Chicago Traumatic Brain Injury Lawyer
Brain injuries are often permanent and almost always life changing, affecting the lives of both victims and their families.
Dealing with brain injuries
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, approximately 1.7. million people in the United States sustain traumatic brain injuries each year. Such brain injuries are a contributing factor in to 30.5% of all injury-related deaths and cause a substantial number of serious disabilities.
Brain injuries can occur anywhere
Brain injuries can have many causes such as car accidents, workplace injuries, slip and falls, bicycle accidents, diving or swimming accidents, medical malpractice, amusement rides, sports injuries and many more. You do not need to be hit on the head to have a brain injury. Lack of oxygen or whiplash are two examples of brain injuries with no contact.
Brain injury facts
Recognizing a brain injury can help you or a loved one, even save a 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
- 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
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.
TBIs are classified as either closed head injuries, or as penetrating head injuries. For example, when a blow to the head transfers force to the brain, thereby causing damage and brain dysfunction but no open wound on the head, it is considered a closed head injury TBI. However, if a foreign object or fragment of skull were to penetrate the brain, it would be considered a penetrating head injury and it too could cause a TBI. Each individual case is unique to the person suffering from the TBI, and there are various degrees of severity. The severity of the trauma determines the extent of the damage and is often categorized as “mild,” “moderate” or “severe.”
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.
Symptoms of Mild TBIs
A mild TBI, such as a concussion, is often characterized by temporary brain dysfunction. The CDC estimates that 75% of the TBIs that occur each year are mild. When an injured person falls and strikes his or her head and remains conscious, or only loses consciousness for a few seconds to a few minutes, the TBI is mild. A person with a mild TBI usually exhibits symptoms commonly expected from a sharp blow to the head. There could be a mild headache, or some dizziness, confusion or disorientation. More serious indications of a mild TBI include sudden memory problems, difficulty concentrating, vomiting and/or nausea and problems with loss of balance and difficulty walking.
Symptoms of a Moderate to Severe TBI
Severe TBIs often cause physical damage to the brain’s soft tissue and usually have a long-term impact on cognitive functionality. Severe TBIs can even be fatal. If an injured person loses consciousness for several minutes or longer, it may be a sign that the TBI is moderate or severe in degree. Moderate to severe TBIs exhibit many of the same symptoms as mild TBIs, except the severity of the symptoms is significantly more pronounced, and these TBIs are considerably more dangerous to the health of the injured person. A moderate or severe TBI can cause unusual behavior and serious confusion in the affected individual, as well as present physical manifestations of symptoms such as vomiting, slurred speech and even uncontrollable seizures or convulsions.
Complications Due to TBIs
Brain injury trauma can cause contusions and/or bleeds to occur in the brain, it can cause damage to blood vessels in the brain, and it can even cause skull fractures. Any number of these injuries can further cause blood clots to form in the brain, which can lead to the injured person having a stroke, something that can exacerbate the brain injuries even more.
Focal Brain Injuries: Causes, Types, Symptoms & Treatments
Unlike a diffuse brain injury, a focal brain injury is concentrated in one region of the brain. Having an injury in a specific region of the brain can make it easier to predict the trajectory of the injury, however, it generally does not make these injuries any more or less serious compared to diffuse brain injuries. Their impact depends on the severity and location of the injury, and access to quality medical care and rehabilitation. While some people completely recover from the injury, others have to struggle with the symptoms for years. In this post, our Chicago brain injury lawyers will discuss focal brain injuries in greater depth.
Causes of focal brain injuries
These injuries occur when there is trauma to the brain in a single location. This does not mean that only a single function will be affected, because small regions of the brain control several, unrelated functions. Some common causes of these injuries include:
- Head trauma, particularly by a sharp object. This can result from violent attacks, car accidents, and falls
- A brain lesion that cuts of blood supply to a particular region of the brain
- A blood clot that travels to the brain and blocks oxygen to a specific region
Diffuse brain injuries often result from shaking, so a whiplash injury or shaken baby syndrome can increase the likelihood of a focal brain injury.
Types of focal brain injuries
Focal brain injuries can be open or closed just like all other brain injuries. Some other categories of focal brain injuries include:
- Intraventricular hemorrhage: Bleeding within the brain’s ventricles.
- Epidural hemorrhage: Brain bleeds in between the skull and the dura matter.
- Intracerebral hemorrhage: Bleeding within the cerebrum.
- Subdural hemorrhage: Bleeding between the brain’s arachnoid and dura matter.
- Cerebral laceration: When the brain’s pia-arachnoid gets lacerated.
- Cerebral contusion: A brain bruise, which usually results from the brain hitting the skull.
Symptoms of a focal brain injury
Focal brain injuries generally cannot be diagnosed solely based on the symptoms. If you have suffered a blow to the head or have violently shaken, you should seek medical attention. Some of the common symptoms that can indicate a focal brain injury include:
- Severe headache
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty staying awake.
- Slurred speech.
- Sudden and unexplained paranoia, fear, depression or anxiety.
- Changes in mood or personality.
- Tingling or numbness on either side of the body.
- Difficulty speaking or understanding speech.
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Changes in vision or consciousness.
Treatment and prognosis
The prognosis depends on a variety of factors such as overall health of the person, the severity and location of the injury, how promptly the person sought medical attention and the quality of care and rehabilitation received.
Apart from the medication and possible surgery, the patient may need occupational, physical, and speech therapy. The recovery can be slow and frustrating. However, proper treatment and care, and lifestyle changes can make things easier.
Seizures and Epilepsy Following a Traumatic Brain Injury
Epilepsy as a Result of a TBI
Individuals who suffer a TBI have to undergo extensive treatment, and the road to recover is often long and challenging. They often have to go through medical treatment, rehabilitation, and occupational therapy. The patient also faces the possibility of side effects and complications as a result of the TBI. One such complications that can arise after a TBI is epilepsy. There are various kinds of seizure disorders, but the one stemming from a traumatic brain injury is known as post-traumatic epilepsy. It’s impact on a person’s life depends on how severe the seizure disorder is.
The symptoms of epilepsy can show up immediately after the brain injury, or it can take days or even months for the symptoms to show up. The symptoms may range from being mild and frequent, to sporadic and unpredictable. Some common symptoms include shaking, tremors, and convulsions.
There are tests available to diagnose seizure disorders and their severity. The most commonly used test is known as EEG monitoring, which involves the use of a medical testing device to measure the brain’s activity and electrical impulses.
Seizures Can Occur Any Time After TBI
After a brain injury, seizures can occur either immediately or days later. If the patient experiences a seizures within 24 hours after a TBI, it is referred to as an early onset seizure. Late seizures may occur days or even months after a TBI.
Seizures can be classified and generalized and partial seizures. A generalized seizure is the one that begins in one part of the brain and spreads to other areas. It results in violent shaking of the neck, head and limbs. Partial seizures occur when only a part of the brain is affected, and the seizures are also confined to one area of the brain. The person may be conscious or unconscious during a seizure. These seizures may cause an altered sense of taste and smell, uncontrollable crying or an uncomfortable feeling of fear, and usually no convulsions.
Traumatic Brain Injury Complications
A Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) can lead to a variety of complications. Serious brain injuries that occur after a car accident, a slip and fall, or a sporting accident can increase the victim’s risk of developing debilitating permanent brain damage. In this post, our Chicago attorneys will discuss common complications associated with TBIs.
Complications That Arise after a Traumatic Brain Injury
Some symptoms of TBI may show up immediately after the head trauma, but in some cases, the effects of a brain injury may become evident days or even weeks after the accident. Some of the complications arising out of traumatic brain injuries are:
A person suffering from a severe head injury risks permanent changes in consciousness. Altered consciousness can manifest as:
- Coma – A coma occurs when there is widespread damage to all parts of the brain. People in a coma are completely unaware of their surroundings and do not respond to any stimulus. There is generally no telling how long a coma will last.
- Vegetative state – Similar to a coma, a person in a vegetative state will be unaware of their surroundings, but may be able to show signs of movement, sounds and respond to reflexes.
- Minimally conscious state – Minimally conscious state is considered as a transition from a coma or a vegetative state to recovery. A person has limited awareness but with a severely altered consciousness.
- Locked-in syndrome – This state indicates that a person although aware of his surroundings, is not able to move. Locked-in syndrome is most commonly found in victims who experience a stroke in the lower brain.
- Brain death – Complete inactivity of the brain and brain stem is called brain death. It in an irreversible state and a person declared brain dead is generally taken off life support systems to allow natural death due to heart failure.
People with a head trauma can experience seizures, either just after the injury, or a few days after the injury. At times, seizures can recur, progressing to epilepsy.
Brain trauma can cause cerebrospinal fluid to build up in parts of the brain causing swelling and pressure build-up. This can increase complications that can further lead to a number of other disorders.
Penetrating TBI’s can expose the delicate inner tissues of the brain leading to infections. Infection of meninges (the protective brain tissue), a condition known as meningitis, can occur.
Blood Vessel Damage
TBI’s can damage the small and large blood vessels causing them to rupture, leading to build-up of blood in the brain that adds pressure and causes swelling of the brain tissue. Such damage can lead to strokes and blood clots.
TBI’s can cause injury to the cranial nerves. Any injury to the cranial nerve can result in a host of conditions like paralysis of facial muscles, loss of vision, double vision, loss of sense of smell, difficulty in swallowing, etc.
Cognitive, Communicative, Emotional and Behavioral Problems
TBI’s can lead to cognitive, communicative, emotional and behavioral dysfunction. Problems with memory, learning, concentration, problem-solving, multitasking, inability to communicate, difficulty in understanding written or spoken language, lack of self-control, outbursts, social inhibitions, depression, anxiety, irritability, and anger are only some of the possible outcomes of TBI.
Degenerative Brain Diseases
TBI’s can cause gradual degradation of the brain cells causing diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Dementia pugilistic.
Spasticity After a Traumatic Brain Injury
Spasticity is common in people with severe brain injuries. Those with spasticity may feel that their muscles have contracted, and do not stretch or relax. Some other symptoms include muscle weakness, overactive reflexes, and loss of fine motor skills.
In this article, we will discuss how TBI patients may be affected by spasticity.
Facts About Spasticity
Victims of severe traumatic brain injuries can suffer from spasticity as well as cognitive and other motor impairments. Here are some of the facts about spasticity:
- Many TBI patient either have easily controlled spasticity or do not have it at all
- The brain injury can cause the muscles in the body to become stiff, difficult to stretch and overactive. The muscles may tighten suddenly or “spasm”. Medically, it is termed spasticity.
- Spasticity may not be equally troublesome in all cases, and some may not even require treatment
- Spasticity may not be persistent, and may become worse with certain activities or at night.
- If only a few muscles are affected, treatments such as botulinum toxin injections and nerve blocks may effective. Surgery may also be an option in this case.
Symptoms of Spasticity
The degree and symptoms of spasticity varies from person to person:
- Muscle tightness during activity
- Sudden and involuntary relaxing or tightening of a limb or jerking of muscles in the chest, back or abdomen
While the symptoms of spasticity can occur anytime, they are more likely to occur when:
- Feel emotional stress
- Move or stretch an arm or a leg
- Have a full bladder or urinary tract infection
- Have large hemorrhoids or constipation
- Have an injury to the bones, muscles and tendons
- Wear tight clothing
- Have any kind of skin irritation
Problems Caused by Spasticity
While spasticity is not always bothersome or harmful, it may not always need treatment. There are some problems accompanying spasticity that may be particularly bothersome. Some of these problems include:
- Pain when muscles tighten
- Difficulty taking deep breaths
- Limited motion
- Poor sleep and fatigue during the day
- Poor positioning in a bed or chair
- Difficulty maintaining proper hygiene
- Skin pressure ulcers
- Limited use of hands
Physical therapy is commonly used for coping with spasticity. Some common physical treatments include regular stretching exercises to improve flexibility, use of cold packs, and splints and braces for continuous muscle stretching.
Although medication is commonly used to control spasticity, but it has its own side effects. Oral medication is most effective when there is spasticity in several parts of the body. Some common side effects these medications such as sleepiness are particularly intense after a brain injury.
For those who have spasticity in a single location, focal interventions are used. Anesthetic medications, phenol, neurotoxins and alcohol can be injected into the affected muscles and nerves to reduce muscle hyperactivity in order to control spasticity in local areas.
Important Facts for TBI Victims
Brain Injury Litigations are Difficult
Due to the complications that brain injuries present, insurance companies demand objective, solid evidence of the injury. MRIs and CT scans that show physical injury are often required. Insurance companies may assume that an individual is faking the injury or that the injury is pre-existing. In addition, patients and their families should understand that all past and present medical records, grades, and job performance reviews will be studied and analyzed.
Better Technology is Available
Advancements in brain medicine have busted some common myths about brain injuries. For example, a person who does not lose consciousness after a head trauma may still suffer a brain injury. Earlier, it was believed that a normal reading on a CT scan or MRI would mean that no permanent brain injury had taken place. However, this has been disproven. Modern technology and advancements in equipment have enabled medical practitioners to record every minute change in the brain.
Recovery from TBI is Slow
Depending on the extent of injury and the symptoms, recovery can either be straightforward or may present complications and may take years to heal. For those with permanent brain damage, recovery can be a lifelong journey.
Social Security Disability
The family of the victim should consider applying for social security disability status for moderate and severe TBI cases. There is no telling how long the recovery process will be; however, it is better to apply and have the status cancelled later if required, rather than having to wait for a long time without medical funds.
Injury to the Frontal Lobe
The frontal lobe is most susceptible to injury and injuries to this part of the brain, even if minor, can lead to devastating effects. However, many times, these injuries can go unnoticed and the symptoms can show gradually, over time.
Cognitive reserve refers to the amount of grey matter or brain cells a human has. Losing these cells due to brain damage can make an individual susceptible to dementia or Alzheimer’s disease in the future.
Insurance Company Tactics
Victims of TBI and their families should be aware of certain tactics employed by insurance companies to evade paying compensation and look for evidence, including papers thrown in the trash, phone call recordings, and social media.
Competence of the Treating Physician
Victims and the family members of the victim should assess the competence of the medical practitioners who will treat the victim.
Returning to Normalcy
TBI victims, especially those with mild TBI who do not exhibit severe symptoms, should try to get back to normalcy. It has been observed that juries tend to appreciate efforts at returning to normalcy. Moreover, testimonies of those at work can help in proving the disabilities caused due to the injury.
3 Myths About Traumatic Brain Injuries
Many people believe certain myths about traumatic brain juries. In this post, our Chicago personal injury lawyer will debunk some of these common myths, and help you gain a clear understanding of what TBIs really are.
Myth 1 – A brain injury is always accompanied by loss of consciousness
Loss of consciousness is one of the symptoms of a traumatic brain injury. However, it is not the sole indicator. Feeling dazed, disoriented or confused can also be indicators of a TBI. Often medical practitioners overlook these indicators due to ‘no loss of consciousness.’
These indicators of mild TBI can affect a person’s injury claim, because the defense lawyers often use the ‘no loss of consciousness’ premise in an attempt to rule out TBI.
Myth 2 – If an MRI or CT does not show a TBI, then there is no TBI
Individuals suffering a head injury typically undergo an MRI or a CT scan in the emergency room. However, a Traumatic Brain Injury can present itself in a number of ways, days after an accident. Considering this, it could be possible that life altering effects of a TBI can be neglected by the patient, his family, medical caregivers, an inexperienced lawyer, and other personnel associated with the case.
To counter this, having an experienced Chicago traumatic brain injury lawyer by your side is important. An experienced attorney will have a clear understanding of TBI’s, will be able to investigate the symptoms caused by the injury, differentiate between before and after behaviors, and draw up a testimony that includes TBI specialists, to speak before the defense, jury, and judge.
Myth 3 – Mild TBI’s are not disabling
Victims of a mild traumatic brain injury often exhibit normalcy – in reactions as well as behavior. However, they can also experience crippling disabilities that can be physical, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral in nature, or can even lead to degenerative brain diseases. All of these can alter a person’s normal life. The brain is a complex organ, therefore any injury – mild or severe – can lead to complex repercussions and often, trying to prove them in court can become even more complex.
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.
We determine this at the appropriate time, on our client’s time table, not in insurance company’s.
If any of these signs are present, seek emergency medical care immediately.
Contact our traumatic brain injury attorneys
Not only in a brain injury devastating to you or your loved ones, but the medical costs can debilitate you financially. The costs of a severe brain injury requiring constant medical care and permanent disability is something you should be compensated for if the injury is the fault of someone else. Call us as soon as possible for a free consultation. We will review your case and do our best to get your the restitution you deserve.