If you suffered a brain injury in Tampa due to the careless or reckless actions of another person or entity, you may be eligible for compensation that can help pay for your injury-related expenses and impacts to your quality of life. Our experienced Tampa brain injury lawyers can help you understand the process of obtaining that compensation through a personal injury claim.
Recently, Yahoo! Lifestyle published an article from a woman fourteen months after she suffered her second traumatic brain injury due to a car accident. The injury itself was considered mild—as opposed to the moderate injury she experienced 22 years earlier—and required no hospitalization. She was back to work within a week. However, mild or not, the injury changed her life.
In the past 14 months, she has found herself ready to sleep at 6:30 in the evening. She has to limit the time she spends running errands outside of the home or in conversation with other people. She is prone to panic attacks. After feeling unable to keep up with the demands of work, she quit her job. She found it hard to remember her house alarm code, in spite of having the same codes for years. She couldn’t remember how to get home from places she traveled to frequently. She couldn’t control her emotions.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), brain injuries are a leading cause of death and disability in the U.S., accounting for more than 2 million emergency department visits a year and resulting in about 288,000 hospitalizations and more than 50,000 deaths.
What Is a Traumatic Brain Injury?
As explained by Tampa General Hospital, a traumatic brain injury causes damage to the brain. This trauma is caused when there is a sudden or violent strike to the head that results in bruising, swelling, bleeding, or tearing of the brain tissue. Categorized as mild to severe, brain injuries may cause immediate symptoms, or symptoms may manifest days or even weeks after the injury occurred.
Some of the symptoms of mild brain injuries include:
- Behavior or mood changes
- Sensitivity to light
Symptoms of a more severe brain injury may include:
- Slurred speech
- Dilation of one or both pupils
- Consciousness disorders such as a vegetative state or a minimally conscious state
- Injuries that appear on neuroimaging tests
How Are Brain Injuries Most Commonly Caused?
As noted by the CDC, nearly half of all traumatic brain injuries that result in a visit to the emergency department are caused by falls, making it the leading cause of this type of injury. Those most susceptible to fall-related brain injuries are adults older than 65 and children 0 to 17 years old. The second most common cause of brain injuries is motor vehicle accidents, with approximately one in five brain injuries being caused in this manner. Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of brain injuries in individuals ages 15 to 34.
Other potential causes of brain injuries include:
- Being struck by or against an object
- Contact sports
- Violent acts, including being hit, shaken, or shot
Other causes of non-traumatic brain injuries include:
- Lack of oxygen, such as that experienced in a near-drowning incident, choking, or some types of birth injuries
- Electrical shock
- Neurotoxic poisoning, such as carbon monoxide or lead exposure
What Are Some of the Long-term Complications of Brain Injuries?
The brain, which is divided into several functional sections, has a very limited ability to heal itself. Because of this, damage to any of these functional sections may have long-term or permanent complications to the functions that the section of the brain that was injured controls. Some of the complications that may arise following an injury to the functional sections listed below include:
- Frontal lobe: This portion of the brain controls functions such as the ability to pay attention or concentrate, self-monitoring, organization, expressive language, awareness of abilities and limitations, inhibition of behavior, emotions, and personality. An individual suffering damage to this portion of the brain may experience difficulty controlling emotions and behavior, recalling events, or speaking.
- Temporal lobe: The temporal lobe controls such functions as memory, receptive language (the ability to understand what is being said), sequencing, hearing, and organization. Complications of injuries to the temporal lobe include difficulty with communication and memory.
- Parietal lobe: The functions of the parietal lobe include the sense of touch, depth perception, identification of size, color, and shape, and visual perception. Injuries to this segment of the brain may cause an individual to have difficulty with his or her five senses.
- Occipital lobe: The main function of this part of the brain is vision. Individuals who suffer damage to their occipital lobe may experience difficulty seeing or distinguishing the shape and size of objects.
- Cerebellum: The cerebellum controls such functions as balance and coordination, skilled motor activity, and visual perception. Injuries to this part of the brain may cause difficulties with balance and movement.
- Brain stem: The brain stem controls life-sustaining actions such as breathing, heart rate, arousal, consciousness, and the individual’s sleep and wake cycles. Damage to the brain stem typically means that the individual’s body is no longer able to perform those involuntary actions that are essential to survival.
In addition to these areas of the brain, both the left and right side of the brain also have important functions that may be impacted by the injury and cause the following complications:
- Left side: The traits of the left side of the brain involve logical and analytical thinking, organization, and precision. Left-brain injuries may involve difficulties understanding language and speaking, depression or anxiety, impaired logic, sequencing difficulties, and difficulties controlling the movement of the right side of the body.
- Right side: The right side of the brain controls the creative, intuitive, empathetic, and figurative thinking. Injuries to the right side of the brain may result in visual spatial impairment, deficits to visual memory, altered creativity and music perception, loss of “big picture” type thinking, and the ability to control movement of the left side of the body.
In addition to the initial complications caused by the damage to an area or areas of the brain, those suffering from brain injuries may face secondary complications as well. These secondary complications may include:
- Brain swelling or pressure, known as edema, which can result in further brain damage if not treated
- Hypoxia, which is a reduction of oxygen to a part of the body. Hypoxia in the brain can result in inattentiveness, poor judgment, memory loss, decreased motor coordination, and even seizures or death.
- Anoxia is a complete deprivation of oxygen to the brain for a period of time. The longer the brain is without oxygen, the more severe the damage may be. Brain cells will begin dying off within five minutes without oxygen. This is why first responders begin immediate provision of oxygen when treating a person who has suffered a brain injury.
- Hypotension, which is blood pressure that is lower than normal. Severely low blood pressure can lead to shock and cause more significant damage to the brain.
- Seizures, which occur with approximately 20 percent of individuals experiencing a traumatic brain injury. They may be obvious to onlookers, exhibiting with uncontrollable shaking of the body, or they may be subtle and only appear through neuroimaging tests. However, it is standard treatment with traumatic brain injuries to administer anti-seizure medications to control this complication.
- Endocrine problems such as the inability to regulate one’s body temperature (hyperthermia); adrenal insufficiency that can result in fatigue, weight loss, low blood pressure, vomiting, and dehydration; diabetes insipidus, which causes excessive urination and extreme thirst; hyponatremia, which is an imbalance of water and salt in the body that can result in headache, fatigue, vomiting, confusion, and convulsions; hypothyroidism, which can result in fatigue, constipation, weight gain, irregular menstrual periods, and constantly feeling cold; sexual dysfunction for both males and females; growth hormone deficiency, which causes increased fat and loss of muscle and bone.
Because a brain injury may so significantly change a person’s behavior and abilities, significant changes in that person’s relationships with friends and family may also be significantly changed. The injured person’s partner or children may find themselves assuming a caretaker role, taking on the responsibility of ensuring that the injured person’s basic daily needs are met. The sexual relationship between the injured person and his or her spouse may be permanently altered due to hormonal changes resulting from the injury as well as changes in appearance, self-confidence, sexual attraction, and areas of sexual interest.
Friends may find that they have little in common with the individual who has suffered a brain injury and the brain injured person may be unable to engage in the same types of activities he or she participated in before the injury occurred. Often the unspoken complications of a brain injury are the implications of work and social groups, and the stresses the injury places on family.
The Brain Injury Association of America lists the following common feelings that the injured person or his or her family members may experience in the weeks, months, and even years after the injury occurs:
- I can’t relate to others anymore.
- I feel alone.
- I feel like people avoid me.
- Everyone who visited while I was in the hospital has abandoned me now.
- No one wants to be around me.
- No one understands me.
- My boss is going to fire me—I know it.
While children and adults may suffer the same types of injuries, the brains of children are very different than those of adults and are still developing. A common belief that children can recover more fully than adults from a brain injury is not true in many incidences, with children actually suffering more devastating consequences as a result of a brain injury, with more cognitive impacts showing up with time as the child grows and develops. When brain injured children return to school, their educational and emotional needs may be very different than they were before the injury.
Frequent issues experienced by school-aged children as a result of a brain injury may include:
- Difficulty with memory and comprehension
- Trouble completing tasks within an allotted amount of time
- Being prone to distraction and confusion
- A lack of energy to complete the assigned tasks
Some ways that school systems and teachers can accommodate students with brain injuries include:
- Allowing extra time to complete work and tests
- Allowing extra or extended breaks from school work
- Grading the quality of the work over the quantity of work
- Providing the student with detailed notes of the subjects covered or allowing him or her to record instruction to play back later
- Allowing oral examinations or multiple choice tests rather than essay questions
What Is the Cost of Brain Injuries in America?
The costs of brain injuries in the United States are particularly steep, not only for the sufferer and his or her family, but to society as a whole due to the loss of productivity, as well as the cost of social programs and healthcare coverage for brain injured patients. Here are some facts:
- The lifetime costs of medical treatment following a brain injury are estimated at $85,000 – $3 million.
- The unemployment rate for people two years after suffering a severe brain injury is 60 percent, compared to around 5 percent for the general population.
- More than half of the nation’s homeless population has suffered a brain injury.
- Approximately 320,000 military personnel have suffered job-related brain injuries since 2001, including more than 33,000 in 2011 alone.
- The estimated cost to society from brain injuries is estimated at around $48.3 billion per year, mostly due to hospitalizations and legal actions resulting from the cause of the injury.
Additional Frequently Asked Questions About Tampa Brain Injuries
How is traumatic brain injury defined?
The Mayo Clinic provides an official definition of a traumatic brain injury (or TBI):
- Traumatic brain injuries are injuries that impact our brains; some result in concussions and manageable symptoms, but others can result in disability or even death
- TBIs often occur due to jolts or blows that impact the head
- Sometimes, a trauma causes brain tissue penetration (like in the case of a shattered piece of skull damaging the brain); this can also lead to TBI
- Mild TBIs usually impact our brain cells temporarily
- Moderate or severe TBIs may lead to long-term bleeding, bruising, and torn tissue
Are TBIs common?
Yes. Traumatic brain injury can occur under a wide variety of circumstances. Almost 2.5 million people suffer TBI each year. Around a fifth of them (or about 50,000) die due to their injuries.
Are many people disabled by brain injuries every year?
Unfortunately, yes. Acquired brain trauma is actually one of the most prevalent disabilities in the United States.
Nearly 100,000 people every year grapple with permanent disabilities caused by brain injuries. Experts estimate that as many as 14 million Americans currently live with acquired brain trauma.
Can you give an example of a common cause of TBI?
Somewhere between 50 and 75 percent of TBI accidents are attributed to car accidents.
It’s not difficult to see why—vehicles are extremely heavy and fast-traveling objects. When car accidents happen, it’s not unusual for the cars to be damaged.
Can you imagine the risks our bodies (and brains) face in that scenario?
- A lot of instances of TBI caused by car accidents are linked to victims striking their heads against surfaces inside of their vehicles (ie windshields or steering wheels)
- When this occurs, the force causes a victim’s brain to collide with the inside of their skull (which usually results in bruising and bleeding)
Other frequent causes of TBI include:
- Sporting accidents
- Military service
Does anybody face an increased risk of negative impact from TBIs?
Yes. The elderly and the young face some increased risk of both sustaining a TBI and experiencing complications after one.
This is for a few reasons:
- Young children’s motor skills are not totally developed; their risk assessment is generally poor
- Kids also tend to make more risky decisions than a lot of adults. This places them at an increased risk of TBI
- Evaluating, diagnosing, and treating neurological symptoms in children is very difficult
- Children have greater differences in their physical capabilities; lots of children who suffer TBI experience unique injury patterns for this reason. Treating TBIs in children is a complicated process
- The elderly may fall more frequently than the average young or middle-aged person due to various conditions or some natural physical deterioration. This means that the elderly are at an increased risk of TBI
TBI is the leading cause of death and disability in American children; it poses a huge risk to older adults, too.
- Nearly 100,000 emergency room visits every year can be traced to an individual 65 or older suffering brain injury
- Around 75 percent of these emergency room visits lead to hospital admissions
- Falls are the primary cause of TBI for elderly adults
- Around 51 percent of senior brain injury cases are linked to falls
- Car accidents are the second most frequent cause of TBIs in elderly adults
- Car accidents only account for around 9 percent of senior brain injuries
Old age is directly linked to negative outcomes following TBI for several reasons. The primary one is that doctors don’t have good clinical data about the elderly and TBIs. This means that many doctors struggle to offer care and predict outcomes in the instance of an elderly person who has suffered TBI.
Do children present the same symptoms of TBI as adults?
Generally speaking, no.
Children face unique risks when they’re impacted by TBI (as demonstrated above). As stated above, one reason for this is that children don’t usually display the same warning signs of TBI as adults do.
If you’re a parent, look out for some of these basic signs of TBI in children:
- Unexplainable changes to nursing or eating habits
- Unusual or persistent irritability, crying, etc.
- Sleep habit alterations
- Sadness (or an overall depressed mood)
- Loss of interest in favorite toys and activities
Can traumatic brain injuries affect different parts of our brains?
Yes! The impact of a TBI on an individual correlates to which part of the brain was injured.
The good news is that the way doctors and legal professionals understand TBI is something that anybody else can understand, too. TBIs are assessed based on which lobe of our brains they’ve impacted the most. Our brains have four lobes:
- The frontal lobe
- The temporal lobe
- The parietal lobe
- The occipital lobe
Each of these lobes can be injured independently or in conjunction with the others. The location of a brain injury usually heavily influences how a survivor is affected by that injury.
How does a TBI in one lobe differ from a TBI in another?
Before we cover this topic, let’s reiterate something: we’re not medical professionals!
TBI—like any form of injury—is complex and very fluid. Even most medical professionals can’t guarantee how a TBI could impact a survivor. That’s because our brains, for the most part, are still mysteries to us.
With the above in mind, let’s touch on the four lobes of our brain and how TBI may impact each one:
- The frontal lobe of the brain allows us to practice problem-solving and emotional expression; you can think of your frontal lobe like a control panel
- If someone injures the frontal lobe, he or she may lose control of judgment, sequencing, and seemingly voluntary movements
- The brain’s temporal lobe helps us understand each other when we communicate; the temporal lobe houses our language and speech comprehension systems and helps us recognize sounds, faces, and objects
- When a TBI damages someone’s temporal lobe, they may talk excessively or cannot understand spoken words
- Our parietal lobes are the segments of our brain that allow us to perform the actions that other parts of our brains tell us to take; they control object naming, visual attention, hand-eye coordination, and spatial orientation
- If someone injures the parietal lobe, they may lose the ability to describe how some things feel or name objects
- The occipital lobe is somewhat of a mystery—recent medical and scientific advancements have made it obvious that we don’t know as much about this lobe as we thought; we do know that our visual processing centers are located here. Most occipital lobe injuries impact a person’s vision; they may experience distorted vision, visual hallucinations, difficulty identifying and naming colors, or even blindness
There’s another part of your brain that can be injured in the event of TBI, too. It’s called the cerebellum.
The cerebellum is not a lobe of the brain. It is responsible for helping us control our bodies. So, when someone’s cerebellum is damaged, he or she may experience:
- Reduced spatial reasoning
- Inconsistent bodily movements
- Reduced motor movement coordination
Do TBIs have varying severity?
Yes, but that doesn’t matter. A mild brain injury can produce severe, lifelong outcomes, and a severe injury might clear up quickly. Severity mainly describes the initial presentation of symptoms, not your expected outcomes.
Different brain injuries (and different degrees of injury) generally produce different symptoms. Nobody can tell you for sure whether you or somebody else has suffered a TBI or may be in danger due to one; if you suspect that this has occurred, contact a medical professional right away.
Most readers are not medical professionals and are not in a position to diagnose or treat any form of brain injury. If you suspect that you or somebody else may have suffered a TBI, seek medical assistance as soon as possible.
Can TBI survivors collect damages in court?
Yes! With the help of a skilled attorney, a TBI victim has the potential to recover many of the expenses associated with the TBI:
- Medical bills: This encompasses past, present, and future medical bills associated with the TBI; if you needed special emergency transport or specific medical services, those are likely recoverable as well
- Mental anguish and pain and suffering: Anyone who’s injured can experience emotional or mental pain, but some injuries are more taxing than others. If you have faced exceptional mental or physical pain due to your TBI, you could collect damages for mental anguish and pain and suffering
- Disability: Disability is an important topic to cover when it comes to TBI—recall that acquired brain trauma is a prominent form of disability in the US; you should work with a TBI lawyer who is experienced in fighting for disability payments when necessary
- Lost wages, diminished earning potential: Some injuries put a person out of work for weeks (or even months) while they recover. If you’ve lost wages due to circumstances like these, you may recover them in court. Some TBI survivors even face diminished lifetime earning potential. If a construction professional sustains a TBI, for example, they may lose the ability to work in the construction industry. That individual could pursue damages for diminished earning potential if it appeared he or she would not make as much money in another job
What do I need to prove someone else’s negligence after a TBI?
Proving negligence centers around for primary elements: duty (and the breach of it), causation, and damages.
- Duty refers to a “duty of care” that we all owe each other—it’s the “duty” we all accept to not intentionally put others at risk or make ourselves a danger to others
- Breach of duty refers to what happens when the duty of care is not exercised; when somebody fails to adequately protect and consider those around them, they’re usually in breach of duty
- Causation must be linked to the breach of duty (in simpler terms: the breach of duty itself needs to be found to be the cause of the accident)
- Damages refer to the injuries or losses a survivor suffers due to their TBI. When a breach of duty occurs and it causes damages, that’s what helps prove negligence
Will an attorney help me?
If you have a good case, yes. Look for an attorney with experience litigating and negotiating TBI-related claims.
TBI survivors should speak with our Tampa brain injury attorneys as soon as they’re medically stable. It makes it easier to deal with insurance agents hounding you for settlement agreements. It helps your case when it’s time to head to court. It empowers and educates you throughout your healing process.
In these circumstances a victim could benefit from legal assistance:
- Significant financial losses due to a TBI
- A TBI that reduces your ability to perform everyday tasks
- A TBI caused by an accident that can be traced to someone else’s negligence or recklessness
- Emotional suffering and/or physical pain is being caused by the TBI
If you or a loved one suffered a TBI due to the negligence of another party, speak with an experienced Tampa brain injury lawyer at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman soon as possible.
Call Our Tampa Brain Injury Attorneys Today for Help With Your Case
If you or your loved one was injured due to someone else’s negligent, reckless, or careless actions, we’d like to discuss your legal options with you. With offices across both Florida coasts, you can easily reach Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, and Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, at 833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH), or you can write to us using our online contact page for your free initial consultation.