A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a particularly concerning the type of injury because suffering a TBI can make routine tasks difficult or impossible, cause problems with focus, cause changes to your personality, or result in many other issues and limitations. Because TBIs can be permanent and life-altering, if you suspect that someone has suffered a TBI, you should seek medical attention promptly. A doctor, nurse or another qualified medical professional can then assess your condition and rule out any underlying danger as even minor symptoms can sometimes indicate a life-threatening condition.
Many times, a TBI is the result of an accident or an unfortunate event. However, when someone experiences a severe brain injury because of the negligence or recklessness of another party, the injured person has legal rights. A negligent party should be held liable for any medical expenses or other damages a victim incurs. Our Springdale Traumatic Brain Injury attorneys are committed to holding responsible parties accountable.
If you or a loved one suffered a TBI because of the negligent or intentional conduct of another, call our law offices to review your options. To schedule a free consultation, call (479) 316-0438.
What is a Traumatic Brain Injury?
A TBI can occur in an innumerable amount of circumstances. As for the injury that is caused by the accident, the injury’s severity and nature will vary depending on the unique circumstances that are present or caused the injury.
At the most basic level, a TBI is an injury to the brain that occurs when an impact or force strikes or penetrates the skull. As alluded to, there are two classes of TBI injuries: closed head injuries and penetrating TBIs.
Closed head TBI injuries are common in car, truck and SUV crashes where the driver may hit his or her head on the steering wheel or dashboard. Similarly a physical altercation where on is punched, elbowed or kicked in the head would also be categorized as a closed head injury. When a blunt force impact to the skull occurs there is a tearing and shearing of nerve and other connective tissues. This nerve, tissue and muscle damage results in many of the signs and symptoms reported by those suffering a TBI.
While less common, penetrating injuries can be especially catastrophic as a foreign object typically passes through the skull and into the brain. The damage is often localized to the path the bullet or other object took through the skull. Many times these types of injuries destroy the brain structures they pass through resulting in permanent damage.
What Can Cause a Traumatic Brain Injury in Arkansas?
Brain injuries could range from minor concussions to severe trauma. They also occur for a wide variety of reasons. When another party’s negligence or recklessness causes a TBI, they should be held responsible. Below are some of the common ways traumatic brain injuries happen.
Car and Motorcycle Accidents
Because of the forces involved in a car accident, head injuries occur. A sudden stop or change of direction causes the head and neck to snap, injuring the brain. In addition, debris from a collision could puncture or strike a victim’s head.
Motorcyclists are especially vulnerable to severe head injuries due to the lack of protection a bike provides. When a rider refrains from wearing a helmet, the chances of sustaining a TBI increase dramatically.
If a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle, they will likely suffer substantial injuries, including brain injuries.
Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip and fall accidents are common. When a person loses their balance, they could strike their head on the ground or another object. Falls occur for a variety of reasons, including slippery floors, uneven surfaces, and broken stairs. When someone falls from a significant height, as in the case of a defective railing, the potential injuries could be much more severe.
Construction Site Accidents
It is possible to suffer a TBI in any workplace, for example, falling in an office setting. However, due to the type of work, the heavy equipment, and the heights workers are required to scale, many construction employees sustain head and brain injuries in work-related accidents. While these claims typically fall under Arkansas workers’ compensation laws, there are times that a third party could be held financially liable. You should speak with one of our Arkansas personal injury lawyers to discuss your options if you were hurt in a construction accident.
Negligence conduct on the part of your doctor, surgeon, nurse, or another medical professional could lead to catastrophic complications. When a patient is deprived of oxygen, they could suffer hypoxia. Even in cases where a doctor is aware of their error, it could be too late to reverse or stop the damage. Unfortunately, some newborns begin their lives with a TBI. If an obstetrician negligently employs forceps or a vacuum extractor during a difficult delivery, it could result in a severe brain injury.
Some sports, such as football, hockey, and basketball, involve considerable physical contact. Participants are likely to sustain many different types of injuries, including TBIs. Other sports that do not have the same physical contact, such as baseball, skiing, or horseback riding, could also cause severe injuries to the head and brain. While many of these injuries are accidental, there are times where coaches, facility managers, equipment manufacturers, or other parties could be held liable.
Not every injury is the result of an accident or carelessness. An intentional physical assault could leave a victim with a concussion or other severe brain injury. While the assailant could face criminal charges, the victim is still entitled to file a civil suit.
Types of Traumatic Brain Injuries in Arkansas
As stated above, an injured victim could experience a TBI in a wide variety of accidents. The type of injury depends on how the injury occurred. Typically, traumatic brain injuries are categorized into four types.
A concussion is also considered a closed head injury. Typically, a concussion is a minor brain injury that is caused by an impact to the head or a sudden change in direction or movement. For example, whiplash is a common injury in rear-end collisions. The brain could suffer an injury when the victim’s head jerks back and forth. In many cases, a concussion will not be apparent in an imaging test.
Nonetheless, a concussion is a serious injury. After any accident, you should be evaluated for a concussion. You should not wait until symptoms appear. People who suffer concussions could experience headaches, memory loss, disorientation, blurry vision, and nausea. A concussion is especially dangerous if you have had one or more previously.
A brain contusion is a bruise of the brain tissue, similar to if you had a bruise on your skin. These injuries occur when blood vessels break or leak. When you bruise your arm or leg, the injury appears as a bluish discolored blemish. When a blood vessel breaks on the brain, it typically will result in a building of pressure.
Brain contusions are also closed head injuries. They typically happen when something impacts the head. For example, if your car is struck from the side, your head could slam against the window. Another common cause of brain contusions, and concussions, are slip and fall accidents.
Depending on the impact, the brain could be damaged at the direct point of impact or on the opposite side of the head. In some cases, an impact could result in damage on both sides of the brain.
Also, like concussions, a brain contusion could range from a minor injury to a severe life-altering one. If you have a brain contusion, you could experience confusion, tiredness, loss of consciousness, or emotional distress. In more severe cases, the brain could swell, preventing oxygenation and other life-threatening consequences.
When a foreign object pierces the skull, the victim could suffer a penetrating brain injury. A TBI could occur if the object, a piece of skull, hair, or anything else makes contact with the brain. Any direct contact with the brain can cause serious damage to a small or large part of the brain. Some common causes of penetrating brain injuries include gunshot wounds, skull fractures, and sports injuries. Skull fractures could occur in a broad range of accidents, including car crashes and slip and fall accidents. The symptoms and complications a victim will experience depend on what part of the brain was damaged and how deep the object penetrated.
Anoxic Brain Injuries
An anoxic brain injury occurs when the brain is deprived of enough oxygen to not function properly. If your brain does not have enough oxygen for just four to five minutes, brain cells begin to die and brain damage begins to occur. Most anoxic brain damage is caused when there is a blockage of blood flow to the brain.
There are many reasons why a blockage could happen, including a stroke, blood clot, heart attack, or serious trauma. There are also times when blood is flowing to the brain, but the blood does not contain sufficient oxygen, for example, choking, drowning, or carbon monoxide poisoning. These injuries could also occur during birth and are the basis of medical malpractice claims.
What Impairments Can a TBI Cause?
A TBI injury can cause severe medical conditions not limited to a hematoma, skull fracture, contusions, nerve damage, and lacerations. Other problems can include high intracranial pressure, fever, infection, epilepsy, and seizures. These types of problems with the brain can cause difficulty with:
- Cognitive functioning – Cognitive difficulties not limited to problems with memory and focus are reported by many who have suffered a TBI injury.
- Motor skills – if certain parts of the brain are damaged, the victim of a TBI may experience weakness in their arms and legs. Further, they suffer from reduced coordination or balance.
- Communication – The individual may have trouble with figurative or symbolic speech. Further, the pace of the conversation may become overwhelming for an individual with a TBI.
- Social Functioning — The injured individual may have difficulty with identifying or providing social signals such as facial expressions or hand gestures. The injured person may struggle to understand abstract topics of conversation or act appropriately by taking turns in the conversation.
- Executive functioning – These types of skills include planning for the future and understanding the consequences of your actions. People with a severe brain injury may also have difficulty with beginning tasks and seeing them through to completion.
Steps to Take After a Traumatic Brain Injury in Arkansas
Traumatic brain injuries are serious and require immediate medical attention. In some cases, an injury will be so severe that you will not have a choice in whether you receive medical care or not, such as in a catastrophic car accident.
However, many people suffer brain injuries and are unaware of the severity of the injury. You could walk away from a rear-end collision with a stiff neck, never thinking that your brain suffered an injury. Other people will slip and fall, only to shake it off and ignore any disorientation they are feeling. When you ignore a head injury, you are jeopardizing your health and a potential personal injury lawsuit.
Seek Immediate Medical Attention
If you are ever injured, a competent personal injury lawyer will always advise you to seek medical attention. When your head is injured, even if it seems like a small bump, you should seek immediate medical attention. Brain injuries are serious and their severity could go unnoticed for a considerable amount of time. To protect your health and your legal rights, you should see your doctor or go to an urgent care center as soon as possible. You do not want to wait until symptoms such as headaches or disorientation begin to show.
Understand the Long-Term and Short-Term Consequences of a TBI
You may have no idea that you suffered a TBI after an accident. If you hesitate in seeking medical attention, it is important to be aware of the short-term and long-term effects of a TBI. In the short term, you could begin to experience some discomfort, such as a headache or nausea. When a TBI goes untreated, your headache could become chronic migraines. Other symptoms include amnesia, difficulty concentrating, and blurry vision. While it is possible to feel fine after an accident where you suffered a TBI, if you start to experience any symptoms, it is time to seek medical attention.
Contact Our Arkansas Personal Injury Lawyers
Traumatic brain injuries could affect your entire life. Severe brain damage could adversely impact your mobility, cognitive functions, and diminish your earning capacity. If you suffered a head injury, you want to begin building your personal injury case as soon as possible. Calling our experienced Arkansas traumatic brain injury lawyers is the first step in protecting your legal rights.
Treatment for TBI
A TBI can often be treated, thereby improving the functionality and quality of life of the injured person. However, treatment for a TBI must be individualized for the particular injuries and problems experienced by the injured person. Typically this means that treatment for a TBI requires the coordination of a team of specialists that may include:
- A medical doctor to monitor your progress throughout the rehabilitative therapy
- A speech language pathologist can work to improve the communicative ability of the injured person.
- A psychologist may help the individual and his or her family accept the traumatic events and prepare them to better assist the injured person.
- Assistive devices can also help the injured person regain strength or achieve additional functionality.
How to Prove a Victim Sustained a Traumatic Brain Injury
In any personal injury case based on a defendant’s negligent conduct, the plaintiff must establish four elements: duty, breach, causation, and damages. However, TBI cases present an additional challenge. Brain injuries are not always apparent. Unlike a fracture, a TBI is not visible to the naked eye. The symptoms, such as confusion, memory loss, and changes in behavior, might be noticeable to the victim but are difficult to prove to an impartial observer. For example, if you sustained a TBI, you could be experiencing frequent headaches, insomnia, or dizziness. How do you prove this to a jury or an insurance company?
Damage to the brain might not be noticeable by looking at someone’s head, but the brain will show some signs of injuries. Our Fayetteville personal injury attorneys will likely refer you to a neuropsychologist to run a series of tests to gauge your ability to concentrate, recall, calculate, or multi-task. Unfortunately, no one test will assess the full loss of function you could be experiencing.
Some common tests and methods that could be used to determine the extent of damage you suffered including, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positive emission tomography (PET scan), and SPECT Scans. Through a battery of tests, a neurologist will examine a three-dimensional image of your brain, measure blood flow, and determine the level of oxygen your brain is receiving and utilizing. An experienced medical expert will be able to take the results of these various tests and explain to a jury how your brain has been affected by the injury. They will also connect the injury to the accident or incident.
Brain imaging technology is only one way to demonstrate the impacts of a TBI. Psychological testing could be used to establish the effects of your injury. In most cases, an injured victim will have to undergo a neuropsychological assessment. This assessment will be useful in determining your cognitive functions.
It is not uncommon for victims of a TBI to struggle when describing what they are experiencing. Through an intensive clinical assessment, it will be possible to determine the presence of any existing learning difficulties, the victim’s psychological history, and a more complete picture of their cognitive abilities and emotional state.
A professional analyst will present this information to a jury to explain your emotional struggles and impaired mental functioning.
Expert Medical Witnesses
The testimony from expert medical professionals is critical in prevailing in a TBI case. They will present their findings, imaging studies, and other test results to the jury to paint a clear and meticulous picture of what type of injury you suffered, its adverse effects, and what type of treatment you will require.
People who are not medical experts could also provide vital testimony. The statements of your family, friends, and co-workers could show a jury how your behavior has changed and what other symptoms you have been demonstrating. For example, your family members could speak to your mood changes, while an employer could discuss how your memory lapses have been impacting your work.
Contact Our Arkansas Traumatic Brain Injury Lawyers
If you have suffered a TBI or other serious injury, contact our Arkansas traumatic brain injury lawyers. Our team Bentonville Traumatic Brain Injury attorneys and staff may be able to help by recovering compensation for your injuries and damages. To schedule your free and confidential consultation, call (479) 316-0438 or contact us online.