The High Cost of Traumatic Brain Injury: The Difference that Damages Make
One of the most unfortunate, but sadly most common, mistakes that a victim of a TBI can make is incorrectly calculating the cost over time.
Traumatic Brain Injury StatisticsIn the United States alone, there are approximately 1.5 million people who suffer a traumatic brain injury each year. According to the CDC (United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), 50,000 of these victims die from their injuries, and another 85,000 suffer long-term disability. In the U.S., a total of more than 5.3 million people are living with disabilities caused by a traumatic brain injury.
In addition to the pain and suffering victims must endure, those who experience a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) also undergo years of medication, surgery, and even occupational therapy to relearn basic skills like walking, talking, and eating. For some TBI victims, rehabilitation fails to recover the physical and communication skills they've lost. They're left permanently disabled, unable to work or possibly even live on their own. For the families that are left to care for victims, medical bills and expenses constantly threaten to drag them into debt.
All too often, TBI victims, or the family of a victim, fail to realize the high cost associated with this type of traumatic injury. While medical and financial costs alone are crippling, the mental and emotional anguish created by this life-long injury is staggering. Today, let's take a look at the difference that traumatic brain injury damages can make.
What Is a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)?Your brain is protected by a series of tough membranes and a sea of cushioning fluid which prevent it from rubbing against the bones of the skull. This means that while the brain does fit snugly within the cranium, there is still wiggle room to lubricate its surface. However, during a head injury, this space can actually work against you. Head injuries typically occur as blunt force trauma to the skull, which causes the brain to ricochet back and forth rapidly inside of the cranium.
Force of impact can cause the brain to quite literally bounce around the skull, slamming into the barrier that was intended to protect it. This movement damages brain tissue, resulting in chemical alterations inside of the brain. Damage can result in all brain cells firing at once, similar to a seizure, or can injure brain cells in what doctors refer to as "bruising of the brain."
Head injuries are also known as Acquired Brain injuries, or more commonly as Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI). A TBI can be classified as:
Mild, like a concussion
Moderate, like a seizure
Severe, like a coma
Depending on the circumstances in which they were sustained, head injuries can take on many different forms. The impact of a TBI can produce physical, cognitive, and sensory impairment for hours, days, or even years after the injury occurs.
What Makes a TBI So Severe?Traumatic brain injuries become dangerous the moment they occur. This is because their symptoms may not appear until days or even weeks following the injury, often misleading the victim to think that the damage may not be as severe as it actually is.
The mildest form of a TBI, a concussion, can cause a variety of symptoms, including headache, dizziness, tiredness, neck pain, nausea, and ringing in the ears. Those with a moderate to severe TBI often experience these warning signs as well as other debilitating symptoms:
Persistent headache that gets worse or does not go away
Weakness or numbness in the arms and legs
Inability to awaken from sleep
Repeated vomiting or nausea
Blurred or impaired vision
Convulsions or seizures
Inability to hear clearly
Lifelong Disability Caused by a TBIA TBI can significantly inhibit both visual and auditory abilities. In fact, 20 to 40 percent of people with a brain injury experience vision-related disorders. Moreover, patients suffering a brain injury have a 2.125 greater risk of developing hearing loss than individuals without brain injury.
Damage to the head or brain can cause severe impact on the optic nerve as well as the auditory cortex in the brain. Patients suffering a TBI due to an auto accident have the highest associated risk of hearing loss, while vision problems can result from mild head injuries, such as whiplash from a minor rear-end collision or a fall. Even mild injuries can effect vision or hearing, while more severe trauma can cause permanent blindness, double vision, difficulty focusing, partial deafness, or permanent deafness in one or both ears.
A traumatic brain injury can also cause permanent physical and mental disability. TBI victims often experience issues with language and communication, in which a patient has trouble understanding or creating written or spoken words, speaking gibberish or slurring. It is common for those with a TBI to exhibit emotional and behavioral problems, and to struggle with depression, anxiety, irritability, apathy, and sleeping problems. Lastly, in some cases, the physical skills lost by the victim can never be regained, with victims of severe traumatic brain injuries unable to walk or communicate.
Importance of Correctly Diagnosing TBINearly 90,000 people experience the onset of long-term or lifelong disabilities associated with TBI each year. An estimated 50,000 victims die from the effects of a TBI annually, and of those, 50 percent do so within the first two hours of their injury. Accurately and promptly diagnosing a TBI can not only help aid the victim through the onset of concurrent symptoms, but can also potentially save their life.
With a TBI, a medical doctor should assess the situation as quickly as possible. Even a mild injury to the brain is still a serious event that requires immediate attention and an accurate diagnosis. Consequences of a TBI can worsen rapidly without treatment.
Correctly Calculating the Cost of TBI Over TimeOne of the most unfortunate, but sadly most common, mistakes that a victim of a TBI can make is incorrectly calculating the cost of the injury over time. A traumatic brain injury is not comparable to other accident costs, like the property damage to a car. You cannot simply calculate the funds for immediate needs and anticipate that amount being anywhere close enough cover the cost for life.
Unlike many other accident injuries, the cost of a TBI extends over time, and can truly be lifelong. When calculating the cost of a TBI over time, consider more than just doctors visits. A severe TBI can result in a variety of personal injury damages, including:
Current and future medical bills
Lost wages or unemployment
Ongoing medication regimen
Ongoing physical therapy
Loss of enjoyment of life
Loss of consortium
Pain and suffering
When a family member, especially the head of a household suffers a TBI, they can lose their source of income, their ability to participate in a healthy marriage, even their senses like vision or hearing.
The Consequences of Miscalculating DamagesIf you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury, then you do not deserve to cut back on your quality of living or risk losing your possessions. Victims of these accidents may never be able to return to their old job, or maintain their old lifestyle. They may have special needs for the remainder of their lives, or require therapy for years to come. In accidents that result in life-changing injuries, it is critical to have the right traumatic brain injury attorney by your side.
Before rushing to decide on a settlement amount, speak with a traumatic brain injury attorney. A TBI attorney can help analyze past, current, and future medical bills, and project how today's circumstances can impact your family emotionally, physically, and financially down the line. Your family deserves to be compensated for a lifetime of pain, and a traumatic brain injury attorney will help you tack an actual number onto that cost.
For instance, one small miscalculation in future earnings can cost your family thousands of dollars. It can be the difference of you working two jobs to support your family, or losing your home because you could no longer afford it with one income. You require a traumatic brain injury attorney that has the experience and the resources to do a thorough investigation of your case.
What to Look for in a TBI AttorneyYour family has suffered enough pain. When looking for a traumatic brain injury attorney to represent your case, you deserve a lawyer who will make the process as painless as possible. An attorney who is compassionate, but tireless in pursuit of your compensation.
If you're looking for a TBI attorney to handle your case, don't go with the first lawyer who pops up on Google. Instead, measure each potential traumatic brain injury attorney by a certain set of qualifications:
Experience: A trusted TBI attorney will have had several years of legal and trial experience, especially in the practice area of TBI.
Knowledge: A TBI carries lifelong consequences which equate to lifelong damages. A knowledgeable attorney will be well-versed in the variety of damages involved in these cases, and how you should be compensated for them.
Positive Results: A qualified traumatic brain injury attorney won't just have practiced for years, but will also have a history of obtaining worthy settlements for his or her clients.
Real Life Testimonials: Attorney's testimonials for past clients should indicate not only that they had winning representation, but that the process was personal and stress-free. Your family shouldn't deal with any further stress when pursuing compensation, and real life testimonials can indicate what working with your potential TBI attorney will be like.
Effective Communication: You never want to feel out of the loop with your own case. Look for a traumatic brain injury lawyer who will make you feel included every step of the way and will inform you of every process involved.
A Large Network: Successful TBI cases involve expert medical witnesses such as neurologists and radiologists, and typically involve extensive investigation. A qualified TBI lawyer will have a large network of medical and legal professionals to aid your case.
Connecting with an attorney who has the resources and experience to fully optimize the value of your TBI case is critical. Don't allow yourself or your family to drown under damages. Traumatic brain injuries may have a high cost, but its truly your legal counsel that makes all the difference.