Many people suffer some form of traumatic brain injury (TBI) when they are involved in falls, car crashes and other types of accidents. The injury can affect the way a person thinks, moves about and controls his or her emotions. Many people with TBI need extensive medical treatment. Often, they can no longer work or live their lives as they did before the accident.
The experienced personal injury attorneys of Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C. realize the impact that TBI has on the lives of victims and their families. If someone else’s negligence caused you or a loved one to suffer a serious brain injury, we want to help you hold the party (or parties) who caused the injury accountable and pursue the compensation that you deserve.
Since we founded our law firm in 1982, we have secured more than $1.5 billion in verdicts and settlements on behalf of clients in Chicago and throughout Illinois, including numerous clients who suffered TBI due to the wrongdoing of others. We can put our experience to work for you today. To discuss your case, call or reach us online for a free consultation.
What Is Traumatic Brain Injury?
According to the Brain Injury Association of America, there are two types of brain injury: Acquired brain injury (ABI), which is caused by internal factors such as a lack of oxygen, and traumatic brain injury (TBI), which is caused by external factors. Typically, TBI occurs when a person:
- Strikes an object or gets struck by an object
- Suffers a sudden, violent jolt or shaking
- Gets struck by an object that penetrates the skull.
Trauma to the brain damages the brain’s structure and prevents it from functioning in a normal way. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that TBI can affect the way a person:
- Thinks (memory and reasoning)
- Experiences sensations (such as touch, taste, and smell)
- Communicates with others (speaking and understanding)
- Controls his or her emotions (as well as social interactions).
While some people can recover from TBI and return to normal lives, many others never regain normal functioning in the brain. They may require ongoing care and treatment as well as assistance with basic living tasks. They may suffer from traumatic brain injury symptoms years later.
Common Types of Traumatic Brain Injury
If you or a loved recently suffered a head injury in an accident, doctors may have told you that the injury is one of these common types of brain damage:
A bruise on the brain typically occurs when a person’s head suffers a direct impact. The swelling, or brain herniation, associated with a contusion is dangerous. The injury may require surgical intervention in order to release pressure and keep oxygen flow to the brain at a safe level.
This mild form of TBI may cause a person to suffer a few seconds or minutes of unconsciousness or to be dazed, confused and disoriented while maintaining consciousness. It can lead to painful headaches, balance problems, and dizziness as well as personality changes, depression, anxiety, and other emotional issues. A single concussion makes the victim vulnerable to additional concussions. Repeated concussions may lead to dementia or a degenerative disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
This type of TBI involves widespread brain damage. It typically results from a severe jolt, shaking, or sudden and powerful rotation of the head. As the head moves, the brain lags behind in motion and essentially slams against the interior skull and suffers damage in multiple places. Diffuse axonal injury occurs in about half of all severe head traumas and is one of the most common types of brain injuries from car accidents.
This type of TBI occurs when both sides of the brain sustain damage. The injury often arises when the force of impact is so great at one side of the brain that the brain is forced against the opposing side of the skull. A contusion against the opposite side of the brain is the result. It can impair memory, coordination, swallowing, balance, muscular abilities, and sensation.
When some form of impact breaks the skull, pieces of bone and/or a foreign object may enter the skull cavity and severely damage brain tissue. The shearing and rupture of nerves and tissue in the brain can lead to permanent impairment or loss of life. These injuries are considered a severe form of TBI and typically require brain surgery to remove foreign objects and repair the skull. The damage may be permanent and cause significant disability.
Signs of Traumatic Brain Injury
If you are involved in any type of accident or otherwise suffer a blow to the head, you should get medical attention as soon as possible. It is especially important if you show any brain damage symptoms. Those signs and symptoms will depend on the extent of damage to the brain. They include:
A person with mild TBI may remain conscious or may experience a loss of consciousness for a few seconds or minutes. Other symptoms of mild TBI include:
- Blurred vision or tired eyes
- Ringing in the ears
- Bad taste in the mouth
- Fatigue or lethargy
- A change in sleep patterns
- Behavioral or mood changes
- Trouble with memory, concentration, attention and/or thinking.
A person with a moderate or severe TBI may show the above symptoms as well as:
- A headache that gets worse or does not go away
- Repeated vomiting or nausea
- Convulsions or seizures
- An inability to awaken from sleep
- Dilation of one or both pupils of the eyes
- Slurred speech
- Weakness or numbness in the extremities
- Loss of coordination and increased confusion
- Restlessness or agitation.
If your child is involved in an accident, you should look for the above symptoms as well as any changes in mood or behavior such as uncontrollable crying or loss of interest in toys or activities. You should also look for any changes in the child’s eating and sleeping habits.
Treatment and Costs of Traumatic Brain Injury
A person who has suffered TBI may require medical care that includes:
- Emergency medical treatment
- X-rays, MRIs or CT scans
- Intensive care
- Lengthy convalescence
- Use of assistive devices
- Ongoing care and counseling.
Typically, an interdisciplinary team of professionals will provide brain damage treatment for a patient with severe TBI, including a primary care physician, neurologist, surgeon, physical therapist, and psychologist. The patient may receive treatment at a trauma hospital and be moved later to a specialized clinic as part of the traumatic brain injury recovery process.
Rehabilitation may begin while the patient is hospitalized and continue on an outpatient basis for several months. Rehab may focus on regaining or strengthening a patient’s physical strength, speech, mobility, and memory or cognitive abilities. It may also include psychological counseling that teaches coping skills to a TBI victim.
The costs of this treatment can reach hundreds of thousands of dollars within only a few months’ time after the injury. The costs may be several million dollars over the course of a victim’s lifetime – again, depending on the level of TBI as well as the victim’s age.
Additionally, many victims are left with a permanent disability that progressively worsens toward a premature death. They may be unable to go to school or work for a living. Their families are, in turn, faced with the burden of caring for them or placing them in an assisted-living facility, with the latter option eventually proving to be unavoidable in many cases.
Common Causes of Traumatic Brain Injury
As we have seen through the years at Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., many brain injuries result from preventable accidents. They are the products of others’ careless, reckless and even intentional actions. Some of the leading causes of TBI include:
Brain Injury by Motor Vehicle Accidents
A person may suffer TBI when slamming into an object upon impact in a crash or from getting thrown from the car, truck, motorcycle, or bicycle and hitting the ground. Brain injury is a highly common injury when a motor vehicle driver strikes a pedestrian.
Slip and Falls
Falls can occur when negligent property owners allow dangerous conditions to exist on their property, including spilled liquids, ice and snow, torn or frayed carpeting, broken stairs, uneven flooring, broken rails, or poor lighting. Fall injuries are a particular concern in Illinois nursing homes.
Falls from Heights
Falls from heights such as roofs, ladders, and scaffolding often lead to brain injuries. Getting struck by tools and equipment and getting into collisions with forklifts, trucks, or other motor vehicles at construction or industrial sites can also cause TBI.
Many children suffer permanent brain damage due to the negligence of doctors, nurses, midwives, and other medical professionals during delivery and birth. Traumatic injury to a fetus’ or newborn infant’s brain, often caused by improper force or pressure on the child’s head, can cause cerebral palsy, which is a permanent disability.
Sports and Recreation
Many children suffer TBI while playing sports or engaging in recreational activities. Young athletes may suffer permanent brain damage due to the failure of coaches and/or trainers to provide proper protective equipment to them or to properly manage concussions after they occur.
Brain Injury FAQs
What Is a Severe Brain Injury?
The term “severe brain injury” covers a wide umbrella of injuries and diseases. A blood clot can seriously injure your brain in what’s known as a stroke. Similarly, degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s can cause permanent brain damage.
In some cases, traumatic brain injury (TBI) can be caused by someone else’s recklessness or negligence. An accident that results in a blow to the head can leave a victim with a traumatic brain injury. A TBI could be minor, moderate, or severe, depending on the force of the impact. Severe TBIs affect your basic ability to function and can even result in death.
What Are the Symptoms Associated with Brain Injury?
Brain injury symptoms vary widely depending on the cause and severity. No matter what happened to you, always see a medical professional in order get a proper diagnosis and treatment. According to the Mayo Clinic, common symptoms associated with brain injuries include:
- Mild symptoms:
- Loss of consciousness, anywhere from a few seconds to minutes
- Nausea or vomiting
- Difficulty speaking
- Fatigue, drowsiness, and sleeping more than usual
- Mood changes or swings, feeling depressed and anxious
- Problems with vision, such as blurriness and sensitivity to light
- Problems with hearing, such as ringing in the ears and sensitivity to sound
- Trouble concentrating or remembering things
- Confusion and disorientation
- Severe symptoms can include everything above, and:
- Loss of consciousness for a longer period of time
- Long-lasting headache or worsening headache
- Repeated vomiting
- Slurred speech and confusion
- Loss of coordination
- Agitation or combativeness
- Convulsions or seizures
- Clear fluids draining from the nose or ears
- Inability to wake up
- Weakness or numbness in fingers and toes
- Brain death
What Physical Changes May Occur Due to a Brain Injury?
The real cause of brain injury symptoms is damage to the brain itself. The difference in severity of the symptoms depends on the amount of damage your brain has suffered. Here are some of the kinds of brain damage you might suffer due to a traumatic brain injury:
- Damage and loss of some brain cells
- Brain bruising
- Tissue damage
- Swelling and fluid build-up in the brain
- Bleeding in the brain
Brain damage can be very serious and in extreme cases can cause death. If your loved one dies after a brain injury caused by negligence, you may be able to pursue a wrongful death claim against the at-fault party.
Is There a Difference Between Adult and Childhood Severe Brain Injury?
Children can suffer the same physical, cognitive, and emotional symptoms that adults do as a result of their brain injury. However, it’s sometimes difficult to diagnose a childhood TBI in time for appropriate treatment. If the child can’t talk, parents should monitor the young child for changes in behavior and mood, such as trouble eating or nursing, irritability, crying, and difficulty or too much sleeping.
Always see a medical professional if you suspect your child may have received a blow to the head. Unfortunately, they may also suffer serious, long-term symptoms that can affect normal activities like reading and writing. A childhood brain injury may also affect a child psychologically, causing anger, depression, or anxiety.
What Are Some Long-Term Effects of Brain Injury?
The long-term effects of brain injuries depend on the severity of your injury and exactly where your brain was injured. In some cases, you may experience altered senses, like ringing in your ears, trouble with your vision, or dizziness. There can also be persistent behavioral or emotional effects, like depression, anxiety, anger, and trouble controlling your reactions. You may have difficulty communicating clearly. Most seriously, you may develop a degenerative brain disorder like Alzheimer’s.
How Many People Have Traumatic Brain Injuries?
It’s impossible to know the exact number of traumatic brain injuries in the United States because so many are minor enough that the people impacted don’t go to the doctor. According to published reports, over 61,000 people died from traumatic brain injuries in one recent year.
In another recent year, about 2.8 million Americans sought treatment for TBI. Of those, 281,610 resulted in hospitalization.
What Are the Common Causes of TBI?
Any blow to the head can cause a traumatic brain injury. If you’re in a car crash or you slip and fall and hit your head, you may suffer a TBI. The Mayo Clinic lists some of the most common causes of traumatic brain injuries as:
- Accidents or collisions
- Combat-related injuries
- Sports Injuries
See a doctor if you suffer any blow to the head, no matter how it happened.
When Can You Claim Compensation in a Brain Injury Lawsuit?
If you have been hurt in an accident, you may wonder if you can take legal action to recover the money you’ve spent treating your injury. If your injury was caused by someone else’s recklessness, like an irresponsible driver, you may be able to hold them legally liable. With the help of a lawyer, you can gain a thorough understanding of your legal rights and pursue the full compensation you need to recover.
How Can a Lawyer Help After a Traumatic Brain Injury?
If you have suffered a head injury in an accident that was caused by someone else, contact a qualified traumatic brain injury lawyer from Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard, P.C., to discuss your legal options. Our attorneys can investigate your accident and build a strong legal argument on your behalf. We’ll demand compensation for your past and future medical expenses, your lost wages or salary, your pain and suffering, and all other damages related to your injury.
Contact us today for a free consultation.
How Can a Lawyer Help with Your Traumatic Brain Injury Claim?
When you contact Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C. about your case, you will speak directly with an experienced and compassionate Illinois brain injury lawyer who will listen closely, answer your questions and explain your rights and options as you move forward. If we agree to work together, our legal team will launch an immediate investigation of your case to determine why your brain injury occurred and who should be held responsible for it. We may also consult with knowledgeable accident reconstruction experts and other professionals as part of our investigation.
We will also consult with medical professionals to assess the impact of the brain injury on your life. For instance, we often work with experts who prepare life care plans. These plans provide a detailed description of a patient’s medical and personal care requirements (and costs) for the future. A plan may cover anticipated medical treatment, medication, assistive devices, home modification, and more. A life care plan may also address the costs of needed in-home personal assistance or nursing care, professional case management assistance, and an eventual move to a nursing home or other assisted living facility.
Our Brain Injury Lawyers Will Fight for Your Compensation
Our goal will be to pursue through a settlement, or a trial if necessary, full and fair compensation for you, which may include:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Lost income and diminished earning capacity
- Caretaking costs
- Disability or loss of normal life
- Physical and mental pain and suffering
- Increased risk of future harm
- Shortened life expectancy.
We represent clients on a contingency fee basis. So, you will pay no costs or fees unless we secure compensation for you.
Contact Our Chicago Traumatic Brain Injury Attorneys Today
If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) due to the wrongful conduct of another, you have the right to seek full and fair compensation, including all current and anticipated medical costs and compensation for your pain and suffering.
An experienced and compassionate Chicago brain injury lawyer at Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C. can help with your traumatic brain injury lawsuit. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation through our offices in Chicago and Waukegan.