The brain is probably the most important organ in the human body, and any injury can seriously disrupt your life. Composed of two hemispheres, the brain controls most functions of the body and is central to regulating mood and engaging in logical reasoning. After a brain injury, many victims report never being the same.
If you have suffered a brain injury, you might be able to receive compensation, but you need qualified legal counsel by your side. At Sibley Dolman, our North Miami Beach Brain Injury Lawyers have represented clients suffering some of the worst brain injuries in the North Miami Beach area.
Brain Injury Accidents
There are many types of brain injuries, but they all have something in common – they disrupt your brain’s normal functioning. Typically, brain accidents are caused by traumatic or non-traumatic episodes:
- A traumatic brain injury is caused by an external physical force. Think car accidents that shake a person’s head, hard hits in football, or smacking your head after falling in your home. It is a common misconception that your head must be hit to suffer a brain injury. In fact, any blow that causes your brain to move around can result in a traumatic brain injury.
- A non-traumatic brain injury can be caused by infection, genetics, stroke, or illness. However, we tend to see clients whose brain suffered injury because of oxygen deprivation. The brain needs oxygen to work properly, and oxygen deprivation can kill brain cells permanently. Compromised births, near-drowning accidents, and medical malpractice cases are some of the more common causes of anoxic brain injuries.
If you think that you have suffered a brain injury, you should write down what you think happened and consult with an attorney. There is no “typical” cause of brain injuries.
Symptoms of a Concussion
A concussion is a relatively mild traumatic brain injury. Concussions have been in the news lately because of injuries to professional athletes – in particular, football and ice hockey players. Any blow to your body or head can cause a concussion when it shakes your brain. Recent research from Stanford University has shown that parts of the brain move at different speeds after trauma, which leads to tears and chemical changes that affect how the brain functions.
If you’ve suffered a blow, you should look for the following concussion symptoms:
- Passing out for several seconds
- Headaches that don’t go away
- Stiffness in your neck and shoulders
- Loss of balance
- Changes in your sleep patterns (such as sleeping too much or being unable to sleep)
- Increased sensitivity to noise, light, or other stimuli
- Trouble thinking
- Double vision
It might take up to 24 hours for these symptoms to manifest themselves, so do not assume you are okay if you do not immediately feel anything. Instead, go to the doctor or hospital and explain what happened. Your doctor can monitor your situation. Mild concussions can clear up in a few weeks with rest and over-the-counter medication to manage pain, but pay attention if symptoms worsen.
Symptoms of More Severe Brain Injuries
Moderate and severe brain injuries like brain contusions or coup-contrecoup injuries have similar symptoms as concussions, though they might be more intense and last longer. For example, you might experience:
- Extended loss of consciousness, for hours or days
- Pupil dilation
- Lack of coordination
- Pronounced confusion or disorientation
- Changed behavior, such as increased aggression
- Difficulty talking clearly
- Weakness in extremities
More severe concussions can take a long time to heal, and some victims never regain their former functioning. For example, someone with a brain injury might never speak as fluently as they used to or be as mobile as they once were. Nevertheless, with adequate support and rehabilitation, many brain injury victims can regain independence and improve their quality of life. Everything depends on the severity of the brain injury and its location, as well as your age and overall general health.
Consequences of a Traumatic Brain Injury
Suffering a brain injury is always a serious matter. Any damage no matter how small to what is arguably the most important organ of your body can have dire consequences. Even traumatic brain injuries like concussions that tend to heal on their own with time can potentially have long-term consequences that can negatively affect someone’s life. For example, a concussion on its own is usually not too terrible of an injury since it typically does not require direct treatment since it heals on its own over time. However, repeated concussions run the risk of causing second impact syndrome or chronic traumatic encephalopathy which are severe complications that cause immense brain damage that not only is debilitating but often irreversible.
The brain is an incredibly complex organ that we have yet to fully stand and because of this, medicine for treating brain injuries is very limited in its effectiveness. Traumatic brain injuries are well known for how they can cause cognitive issues amongst those that suffer them. These cognitive issues surface as the debilitating symptoms mentioned before that can interfere with a person’s everyday life in a number of ways. A person can easily lose their job and even their entire career because of these symptoms which naturally results in massive economic damages. Relationships with friends as well as family can deteriorate because of things like personality changes, mood swings, and mental illnesses caused by brain damage. Additionally, there is a high rate of development of mental illnesses like depression and PTSD after someone suffers a traumatic brain injury. The reality of confronting such an injury can prove to much for some people and they begin to develop these psychological problems.
Recovery After a Traumatic Brain Injury
There is also the overwhelming cost of any treatment for traumatic brain injuries and the management of their symptoms. There are drugs and therapies that can help to roll back a measure of the damage done and help to manage the symptoms caused by brain damage but the effectiveness of these treatments are limited and often costly. Due to the permanence of these debilitating injuries, the recurring costs of these treatments can continually put a strain on someone’s finances. There is hope for a measure of recovery after a traumatic brain injury with the assistance of s number of rehabilitative processes.
Receiving Compensation for Your Injuries
If someone’s negligent or wrongful act caused your brain injury, you might be able to sue them for financial compensation. Our clients have received money (called “damages”) for the following losses:
- Medical care, including ongoing medical care if necessary
- Lost wages, including lost future wages if the victim cannot return to work
- Property damage, if their vehicle or other property was damaged in the accident
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress and mental anguish
- Loss of consortium for the loss of care, guidance, instruction, and sexual intimacy with their spouse
Not every client receives all of the above damages, so it is vital to meet with a brain injury attorney who can perform an individualized case review.
To prevail, you must show that someone else was responsible. This might require showing that a driver was reckless, aggressive, or negligent. Or it might involve showing that a hotel or motel failed to provide adequate security, which led you to be attacked by a criminal. Because each case is different you need someone with experience in brain injuries to analyze whether you can bring a lawsuit.
Building an Effective Case
The claims process for brain injury victims is long and confusing. Many victims give up, unable to figure out what steps to take to get the compensation they need when they suffer an injury through no fault of their own. To make the process as simple as possible, you should hire a qualified attorney to help you with the following:
- Investigate the case. You need evidence of wrongdoing in order to receive compensation.
- Negotiate with the defendant or their insurer. Negotiations are complicated and high-stakes, and you should not handle them alone. Insurance companies are very experienced and know how to use the law to their advantage.
- File a lawsuit if negotiations break down. The Florida court system is daunting, and an experienced lawyer can shepherd your case to trial if necessary.
North Miami Beach Brain Injury FAQ
Different accidents can lead to brain injuries. Some events might not seem severe, but the unseen damage could have lasting consequences. If you or a loved one suspects a possible brain injury, do not hesitate to see a doctor. The symptoms can worsen if you do not treat them.
After a trip to a North Miami Beach hospital, you might find yourself with a significant hospital bill. You have to take time off of work for a while to heal as well.
Not all brain injury accidents are clear, and you could have a few questions. You should consult a lawyer to get the answers you need.
What Are the Types of Brain Injury?
The most common type of brain injury is a traumatic brain injury. Some people refer to it as a concussion, and the condition can affect daily activities to various degrees. A blow or jolt to the head can cause the brain to hit against the skull. In some cases, skull fractures accompany traumatic brain injuries.
Another category of brain injury is a hematoma. Hematoma occurs when blood collects in the brain after a blood vessel ruptures. The location of the bleeding can determine what type a person has. You could get a hematoma from a blow to the head after a fall.
Any type of brain injury can result in edema. Edema is the swelling of surrounding tissues, and the condition poses a problem due to the limited room in the skull.
Lastly, a diffuse axonal injury does not involve any bleeding. However, your brain cells do receive damage. The cells cannot perform certain functions, and swelling can occur.
What Are the Causes of a Brain Injury?
One way someone can get a brain injury is by falling. They could slip off a ladder or trip down the stairs. A few people have slipped in the bathtub and hit their heads on the ground. In the workplace, slips and falls happen frequently. Some falls are purely accidental, and others are the result of another person’s negligence.
Violent acts can lead to a brain injury. Blunt force trauma to the head has a high risk of brain injury. The perpetrator may have hit the victim with a blunt instrument. Even gunshot wounds can be a leading factor.
High-impact sports can lead to various injuries. Multiple activities use head and mouth gear to protect the players. However, people still may need to see a doctor after a tackle or rough shove. Boxing requires a person to engage in physical contact to hurt one’s opponent. Basketball players face the risk of the ball striking their head.
In many car accident cases, people had to undergo treatment for a traumatic brain injury. The sudden movement from a crash can be enough to harm the brain. Low-speeds can pose a risk as well.
Motorcycle accidents tend to see diagnoses of brain injuries. While helmets significantly reduce the chance of one, some victims still suffer from symptoms. Pedestrians are highly vulnerable since they do not have a vehicle or helmet to offer some protection.
What Part of the Brain Is the Most Vulnerable?
The brain has different layers of protection, and the primary defense is the skull. Of course, multiple membranes surround the brain. Nevertheless, the organ is susceptible to the impact of external forces. Specific areas are more at risk of damage than others.
The frontal lobes have a high degree of vulnerability since they are in front of the cranium. Their large size also influences the risk of damage. People take an injury to the frontal lobes seriously since the area controls emotion, motor function, judgment, and other necessary functions.
Healthcare professionals recommend immediate care to avoid a lowered quality of life.
What Are the Brain Injury Statistics?
A CDC report shows how prevalent a traumatic brain injury is in the United States. An estimated 1.5 million people get a traumatic brain injury every year. Around 230,000 people go to the hospital to recover, and roughly 50,000 cases become fatal.
Many people suffer from long-term effects. Falls and car collisions make up the majority of cases of traumatic brain injuries. The economic burden can be up to as much as $37.8 billion a year. The total cost includes medical care, loss of work, and disability.
In the past few decades, the rates of hospitalization and death have declined.
Who Is More at Risk?
Anyone can sustain a brain injury, but children, young adults, and adults over 75 in North Miami Beach have a higher risk. With older adults, doctors might misdiagnose their condition. The symptoms could overlap with other medical conditions. Younger children and older adults are vulnerable to falls.
Men are more likely to suffer from a traumatic brain injury than women. Young adult men tend to work in physically-demand jobs like construction. A significant portion of brain injuries occurs in rural areas.
Another at-risk group is service members and veterans. Thousands receive a brain injury diagnosis annually, and 80 percent are a result of an accident.
People with lower income are more likely to suffer from the long-term effects. They may struggle financially for therapy and other medical services for traumatic brain injury treatment.
Does a Brain Injury Have Lasting Effects?
The road to recovery can take a while, and traumatic brain injuries can leave people with lasting effects. The CDC conducted research and found how 50 percent of people experience a decline in their daily lives. Within five years, 30 percent of patients reported their symptoms had worsened.
Only 22 percent reported their condition stayed the same, and another 22 percent of cases resulted in death. One of the long-term effects is the significantly increased risk of a seizure. People with a traumatic brain injury have a higher chance of developing infections.
In some cases, a person has a fractured skull. Bacteria can enter through the damaged protective tissue and cause an infection. People with a traumatic brain injury face an increased risk of pneumonia as well.
Other complications include frequent headaches, vertigo, and damage to blood vessels in the brain. Traumatic brain injuries can lead to further damage, such as a stroke or edema. Around 57 percent of people suffer from disabilities within five years after an accident.
When Should You Go See a Doctor?
After an accident, you should see a North Miami Beach doctor right away to rule out the possibility of a traumatic brain injury. Many people do not think they have any further harm beyond visible wounds. Seek help once symptoms manifest if you do not see a healthcare provider for a head injury after an accident.
Look out for dizziness, nausea, fatigue, headaches, and speech issues. Some people become sensitive to light and experience blurred vision. A victim of an accident should seek medical attention if they start to have trouble sleeping.
Concentration issues and a brief loss of consciousness are symptoms as well. You could have a severe case if you suffer from a loss of coordination or slurred speech. People need to keep an eye on injured children.
A person should take their child to the clinic if they show signs of persistent crying or drowsiness. Some young children will display a lack of interest in favorite toys or activities. The symptoms could stay the same or worsen if you delay medical care.
Who Is Liable for a Brain Injury?
The negligent party depends on the circumstances of the brain injury. In cases of slip and falls, a worker or manager should have kept the area free of any spills or debris. Wet floor signs should be placed next to a recently mopped or wet spot.
On construction sites, the place should have fall protection in place when people work above the ground. You could sustain a brain injury on someone else’s property. Property owners need to keep the site maintained, especially when many people visit.
The perpetrator is the main liable party in cases of violent acts. However, you could sue the property manager for poor security in a few cases. To be negligent, the manager should have known about the criminal activity around the area but failed to implement proper measures.
A motorist may be liable if they violated Florida traffic laws and caused an accident. The root of the negligence could have been a distraction or rushing through a red light.
You can even hold a product manufacturer responsible for your brain injury. For example, airbags automatically deploy when you crash into an object with enough force. You might have hit your head against the steering wheel or dashboard if the airbag failed to work.
Many people admit to negligence, and you only need to worry about settlement negotiations. However, some parties deny liability. As a result, you likely need a lawyer to prove your claim.
When Can You Go Back to Work?
One downside of the recovery period is missing workdays. Some people want to continue their jobs as soon as possible to bring in more wages. After a bit of time, you might feel like you are ready to return for another shift.
The amount of time it takes to go back to work depends on the speed of your recovery. Around 40 percent of people with a traumatic brain injury can safely return after a year. Another 40.8 percent need two years. You might need to take several months off of work or a year.
You should speak with your doctor to know when you can begin working again. You can come up with a plan together. The best course of action is to go back gradually. Perhaps, you only work a few days a week for a while.
The workload should start light, and multiple breaks are necessary. Some people still feel the effects of their brain injury. You have to find what pace works best for you.
What Are Informal Settlements and Formal Lawsuits?
When you make a claim, the process can end in an informal settlement or become a formal lawsuit. Like a majority of claims, your case most likely will have an informal settlement. The mediation occurs outside of court, and you do not have to go to trial.
Both parties can reach an agreement and consent to forgo further legal action. Informal settlements are ideal when you need to get the money as soon as possible. They make the lawsuit process faster and are cost-effective.
Your case could end up becoming a formal lawsuit instead. A formal lawsuit is when you file a formal complaint in a civil court of law. Then, the judge hears both sides give facts in a trial and makes the final verdict.
Your claim could take longer, but you have the potential to get more money in compensation. A small percentage of cases go to trial. The outcome is less predictable than the one for an informal settlement.
Is a Settlement Taxable?
In general, the federal IRS and Florida do not tax the compensation for a personal injury. The only type of settlement you need to pay taxes on is punitive damages. Tax laws exclude damages, but the damages need to relate to physical injuries. If emotional distress caused you to lose income, you have to pay taxes on your reimbursement.
Since many of your damages stem from a brain injury, you do not have to pay taxes on the money. Still, the IRS may try to find other ways around the tax law. If you get a high-value lump sum, you could find yourself in a higher tax bracket.
What Is the Statute of Limitations?
The deadline for a brain injury claim depends on the statute of limitations of your state. Some places set it at three years, and others give people two years to file a lawsuit. North Miami Beach residents have four years to make a claim.
Some situations allow for an extension to the deadline. For example, you might not have discovered your brain injury until the symptoms manifested days or weeks later. Other exceptions can affect how long you have.
When you speak with an attorney, ask them how the statute of limitations affects your case.
Speak with a Brain Injury Lawyer in North Miami Beach
Brain injury victims potentially face years of rehabilitation to regain functioning and mobility, all of which is expensive. At Sibley Dolman, we have built our reputation obtaining favorable awards and settlements for our clients thanks to our dedication and client-centered approach. To schedule a free consultation with one of our brain injury attorneys, please call (305)-676-8154 or fill out our contact form.
Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
1820 NE 163rd St #306,
North Miami Beach, FL 33162