As humans, we rely on our brains for everything we do. Whether it is a conscious action, such as speaking, or an unconscious act, like breathing, the brain is an essential organ.
Traumatic brain injuries can occur when the brain sustains an injury from an external force, such as a blow to the head or a penetrating wound. These injuries often happen because another person fails to give due care. If you or someone you love is dealing with the aftermath of a traumatic brain injury due to someone else’s negligence, you have options. In many cases, the law entitles you to financial compensation. To learn more about your legal rights after an accident, contact an experienced Florida personal injury attorney.
4 Common Causes of TBIs
Traumatic brain injuries are one of the leading causes of death and injury in the United States. According to the CDC, TBIs contribute to around 30 percent of all injury deaths. Unfortunately, many of these injuries result from someone’s actions or failure to act. Common causes of traumatic brain injuries include:
It may or may not come as a surprise, but falls are the number one cause of traumatic brain injuries. During a fall, you may have seconds to brace yourself and protect your head. Even if you successfully slow the impact speed, the force on the brain can be significant.
Slip and fall accidents are prevalent. According to premises liability laws, all property owners must safely maintain their land and buildings. If they fail to do so and you get hurt, the property owner may be financially liable.
Common causes of slip and fall accidents include:
- Wet flooring
- Loose rugs or tile
- Uneven pavement
- Cluttered walkways
2. Motor vehicle accidents
Motor vehicle accidents happen at an alarming frequency. Florida alone saw 401,127 accidents in one recent year, 163,921 of them injury crashes.
A traumatic brain injury can happen when the head hits the window, seat, or steering wheel or another object strikes it. Sadly, the majority of car accidents are the result of negligence.
Common causes of accidents include:
- Distracted driving
- Driving under the influence
- Failure to yield the right of way
3. Acts of violence
Acts of violence are one of the leading causes of traumatic brain injuries. Unfortunately, this violence is often at the hands of a loved one. A recent report from Health News Florida reviewed the consequences for domestic violence survivors. According to the report, 70 percent of people seen in the emergency room for abuse never report the abuse. And an astounding 81 percent of victims lost count of the number of times their abusers hit them in the head.
Nobody has the right to hurt you. If a person causes you intentional harm, you have the right to seek justice. A civil case is separate from a criminal case and is not dependent on a guilty verdict. Contact a personal injury attorney to learn more about your rights to recover civil damages.
4. Recreational activities
The more we understand contact sports, the more we learn about the dangers our kid’s face. Traumatic brain injuries are a real and severe threat to children who play contact sports.
A recent report found that 15 percent of high school students reported a concussion resulting from a recreational activity.
Sports that carry the highest risk for traumatic brain injuries include:
In most cases, schools, coaches, and athletic coaches are immune from civil litigation. However, you may have a case if you can prove negligence or if the coach encouraged unsafe behavior. In these cases, talk to an experienced personal injury attorney.
How to recognize a traumatic brain injury
Never ignore a possible brain injury. Even if you are unsure whether you have a TBI or not, it is always best to seek advice from a qualified medical professional. If you hit your head, you need to see a doctor. Sometimes, your symptoms may worsen or become permanent if you delay treatment.
Understanding and identifying the signs of a traumatic brain injury is important. The following list is not all-inclusive and is not a replacement for advice from a medical professional. As always, refer any questions to your healthcare providers.
TBI symptoms include:
- Loss of consciousness
- Ringing in the ears
- Sensory changes, including hearing loss, changes in vision, and a bitter taste in your mouth
- Difficulty sleeping
- Mood changes
- Memory loss
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulties with speech
What to do after you suffer a traumatic brain injury
Your steps after an injury or accident will affect your physical and financial recovery. Always prioritize your health and safety above all else. Your actions will vary depending on the unique circumstances of your injury.
However, take these some basic steps:
- Report your injuries: How you report your injuries depends on how the injuries happened. If you sustain an injury at a place of business, report your injuries to the property owner or manager. If you were in a car accident, report the accident to the police and your insurance company.
- Gather evidence: Witnesses and photos are evidence in a personal injury case. Following an incident, take pictures as soon as possible. This step helps show what happened and the conditions leading to your injuries. If there were any witnesses, get their contact information. Your attorney may want to talk to these individuals.
- Seek medical attention: Traumatic brain injuries are serious. Seek immediate medical attention if you hit your head or have any symptoms that indicate a traumatic brain injury. It’s equally as important to attend any follow-up appointments and follow your doctor’s advice. Not only will this help ensure you receive appropriate treatment, but it will show the other side and any applicable insurance company that you take your injuries seriously.
- Contact an experienced personal injury attorney: It’s easy to underestimate the costs of a traumatic brain injury. Especially if your doctor sends you home with “just a concussion.” Everybody responds differently to a brain injury. To one person, a mild concussion may result in zero symptoms. To another person, it may cause debilitating migraines. A personal injury attorney can help you properly evaluate the value of your case and help you secure appropriate compensation.
The financial cost of a traumatic brain injury
Healthcare is expensive, and traumatic brain injuries can be extremely costly. Some sources estimate that the lifetime cost for treatment of a traumatic brain injury can range anywhere from $85,000 to $3 million. This estimation only takes into account the medical costs.
Treatment costs vary from person to person and can include:
- Medical transportation
- Hospital stays
- Outpatient procedures
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Speech therapy
Medical costs are only the tip of the iceberg regarding traumatic brain injuries. Victims who suffer from traumatic brain injuries can quickly become overwhelmed with the costs associated with their injury.
Other costs include:
- Personal counseling
- Family counseling
- Job placement
- Household services
- Assistive devices
- Residential modifications necessary for mobility
How do I cover the costs associated with my traumatic brain injury?
It’s easy to become overwhelmed as bills pile up and doctors demand payment. If you are healing from a traumatic brain injury, money is the last thing you should worry about. The good news is that if your injury resulted from someone else’s negligence, they might hold some, if not all, financial responsibility for your necessary costs.
After an accident, you will likely have several options to help you cover your bills.
Options may include:
- Your personal auto insurance: Florida requires all drivers to carry a minimum of $10,000 in personal injury protection. If you are in an accident, you can access this coverage immediately by showing your insurance card to your care provider. This policy covers any driver or passenger involved in a motor vehicle accident, regardless of who was at fault. You must seek care within 14 days of your accident to receive full access to your PIP coverage.
- The at-fault party’s insurance: Whether you were in a car accident or hurt yourself on someone else’s property, the law allows you to seek damages from the negligent person. Insurance companies are notorious for paying victims less than they deserve after an accident, regardless of how straightforward the case may be. For this reason, speak to an experienced personal injury attorney to help you fight for the compensation you deserve. Additionally, an experienced attorney can draft a letter of protection to defer any medical payments until the conclusion of your case.
- Your health insurance: An accident does not preclude you from using your own insurance. Your care providers may ask for your health insurance card as a backup, even if it is not your primary form of payment.
- The other driver’s employer: If you were in a car accident and the other driver was working, you may have a case against that person’s employer. Why would you involve the employer rather than going directly through the driver’s insurance? Because the employer’s insurance policy is likely much greater than the driver’s personal insurance. If your injuries require extensive medical care or you miss time from work, you will need access to these funds.
- A private corporation: Sometimes accidents aren’t an individual’s fault, but rather that of a supplier or product manufacturer. In this case, you can sue the business to recover possible damages.
How long do I have to recover damages after a TBI?
When recovering from a traumatic brain injury, insurance claims and personal injury lawsuits are the last things you want to consider. Allow yourself time to recover. That said, you should understand your state’s statute of limitations regarding personal injury matters. The statute of limitations sets the deadline to file a lawsuit after an accident. The statute of limitations in Florida is four years. Beyond this date, the court has the right to refuse to hear your case.
Know your rights. Get the help you need
A traumatic brain injury can change your life. During this time, know you are not alone. There are resources available to help you through your recovery. A personal injury suit can help you ensure you get the care you need and the support necessary to take time from work to focus on your recovery.
If you or someone you love is trying to navigate this challenging time, it’s okay to reach out for help. For more information and to learn more about your legal rights, contact an experienced Florida personal injury attorney.