This page is a subpage of the personal injury lawyers page.
The Myth Of “Brain Injury Law”
Here are a few of my most popular law blog posts related to brain injuries:NFL Players’ Brain Injury Medical Monitoring Class Action Already In TroublePlayground Safety And The Cheapskate SocietySupreme Court Term In Review For Consumers, Employees and Injured PersonsLawyering Up After An Amusement Park Accident
Just as there’s no such thing as “spinal cord injury law,” there’s no such thing as “brain injury law.” The applicable law depends on the circumstances of the injury, not the size of the damage caused. If someone hurts their wrist in a fender bender, the same law applies to their claim as if they had been put into a coma by a tractor-trailer with defective brakes. If a hospital negligently causes a rash by administering a medicine to which the patient is allergic, the same law applies as if an anesthesiologist didn’t properly intubate a patient during surgery, causing hypoxia and brain damage.
The law for brain injury and head injury cases is the same as for every other personal injury case — what makes them different is the intensity and cost of the litigation. TBI lawsuits are high stakes cases. The damages inflicted by are extraordinary, the injuries life-changing, the future treatment and rehabilitation expensive. The insurance companies know that, and so they fight tooth-and-nail to limit the plaintiff’s compensation or deny them recovery entirely.
A “brain injury lawyer” is thus no different from your ordinary workplace accident, premises liability, or personal injury attorney, except for one thing: their skill, perseverance, and dedication, including their willingness and ability to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in litigation costs (like hiring experts and investigators, conducting tests, deposing witnesses, examining electronic evidence, et cetera) to put together the very best case for a judge and jury.
The Three Main Causes of Brain Injury
Most brain injuries are either traumatic brain injuries, hypoxic brain damage, or are the result of a medical condition.
Traumatic brain injuries are the result of head trauma, broken down into open head injury (a depressed, basilar, diastatic, or linear skull fracture), closed head injury (concussions, contusions, or intracranial hemorrhage), and a particular type of closed head injury common in rapid deceleration situations like transportation accidents or sports injuries called diffuse axonal shearing. Perhaps surprisingly, most of the nearly 1.7 million traumatic brain injury suffered by Americans every year were caused by falls, rather than by automobile accidents. Unsurprisingly, the fatal falls are typically workplace injuries caused at industrial or construction sites, like falls from scaffolding.
Hypoxic brain injuries all have the same mechanism — anoxia, a lack of oxygen to the brain — but a variety of causes, including smoke inhalation during a fire or after an explosion, near-drowning in water, defective products producing excessive carbon dioxide or carbon monoxide, or medical malpractice, like in birth injury, where anesthesia is administered improperly during surgery, or where diabetes is improperly controlled by a hospital following a procedure.
Certain medical conditions and diseases can also cause brain injuries, most commonly encephalitis, meningitis, tumors, and, most of all, stroke. If the condition was improperly treated or was misdiagnosed (as is common with stroke), then the resulting brain damage could be the subject of a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Brain Injuries
Brain injury in general is typically simple to diagnose, particularly traumatic brain injuries, because there is a clear event which likely caused the harm in the first place, i.e. the trauma, hypoxia, or medical condition. Similarly, it is easy to use an MRI or CT scan to identify an intracranial hematoma or other abnormalities in the brain’s anatomy. The degree of injury, however, whether mild or severe or in between, is often hard to diagnose, in part because of the difficulty of assessing symptoms.
The Glasgow Coma Scale rates eye response, verbal response, and motor response on 1–6 scales and then adds them up. (There’s a pediatric version adjusted for children’s differing reactions.) The Ranchos Los Amigos Scale evaluates the patient’s awareness, cognition, behavior and interaction with the environment all in one measurement and then puts the patient at one of eight levels of consciousness ranging from “purposeful-response” to “no response.” Neither test is wholly objective, nor do they need to be; the point is to get a general sense of the person’s cognition and neurological control to determine the appropriate rehabilitative treatment and therapy and to track recovery.
Recovery from brain injury is possible, though, even mild traumatic brain injuries can cause permanent damage from which the affected individual never fully recovers. There are thus government benefits for brain injury victims, including Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. Generally, though, these benefits are limited, and so most individuals who suffer a brain injury in a car or truck accident, in a fall at a business, an accident in the workplace or at hospital, or as the result of other negligence receive most of their care through the compensation and recovery provided by a brain injury lawsuit.
Contact A Brain Injury Attorney For A Free And Confidential Consultation
If you or a loved one have suffered a brain injury, contact our brain injury lawyers using the form on the right or call us at 215-948-2718 for a free, confidential case evaluation by our expert nurses and doctors. We represent clients across Pennsylvania, with a focus on Philadelphia, Montgomery, Bucks, Delaware, Chester, and Lancaster counties. Similarly, in New Jersey we focus on Camden, Burlington, Glouchester, Salem, Mercer, Ocean, and Atlantic Counties. In Delaware, we focus on New Castle and Kent counties.