Brain injuries are among the most complicated and expensive injuries an individual can suffer. If you sustained a brain injury in Santa Rosa as the result of someone else’s careless or reckless actions, you could pursue compensation to help cover the expenses and impacts that occurred because of your injury.
Gomez Trial Attorneys’ Santa Rosa traumatic brain injury lawyers are here to help you. We have a dedicated brain injury practice and brain injury client liaison who can help you understand your injury and legal claim. Call us now to see if we can help you.
About Traumatic Brain Injuries
We’ve seen in Santa Rosa how traumatic brain injuries can affect people. For example, a combat veteran in Santa Rosa recently accepted a $575,000 settlement with the city following an arrest in which officers mistook the symptoms of his brain injury as intoxication and belligerence. The 39-year-old man was walking to a bus stop to go to the VA and make an appointment with the neurology department when he suffered what he believes were multiple seizures as a result of his injury.
In addition to the settlement provided as a result of the man’s arrest by police officers, the Santa Rosa police chief also stated that the department needed more training to detect the differences between seizures and intoxication, and announced policy changes that would require police to provide the county prosecutor with any information given that may prove an individual’s innocence. In this man’s case, military and medical records would have shown that he suffered from seizures.
The brain is an incredibly important organ as it controls all of the body’s voluntary and involuntary responses. Unfortunately, despite its importance, the brain has only a limited ability to recover from damage sustained. An acquired brain injury is damage to the brain that is not caused by a birth injury or a hereditary or congenital condition. Rather, it is the result of changes in the brain’s neuronal activity due to external or internal factors.
Traumatic brain injuries: These brain injuries generally occur due to external factors such as a bump, jolt, or blow to the head or body. Traumatic brain injuries can be described as either a closed (the damage is contained within the skull) or an open or penetrating injury (the skull has been penetrated by an object). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that around 2.87 emergency department visits in the U.S. each year are needed for the treatment of traumatic brain injuries and around 155 people die each day as a result of this type of injury. The most common causes of traumatic brain injuries include falls, motor vehicle accidents, acts of violence including assault, domestic violence, or child abuse, sports and recreational activities such as football, soccer, diving, or surfing, and military combat activities that include explosive blasts, gunshots, and transportation accidents.
Non-traumatic brain injuries: While many non-traumatic brain injuries result from medical conditions such as strokes or tumors, many others have accidental causes, such as electric shock, exposure to toxic substances such as carbon monoxide or lead paint, or oxygen deprivation from choking or drowning.
The brain is divided into several sections, known as lobes, which each control specific bodily functions. The disabilities one encounters as a result of the brain injury depends largely on the part of the brain that sustained the damage, and even which side of the brain incurred the damage.
Some disabilities commonly experienced by those with brain injuries include:
Loss of memory
Difficulty controlling behavior, emotions, or impulses
Inability to concentrate or pay attention
Difficulty with organization
Altered senses including sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch
Difficulty speaking or understanding spoken language
Difficulty with balanced and coordinated movement
Trouble beginning or completing tasks
Brain injuries are categorized by severity levels of mild, moderate, and severe. However, it is important to note that any brain injury is capable of producing lifelong disabilities including memory loss, depression or anxiety, and chronic pain.
Seizures: The combat veteran discussed above was suffering from recurrent seizures as a result of a traumatic brain injury experienced during war-related activities. Seizures are commonly experienced immediately following the injury, and patients are often administered anti-seizure medication early in treatment as a preventative measure. Recurrent seizures can occur early in treatment or even months or years after the injury, and are referred to as post-traumatic epilepsy.
Hydrocephaly: Hydrocephaly is a buildup of fluid on the brain that occurs shortly after the injury and can result in swelling of the brain and increased pressure. This swelling often results in further damage to the brain as it remains in the confines of the skull. This condition is often treated by the surgical placement of a shunt to drain the excess fluid away from the brain.
Fevers: Fever is a common condition after a brain injury. In cases involving a penetrating injury, the fever can be an early warning of an infection that resulted from the introduction of bacteria into the protective tissues around the brain. However, there are also other sources of fevers, including infections in other parts of the body or damage to the part of the brain that controls body temperature.
Heterotopic ossification: As a result of their injury, some brain injured individuals will experience the development of new bone tissue in an area of the body where bones don’t belong. This bone matter often grows in hip or shoulder joints and can result in inflammation, pain, and loss of range of motion in the affected area.
Blood clots: Blood clots can occur within the brain after the injury, as a result of damage to the blood vessels. Surgery and immobility can also lead to the development of blood clots within the deep veins of the legs or arms. When this occurs, it places the injured individual at risk of a potentially fatal pulmonary embolism, which is caused when a piece of a blood clot breaks free and travels through the bloodstream to the lung.
Consciousness disorders: Consciousness disorders affect an individual’s ability to awaken and to be aware of his or her surroundings after incurring a brain injury. Common disorders of consciousness include coma, persistent vegetative state, minimally conscious state, and brain death.
The Personal and Societal Costs of Traumatic Brain Injuries
Because of the high risk of permanent disabilities and ongoing medical needs resulting from complications, brain injuries are extraordinarily expensive. The CDC reports that the economic toll to society is around $76.5 billion each year in direct and indirect medical costs of treating brain injuries in the U.S., with around 90 percent of that cost being the result of hospitalization for severely brain injured individuals.
On a personal level, the estimated lifetime cost of medical treatment alone after a brain injury is $85,000 to $3 million. The stress caused to injured individuals and their families as a result of the injury is often exacerbated by the individual’s inability to work following the injury. Along with unemployment comes a lack of health care benefits that the injured person would otherwise be able to access to pay expenses.
The injury affects many other parts of the individual’s life as well, including:
The inability to progress at school or in the career of the injured person’s choice.
Mobility issues that make walking, participating in recreational activities, or driving a car difficult.
Loss of behavioral or impulse control, which can cause the injured individual to be isolated from the community and unable to participate in events that he or she previously enjoyed.
The changing of roles with family members from spouse, parent, or child to a caregiver tasked with assisting the individual with daily personal care tasks.
The loss of intimate relations as a result of hormonal issues caused by the injury.
The loss of friendships as a result of the injured person’s inability to communicate, respond, and participate with others in hobbies he or she formerly participated in.
Let Us Help You Recover Damages From Your Santa Rosa Traumatic Brain Injury
If you or your loved one has suffered a brain injury as a result of a Santa Rosa accident that was caused by someone else’s careless or reckless actions, you could recover damages related to your injury through a personal injury lawsuit. A damage refers to a monetary payment for the expenses and impacts you incurred as a result of your injury. You file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court to prove liability and recover expenses.
Plaintiffs can prove liability by showing:
The at-fault party owed you a duty of care. The duty of care that was owed depends on the type of accident you experienced and the at-fault party’s role in that accident. For example, if your brain injury was the result of a car accident caused by a drunk driver, the at-fault party’s duty of care would have been to operate his or her motor vehicle safely and legally.
There was a breach in the duty of care that was owed to you. The breach refers to the action that the at-fault party took that resulted in the accident. Using the drunk driver scenario, the breach in the duty of care would be driving while impaired by alcohol, as that action is not safe or legal.
This breach resulted in the accident, which caused your injuries and subsequent expenses and impacts on your life.
Once you have proven liability for the accident that caused your brain injury, you must also prove the expenses and impacts the injury has caused in your life. You want the guidance and representation of a brain injury attorney who understands the extraordinary expenses and impacts in a brain injury case so that he or she can properly value your case and help you pursue fair compensation.
Some of the damages commonly claimed in brain injury cases include:
The cost of medical treatment for your injury that you have already incurred through emergency treatment, transport, physician and surgical services, diagnostic testing, hospitalization, prescription medication, physical therapy, and rehabilitation; as well as the estimated costs of future medical treatment to address complications and ongoing issues that are necessary to treat lifelong conditions that have resulted from your injury.
Income that you lost due to being too injured to work or being required to miss work to attend injury-related medical appointments.
Loss of future earning capacity if your injury results in permanent disabilities that render you unable to perform the same work-related tasks as you performed before the accident, or even to work at all.
The cost of repairing or replacing your personal property that was damaged in the accident.
Physical pain and suffering incurred as a result of your injury or painful medical treatment.
Loss of consortium, which is a damage collected on behalf of the injured person’s spouse for loss of physical intimacy and companionship that is often the result of injury-induced hormonal changes.
Loss of the enjoyment of life, if your injury prevents you from participating in activities that you previously enjoyed.
Let our Santa Rosa brain injury lawyers help you understand your legal options. For a free consultation, contact Gomez Trial Attorneys online or by calling (619) 237-3490.