Nowadays on a typical Saturday night in Fort Lauderdale, doctors brace themselves to treat individuals with brain injuries incurred on e-scooters.
These injuries have tripled in the past decade since electric scooters became widely available for untrained tourists and locals to rent around the city.
An emergency physician at Broward Health Medical Center explains that head injuries are common, and often severe, as many individuals who ride e-scooters do not wear helmets when accidents occur, causing their heads to make direct contact with the pavement. Florida's laws about e-scooters only require that riders are at least 16 years old; helmets are optional. Researchers who study emergency department data related to e-scooter riders have discovered that approximately one-third of all admitted riders had suffered head injuries.
In addition to riding scooters, many other accidents can result in Fort Lauderdale brain injuries. Read on for more information about brain injuries, their causes, and how to seek compensation for your brain injury with help from our Fort Lauderdale brain injury attorneys' at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, and Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA.
What Is a Traumatic Brain Injury?
The brain is a complex organ that, along with the spine, makes up the body's central nervous system. The central nervous system acts as a message center for the body, delivering impulses that control movement of the limbs and providing the ability to speak and respond to spoken language, to recall events, and to engage in life-saving involuntary responses.
A violent jolt or blow to the head or body causes a traumatic brain injury. While some traumatic brain injuries involve penetration of an object through the protective shell of the skull into the brain itself, others are known as closed head injuries and consist of damage contained within the skull.
The brain has limited ability to heal itself, resulting in deficits to a person's abilities that are often permanent. The type of deficits that a brain-injured individual will incur depends not only on the severity of the injury, but also on the side and portion of the brain in which the damage occurred. The brain contains several sections, known as lobes, which control different functions of the body.
The sections are as follows:
- Frontal lobe: The frontal lobe, located in the front area of the brain, is responsible for many of the body's functions, including attention, concentration, self-monitoring, organization, the ability to speak, motor planning and initiation, self-awareness, personality, emotions, and the ability to problem-solve. Injuries to the frontal lobe can cause deficits, such as the ability to control emotions, impulses, and behavior, difficulty recalling events, and difficulty speaking.
- Occipital lobe: The occipital lobe serves to help in controlling visual perception. An injury to this portion of the brain can result in difficulty seeing and perceiving the size and shape of objects.
- Parietal lobe: The parietal lobe controls a person's ability to identify sizes, shapes, and colors, as well as depth perception, visual perception, and sense of touch. A person suffering an injury to this part of the brain will often have difficulties with the five primary senses of sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing.
- Temporal lobe: The temporal lobe controls functions like memory, the ability to understand language, sequencing, hearing, and organization. Injuries to the temporal lobe often result in difficulty with communication or memory.
- Cerebellum: The cerebellum controls functions like skilled motor activity, balance, coordination, and visual perception. Individuals who suffer injuries to the cerebellum may have trouble with balanced and coordinated movement.
- Brain stem: The brain stem is responsible for the body's involuntary responses, such as the sleep/wake cycle, breathing, and heart rate. Damage to this area of the brain is catastrophic, as it may mean that the individual cannot survive without mechanical assistance to control those functions.
The side of the brain on which the injury occurred also plays a role in the type of deficits the individual will suffer.
The right brain not only controls the left side of the body, but also produces such traits as creativity, imagination, and figurative thinking. Damage to the right side of the brain can result in visual memory deficits, altered creativity, the loss of “big picture” thinking, and loss of control of movements on the left side of the body.
The left brain controls the right side of the body and is responsible for traits such as organization, logic, the ability to analyze, and literal thinking. Damage to this side of the brain can result in difficulties speaking and understanding spoken language, catastrophic reactions (such as depression or anxiety), impaired logic, and decreased ability to control the movements of the right side of the body.
Severe brain injuries can result in loss of consciousness extending more than 24 hours. This loss of consciousness may result in a consciousness disorder, such as a vegetative state, minimal consciousness, or even brain death in which all functions of the brain, including the brain stem, have ceased.
Causes of Fort Lauderdale Brain Injuries
Brain injuries are caused by many different things, including:
- Falls: Falls are most common in young children and elderly adults. Falls are the leading cause of emergency department visits in the U.S., with approximately 8 million visits each year, and are among the most serious causes of workplace injuries in the construction industry. Falls can occur from elevation, such as when a person falls down the stairs or from a raised elevation as the result of faulty or missing handrails, or recreational accidents, such as falling from a horse. Falls can also occur on the same level, as the result of slipping on ice or debris.
- Motor vehicle accidents: One of the leading causes of accidental death and injury in teens and adults, motor vehicle accidents also account for a large percentage of the brain injuries suffered in the U.S. Motor vehicle accidents may involve passenger cars, commercial trucks, motorcycles, electric scooters, bicycles, aircraft, watercraft, and/or pedestrians.
- Violence: Some examples of violent acts include gunshots, assault, domestic violence, and child abuse.
- Sports: Contact sports, such as football and rugby, pose a high risk of traumatic brain injuries, as do extreme sports, such as diving and surfing. Unfortunately, sports are a common cause of brain injuries in young people.
- Explosive blasts: Military members on deployment may acquire brain injuries as a result of explosive blasts, which are believed to cause a pressure wave that impacts the brain's function.
Men are far more likely than women to suffer from brain injuries. Others at high risk for this type of injury include very young children, elderly individuals who are prone to falling, and teens and young adults, as they have the highest risk of being involved in a motor vehicle accident.
What Complications May Arise as a Result of a Brain Injury?
Brain injuries are debilitating, not only for the deficits produced by the initial damage but also for the high propensity for complications.
Some complications that individuals suffering from brain injuries can experience include:
- Seizures, which are most prevalent in the early stages of recovery but can occur even several years after the injury takes place. Recurrent seizures that are a result of brain injuries are classified as post-traumatic epilepsy.
- Hydrocephalus, which is fluid build-up on the brain. This condition is caused by a collection of cerebrospinal fluid in the spaces in the brain and can result in increased pressure. Often, a shunt will be surgically placed to drain this excess fluid out of the brain and into other parts of the body to prevent further damage caused by the pressure.
- Infections: Penetrating head injuries pose a high risk of infections in the protective tissues around the brain. Fever is often the first sign of an infection after a brain injury, though fevers can also result from damage to a part of the brain that regulates body temperature.
- Damage to blood vessels: The brain is filled with both large and small blood vessels, each of which can be damaged as the result of traumatic brain injuries. These damaged vessels may result in blood clots or stroke.
- Blood clots: Clots resulting from damaged vessels in the brain are not the only risk for those suffering brain injuries. Because sufferers are often unconscious or cannot move for long periods of time, there is also a risk of blood clots forming in the deep veins of the legs, which is a condition known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). The most serious risk that this condition poses is that the clot will break free and travel through the bloodstream to the heart, where it can produce a life-threatening condition known as a pulmonary embolism.
- Headaches: It is not uncommon for individuals suffering from a brain injury to experience chronic, debilitating headaches. While these headaches are most common in the initial months of recovery, the condition can last for many months or even years.
- Heterotopic ossification: This condition causes new bones to develop after a brain injury. These bones often form in jointed areas, such as the shoulder or hip, and can result in pain, inflammation, and loss of the range of motion in the affected limb.
- An increased risk of developing serious disorders, such as Parkinson's disease or Alzheimer's.
The Costs of Brain Injuries
Because of the permanence of deficits caused by brain injuries and the high likelihood of complications resulting in the need for re-hospitalization even years after an injury has occurred, brain injuries are extraordinarily expensive. The lifetime medical costs of treating a brain injury range between $85,000 and $3 million.
Added to this high cost is the difficulty that brain-injured individuals have with returning to work. Around 60 percent of adults suffering a brain injury will be unemployed two years after the injury.
Beyond the expenses of medical treatment and lost wages, brain injuries affect every part of an individual's life, including:
- At home: The family members of individuals with brain injuries often face a total change in the relationship after an injury occurs. Children of the sufferer may find themselves forced to take on a caretaker role. Spouses may be confronted not only with the loss of companionship and intimacy caused by the injury, but also a change in lifestyle, as the result of the loss of the family's breadwinner. Family members often state that they feel like no one else understands what they are going through.
- In society: Brain-injured people often lose the ability to participate in activities that they previously enjoyed, resulting in the loss of friendships and social gatherings within their community. The inability to control impulses, emotions, and behavior that is experienced by many brain-injured individuals further creates a feeling of isolation for the injured person and his or her family.
- At work: Many people cannot work at the same jobs they had before their accidents. Individuals who do often find that they must make changes to their work schedule, including shorter days, longer or more frequent breaks, and more time to complete tasks. For those who can't return to their previous jobs, there are occupational therapies intended to train the individuals in other vocations that are more appropriate for their abilities. Some people can't work at all due to the severity of their injuries.
- At school: Like adults at work, children who suffer brain injuries often must have modifications to complete coursework. These modifications may include having a paraprofessional to assist with emotional, behavioral, and learning issues. The child may need shorter school days, frequent breaks, and increased time in which to complete tasks. He or she may need to take tests orally or through multiple-choice, rather than essay-format, and may need to have lessons recorded to be played back later, as his or her ability to remember the information may have been compromised.
Fort Lauderdale Brain Injury Frequently Asked Questions FAQs
Fort Lauderdale brings with it no shortage of sunshine or activities to enjoy, both indoors and out. However, despite all the wonderful things this part of the country provides, a person can sustain a serious injury in Fort Lauderdale in many ways. Brain injuries are among the most serious injuries that an individual can suffer, as they often result in permanent deficits, disability, and even death. Below we answer some of the questions that we hear most frequently from our Fort Lauderdale clients and prospective clients on the subject of brain injuries.
I feel like I am the only person in the world dealing with a brain injury. How common are these injuries?
As reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), brain injuries are a major cause of death and disability in the United States, resulting in more than 2.5 million visits to emergency departments each year. More than 50,000 people die of brain injuries each year, and 80,000 to 90,000 more will experience the onset of long term disability. An estimated 5.3 million people in the United States are currently living with a brain injury.
Will I ever fully recover from my brain injury?
The brain has limited ability to heal itself, and recovery is often a lifelong process that involves learning to live with and around the injury through the help of physical therapy and rehabilitation. While many people experience an increase in function in the early days, as swelling is relieved and bruising heals, there are often deficits to a person's ability to function that may prove permanent.
What is the average lifetime cost of a brain injury?
Brain injuries not only result in the need for acute care shortly after the accident occurs, but also in ongoing care to deal with the many complications that arise from this type of injury. The estimated lifetime costs of medical treatment after a brain injury is $85,000 to $3 million, depending on the severity of the injury and the number of complications.
Unfortunately, the costs of medical treatment are not the only expenses that brain-injured individuals face. Many also deal with lost wages due to the inability to work, and the loss of future earning capacity as a result of permanent disabilities. Around 60 percent of brain-injured adults are unemployed two years after the accident occurs. Many will require modifications to their homes or vehicles to accommodate disabilities caused by their injuries, and will find that every aspect of their lives has changed.
More than half of the nation's homeless population is living with deficits related to a brain injury. While some of these individuals did not suffer the injury until after they became homeless, many more are homeless as a result of the injury.
How do I obtain compensation for my brain injury?
Brain injuries are caused in many ways, including motor vehicle accidents, falls, sports, and violent acts. Many of these ways involve the carelessness or negligence of another person or entity. If your injury was caused by the actions of someone else, you can pursue compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. This is a civil claim in which you must prove that another party was liable for your injury and the resultant expenses.
Some of the expenses and life impacts that can be compensated through a personal injury lawsuit include:
- Medical treatment, including emergency treatment at the scene or the emergency department, transport to the hospital by ambulance or aircraft, diagnostic testing, physician services, surgical services, prescription medication, hospitalization, physical therapy, and rehabilitation
- Lost wages due to being too injured to work or required to miss work to attend an injury-related medical appointment
- Loss of future earning capacity if the injury no longer allows you to perform the same job that you had before the injury or renders you completely unable to work.
- Physical pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium, which is damage related to the loss of physical intimacy or companionship suffered by the person's spouse as a result of hormonal and other changes caused by the injury.
- Emotional distress
- Permanent disability
I had a motorcycle accident and wasn't wearing a helmet at the time. Will this prevent me from being compensated?
No, riding without a helmet won't prevent you from pursuing compensation. Florida law states that riders who are over the age of 21 are not required to wear motorcycle helmets as long as they have medical insurance policies of at least $10,000 that can cover their medical expenses in the event of a crash. However, even if there was a helmet law, and you were not wearing a helmet at the time of your injury, you would still be eligible to pursue compensation if your accident was caused by the recklessness or negligence of another person.
Will PIP cover the costs of my brain injury?
All individuals who register their vehicles in Florida are required to purchase a personal injury protection (PIP) policy of at least $10,000. This is coverage that will compensate you for medical expenses and lost wages after a motor vehicle accident, regardless of who was at fault.
Unfortunately, brain injuries often result in expenses far over the coverage limit of a PIP policy. This type of injury will often meet the serious injury threshold, allowing for the filing of a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party. Through a brain injury claim, you may also seek medical expenses and lost wages, as well as pain and suffering-type damages that are not available through your PIP coverage.
How do I prove that someone else was liable for my injury?
Your ability to pursue compensation for your brain injury through a personal injury lawsuit depends on your ability to prove that someone else was responsible for the accident that caused your injuries.
You can establish negligence in your case by proving the following elements:
- The at-fault party owed you a duty of care. This duty of care depends on the circumstances of your accident. For example, the duty of care that one driver would have for another in a car accident case would be to operate his or her motor vehicle safely and legally. In an accident involving a fall at a commercial business, the business owner's duty of care is to ensure that the property is safe for visitors.
- The at-fault party breached the duty of care. The breach also depends on the type of accident you experienced. This is the action that the individual or entity took (or didn't take) that resulted in the accident. For a car accident, the breach may be drunk driving or distracted driving. For a premises liability case, the breach may involve the manager of a retail business not cleaning up debris on the floor, for example.
- The breach caused your accident, which caused your brain injury and subsequent expenses.
If my brain injury occurred at work, should I file a brain injury lawsuit?
Most of the time, the state's workers' compensation program compensates individuals for on-the-job injuries, and employees who are injured during the normal scope of their employment are prohibited from filing a personal injury lawsuit against their employer or co-workers.
One exception regarding workplace injuries and personal injury lawsuits is if the accident that resulted in your brain injury was caused by a third party. An example of this would be a commercial driver who is involved in an accident during his or her job tasks. If another driver or other third party caused the accident, then you may file a personal injury lawsuit.
How much money should I expect to receive from my brain injury case?
There is no “average” settlement when it comes to personal injury cases. Even when you consider personal injury cases involving a brain injury, the costs incurred by the injured person can vary widely from case to case, depending on the severity of the injury, and other factors.
Some factors that influence the amount of money you may receive from a settlement in a personal injury case include:
- The amount of insurance coverage the at-fault party has. Insurance coverage is how most brain injury cases are settled. Although it is possible to file a lawsuit against an uninsured person, it will be very hard to collect that money, as the person likely doesn't have enough to pay for your damages out-of-pocket. Your attorney will look at the facts of your case thoroughly to determine all potentially liable parties and all available insurance resources.
- The severity of the injury. The more severe the brain injury, the more extensive the treatment will be. This will influence the value of your case not only in the amount of medical expenses you incur, but the amount of non-economic damages you suffer and the likelihood that you will suffer a permanent disability that will impair your ability to work.
- Your age and overall health at the time of the accident. If you had pre-existing injuries, the insurance provider for the at-fault party will likely seek to reduce the amount owed by stating that the impacts of your injuries were not caused by the actions of the at-fault party. Your age will affect the amount of damages claimed for loss of future earning capacity, as it is impossible to determine what a brain-injured child would have earned as an adult if he or she had not been injured, and someone who is retired or nearing retirement would not claim as large an amount of damages in this category.
- Your patience during the settlement process. Settlements often take much longer than any of us wish. It takes time for you to medically reach a point of recovery in which your doctors can say that any additional recovery is not likely. This is important information for your attorney when establishing the value of your case. Additionally, insurance companies are usually reluctant to offer large payouts right away, meaning your attorney will need to engage in ongoing negotiations. These negotiations may last all the way up to the point where the trial is about to begin, or even during the trial, before the jury reaches a verdict. Usually, the largest payout available in your case is only offered when the insurance company is faced with the expenses of the pending lawsuit and the likelihood of a verdict in your favor.
Do I need an attorney to help with my brain injury case or can I handle it on my own?
If you have suffered a brain injury in Fort Lauderdale as a result of someone else's actions, you absolutely need an attorney to provide guidance and skill. Often, brain-injured individuals will receive a quick, low-ball settlement very early after the accident. These settlements usually don't take into consideration the full picture of your injuries, including any complications you might suffer that will result in additional, costly medical treatments and the profound impacts that a brain injury can have on your life.
Individuals who accept these early settlements often realize later that there is not enough money to cover all of their expenses. An experienced brain injury attorney is aware of the costs and complications associated with this type of injury and will determine the value of your case based on the entirety of the costs and impacts you have incurred and will be likely to incur in the future.
Beyond the value of your case, your attorney provides knowledge of the law that will help you to avoid having your case dismissed because you filed in the wrong jurisdiction or because the statute of limitations has passed. Your attorney can guide you through the pros and cons of accepting a settlement offer, and knows the tactics insurance companies use to avoid paying for your injuries.
Let Our Fort Lauderdale Brain Injury Attorneys Help You
If you or your loved one has suffered a brain injury in Fort Lauderdale as a result of the careless or reckless actions of someone else, you can pursue compensation for your expenses through a brain injury lawsuit. Let our experienced Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyers help you understand this legal process. With offices across both Florida coasts, you can easily reach Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA at 833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH) or by contacting us online.
Fort Lauderdale Office
150 E Davie Blvd Suite 201-2
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316
Phone: (754) 208-1130
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