Phoenix Brain Injury Attorney
Legal Representation After a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) can happen any time, to anyone. As Arizona catastrophic injury attorneys, we are deeply concerned with the number of head injuries caused by car crashes throughout the state each year. According to the Arizona Department of Transportation, roughly 10% of accidents result in incapacitating injuries, many of them head injuries. The Arizona Governor’s Council on Spinal and Head Injuries reports that more than 50% of serious head injuries are sustained during a motor vehicle accident, followed by falls and violent acts. Statistics show that men are twice more likely to suffer a head injury than women.
A head injury can change the course of your life. If you have suffered brain injury due to another party’s negligence or recklessness, you need help. The Phoenix injury attorneys at Breyer Law Offices, P.C., know how serious brain injuries are and we use this information, along with evidence and eyewitness testimony, to secure fair settlements for victims. We are devoted to helping victims find compensation for all of their medical bills, the temporary or permanent changes to their lives, and their loss of ability to work and earn a living. If you or a loved one has suffered a head injury because of someone else’s negligence, please call attorneys Alexis and Mark Breyer today at (602) 267-1280.
What Are Brain Injuries and How Do They Happen?
Brain injuries occur when the brain is hit, shaken, or thrashed around in any type of accident. The brain is bruised, bleeding, or otherwise damaged, causing the victim to act differently, lose abilities, and in extreme cases, become permanently disabled or die. Commonly known as traumatic brain injuries (TBI), they often result in damage to the cognitive, neurologic, emotional, physical, and mental abilities of the patient.
There are two forms of TBI a victim may suffer: open head injury and closed head injury. An open head injury occurs when an object pierces the skull of a victim, entering and damaging the brain. A closed head injury is blunt force trauma to the brain, with the brain slamming against the front, back, and sides of the skull due to sudden impact.
How You Might Suffer Traumatic Brain Injury
Across the United States, falling accounts for more than 35% of head injuries. Car crashes account for more than 17%, and around 16.5% are sustained after being struck, either by a vehicle, a flying object, or another object. Physical assault represents around 10% of brain injuries.
According to the Arizona Department of Health Services (AZDHS), around 9,760 people are admitted to the emergency room each year for intracranial injuries. Countless more are admitted to the emergency room for TBI caused by a lack of oxygen. Some of the most common ways brain injuries happen in Arizona include:
- Slip-and fall-accidents that cause the victim to hit his or her head on something hard, including a cabinet, a building, or the ground.
- Car crashes that cause victims to sustain injuries via whiplash, hitting their heads on the dashboard or another part of the vehicle, or by having their heads crushed in the accident.
- Swimming accidents. Slipping and falling at the pool or in the tub can cause a fracture to the skull. However, victims of drowning or near-drowning at locations with water - lakes, streams, rivers, ponds, etc. - may also sustain brain damage caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain for over 30 to 45 seconds, which is considered a significant amount of time for the brain to go without air.
- Sports accidents can cause a world of hurt for victims who are hit in the head with a ball or other object, who are crushed, run into, or thrown to the ground, or who otherwise have their heads struck during the course of play.
- Injuries that are inflicted on purpose during a fight or some other type of altercation.
If You Think That You've Suffered a TBI
Always see a doctor after suffering a blow to the head, even if the injury seems relatively minor. However, if you elect to not visit the doctor right away, you should monitor yourself for symptoms of a traumatic brain injury. Symptoms of head trauma may take several hours or several days to present, depending on the severity of the injury. Symptoms accompanying a head injury within the past two days indicate the need to visit a doctor. For children, a doctor should always be consulted, no matter how slight the injury may appear.
What Are Symptoms of Brain Injuries?
Because no two brain injuries are the same, they can be difficult for doctors to diagnose. If you're experiencing symptoms of a head injury, it is crucial to tell the doctor that you have hit your head. This can help your doctor determine whether you need a CT scan, ultrasound, MRI, or other test to determine if you have serious damage to your brain. Some of the most common symptoms of brain injuries include:
- Losing consciousness, even for just a few seconds
- Disorientation or confusion after being struck in the head
- Headache, dizziness, loss of balance, vomiting, or nausea
- Difficulty concentrating or remembering things
- Difficulty swallowing and talking
- Becoming overly sensitive to light, sound, and smells
- Sudden changes in mood
- Problems with the senses, such as ringing in your ears, blurry vision, or a bad taste in your mouth
- Changes in your sleep patterns, like sleeping too much or having an unusually difficult time going to sleep
- Changes in hearing accompanied by confusion or severe headaches
- Severe confusion that merits attention
- Losing consciousness for more than a few minutes
- Severe changes in behavior, like agitation, unusual behaviors, becoming combative, slurring speech, losing coordination, and more
- Becoming weak or numb in the toes and fingers with no other cause
- Headaches that will not go away
- Seizures, convulsions, or shaking
- Drainage from the nose or ears, especially clear liquids
- Nausea and vomiting that will not cease
- All additional symptoms of mild TBI
Symptoms in Children
Because children often cannot tell you what is wrong - headache, confusion, trouble breathing, or loss of hearing - it is important to watch out for the following symptoms:
- Easy to irritate, crying without stopping
- Change in eating habits; for babies, change in nursing habits
- Inability to pay attention past the norm
- Depression or being unusually sad
- No longer wanting to play with toys or friends, or engage in activities
Remember, if your child hit his or her head and is acting strange, see a doctor right away for examination and treatment.
How TBI Is Diagnosed
For those who lose consciousness, doctors use the length of time the victim was unconscious to determine the severity of the TBI and recommend further diagnostic tests. But in cases where the injury is not as obvious, doctors must do more investigative work. In most cases, doctors perform a routine examination and interview, and also perform CT scans and MRIs to ensure that the victim has not suffered severe intracranial damage or a skull fracture.
The prognosis for brain injuries depends heavily on the type and severity of injury sustained. For mild TBIs, full or near-to-full recovery with little interference is expected for the majority of victims. (However, each subsequent brain injury, no matter how small, will result in increased damage, since the brain will always be more sensitive to injuries after one has occurred.) Moderate TBIs often leave victims with both temporary injuries that last months or years, and permanent injuries that impact them forever. Severe TBIs frequently cause disabilities, coma, or death.
For victims who sustain a moderate or severe brain injury, life will never be the same. Victims frequently lose the ability to take care of themselves. Taking a bath, brushing their teeth, being able to work a full-time or part-time job, doing simple math, maintaining their temper, and many other daily tasks will become very difficult after a TBI.
Treatment for Traumatic Brain Injuries
If you or someone you love has suffered a brain injury, the road to recovery will not be a short one. In fact, it will be filled with difficult days and nights over long weeks, months, and even years. For many people who suffer brain injuries, the healing process is never completed and the symptoms, pain, and suffering associated with the original injury will plague them throughout the rest of their lives.
Since brain injuries are never identical, treatment options must also be tailored to the victim who suffered the injuries. A mild concussion will receive different treatment than an intracranial hematoma, and treatments also differ for people in different age groups.
- Medications. The most common medications used for brain injury treatments include diuretics, anti-seizure medications, and coma-inducing drugs; painkillers are used in very small amounts due to the risk of thinning or clotting the blood, or causing other types of bleeding injuries. These medications can be expensive, especially because insurance companies will not always cover them.
- Surgery. For severe cases of brain injury, surgery may be required to remove blood clots (also called hematomas), repair skull fractures, or relieve pressure on the brain by opening the skull and draining cerebrospinal fluid or blood that has accumulated inside. Surgery has its own risks - death, permanent damage, and paralysis. This option is increasingly expensive, depending on the type of surgery necessary, and will require weeks or months of ongoing care for a complete recovery.
- Rehabilitation. Rehabilitation for brain injury victims is a long, arduous, and expensive method of treatment, but is necessary for a complete recovery. Some of the most common rehabilitation services used by brain injury victims include:
- Speech and language pathology to recover the ability to speak and communicate coherently.
- Occupational therapy to regain the ability to sit, walk, stand, balance, hold objects, and do other basic tasks.
- Psychology and psychiatry to help patients learn how to control and modify their behaviors so that they can cope with their injuries and function appropriately in the real world.
- Recreational therapy to help patients learn to enjoy leisure activities again – how to swing on a swing, swim, or ride a bike.
- Vocational counseling to help patients who want to return to work and need assistance. A vocational therapist will help the victim determine what types of jobs and opportunities are appropriate for them.
When you have a traumatic brain injury (TBI), your primary treating doctor should help make calls about bringing in nurses, rehabilitation specialists, and other professionals who can help you make a complete recovery and move on with your life. You will likely have multiple doctors who make decisions about your care, treatment, surgeries, medications, and rehabilitation.
As the patient, you also have a role to play in the treatment process for your brain injury. Brain injury patients should always tell the truth about pain, suffering, numbness, and symptoms they have while in care for a brain injury. Telling the doctor you don't have a migraine when you do to avoid being poked and prodded can delay or prevent your ultimate recovery.
When You Need an Attorney After a TBI
After a TBI, your primary focus should be on recovery. For most victims of traumatic brain injuries, the first months and years of recovery are the worst, and lead to confusion, frustration, and pain. If you don’t contact a skilled Arizona personal injury lawyer quickly, that can make the situation worse, because the statute of limitations will pass and you can no longer seek justice in court. Call us if:
- Your injuries were caused by another person's negligence.
- You are unable to get adequate medical care for your injuries.
- Your injuries have rendered you unable to work or to care for yourself.
- Your insurance company is refusing to pay for your medical expenses.
- Your insurance is covering your medical expenses, but the co-pays and other expenses are too much for you to handle financially.
- The at-fault party's insurance is refusing to pay.
- You are facing a lengthy recovery that will take months or years to complete.
Please remember that if you’re injured and not sure whether you need legal assistance, you should call (602) 267-1280 for a consultation. Only an Arizona catastrophic injury attorney can help you decide whether you have a case that should be pursued.
Is It Difficult to File an Arizona Brain Injury Claim?
With our extensive experience, the majority of our brain injury claims settle without going to court. Insurance companies know that we won’t back down, and this helps our clients get the justice they deserve—no need to face a trial!
When these cases do go to court, we also have the relevant trial experience. It is generally difficult to prove a closed-head injury in court, since most symptoms are internal. Even though the damage to a victim's brain may be severe, the jury cannot see inside a person's skull to understand how the brain injury affects him or her. Many head injuries do not show up on an MRI, X-ray, or CT scan, and people with serious brain injuries look normal to most people around them. However, we know the best ways to present clear evidence to a jury and get our clients compensation, because we’ve done it hundreds of times before.
If you know someone who has a traumatic brain injury, or if you have been in an accident that caused you brain injury, please call for a free, no-obligation consultation with Breyer Law Offices, P.C. We have experienced lawyers who are well-qualified to lead you through Arizona's complex legal system. We work hard to settle our clients’ cases and get them fair compensation that helps the family begin the long road to recovery. Call today at (602) 267-1280.
- Arizona Resources for those Suffering from a Traumatic Brain Injury
- Brain Injury Safety Tips and Prevention - CDC
- Traumatic Brain Injury Information Page - NIH
- Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA)