As the most populous city in New England, Boston provides plenty for residents and visitors to see and do. Unfortunately, the attractions and roadways of Boston also provide several ways for accidental injury to occur. When it comes to injuries, few are more serious or produce more wide-ranging complications than a traumatic brain injury. If you suffered a traumatic brain injury, Massachusetts has a process by which you could pursue compensation for your injuries. A Boston brain injury attorney from Dolman Law Group can help you understand this legal process.
Dolman Law Group's legal team is familiar with the complications associated with this type of injury, as reflected in some of our recent case results, which include:
- $3.2 million settlement in a case in which a man suffered a traumatic brain injury because of a truck accident. The case was resolved in pre-trial mediation
- $1.75 million settlement for a client who suffered a mild traumatic brain injury in addition to a shoulder injury requiring surgery in a truck accident. It was revealed during discovery that the truck had not been properly maintained.
- $1 million confidential resolution to a case involving a client who suffered a brain injury due to a motorcycle accident.
While we cannot guarantee a particular outcome, contact Dolman Law Group today to see what we can do for you and your case.
How Our Law Firm Helps Bring Clients Justice
Our legal team is driven by the pursuit of justice. We want our clients to receive the compensation they deserve for such devastating and life-altering injuries like TBIs. We help you and your family find a path to healing through legal advocacy. As your counsel, we take on a myriad of responsibilities to achieve that goal, including:
- Investigating the cause of your accident
- Communicating with the at-fault party, their insurance, or others involved in your case so you don't have to
- Compiling evidence of your injuries and expenses
- Calculating your damages
- Negotiating a fair settlement
- Providing key updates on your case
- Filing a lawsuit on your behalf, if necessary
- Representing you at trial if it becomes necessary
What Is a Traumatic Brain Injury?
A traumatic brain injury is caused by a bump, jolt, or blow to the head or body. This injury can include an object that has penetrated the protective covering of the skull (known as a penetrating injury), or the injury can be contained inside of the skull.
Traumatic brain injuries can be caused by:
- Falls: Falls are the leading cause of traumatic brain injury. Young children and elderly people are particularly susceptible to falls.
- Motor vehicle accidents: Motor vehicle accidents are the second leading cause of traumatic brain injury in the United States. This category includes accidents involving cars, trucks, motorcycles, bicycles, or pedestrians.
- Violence: Intentional violent acts, such as domestic violence, assault, or child abuse, are also a leading cause of traumatic brain injury.
- Sports and recreation: High contact sports as well as recreational activities such as diving or surfing can cause brain injuries.
- Combat-related activities: Military personnel are subjected to conditions associated with a higher prevalence of traumatic brain injuries, including transportation accidents and explosive blasts.
Brain injuries are often categorized by physicians as mild, moderate, and severe based on the patient's level of consciousness at the time of the evaluation as well as the ability to see the injury on imaging scans. However, there is nothing “mild” about traumatic brain injuries. Even a concussion, which is categorized as a “mild” traumatic brain injury, can result in permanent deficits including memory loss and chronic headaches.
The Deficits Created by an Injury to the Brain
The brain is an extremely important organ as it controls all of the body's voluntary and involuntary responses. Unfortunately, despite the brain's importance, it has only a limited ability to heal itself after injury. What this means is that the injury has a high likelihood of creating a permanent loss of the functions that are controlled by that portion of the brain.
The brain consists of six segments, known as lobes, that are each responsible for controlling some of the body's functions.
The primary functions of each lobe include:
- Frontal lobe: As its name indicates, the frontal lobe is in the front part of the brain. This portion of the brain is responsible for functions such as attention, concentration, the ability to speak, personality, inhibition of behavior, emotions, problem-solving, planning, and judgment.
- Temporal lobe: Located on the side of the brain, in the temple area, the temporal lobe controls functions such as the ability to understand spoken language, memory, organization, and hearing.
- Cerebellum: Located near the rear bottom of the brain, just above the brainstem, is the cerebellum. This portion of the brain is responsible for balance and coordination, skilled motor activity, and visual perception.
- Occipital lobe: The occipital lobe is located just above the cerebellum and its primary function is to control vision.
- Parietal lobe: On the top-most portion of the brain, the parietal lobe controls the body's five senses, including sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch.
- Brainstem: Located at the base of the skull, the brainstem is responsible for the body's involuntary responses such as breathing, heart rate, pulse, and sleep/wake cycles. Brainstem injuries often result in death as an individual cannot independently sustain life without involuntary responses.
The Complications of Traumatic Brain Injuries
Traumatic brain injuries pose a high risk of dangerous complications that could cause further damage and even death. Many of these complications occur in the early hours after the injury, while others can be present months or even years later. Much of the early treatment of a brain injury, beyond stabilizing the patient's heart rate and breath, involves addressing complications as they arise to prevent death and provide the best opportunity for meaningful recovery.
Some of the common complications after suffering a brain injury include:
- Altered consciousness: A traumatic brain injury can result in a permanent change in consciousness, including a coma, a vegetative state, minimally conscious state, and brain death—which occurs when all brain activity, including that of the brainstem, ceases.
- Seizures: It is common for those who suffer a moderate or severe traumatic brain injury to suffer seizures in the early hours after the onset of the injury. Sometimes, these seizures recur over several months. This is a condition known as post-concussive epilepsy.
- Hydrocephalus: This condition is marked by the buildup of cerebrospinal fluid on the brain. This fluid buildup is dangerous as it can cause the pressure in the brain to increase, risking further damage. Hydrocephalus is often treated in brain injury patients through the surgical placement of a shunt that serves to drain this excess fluid from the brain to other parts of the body.
- Infections: Infections are common following a brain injury, particularly penetrating injuries in which bacteria from an object can be transferred directly to the protective tissues (the meninges) that cover the brain. Additionally, the lack of mobility and awareness after an injury can result in infections in other parts of the body, including the urinary tract. Often, the first sign of an infection in a brain-injured person is a fever. However, fevers can be caused by other issues too, including an injury affecting the portion of the brain that controls the body's temperature. The risk posed by infections includes a deadly complication in which the infection enters the bloodstream and travels through the body. This is known as sepsis.
- Blood vessel damage: Not only does this type of injury damage the brain, but it also damages the blood vessels that carry oxygen and blood to the brain. Blood vessel damage can increase the risk of stroke, blood clots, and other potentially fatal issues.
- Headaches: One of the most common complaints from patients who have suffered a brain injury is headaches, which can begin occurring early into the injury and can linger for months or more.
Signs You Might Have a Traumatic Brain Injury
Sometimes traumatic brain injuries may not be readily apparent. Victims of TBIs may feel fine initially or only slightly rattled, but these injuries can escalate quickly or over time if left untreated. It's essential that you get medical treatment if you've suffered any type of impact to the head. If you forgo treatment because you feel fine immediately following an accident, you should remain vigilant about your health. Seek medical attention if you notice any of these signs or symptoms of traumatic brain injury:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Fatigue or drowsiness
- Problems with speech/slurred speech
- Dizziness, loss of balance, disorientation, or loss of coordination
- Memory problems
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sudden mood changes
- Shifts in behavior
- Trouble sleeping
- Sleeping more than usual
- Feelings of depression or anxiety
- Light or sound sensitivity
- Blurred vision, ringing ears, a bad taste in the mouth or changes in ability to smell
- Loss of consciousness
- Convulsions or seizures
- Dilated pupils
- Clear fluids draining from the nose or ears
- Weakness/numbness in fingers and toes
The Cost of Traumatic Brain Injuries
The lifetime medical care involved in treating a brain injury and associated complications can cost an individual between $85,000 to $3 million. This expensive care grows more difficult to access because many people cannot return to work and continue earning an income after a brain injury.
This loss of income, combined with the expenses of medical care, often has a spiral effect on the injured individual's life and the lives of his or her loved ones.
An estimated 53 percent of the nation's homeless population is living with traumatic brain injuries. While the often-harsh conditions of homelessness in Boston and other parts of the country are the cause of many of these individuals' injuries, for others, the injury itself was the catalyst for homelessness.
The Impacts Associated With Boston Brain Injuries
Brain injuries impact every facet of the injured person's life, including:
- At home: Family members generally find dramatic changes in their relationship with the injured person. Spouses and children often find themselves becoming caregivers. They often suffer a loss of consortium after the accident, which is a loss of physical intimacy and companionship commonly experienced after a serious injury.
- At work: As stated, many people with brain injuries cannot return to work at all following their injury. Those who can continue earning an income are often must accommodate the injury, including with shorter workdays, fewer workdays, and lighter workloads.
- At school: Contrary to popular belief, children fare no better following a brain injury than adults do. However, depending on where the child is in his or her development when the injury occurs, it may take years to understand the full impacts of the child's injury. As with adults in the workplace, children who suffer brain injuries often need accommodations to manage the workload. In addition to fewer and shorter school days, these accommodations can include the provision of a paraprofessional to help the child remain organized and to help control emotions and behaviors. Other assistance provided to brain-injured students include alternative testing methods, recording lessons to assist with memory deficits, and focusing more on the child completing a task at all rather than completing it perfectly.
- In society: Individuals with brain injuries often find that they have little in common with the individuals they shared friendships and hobbies with before the accident. Additionally, the behavioral and impulse control issues that tend to accompany this type of injury can keep the injured person and his or her family from participating in public activities. It is not unusual to hear the family members of an individual with a brain injury state that no one understands what they are going through.
Recovering Damages for Your Boston Brain Injury
Those who have suffered a brain injury may obtain compensation for the expenses and impacts to their life through a lawsuit filed in civil court within three years after the injury.
The lawsuit seeks to satisfy two objectives:
- To determine who is liable (legally responsible) for the accident that caused the injury.
- To determine the cost of the expenses and quality-of-life impacts that the injury has created.
To try to prove liability in your case, you must establish these elements:
- The at-fault party owed you a duty of care. The duty of care that one individual owes to another depends on the activity that is taking place and each party's role in that activity. For example, the duty of care that a motorist owes to others on the roadway is to operate his or her vehicle safely and legally. In general, the duty of care is described as the way a reasonable person would act in similar circumstances.
- There was a breach in the duty of care. The breach refers to the actions that the at-fault party took that were contrary to the duty of care that was owed. Using the example of the motorist's duty of care, risky driving behaviors such as alcohol impairment, speeding, or failure to yield would be considered a breach of the duty to operate one's vehicle safely and legally.
- This breach resulted in the accident that caused you to suffer a traumatic brain injury, along with subsequent expenses and impacts on your quality of life.
Frequently Asked Questions About Boston Traumatic Brain Injuries
Traumatic brain injuries are one of the most serious injuries an individual can suffer, often resulting in permanent disability, complications that require medical treatment long after the onset of the injury, and even death. If you or your loved one were hurt by this type of injury, read on for the answers to some of the questions our Boston clients most frequently ask about brain injuries and the process of pursuing compensation through a lawsuit. For more specific information about your legal options, contact Dolman Law Group today for a free consultation.
How Common Are Boston Traumatic Brain Injuries?
As reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), traumatic brain injuries are a major cause of death and disability in the U.S.—where an average of 155 people die each day from injuries that include traumatic brain injuries, and around 288,000 people are hospitalized with brain injuries each year.
What Factors Determine the Severity of a Brain Injury?
Individuals who have suffered a brain injury often have the severity of that injury tested through the Glasgow Coma Scale. This test, administered by a health care provider, is generally performed when the individual arrives at the hospital for treatment of the injury and will also usually be performed again after 24 hours.
Some of the features of a severe traumatic brain injury include:
- Unconsciousness lasting more than 24 hours, which is known as a coma.
- No response, or a reduced response to stimuli.
- The ability to see the injury on imaging scans.
Severe brain injuries often result in rigidity in muscle tone, difficulties with autonomic functions such as respiration, and fluid buildup on the brain.
My Physician Has Ordered Rehabilitation for Me Following My Traumatic Brain Injury. What does Rehabilitation Involve?
Rehabilitation is a crucial aspect of the injured person's ability to recover functions and the ability to learn new strategies for accomplishing tasks that the disability makes difficult. Rehabilitation after a brain injury increases the independence and mobility of the injured person to allow fuller participation in the workplace, at home, and in society.
One type of rehabilitation is occupational therapy, which aims to reintegrate victims into society. It begins with an analysis of the patient's abilities, including:
- Self-care: Can the individual handle personal hygiene, toileting, and other self-care needs on his or her own?
- Home management: Can the individual keep his or her living space clean and properly maintained?
- Rest and sleep habits: Can the individual adequately respond to the body's need for sleep?
- Work demands: Can the individual complete tasks that were within the normal scope of his or her employment before the accident? If not, can that individual master tasks applicable to a different occupation?
- Leisure: Can the individual participate in activities he or she used to enjoy?
What Are Damages in Boston Traumatic Brain Injury Cases?
The legal term “damage” refers to a payment for harm done. Massachusetts allows those who have suffered an injury to claim both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are for out-of-pocket expenses incurred due to the injury. Non-economic damages refer to payment made for quality-of-life impacts suffered because of the injury.
What Are Examples of Some of the Costs and Impacts I Could Include in My Boston Traumatic Brain Injury Claim?
Examples of costs commonly mentioned in economic damage claims include:
- Medical expenses, including those associated with emergency medical treatment either in the emergency department or at the accident scene; transport from the accident scene to the hospital via ambulance or air; diagnostic testing; hospitalization; surgical and physician services; prescription medications; physical therapy and rehabilitation.
- The cost of assistive devices, such as a wheelchair or crutches, and home modifications that are necessary to accommodate the injury.
- Lost wages as a result of being too injured to work.
- Loss of future earning capacity if the deficits created by the injury render you unable to return to the job you previously held or to earn in the same capacity as you did before the accident.
- The cost of repairing or replacing property that the accident damaged, such as a car.
The quality-of-life impacts that are often included in non-economic damage claims include:
- Physical pain and suffering.
- Emotional distress.
- Loss of the enjoyment of life.
- Loss of consortium.
Should I Pursue Compensation for the Brain Injury I Suffered in a Car Accident Through My Pip Policy?
Pursuing compensation through your PIP policy would often be the first resource for an individual who suffered an injury in an accident. However, the state allows those who have incurred at least $2,000 in medical expenses and/or the injury meets the state's serious injury threshold to step beyond the PIP claim. They can pursue the recovery of damages through a Boston traumatic brain injury lawsuit, which allows more damage categories for compensation.
What Is the Average Traumatic Brain Injury Settlement in Boston?
Because case values and settlements are based on the unique aspects of an individual case, there really is no “average” settlement.
However, these factors that could affect the amount of compensation you obtain:
- How much insurance the at-fault party has. Insurance pays most Boston traumatic brain injury settlements. While it is possible to sue an uninsured person and even obtain a judgment in your favor, most individuals can't afford to pay for someone else's brain injury expenses out of pocket. A good traumatic brain injury lawyer will look for all sources of compensation to ensure you get all the compensation possible under the law.
- The clarity of liability. Accidents often do not involve the errors or actions of just one person. As long as you are no more than 50 percent responsible for the accident that caused your injuries, you may file a Boston traumatic brain injury lawsuit against other at-fault parties. However, your own liability would reduce the amount of compensation you could pursue.
- The severity of your injury. Brain injuries very often result in permanent deficits. The more severe the injury and the more pronounced those deficits are, the higher your expenses will be and the more non-economic damages you might recover.
- Your level of patience. While you will likely receive a settlement offer fairly early in the claims process, receiving a settlement offer that is remotely close to the value of your case often takes time and negotiation. The insurance company may wait until the last moment to make their best offer. This could be just before trial begins or even after it has begun but before a verdict.
What Is Post-Concussive Syndrome, and How do I Know If I Have It?
For most people, the symptoms of a concussion go away within a few weeks. However, for reasons that experts do not completely understand, some individuals have concussion symptoms that last for longer, sometimes even more than a year after the injury. Some of the most common symptoms suffered by those who have acquired post-concussive syndrome are headache, dizziness, and sleep problems. Other symptoms can include memory loss, depression, ringing in the ears, and sensitivity to noise and light.
Women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with post-concussive syndrome, and the condition often afflicts individuals who are over the age of 40 at the time of their injury. Those who have been previously diagnosed with psychological conditions such as depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder are also more likely to suffer from lingering concussion symptoms.
How Is a Boston Brain Injury Case Valued?
Here's how traumatic brain injury cases are valued:
- All of your out-of-pocket expenses related to the injury are added up to form your economic damage claim.
- Your lawyer will negotiate your non-economic damages. The more severe your injuries, the more you may recover.
- The economic and non-economic damage totals are then added together to create the case value.
Non-economic damages are more complicated to quantify because they are intangible and not directly tied to finances; however, your lawyer will have the necessary tools to calculate them.
Your traumatic brain injury attorney will assess the severity of your injuries, the impact the injuries have had on your life thus far, expert testimony detailing the impact the injuries are likely to have on your future, and previous cases for similar injuries to assist them in valuing your non-economic damages.
For more specific information and guidance, contact Dolman Law Group today.
My Spouse Died Because of a Brain Injury Caused By Someone Else. Can I File a Boston Traumatic Brain Injury Claim?
Through Massachusetts's wrongful death laws, you could benefit from a wrongful death claim filed by the executor or administrator of your spouse's estate. Like Boston traumatic brain injury cases, plaintiffs file this legal claim in civil court.
Some of the damages that plaintiffs recover through this type of claim include:
- The value of the income the deceased could have reasonably been expected to earn throughout his or her lifetime had he or she survived the accident.
- The value of the care, comfort, companionship, guidance, counsel, and advice that the deceased provided to family members.
- Reasonable funeral and burial or cremation expenses.
What Happens If I Was Partially Responsible for the Accident That Caused My Boston Traumatic Brain Injury?
Massachusetts uses the modified comparative negligence rule when providing compensation to personal injury victims. Per Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 231, Section 85, if you are found to be 50% or less responsible for the accident that resulted in your TBI, you can collect compensation from the other at-fault party. A finding of negligence that renders you more than 50% responsible for your own injuries will leave you unable to collect compensation under the law.
For this reason, the importance of contacting a qualified accident injury lawyer in Boston cannot be overstated. A thorough investigation into the facts of your brain injury and the cause must be performed to determine fault. Even if you felt that you contributed to your accident, do not admit or assume you are to blame.
Instead, call us. Maybe you're not responsible, and the insurance company or someone else blames you to reduce their liability. Don't let them talk you out of calling a lawyer and seeking the compensation you really deserve.
Is My Boston Brain Injury Award Taxable?
For the most part, no. The Internal Revenue Service doesn't consider settlements and awards income and does not tax them. The exception is punitive damages, which generally do not reflect an expense or impact of an injury but instead punish a defendant for particularly reckless behavior. Because these damages don't reimburse someone for an injury, the IRS considers them income and subjects them to tax.
If you claim your medical expenses as an itemized deduction and then later receive a damage award that includes medical expenses, you will need to pay back the amount of the deduction you took.
Why Do I Need a Boston Traumatic Brain Injury Attorney? Wouldn't It Be Cheaper and Easier for Me to Just File My Claim on My Own?
No. Attorneys provide many services to pursue compensation to pay for the expenses and impacts of your injury. Many of these services could be very difficult for you to perform on your own without extensive legal training and a deep understanding of the many issues that are commonly confronted by those who are living with traumatic brain injuries.
Contact a Boston Traumatic Brain Injury Attorney Today
To ensure that anyone who needs legal assistance can afford it, our Boston personal injury attorneys provide two special services:
- Free case evaluation: This is a time for you to meet with the attorney and obtain guidance about your legal options, receive answers to questions about your specific case, and to learn more about the attorney and the firm. There is no obligation to hire an attorney who evaluates your case.
- Contingent-fee payments: This is a payment method in which you owe nothing for your lawyer's services until there is an outcome to your case.
Call Our Boston Traumatic Brain Injury Lawyers to Help You Now
Let the Boston traumatic brain injury lawyers at Dolman Law Group help you to understand the process of filing a compensation claim. For your free case evaluation, you can call Dolman Law Group today.
Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
76 Canal Street, Suite 302
Boston, MA 02114