A brain injury is different from many other types of injuries. A broken bone may limit mobility, but a brain injury often affects mental capacity, personality, and ability to perform activities of daily life. Each brain injury is distinctive and unpredictable in outcome, but every victim needs help and support.
If you or a loved one suffered a traumatic brain injury, consult a Tampa personal injury lawyer at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA or Sibley Dolman. We work on a contingency fee basis, so you’ll pay nothing unless we secure compensation for you. We also have a wealth of experience in securing compensation for others. Call now to see if our Tampa brain injury lawyer can help you.
What Is a Traumatic Brain Injury?
According to the Brain Injury Association of Florida, 136,000 Floridians suffer from brain injuries each year. The Florida Department of Health reported that traumatic brain injuries (TBI) were related to 3,852 deaths. Additionally, more than 19,000 people received treatment at the hospital for non-fatal traumatic brain injuries. Over 400,000 Floridians live with a TBI-related disability. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that over 2.5 million catastrophic brain injuries occur each year. This accounts for approximately 30 percent of all injury deaths nationwide.
The risk for brain injury is especially high for individuals who are 75 years or older, but this type of injury can happen to anyone. Studies have shown an increase in concussions or other traumatic brain injuries in children ages 19 and younger. The increase is primarily due to sports or recreational activities. The annual costs to society for health care and lost productivity is estimated to be $76.5 billion. The personal and financial costs to the individual are inestimable.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs “when a sudden trauma, often a blow or jolt to the head, causes damage to the brain.” A TBI does not include a stroke, infection in the brain, or a brain tumor. The term traumatic brain injury covers a wide range of conditions. These conditions can include a mild concussion, with symptoms such as temporary confusion and headaches, to a long-term coma, or even death. Medical professionals classify levels of brain trauma as mild, moderate, and severe, but these designations only apply to the initial presentation of symptoms. A “mild” TBI could result in lifelong complications, while some patients can recover fully from severe TBIs. The results of a TBI, in other words, are difficult to predict.
Types of Brain Injuries
The effects of a traumatic brain injury range from mild to devastating. A blow to one part of the brain can cause damage to other areas of the brain. In some cases, an individual remains in a coma or a permanent vegetative state. Sometimes a person is not even aware he or she has a brain injury because there are no obvious signs. Symptoms may occur immediately or may not appear until long after the injury. The area of the brain most often injured is the frontal lobe, which controls executive function and emotional regulation.
Traumatic brain injury is also the leading cause of seizure disorders. A research project at The Roskamp Institute in Sarasota demonstrated that a mild traumatic brain injury or concussion could trigger a lifelong degenerative process in the brain. The effects of a traumatic brain injury may be debilitating and permanent. This can forever alter the lives of the injured and his or her family members. Even a mild concussion is potentially serious and requires treatment.
Trauma to the head can lead to several types of injuries, including:
A hematoma is a clot outside of the blood vessels. A “subdural” hematoma means that blood collects on the brain inside the skull. Hematomas can be extremely dangerous and can sometimes lead to permanent brain damage.
A hemorrhage is uncontrolled bleeding either around the brain (subarachnoid hemorrhage) or bleeding within the brain (intracerebral hemorrhage). Subarachnoid hemorrhages often cause headaches and vomiting. The severity of intracerebral hemorrhages depends on the amount of bleeding but over time, any amount of blood can cause pressure build up. Hemorrhages can be life-threatening.
A concussion occurs when there is an impact to the head and it is severe enough to cause brain injury. Concussions are thought to be the result of the brain colliding with the walls of the skull. The symptoms of a concussion are usually temporary, but repeated concussions may cause permanent damage. In recent years, doctors have become concerned about the effects of repeated concussions caused by sports.
Many brain injuries cause edema or swelling. Swelling can become serious when it happens in the brain because the skull is unable to contain the swelling. The result is pressure build-up in the brain, which then presses against the skull.
A skull fracture is a break in the cranial bone (the skull). The skull is difficult to break, but a strong impact to the head can cause this. Because a fractured skull is unable to absorb impact to the head, there may be a brain injury in addition to the skull fracture. Bruising of the face or bleeding from the nose or ears are symptoms that may indicate a skull fracture.
Diffuse Axonal Injury
Diffuse axonal injury is an injury to the brain that does not cause bleeding, but damages the cells of the brain. Damage causes the brain cells to lose their function. Diffuse axonal injury may also result in swelling, which causes more brain damage. Although other forms of brain injury are more evident, diffuse axonal injury is one of the most dangerous types. These types of injuries can lead to permanent brain damage and even death.
Symptoms of a Mild Traumatic Brain Injury May Include:
- Problems with dizziness or balance
- Frequent head or neck pain
- Vision/hearing problems or sensitivity to light
- Difficulty thinking, speaking, concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Disturbed sleep patterns
- Unexplained mood changes
Infants and young children who have brain injuries are often unable to express how they are feeling. Therefore, it is especially important to be aware of symptoms such as:
- The same symptoms as those for adults
- Persistent or inconsolable crying
- Excessive irritability
- Change in eating or nursing habits
- Lack of focus or attention
- Change in sleep habits
- Loss of interest in regular activities
Each traumatic brain injury is unique. Treatment is complex and typically involves medication and rehabilitation. Traumatic brain injuries may require hospital stays, possibly in an Intensive Care Unit. Once released, therapy and rehabilitation may be necessary to help individuals return to their normal daily routines.
Common Causes of Traumatic Brain Injuries
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Injury Prevention:
- Falls: Slip and fall is the top cause of TBI, accounting for 47 percent of all TBI-related emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and deaths.
- Struck by or against an object: About 15 percent of all TBI-related hospitalizations, emergency department visits, and deaths resulted from an object striking a person in the head. This also accounted for 22 percent of TBIs for children under the age of 15.
- Motor Vehicle accidents: Car accidents are responsible for about 14 percent of all traumatic brain injuries. They are the third most common cause of TBI hospitalizations and deaths in all age groups.
- Intentional self-harm: About 33 percent of TBI-related deaths involve intentional self-harm.
- Violence: TBIs can result from violence, including domestic incidents, violent shaking, and gunshot wounds.
- Sports and recreation: Every year in the U.S., approximately 3.8 million concussions happen during competitive sports and recreational activities. About 70 percent of all sports- and recreation-related concussion injuries seen in the emergency department are children and teens.
- Bicycle crashes: Approximately 13 percent of TBIs are the result of bicycle crashes in children ages 5 to 14. Bike helmets can reduce the risk of TBI by 88 percent.
- Construction site accidents
- Workplace accidents
- Product negligence
- Combat injuries and explosions: Explosions and other injuries such as shrapnel injuries, penetrating wounds, or other blows to the head can cause a TBI. Combat injuries and explosions are a significant health issue among members of the military.
Children age four and younger, older adolescents aged 15 to 19 years, and adults aged 65 years and older are most likely to sustain a TBI. The odds of sustaining a TBI are 2.22 times higher in men than in women.
TBI Frequently Asked Questions FAQs
Any accident or injury that leaves you or a loved one suffering is tragic. Your primary concern at this difficult time should be working to get better and back to your life. But, it can be difficult to navigate a way to do that, especially after suffering a traumatic brain injury.
With any personal injury, questions can arise regarding the next step for recovery and how to pay the bills. One way to focus on your recovery is by working with an attorney who can deal with the legal complexities of your Tampa brain injury claim while you focus on your physical well-being. By letting a Tampa brain injury lawyer deal with the stress of your claim, you can focus more of your effort and energy on getting better.
Your well-being and recovery are the most important. But a Tampa brain injury claim may help you in your physical recovery. It is possible to alleviate some worry about how you will pay your bills or about having to rush back to work before it is safe to do so. You could direct more of your focus onto your health and getting back to your life as much as possible. No matter what, you must take your injury and your recovery seriously.
What is a traumatic brain injury?
A traumatic brain injury, often called a TBI, happens when a person receives a bump, blow, or jolt to the head resulting in a disruption of normal brain function. One of the reasons why a TBI can be difficult to diagnose is that it does not have to be caused by a direct blow to the head. Sometimes, a victim can suffer a TBI without their head coming into contact with an object (for example, suffering from whiplash in a car accident).
Regardless of how the injury occurred, all TBIs are serious injuries that require immediate medical attention. Any injury to the brain is a serious injury that, if not properly treated, could alter your life forever.
What causes a TBI?
TBI causes vary dramatically and the resulting injuries and healing time also differ from case-to-case.
The most common causes of a TBI include:
- Car accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Truck accidents
- Domestic violence
- Sport injuries
- Worksite injuries
Nearly two million Americans suffer a TBI each year. Many TBI victims face extremely high medical bills and a long road to recovery. Depending on the cause of your TBI, your injury may leave you out of work for a long period of time, and without a way to sufficiently pay your medical bills.
It is important to remember that the full burden of your medical bills may not be your sole responsibility. When another party or parties bear responsibility for the accident, that burden could shift from you to them. In this case, you can concentrate on getting better without worrying about the heavy burden of paying for all of your medical bills.
How do I know if I have a TBI?
The best way to know if you have suffered a TBI is to see a doctor. If you have recently been involved in an accident or an activity where your brain could have suffered an injury, your best course of action is to speak with your doctor right away to get a full evaluation. Leaving a TBI untreated can result in a lifetime of challenges.
But there are also symptoms you and your loved ones can keep an eye out for that might indicate a TBI. Some symptoms are more visible than others.
But speak to your doctor immediately if you or your loved ones notice any one of these symptoms:
- Loss of consciousness;
- Feeling dazed and confused;
- Sudden headaches;
- Nausea or vomiting;
- Sudden fatigue;
- Changes in sleep patterns;
- Difficulty speaking;
- Weakness or numbness in fingers and toes;
- Loss of coordination;
- Sudden change in mood;
- Agitation; or
- Depressed feelings.
When you suffer a TBI, you may not notice these symptoms in yourself. That is why it is so important that you alert your loved ones and those around you about your concerns. Have them keep a close watch on you to see if you exhibit any of these symptoms. If you do, you must see a doctor immediately. You do not want to let a TBI go untreated.
How can I have a TBI if my head never hit anything?
The most common misconception about a TBI is that a victim must have to hit their head to receive an injury. That is simply false.
The brain sits inside your skull surrounded by fluid that keeps it protected from the hard bone of the skull. When you suffer a TBI, generally that means your brain came into contact with your skull with such force that it caused an injury. We often think of that force as coming from a car accident where your head slams into the dashboard or the steering wheel.
But think of a scenario where someone strikes your car from behind, pushing your car and body forward. Your head, however, rocks backward, toward the direction of the impact, in a fast motion. This type of car accident often results in whiplash and whiplash can and does cause TBI, even without an impact to your head. Because of the rapid motion of the body in such an accident, your brain slams into your skull causing a TBI even though your head hit nothing.
This is not the only type of accident that can result in a TBI with no impact to your head. That is why it is so vital to seek medical attention after any accident where you might have suffered a brain injury and get tested for a TBI.
Could I have a Tampa traumatic brain injury claim?
To prove that someone else caused your TBI and hold them accountable for your medical expenses, you would need to be able to prove certain elements of a Tampa brain injury claim:
- The other party had a duty to act in a reasonably safe manner;
- The other party failed to act in a reasonably safe manner;
- The other party’s failure resulted in an accident; and
- The accident caused your injuries.
It might seem simple to prove these elements but, depending on the circumstances surrounding your injuries, it may be challenging. That is why it can be helpful to speak with a skilled and experienced TBI attorney who could help guide you through the complex Tampa brain injury claims process.
How long do I have to file a Tampa traumatic brain injury claim?
Right after suffering an injury, you may not feel like you have enough energy to focus on a legal claim. This is understandable. However, it is important to note that the longer you wait, the more likely it may be that you end up paying out of pocket for your medical expenses instead of holding the at-fault party accountable.
In Florida, you only have four years after the date of your accident to bring a brain injury claim against the negligent party. Four years might seem like a long time, but four years can go by quickly when you are focusing on getting better. Besides that, TBIs often alter the state of the victim’s life permanently. That means you may never get back to your regular life. Do not leave your recovery to chance; work with a trusted TBI lawyer who can chart a path for you to help increase your chances of recovering every dollar you deserve.
How much is my Tampa traumatic brain injury claim worth?
This is the most frequent question we get from our Tampa brain injury clients. Unfortunately, it is also the most challenging question to answer. Each accident, injury, and claim is different from case-to-case. Even other TBI claims will have different circumstances than yours. But, other cases can provide some insight into what to do next.
An attorney could use their knowledge of the field to help determine which compensation you should pursue.
This may include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Lost wages
- Lost earning potential
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of life enjoyment
- Present and future medical bills
- Rehabilitation costs
When you did not cause your injuries, that someone else could be on the hook for your medical bills. An attorney could fight for this and other applicable compensation benefits from the at-fault party.
You should also consider that the at-fault party may be held responsible for other expenses, including your time out of work. You will, of course, see your medical bills sitting on the kitchen table. But, other items like a missing paycheck may not spring to mind immediately. Working with an attorney can help create a better estimate of your current and future needs, which may include lost wages and future earning potential.
Depending on the type of TBI you suffer from, you may never return to work in the same capacity or in any capacity at all. That can greatly reduce your standard of living because your income over the course of your life is also greatly reduced. This is another potential compensation that you may be able to recover from the at-fault party.
Is a settlement my best option?
A quick settlement is not necessarily in your best interest. Remember that you and the insurance company, representing the at-fault party, have different interests. You may want to collect every dollar you deserve so you do not find yourself in financial hardship after an injury you did not cause. The insurance company, however, is in the business of making money and they may want to pay you less than you could be entitled to protect their profits.
Because they know recent accident victims are likely out of work and in need of payment, the insurance company may call you after your accident to discuss the option of accepting a quick settlement offer. It is also not uncommon for insurance companies to prefer to deal with accident victims who do not have an attorney to review their settlement offer. An attorney can help inform you of any insufficiencies that may be in the insurance company’s settlement offer.
The first offer from the insurance company may be a low-ball offer intended to appease you for less money than your matter may be worth. Part of the settlement will likely include language that you cannot bring any future claims for this accident and injury. That means that when you realize later that the settlement funds were not enough to cover all of your expenses, it would be too late and you may be left paying out of pocket for costly medical procedures and lose out on lost income.
No one should navigate such a tragic situation alone. An experienced TBI lawyer would know the common tactics that many insurance companies play and would not be afraid to stand up to them on your behalf to maximize the likelihood that you receive the compensation you deserve.
Why would I need a Tampa traumatic brain injury lawyer?
This is another question we get frequently and the answer is simple. A doctor can handle the physical treatment of your TBI while a lawyer could help take care of the management of your Tampa brain injury claim. Just like how a doctor is an expert in their field, the right Tampa brain injury attorney would have the skills necessary to help increase your chances of recovering compensation for your injury.
Clients often ask us if they would get more money without a lawyer. Realistically, the opposite is often true. An experienced TBI attorney could help you negotiate a higher settlement offer than you could on your own, resulting in more money in your pocket to pay your medical expenses.
Choosing the right lawyer does not have to be difficult. But, you should not wait to contact an attorney, because your time to make a claim is on a deadline. When you find yourself or a loved one in the unfortunate situation of suffering from a TBI after an accident, contact a trusted TBI lawyer today.
What to Do if You Have Suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury
Traumatic brain injuries can happen to anyone, at any age. The effects of a TBI may be momentary or permanent. They may affect vision, hearing, or memory as well as physical, mental, and emotional functioning. These injuries are sometimes invisible to others, making it difficult to return to work or maintain relationships. An injured person may need care and support for the indefinite future.
If you were injured, and even if you think your injuries are minor, you need prompt medical treatment. Prompt diagnosis and treatment may reduce the chance of permanent injury. Additionally, any medical records may be important at a later time if you find it necessary to take legal action.
If you have suffered a TBI due to someone’s negligence or wrongful actions, under Florida law, you may be entitled to seek compensation. Most traumatic brain injury victims lose time from work, may require a new type of job, or may not be able to work again. Most victims will also incur enormous medical bills and suffer from physical and emotional pain. Life may never be the same.
Compensation in a Traumatic Brain Injury Case
To obtain compensation in a personal injury case, the individual must prove that someone acted in a negligent manner. They must also prove that the negligence caused the accident that resulted in the injury. Negligence is defined as “a failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances”. Proving negligence requires collecting and preserving evidence. Evidence can include circumstances of the accident, medical records, police reports, expert testimony, and testimony from other witnesses.
Damages may include:
- Special damages – These damages cover financial losses or out-of-pocket losses. Individuals may be entitled to lost wages and lost future earning capacity. Special damages also cover current or future medical expenses, property damages, and in the case of wrongful death, funeral expenses.
- General damages – With general damages, individuals may receive compensation for pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of companionship, mental anguish, shock, and anxiety.
The Florida statute of limitations governs how long the injured person has to file a lawsuit. For this reason, it is preferable to speak with a licensed attorney as soon as possible. Hire a Tampa TBI lawyer now to prmoptly gather all evidence of negligence.
The effects of a traumatic brain injury are unpredictable. Effects may seem minimal, but even mild concussions may cause long-term problems. The brain is the command center of the body and any injury it sustains may result in permanent damage. For this reason, head and brain injuries are considered catastrophic in personal injury law.
Consult a Tampa Traumatic Brain Injury Lawyer
The effects of a traumatic brain injury can change a person’s life forever. Most traumatic brain injury victims lose work and have extensive medical bills. Beyond financial burdens, these difficulties are further complicated by physical and emotional pain. Accurate diagnosis and treatment may improve the chances of recovery. Additionally, medical records will help an attorney establish your case.
Each traumatic brain injury is unique and lawsuits may involve complicated legal issues. If you or your loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury because of another person or organization’s negligence, you may be entitled to seek compensation. Experienced Tampa traumatic brain injury lawyers at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman have helped many people recover the compensation that they were entitled to.
With offices across both Florida coasts, you can easily reach Sibley Dolman Gipe 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 a free case evaluation.