Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are among the most serious consequences of any personal injury. In a moment, trauma to the head can change the course of an accident victim’s entire life. Not all TBIs are the same. They have different severities and symptoms.
Get an early diagnosis of your TBI to get an intensive medical intervention and ensure the fullest possible recovery. However, because of the nature of TBIs, that is not always possible.
What is possible is financial compensation for your injuries if someone else caused your injuries. First, you should contact an experienced traumatic brain injury attorney because many legal issues can arise with your claim.
TBIs Are Never Minor or Mild
Medical professionals generally divide TBIs into two categories:
- Severe TBIs
- Moderate TBIs
Regardless of the initial characterization of a TBI as “mild,” the long-term impact can be severe. “Mild” might be a description of the initial symptoms. However, even a mild TBI that a patient cannot fully recover from will be considered severe in the scheme of things.
In reality, any type of TBI is severe because any condition that impacts the brain can lead to permanent damage. Some people will refer to a TBI as mild. In our view, there is no such thing as a mild TBI.
A Concussion Is a Frequent Type of TBI
The most common form of a TBI is when someone suffers a concussion. Usually, bumps or jolts to the head cause concussion, but a sudden movement can also result in the same injury. Some concussions may heal more quickly than others – if they heal at all. In some cases, concussion symptoms can linger for months or the rest of your life.
Symptoms of TBIs
Here are common symptoms of a TBI:
- Memory loss
- Loss of speech
- Difficulty controlling anger
You Do Not Always Know Right Away That You Have a TBI Right Away
Traumatic brain injury symptoms are not always immediately apparent right after your accident. In some cases, blunt force trauma causes significant injuries that are visible right after the accident. Usually, the accident victim will receive immediate care for these injuries. These tend to be the most severe type of TBIs.
TBIs can also be silent injuries, getting worse over time when untreated. Some accident victims may have no idea that they have suffered a TBI. In the meantime, they have lost valuable treatment time. They may have one of the symptoms from the above list and have no idea that it results from an injury to their brain.
Treatment Time for a TBI Is Extremely Valuable
The longer that TBIs go untreated, the higher the chance you may have suffered irreversible brain damage. The moments and days after an accident are crucial to treating the injury to relieve some of the pressure on the brain and help you regain some function.
A mild TBI can be difficult to detect, partially due to the nature of the injury. Another explanation is that doctors may focus on more visible and severe injuries that require their immediate attention after an accident. They may not take the time right after the accident to run the full battery of tests to discover other undiagnosed injuries. Their follow-up treatment recommendations will involve the conditions they addressed in the accident’s immediate aftermath.
Why TBIs Are Difficult to Detect
People may not realize right away that they are suffering from a TBI because:
- The symptoms may resemble other health problems the accident caused
- Some people may want to tough it out and not want to admit to experiencing symptoms from an accident
- Healthcare providers may overlook or not find some problems
From a legal perspective, trying to tough it out after an accident is perhaps the worst thing that you can do. Not only is it bad for your health, but you give the insurance company a weapon to use against you when it comes time to be paid for your damages.
You Have an Obligation to Mitigate Damages
As a personal injury victim, you have legal rights. However, those rights also come with certain obligations. One thing that you must do is mitigate your damages. Mitigation is another way of saying that you must do everything in your power to make your situation better. A classic example of damage mitigation is seeing a doctor when you first notice symptoms.
If your injury worsens because you have lost valuable treatment time, you can be certain that an insurance company or jury will raise the issue. The more time between the injury and when you seek treatment, the more difficult your case becomes.
Of course, if the accident caused an impact on your head, see a neurologist. This examination is truly a case of better safe than sorry. In a best-case scenario, the doctor does not find any signs of a TBI. They may want to keep you under observation for some time to make certain.
Mild TBIs may not show on tests. For example, no concrete diagnostic test can identify a concussion. In most cases, medical professionals diagnose concussions by the symptoms that the patient reports. They may also have MRIs and CT scans to diagnose brain injuries.
Whiplash Is a Silent Harm After an Accident
You do not just need an examination when you have had trauma to your head. In many rear-end car accidents, an injured driver may suffer from whiplash. When the head snaps forward, and the body remains still, the brain can move inside the head. Whiplash can cause a severe concussion or even worse. A whiplash TBI will worsen when the brain strikes both sides of the skull.
Many accident victims do not associate whiplash with a TBI. They may not think much of it in the days after an accident until they experience symptoms. Treatment may arrive to make a meaningful difference in their long-term prognosis.
The Costs of a TBI Can Be Very High
When someone else was responsible for your TBI, you have the legal right to seek financial compensation. Of course, the damages from TBI symptoms depend on the severity of the injury. TBIs can be extremely expensive for a lifetime. There are high medical costs, and they will also impose very high indirect costs.
One estimate places the lifetime costs of a TBI between $85,000 to $3 million. Although this is a very wide range, it shows that TBIs can cost enormous sums to treat. This particular estimate is not brand new, so there are several years of steep healthcare cost inflation the study does not account for, meaning the real costs are even more expensive. TBI treatment costs have skyrocketed as procedures have become more complex.
The Responsible Party Must Pay Your Direct and Indirect Costs
In addition, this study only covers treatment costs and does not consider the indirect costs of TBIs.
Other costs of a TBI that you must bear include:
- Lost wages if your TBI keeps you from working
- Pain and suffering from the anxiety, depression, and discomfort of having a long-term brain injury
- Loss of enjoyment of life if you cannot do what you did before the accident
The person responsible for your TBI must pay all your costs, not just your medical bills. Your compensation will include both economic and non-economic damages. Brain injuries cause long-term tolls on patients’ lives, and the responsible party must pay the damages in full.
You may face challenges trying to estimate the total value of your claim. With TBIs, so much of your future is uncertain, and there may be gray areas. However, you may have difficulty collecting payment for a gray area. A personal injury attorney is invaluable when putting a number on your damages.
Insurance Companies Will Do Everything Possible to Minimize Your Claim
Insurance companies take claims with TBIs very seriously. They know that these claims can cost them a lot of money. There is a difference between taking a claim seriously and treating it fairly. Be prepared for the insurance company to come to the table with their medical experts to dispute the extent of your injuries.
Accordingly, your attorney will need to have medical experts and a detailed diagnosis of your own to prove your injuries. Unless you can prove the full extent of your injuries, you will not collect the full amount of damages.
Legally, you may have challenges when trying to collect compensation for TBI symptoms. Many TBI symptoms are self-reported by patients, and these injury claims often rely on a patient’s word unless detailed brain scans show the full scope of the damages.
Insurance companies are not beneath accusing claimants of faking or overstating their injuries to get more money. As wrong as this conduct is, you must still deal with it during the claims process. Not only do you need an experienced lawyer, but you must have one who understands TBIs and knows how to prove them.
When to File a Claim for a TBI
Another legal issue is when you should file your claim or lawsuit for a TBI. Your long-term prognosis is not always apparent in the immediate aftermath of an injury. It takes time to learn the extent of the brain injury. You may need to go through multiple surgical procedures and rehabilitation to regain as much function as possible before understanding what you may face in the future.
For every personal injury claim that involves severe injury, you will usually file your claim when you reach the point of maximum medical improvement (MMI). You reach MMI when further treatment does not make a noticeable improvement in your condition.
To reach MMI, you must first see a doctor and follow all their treatment recommendations. It is only then that you can fully quantify your injuries. Your doctor can help determine when you have reached that point, and your attorney will review your medical file.
Make Sure to Follow All of the Doctor’s Orders
Another legal issue involved in your TBI treatment is that you follow all treatment recommendations from your doctor. Following instructions and keeping up with your treatment is also part of your obligation to mitigate your damages.
If you do not keep medical appointments or take your medications, an insurance company can also try to point the finger at you. They can review your medical records and see what you did. You can expect an insurance company to go over your medical records with a fine-tooth comb, especially when writing a large check.
Why You Need a Lawyer After a TBI
Any insurance claim or lawsuit is difficult for the average person to handle. They are even harder when you are dealing with the symptoms of a TBI. In that case, you do not have your full abilities to deal with a process that is challenging in the first place.
As an accident victim, you should contact an attorney and entrust the details of any claim to them. An attorney will review the facts of the incident that injured you. Before discussing potential compensation, you must prove that someone else was responsible for your injury. Your lawyer will assemble the evidence necessary to prove fault. Then, your lawyer will work to negotiate a fair settlement or obtain a financial award from a jury. Calling a lawyer is something that you should do right after your accident.
Injury claims are difficult even without any other concerns. A brain injury can make the insurance claim process far more challenging, and you risk making mistakes that jeopardize your financial security. Avoid this risk by putting your claim in the hands of a brain injury lawyer near you.
Abels & Annes
100 N LaSalle St #1710
Chicago, IL 60602