build up around it. Once these problems are alleviated, many people will soon recover functions that were temporarily impaired by the brain damage suffered due to head injury. Even when brain injury damage is permanent, other uninjured areas of the brain may be able to "take over" the functions of the impaired area, allowing the victim of brain injury damage to recover some normal functions. For some traumatic brain injury victims, however, certain abilities will never return, or will be recovered only with intensive rehabilitative assistance and therapy. In those cases, an attorney's help may be crucial, because an experienced brain injury lawyer may be the only source for the victim to help secure the funds needed to pay for life-care and medical services.
The prognosis for an accident victim with a traumatic brain injury cannot be determined based solely on these or other techniques for measuring the severity of an open or closed-head injury's consequences, but these measurements can give some indication of the chances of a head injury victim's suffering permanent brain injury damage; obviously, the more severe the traumatic brain injury, the more likely it is that long or short-term brain damage will result.
An accident victim whose closed head injuries put her in the mild traumatic brain injury category is more likely to have mild brain damage, which could cause anything from short-term confusion to longer-term memory loss, depression, anxiety and diminishment of the senses of taste, touch or smell, among other symptoms. Another person - one in an accident involving a serious closed-head injury that results in severe traumatic brain injury - could end up in a persistent vegetative state, with virtually no hope of recovering consciousness.
Both accident victims may need the help of an attorney to get the compensation necessary to continue living as functional a life as possible given their conditions. According to one study, approximately 40% of patients hospitalized for traumatic brain injury are, one year after their accidents, still in need of services they are not receiving. With the assistance of an experienced lawyer, an accident victim with a head injury who needs ongoing help to regain some normal functioning stands a better chance of falling into the 60% group whose needs for assistance are being met.
More difficult to diagnose and prove than a traumatic brain injury is brain damage caused by exposure to industrial or other environmental toxins, such as lead paint, noxious gases and pesticides. These types of brain injuries are technically referred to as "acquired brain injuries," meaning that the brain developed and functioned normally until it was harmed by some outside factor. Because such brain injury damage often happens over a period of time, the person who suffers speech or motor impairments may not realize that his problems are brain-injury related. Even worse, the sufferer's doctor may take note only of the physical results of the brain injury damage - such as an inability to control the bladder or difficulty walking - and not suspect neurotoxins as their source.
Children present a special concern when it comes to head injuries because they are prone to falling, are unaware of many of the everyday dangers around them and are dependent on others to care for them responsibly. They are also exposed to brain injury at birth because of medical mistakes that can deprive them of oxygen. The result may be cerebral palsy and other types of brain injuries.