Brain injuries take place often enough in St. Petersburg that, despite our proximity to Tampa Bay, at least one local healthcare provider has its own dedicated brain injury unit. With the cost of treatment and rehabilitation from a brain injury ranging into the millions of dollars, survivors and their families could face financial ruin.
If you or a loved one suffered a TBI caused by someone else’s dangerous decisions or actions, however, you may have the right to receive substantial compensation for your injuries and losses. The Dolman Law Group and Sibley Dolman’s St. Petersburg brain injury lawyers represent brain injury victims and their families in legal actions seeking that compensation. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.
Dolman Law Group and Sibley Dolman’s Brain Injury Results
The Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, and Sibley Dolman Accident Injury Lawyers, LLP, are affiliated law firms with offices along Florida’s Atlantic and Gulf Coasts. Our St. Petersburg brain injury lawyers are both compassionate and experienced. We know that TBIs can cause both physical and emotional trauma—which can worsen if medical bills are piling up and the victim is experiencing difficulties. We will fight to see that justice is done.
Our dedication is shown by our results:
- We won $3.2 million in pre-trial mediation for a victim of a semi-truck accident that resulted in a brain injury.
- In another case, a client who received a mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) after an accident with a semi on I-275 in St. Petersburg received $1.75 million. Our discovery revealed that the truck was not maintained properly. The client retained another law firm before us, who received an offer of just $265,000.
- We won $750,000 in a TBI case where the client sustained injuries in a rear-end car collision. She began to show dizziness, irritability, confusion, and difficulty in work focus. Diagnostic tests revealed that she suffered a diffuse axonal injury, a type of TBI, as a result of the accident.
Who Is Responsible for My Brain Injury?
If someone else, either a person or an organization, was responsible for causing your brain injury, you may have a legal case against them.
The law turns on issues of negligence and liability. These issues are clearest when we see an example. Let’s say you are in a car accident. You stopped at a stop sign and another driver rear-ended you. The force caused the airbag to inflate which whipped your body back.
All drivers owe a duty of care to the public, consisting of driving safely and following all traffic regulations. The driver, by rear-ending you, clearly violated the duty of care, as stopping at a stop sign is the law. Because of the negligence, the driver is potentially liable for your injuries. Liability is the financial responsibility for injuries and other harm caused directly by the accident.
Some accidents and events might require investigation to determine issues of negligence. Suppose, for example, that the driver who rear-ended you swears up and down that he used the brakes, but they didn’t stop the car.
In that case, an investigation might prove that the brakes were defective. If they are, the manufacturer might bear liability. Why? Because manufacturers’ duty of care includes the safe manufacture of vehicles. Similarly, a car repair company is responsible for safe and competent repair.
The issues of negligence and liability apply to all accidents and events that could cause brain injury. If you slip on a wet floor at a store, the store owner could bear responsibility for the condition. If you suffer a sports injury, a school district and its employees may bear responsibility.
What Damages Can I Seek if I’ve Suffered a Brain Injury?
Liability results in financial payments for the effects of an injury or other harm. Those financial payments are referred to as damage compensation by legal firms.
Under Florida law, brain injury victims can seek damage compensation in the following areas:
- Medical bills, both present and expected in the future – For hospitalization, emergency room visits and transport, surgery, diagnostic tests, doctor’s visits, prescription medication, assistive devices, doctor’s appointments, rehabilitative therapy, and more
- Wages lost from work – Compensation for wages lost from work due to the accident and your injuries
- Pain and suffering – Compensation for physical, emotional, and mental pain and suffering
Under No-Fault Car Insurance Laws
Florida follows a no-fault car insurance system. This means that, ordinarily, the issue of who is at fault for a car accident doesn’t matter, because all injured people must approach their own insurance companies for payment of medical bills and wages lost from work. (Pain and suffering damages aren’t covered under no-fault, and ordinarily victims can’t pursue them through no-fault claims.)
However, Florida does allow seriously injured people to pursue a brain injury claim if another party was at fault and their injuries include at least one of the following:
- Significant disfigurement
- Broken bone
- Permanent limitation of use of a body organ or member
- Significant limitation of use of a body function or system
- Substantially full disability for 90 days
If you suffered one of these injuries—and in many cases, a traumatic brain injury would qualify—you can seek the full range of damage compensation allowed.
What Causes Brain Injuries?
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), traumatic brain injury (TBI) is “a major cause of death and disability in the United States.” In one recent year, roughly 2.87 million emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and fatalities nationwide involved patients with TBIs.
These TBIs stem from many causes. The single most common cause is falls, according to the CDC. They’re responsible for nearly half of emergency room visits.
Falls occur for various reasons. People slip and fall on slick floors in shops, malls, restaurants, and more. Broken pavement or a missing manhole cover can result in serious falls. Falls are one of the most common accidents on worksites throughout the United States—common enough to constitute one of the Fatal Four in construction accidents, for example. Childhood accidents often involve falls: into empty swimming pools, out open windows, down stairs. The elderly can also easily fall down stairs and in bathrooms with slick floors, among other places.
The second most common cause of TBIs is vehicle accidents. One of the most common is vehicle accidents of all types: car, truck, motorcycle, pedestrian, and more.
Motorcycle accidents are particularly prone to cause brain injuries in St. Petersburg. Motorcyclists are relatively unprotected, even if they wear helmets, when you consider their exposure to the elements. An accident can easily cause them to be flung from the motorcycle. If they land on their heads, the risk of a TBI is very great, especially if great velocity is involved.
People in pedestrian accidents are also very unprotected—they are unlikely to wear any protective gear, such as helmets. If they are struck by a vehicle or other object, they can suffer severe injuries, including TBIs.
Accidents with commercial trucks are also likely to cause TBIs, simply because commercial trucks are much heavier than other vehicles on the road. A victim of a truck accident can receive the weight of 80,000 pounds, much more than a car.
But make no mistake, any type of vehicle accident can result in a TBI.
Sports injuries are another common cause of TBIs. An accident in a football scrimmage or a fall off a diving board are, unfortunately, all too commonly causes of brain injuries—which is one of the reasons that sports leagues like the National Football League (NFL) are so worried about concussions, a type of TBI.
But parents and players should know that football is by no means the only potential source of TBIs. Any game where players run the risk of an accident or injury involving the head and upper body can result in a TBI. Soccer, where players use their heads in play, is one potential culprit—but far from the only one.
But this brief overview of potential causes shouldn’t mislead anyone into believing that they are the only causes. TBIs can occur if victims receive a blow to the head, their head and neck are jostled, or their head is affected by an impact. TBIs result from the brain moving back and forth in the head or direct impact.
How Will I Know if I Sustained a Brain Injury?
Frankly, it’s often difficult to know if you have a TBI. TBIs can manifest with a very wide range of symptoms—but victims may also experience no symptoms at all. Diagnostic tests can reveal some TBIs, but it’s also possible for a victim’s TBI to go undetected.
Until you see a doctor—which is the best way to diagnose a TBI—you should learn the potential range of symptoms, so you can exercise vigilance if you suffered a blow to the head of any type or jostling of your head or head and neck area. Even the kind of rapid movement back and forth that causes whiplash can potentially cause a TBI.
Don’t believe myths about TBIs! One of the most common is that you lose consciousness if you suffer a TBI. It’s entirely possible to experience a TBI and never lose consciousness. Another myth is that victims suffer from blurred vision. This is a possible symptom, yes. But it’s also very possible to have a TBI without your vision ever looking blurry.
Here are the symptoms to watch for. Symptoms may occur immediately or manifest days after the injury.
- Loss of consciousness, of any duration
- Feeling dazed, confused, or disoriented
- Uncoordination and loss of balance
- Fatigue or drowsiness
- Problems with speech
- Difficulty sleeping
- Sleeping more than usual
- Sensory problems, such as blurred vision, ringing in the ears, a bad taste in the mouth or changes in the ability to smell
- Sensitivity to light or sound
- Memory or concentration problems
- Mood changes or mood swings
- Agitation, combativeness, or other unusual behavior
- Depression and anxiety
- Convulsions or seizures
- Dilation of one or both pupils
- Clear fluids issuing from the nose or ears
- Weakness or numbness in fingers and toes
- Slurred speech
In addition, victims of moderate to severe brain injury may experience multiple changes that those around them might find difficult to discern.
These consist of thinking (cognitive) difficulties, such as lapses in memory, attention and concentration, and reasoning. They may find it difficult to solve problems, multi-task, plan, organize, or complete tasks.
Their communication abilities may be impaired, with difficulty speaking or writing or following along with conversations. They may show difficulty understanding nonverbal signals.
They may also exhibit behavior changes, such as loss of self-control, riskier behavior, depression, anxiety, anger, insomnia, and more.
People who suffer a TBI may also suffer a high risk of degenerative brain disease later in life, such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Finally, TBIs can affect other parts of the body and cause injury. Damage to the cranial nerve, for example, can cause multiple issues, such as paralysis or hearing problems. A head injury can cause infection in the brain, which can cause death.
The bottom line: if you have any reason to believe you or a loved one suffered a TBI, seek medical attention immediately.
What Should I Do if I Think I Have a TBI?
The most important step to take if you think you have a TBI is, as we just noted, to seek medical attention immediately. If you were in a vehicle or other accident or experienced a blow or motion to your head or neck, seek medical attention immediately.
Don’t try to diagnose yourself or wait for symptoms to go away. The symptoms are wide-ranging enough that people can’t always tell whether they have a TBI. While “mild” TBIs such as concussions may require treatment such as lying in a darkened room, you need a physician to recommend that.
Keep a record of all medical recommendations and appointments, then keep your appointments and follow all of those recommendations to the letter.
Frankly, the main reason for this is your health. TBIs often require treatment. If you have a bruised or broken blood vessel, for example, you need to know about it, or bleeding in your brain could end up killing you.
But there’s another reason, too. Diagnoses, doctor’s recommendations, and treatment are all potential evidence of the extent and severity of your injury. They may have great importance in legal cases as well.
If You Need a Brain Injury Lawyer in St. Petersburg, Call Us
If you or a loved one received a brain injury in St. Petersburg or surrounding communities, contact us or call us at 833-552-7274 for help today. With offices across both Florida coasts, you can easily reach Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, and Sibley Dolman Accident Injury Lawyers, LLP. The first consultation with us is always free.