Chicago Traumatic Brain Injury – TBI Lawyer
Not only is a traumatic brain injury devastating to you or your loved ones, but the medical costs can debilitate you financially.
Just as the brain is a complex part of the body, so are the complications that result after such trauma. Statistically, almost everyone will experience an injury to their head in their lifetime so learning to recognize the signs of serious head injury are vital. According the Center for Disease Control, in 2010 approximately 2.5 million people in the United States suffered a traumatic brain injury. Such brain injuries are a contributing factor in to 30.5% of all injury-related deaths and cause a substantial number of serious disabilities. While there are a number of causes, TBI is often the result of a car accident.
If you or someone you love has suffered a blow to the head, see a doctor. Brain injuries commonly show very subtle symptoms or no immediate signs. Consulting with a medical professional, even when the injury seems minor, can save you and your family from a potentially severe outcome later on.
If your injury was caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. This is crucial because TBIs typically involve numerous medical tests and treatments, as well as rehabilitation and long-term care. Your expenses could quickly pile up, and claiming your deserved compensation can greatly relieve you of that.
In the Chicago area, talk to us at Willens Law Offices to review your best legal options to get compensated.
What is TBI
TBI stands for Traumatic Brain Injury. It occurs when an external force causes brain dysfunction. It is often the result of a jolt to the head or a violent blow. If an object penetrates the skull, this also can cause a TBI.
It continues to be a major cause of disability and death around the world. The CDC reports that in 2014 the United States had approximately 2.87 million visits, hospitalizations, and deaths related to TBIs. Approximately 812,000 of those were children who had TBI related emergency department visits and 56,800 people had a cause of death that was TBI related.
Emergency room visits that related to TBIs were most often fall related. 49% of the TBI related emergency visits for children between the ages of 0 and 17 and 81% of for adults over the age of 65 were caused by falls. Additionally, falls or car accidents were the most common cause of a TBI hospitalization.
TBI is distinguished from other forms of brain damage, collectively called acquired brain injury (ABI). ABIs occur at a cellular or neurological level, commonly associated with tumors and strokes. TBIs, on the other hand, involves an external blow to the head.
To determine what level of TBI one has, doctors will often use the Glasgow Coma Score which looks at how long, if at all, the person lost consciousness and amnesia. A higher score of 15 means the injury is less severe (possibly a concussion) while any score lower than an 8 means the person is in a coma and the injury is severe. TBI’s can also lead to other negative side effects. According to the CDC, a TBI shortens a person’s life span by nine years, seizures are 50 times more like, infections at nine times more likely and pneumonia is six times more likely.
It is important to always consult a doctor if you or someone you know suffers from any head injury. Not only for severe head injuries, but more mild injuries, such as a concussion, can lead to more severe or long-term injuries if ignored or not treated. The Alzheimer’s Association has noted that moderate and severe TBI’s put a person at a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s or dementia years after sustaining the TBI.
Types Of Traumatic Brain Injury
TBI types range from mild to fatal. A head injury may not look physically serious but do not dismiss it. Even mild brain injuries can damage a person’s mental and emotional health.
Here are common types of TBI, their potential effects on the injured, and the treatment they require:
Also called a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), a concussion is the most common injury to the brain. The term mild refers to the severity of the injury because it does not generally result in death, but a concussion can still have severe consequences. A concussion occurs when the brain is violently shaken inside the skull, disrupting its function. The most common activities that result in a concussion include falls, vehicle crashes, being hit by someone or something, and sports. When a person suffers from a concussion, it usually means they lose consciousness for less than 30 minutes or do not lose consciousness at all.
When someone has a fall, crash, or collision, you should check for any signs of a concussion. Immediate symptoms include:
- Diluted pupils
- Slurred speech
- Nausea or vomiting
- Loss of consciousness
While concussions usually have mild effects that go away on their own – such as headaches and confusion – there are many concussions which are marked by severe symptoms or symptoms that can be more delayed. These include memory loss, concentration problems, personality changes, sensitivity to light, and psychological issues. Such symptoms do not always show immediately and can become apparent much later after the injury, and they can last for weeks or longer.
If you or someone you know are showing signs of a concussion, you should see a doctor. Doctors always prescribe rest to allow a concussed brain to recover. Activities that are physically demanding or require mental focus should be put on hold when recovering from a concussion as they can prolong recovery. A doctor may also recommend not working while recovering from a concussion because both mental strain as well as lights from a computer can slow down recovery. Most people recover in about two to three weeks. In more serious cases, additional brain tests and therapy may be needed to address specific symptoms such as those listed above. To determine whether you have sustained a concussion, doctors will usually check your vision, balance and reflexes. Additionally, they will generally have an MRI or CT scan done.
Since concussions can be sustained by falling, something hitting your head, or a collision it may seem like they are difficult to prevent. However, there are some steps you could take to reduce your risk. When playing sports, riding a bike or scooter, or driving a motorcycle always wear appropriate headgear. When in a car, wear a seatbelt. Finally, work on improving your balance and exercising regularly to prevent falls and use handrails when walking down stairs.
Contusion or Coup-contrecoup Injuries
A contusion is a bruise, which is a mild form of bleeding which is different from a concussion because a contusion occurs in a specific spot while a concussion is widespread.
When this occurs on the brain tissue, medical professionals sometimes use the term “coup-contrecoup injury”. Coup injury is when the brain slams against the skull at the point of impact, while contrecoup is when the brain slides back and hits the opposite side of the skull. These two injuries often occur together. A coup-contrecoup injury is not necessarily caused by contact with another object, mere whiplash can cause a coup-contrecoup injury.
A common example is when a car suddenly stops and an occupant hits their forehead on the dashboard. The brain is first slammed on the front part, at the point where the skull and the dashboard collide (coup). It can then ‘bounce’ or swing back within the skull, hitting the back part of it (contrecoup).
Signs to watch for if you or someone you know has suffered a brain injury include headaches, loss of consciousness, confusion, blurry vision, or nausea. Additional symptoms of these contusions depend on which parts of the brain are hit. However, the most common sites for these types of injuries are the frontal and temporal lobes. Damage to the frontal lobe of the brain may result in diminished language skills, impaired decision-making or moral judgment, and decreased intelligence. Damage to the temporal lobe can affect behavior, memory and hearing. To diagnose the injury, a doctor will often take a CT or an MRI to determine whether a person has suffered a contusion or coup-contrecoup.
Because coup-contrecoup contusions affect a substantial amount of the brain, survivors typically need extensive support after their accident. This damage is often irreversible, so medical care is instead focused on assisting the mental functions of patients.
Diffuse Axonal Injury (DAI)
When the brain moves abruptly and forcefully, its connecting nerve fibers (called axons) may be stretched, twisted, or torn. This disrupts the function of many brain regions, often sending the injured person to a coma and as a result, it often causes a coma. A diffuse axonal injury usually results in a coma that lasts at least six hours. The severity of a diffuse axonal injury ranges from mild (grade I), to moderate (grade II), to severe (grade III). Motor vehicle accidents, sports, violence, and falls are the most likely causes of a diffuse axonal injury. Research finds that over 90 percent of patients with severe DAI never regain consciousness and those who do have severe impairments.
What’s more terrifying about this injury is that it occurs at a microscopic level, making it difficult to detect by CT scan or MRI. Furthermore, there are few treatments for DAI. Doctors may recommend procedures to prevent complications such as swelling of the brain which may include anti-inflammatory drugs or steroids.
For survivors, rehabilitation and specific therapies may be available. Some recovery tools a doctor may utilize include speech, occupational, and physical therapy. However, even with these recovery tools, the injury generally has lifelong implications and costs. Often if a person is able to recover from the initial coma, they are unable to work in their current field. There are also mental and emotional costs that must be considered. Willens Law Offices can ensure that all these future costs are adequately taken into consideration and accounted for in recovery of damages.
A hematoma is the rupture of a blood vessel, and “intracranial” means it occurs inside the skull. This rupture causes bleeding or blood clot in surrounding tissues. Any blow to the head can result in a hematoma, but they are most common in car accidents, assaults and sports. Several factors can increase the risk of a hematoma. Such thins include medication such as blood thinners or aspirin, repeated head injury, long-term alcohol use and blood that clots poorly. There are several subtypes of this injury, including:
- Epidural hematoma – collection of blood between the skull and the outer layer of the brain (dura). According to Mount Sinai, this type of injury is most common for young children because covering of the brain is less closely attached to the skull than adults.
- Subdural hematoma – collection of blood outside the brain but within its outer membrane (dura)
- Intracerebral hematoma – collection of blood within the brain tissue itself.
If you sustain a blow to the head, you should see a doctor immediately as surviving a brain bleed depends on immediate treatment. Symptoms of a hematoma can occur immediately or over a prolonged period of time. According to the Mayo Clinic, common symptoms include headaches, vomiting, slurred speech, drowsiness, dizziness, confusion, and unequal pupil sizes. More severe symptoms include lethargy, seizures, unconsciousness, blurred vision and unsteadiness. The effects of a hematoma depend greatly on its size, but typically, people with this injury are often seriously ill, requiring life support. Getting medical help immediately can help reduce the risk of a hematoma, but even if caught quickly, it can still result in long term disability or death.
To treat an intracranial hematoma, certain surgeries may be needed such as a Burr hole trephination (drilling the skull), craniotomy (opening the skull and reducing pressure inside), and craniectomy (opening the skull to allow the brain to expand).
Penetrating Brain Injury
The injuries discussed above usually occur while the skull or brain remains intact or when the skull is not damaged but the brain is. Another type of TBI is open head injury due to an entering object. Examples are a bullet from a gunshot, a stab wound, shards of glass puncturing the head, and pieces of skull that broke off and entered the brain. If you or someone you know has suffered a penetrating brain injury, obviously you should immediately call 911. Bleeding should be stopped, do not move the person, and stabilize the head.
Open head injuries are life-threatening. They often involve heavy blood loss, seizures, and coma, as well as disruptions to bodily functions based on the damaged brain part. Aside from an emergency response, major medical procedures are usually needed, such as object removal surgery and operations to relieve the associated hematoma. Sometimes doctors will use x-rays, CTs and MRIs to look at the extent of the injury. The level of severity of the injury can vary and impact the type of treatment as well as recovery potential and timeline. For severe injuries, parts of a person’s skill may be removed, burr holes may need o be drilled, and a tube may be placed into the brain to drain fluid.
Penetrating brain injuries are very severe and therefore have long term consequences and a long recovery period. Physical therapy and occupation therapy are common steps taken in recovery. Steps can be taken to protect from penetrating brain injuries. One example is always a helmet when you ride a bike, motorcycle or scooter. Additionally, always use seatbelts when in a car and use handrails when walking up and down stairs to prevent falls. Since recovery can be prolonged and difficult, lost wages, mental, and physical damages can be quite high. Past and future expenses need to be taken into consideration.
Traumatic Brain Injury Symptoms
Symptoms of traumatic brain injury vary from person to person. The outcome can range from complete recovery to permanent disability and even death.
Recognizing the signs and symptoms of traumatic brain injury can help save a person’s life. Watching for the signs or behavioral changes after the trauma are vital. These include:
- Loss of consciousness, even for a few seconds
- Memory lapses, difficulty concentrating or slowness in thinking
- Nausea or vomiting
- Dizziness, confusion or fogginess
- Loss of balance
- Persistent headaches or headaches that worsen
- Sensitivity to light or sound
- Fatigue or drowsiness
- Difficulty sleeping or sleeping more than usual
- Feeling depressed or anxious
- Sensory problems, including blurred vision, ringing in the ears or a bad taste in the mouth.
- Seizures or convulsions
- Slurred speech
- Unequal pupil size
- Pupil dilation in one or both eyes
- Weakness or numbness in the fingers or toes
- Agitation, combativeness or other unusual behavior
- Clear fluids draining from the eyes and nose
If you notice any of these signs, seek immediate medical treatment!
TBI are classified into mild, moderate and severe. The severity of the injury is classified by looking at the victim’s level of consciousness based on verbal, motor, and eye-opening reactions when stimulated.
Your Rightful Compensation
An insurance company will rarely offer someone without a reputable personal injury lawyer a full and fair settlement. Keep in mind that insurance companies make billions of dollars by collecting as much as they can in premiums from ordinary people, then paying out as little as possible when claims are made. Their tactics of deny, delay, defend have been a mainstay after an accident for many, many years.
We determine your fair settlement based on several factors:
- past and future medical bills
- lost earnings
- loss of earning capacity
- pain and suffering
- loss of a normal life
- changes in your relationships with your loved ones.
If a traumatic brain injury resulted in the tragic death of your loved one, it may be a case of wrongful death. If so, you can claim some unique damages. Though monetary payments can never replace the life you lost, they can help you recover financially so you can focus on healing. Wrongful death damages may include:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Lost consortium (marital companionship)
- Lost guidance and care
- Lost benefits.
To know the maximum amount of damages you can claim, consult with Willens Law. We are experienced in the various rights and claims of TBI victims, and more importantly, we are on your side. We leave no stone unturned in determining our clients’ full compensation.
We determine this at the appropriate time, on our client’s time table, not in insurance company’s.
How Willens Law Helps Illinois TBI Victims
With our effective legal representation and professional client treatment, our firm has helped individuals and families recover from their TBI accidents in Chicagoland.
One of our successful cases resulted in a $15.8 million verdict for the family of a little girl who sustained TBI after being struck by a van. This was a highly contentious case, but we fought aggressively and strategically. This high-value verdict was then recognized among the Top 100 Verdicts in the US that year.
We have effectively obtained maximum compensation for numerous other families who suffered from accidents. Whether negotiating for a full settlement or litigating in court, our lawyers have the advantage of experience, determination, and resourcefulness. Our head attorney, Mr. Matthew Willens, is a top-rated lawyer with firsthand knowledge of how the defense industry works. This is a valuable head-start for our firm’s clients.
Our entire team makes sure each client is treated well throughout their case. We make ourselves available 24/7, and we constantly communicate using clear, understandable language. If you can’t come to us, we’ll arrange to come to you. We strive to ease your ordeal as you fight for justice.
Chicago Traumatic Brain Injury Attorney
If you or a loved one have suffered TBI in a car accident as the result of another person’s negligent behavior, contact a traumatic brain injury lawyer at Willens Law Offices. We don’t represent insurance companies. We don’t represent physicians in medical malpractice matters. We focus exclusively on representing individuals and their families who were injured by someone else’s negligence.
Since we charge no legal fees, unless and until we succeed in obtaining a monetary recovery for you, you can count on us fighting hard to get you the compensation you need and deserve. Call us today at (312) 957-4166 or fill out our online contact form for your FREE consultation.