Broken bones and soft tissue injuries are the common results of auto accidents, slip, and fall accidents, and other acts of negligence. Traumatic brain injuries also occur, but this type of injury can be difficult to diagnose or missed altogether. Our St. Augustine TBI lawyers want you to know the following important information about these sometimes “invisible” injuries:
What is a traumatic brain injury?
“Traumatic brain injury” or TBI is a term used to describe a brain injury that results from physical trauma. TBI can range from mild to severe, in terms of symptoms and prognosis. Mild TBI is characterized by temporary confusion and disorientation and, perhaps, loss of consciousness, lasting less than 30 minutes. An MRI or CAT scan may appear normal. Mild TBI may be overlooked by the injured person and his or her family members, as well as by doctors, as the symptoms may not be present at the time of injury and may not appear for days or weeks after the accident that caused the injury. At the other end of the spectrum, severe TBI is characterized by a loss of consciousness lasting longer than 30 minutes and memory loss lasting longer than 24 hours. Severe TBI often results in permanent neurological damage.
What are some common causes of TBI?
TBI may result from a blow to the head occurring in any number of situations, including, for example:
- An auto accident in which you strike your head on the steering wheel or dashboard;
- A slip and fall accident in which your head strikes the ground and/or hits an object (e.g., a stair railing or a countertop) as you fall;
- A sports-related injury, in which you collide with another athlete.
TBI also may occur in the absence of any blow to the head (think of shaken-baby syndrome). For example, TBI is commonly associated with rear-end collisions and whiplash injuries. The quick and severe whipping motion of the head, forward and then back, causes the brain to hit the inside of the skull, resulting in injury.
What are the symptoms of TBI?
Because the brain performs such a wide range of functions within our bodies, a wide range of symptoms can result from TBI. The list of symptoms varies for each person and, depending on the severity of the trauma, the symptoms may take several days or weeks after the injury occurs to develop. Some symptoms of mild TBI include:
- Memory problems
- Difficulty concentrating
- Loss of balance
- Mood swings
- Visual disturbances
More severe cases of TBI may result in more permanent symptoms, including cognitive impairment, sleep disorders, and chronic pain.
How will TBI affect my personal injury case?
A brain injury will impact the settlement value of your case and, potentially, the value a jury will put on your case. The extent of this impact will depend on the severity of your TBI, and how your injury affects your daily life and your ability to function. Another consideration is whether your injuries are expected to be permanent or to heal over time. All of this will be moot, however, if you cannot prove that you sustained a TBI. Because TBI is difficult to diagnose and is often overlooked, it is important to make sure you document your injury. There are several ways you can do this:
- Knowing the signs/symptoms of TBI and reporting them to your treating doctors.
- Undergoing a neurological examination, with scans.
- Undergoing neuropsychological testing.
- Maintaining a daily journal that documents the effects the injury has had on your life. If you are not able to do this, a close family member can step in and take on this responsibility.
- Being evaluated by a medical expert, who can prepare a report and work with your St. Augustine TBI lawyers in anticipation of settlement negotiations and/or trial.
If you have questions or concerns about a possible traumatic brain injury, contact our experienced St. Augustine TBI lawyers. We can discuss the medical issues with you, answer your questions and review your legal options. You can reach us by phone or email. We will respond promptly.