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Brain injury

Brain Injury Overview

Every year in America, there are approximately 1.7 million traumatic brain injury (TBI) related deaths, hospitalizations, and emergency department visits. You don't have to be traveling at a high rate of speed or to strike a hard object in order to suffer a TBI. Serious brain injuries can result from falls, car accidents, sports activities, and work-related accidents. Any kind of trauma to the head or neck region can cause the brain to bruise, bleed, tear, or swell.

Types of Brain Injuries: Open and Closed

There are two general types of head injuries: open and closed. An open injury means the skull has been fractured, and this kind of brain injury usually results from falls or other accidents in which the head comes in direct contact with a hard surface or object. A closed head injury doesn't involve a fracture, but can be more serious than an open injury due to the possibility of brain swelling and the formation of dangerous blood clots inside the skull. Whether a brain injury is open or closed, the most serious of either type can cause paralysis, loss of consciousness, and even death.

Serious Brain Injury: Warning Signs

Soon after an accident or injury, it may be difficult to know whether you or a loved one has suffered a brain injury, especially when no visual indications of serious injury exist. Here are some things to look out for when evaluating an accident victim's potential for brain injuries:

·         Confusion and difficulty remembering recent events

·         Unusual tiredness or sluggishness

·         Nausea and dizziness

·         Severe headache

·         Weakness or numbness on one side of the body

If any of the above symptoms are present soon after an accident or injury, you should seek immediate medical attention. It’s even possible to suffer from a brain injury and still feel fine. Some victims have suffered serious brain injuries in an automobile accident, yet have been able to get out of their car and direct traffic away from the scene. Therefore, if there is any question at all whether a brain injury could have occurred in an accident, it’s critical to go to the nearest hospital for a thorough medical evaluation.

Common Brain Injuries

Bruising of the brain is a common injury that results from automobile accidents, falls, and sport-related accidents. The force involved in such occurrences can force the brain forward and then backward, or vice versa. The force can cause bruising in some areas and bleeding in others.

Another common effect of trauma to the brain is called tearing. The force of a collision can cause tearing. Tearing is similar to what happens if a block of ice were to be struck with a hammer; small cracks form, yet the block remains intact. The nerve system of the brain is usually damaged and, depending on the areas in which this occurs, can cause serious impairment of bodily functions.

When the brain suffers the type of trauma described above, swelling usually occurs. The body's natural healing processes cause swelling, but the problem with swelling of the brain is that there is no room for the brain to migrate. What results is called intra-cranial pressure, which can be deadly or cause severe impairment of body functions.

Serious Brain Injuries: Medical Evaluation

Especially after a serious accident, TBI victims may need financial assistance in treating the injury and in continuing with their life. Medical evaluation of the degree of an individual's impairment can have a huge impact on the level of compensation the individual will receive, from all sources. Medical evaluation will also have an impact on findings such as:

·         The injured person's ability to work

·         The right to receive different kinds of economic compensation

·         Eligibility for protection against discrimination

·         Whether independent living is possible

·         What type of physical therapy might improve his or her health

Significantly, such an evaluation should include the significant changes an individual will undergo as he or she progresses through acute hospitalization, then returns to the home and community. An individual will likely experience the best possible outcome with rehabilitation that offers an interdisciplinary approach and coordinated care.

Pursuing a Legal Claim for Brain Injuries

If you or a loved one has suffered a brain injury as a result of an accident, and you believe that someone else may be at fault for what happened, you may be entitled to a legal remedy for the harm. Consulting an experienced personal injury attorney is the best way to protect your legal rights.

Should you decide to pursue a legal claim, your attorney may proceed under two distinct legal theories in order to prove that you were injured because of someone else's carelessness. Under a "negligence" theory of liability, your attorney will seek to prove that someone owed you a legal duty of reasonable care, failed to fulfill that duty, and caused you to suffer injury as a result. A negligence theory of liability is used most often when someone's action or inaction was the main cause the injury, as opposed to a product or piece of equipment. If a product caused the injury, you may wish to purse a claim under a product liability legal theory.

Types of Brain Injury

The brain is the organ responsible for everything that makes a person human - emotion, intelligence, consciousness, movement, and sensation. It's for this reason that brain injury is so often life-altering. Brain injury can harm the very essence of a person and may stifle future growth opportunities.

Of course, there are many types of brain injuries, some more serious than others. Depending on the type of brain injury, the seriousness of the injury, and the extent to which such injury has affected a plaintiff's life and work opportunities, a plaintiff with a legitimate claim may be eligible for a substantial damages award.

Brain injuries are typically separated into two broad categories: traumatic brain injury and acquired brain injury. While traumatic brain injuries are caused by the application of an external force to the head, acquired brain injury is caused by other conditions such as a stroke, tumors, disease, toxin exposure, and oxygen deprivation.

Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injuries may be closed or open (skull fracture). They are caused by an external force. Typically, these types of brain injury arise in personal injury cases (slip and fall, motor vehicle accident, etc.), criminal law cases (assault and battery), and workplace accident cases. Traumatic brain injuries include concussions, contusions, diffuse axonal injuries, and penetration injuries.

Concussion

Concussions are the most common type of traumatic brain injury, and are caused by direct impact trauma to the head, whether by falling, getting punched or kicked or shot, shaking, whiplash in a car, or any number of other possible incidences. Though concussions are often accompanied by a loss of consciousness, loss of consciousness is not a necessary result of a concussion. It's possible to have suffered a concussion with only non-obvious symptoms - confusion, dizziness, and a foggy mind. If you've suffered direct impact trauma to your head and think you may have had a concussion, you should see a doctor. Severe concussions can result in permanent damage.

Contusion

Contusions, like concussions, are also caused by direct impact trauma to the head. A contusion is essentially localized bleeding in the brain. Contusions may need to be surgically removed, as blood clot formation at the contusion site can be lethal. There may also be contusions apart from the direct impact site. A coup-contrecoup contusion is when the force of impact is so great that the brain slams into the opposite side of the skull, creating a second contusion on the second point of impact.

Diffuse Axonal Injuries

Diffuse axonal injury is caused by severe shaking or rotational forces, which creates tears in the brain structures as the skull shears the edges of the brain. This tearing creates neuro-chemical disruptions throughout the brain and may result in permanent brain damage, coma, or death. Depending on which brain structures were torn, symptoms can be quite varied. There may be motor function disruption, memory disruption, motor sensation disruption, olfactory disruption, and more.

Penetration Injuries

Penetration injuries are caused by sharp objects entering the skull and brain. When the object goes through the brain, there may be lost tissue (that exits the skull), shearing, tearing, and rupturing of accessory tissue. This can be fatal or may cause significant and long-term effects.

Acquired Brain Injury

Acquired brain injuries aren't necessarily dependent on an external application of force. That's not to say that acquired brain injuries aren't "caused" by others. There are personal injury and criminal law cases of acquired brain injury - for instance, drowning incidents and strangulation incidents. However, plaintiffs in acquired brain injury cases more frequently bring lawsuits against the medical provider, who may have worsened the condition, or who may not have addressed the condition properly before permanent injury was caused.

For example, a plaintiff may have a stroke at his house and be transported to the nearest hospital. At the hospital, the physician may not adhere to the reasonable standard of care and may, in the process, allow the injury (oxygen deprivation) to continue long enough to cause permanent damage where it otherwise would have been prevented by efficient action. The plaintiff will, therefore, have a medical malpractice claim against the physician and the hospital for his or her acquired brain injury.

There are two common acquired brain injuries, anoxia and hypoxic brain injury:

Anoxia

Anoxia is caused by oxygen deprivation such that the brain doesn't receive any oxygen. Within a relatively short timespan, cell death occurs, which can result in serious functional damage to different brain systems and possible death. There are different kinds of anoxia, which include anoxic (standard anoxia), anemic (blood isn't carrying oxygen), and toxic (toxins are blocking oxygen use), among others.

Hypoxic Brain Injury

Hypoxic brain injury is similar to anoxia, except that the oxygen deprivation is not absolute. With a hypoxic brain injury, the brain receives some oxygen, but the oxygen levels are still dangerously unsatisfactory. Like anoxia, cell death may still occur, though at a slower rate. The eventual cell death, if left untreated, may also result in functional damage and possible death.

Liability for a Brain Injury

As seen above, the types of brain injuries are varied. A plaintiff may fall and suffer a serious concussion without ever becoming unconscious. Always be aware of potential damage since the traumatic effects of a brain injury may not be immediately obvious. If you think you may have had a brain injury, you should seek medical help as soon as possible.

Once you've received medical care, it's in your best interests to consult with an attorney about your legal options. The statute of limitations, or time limit on filing a suit, will begin to run from the date of injury. While the discovery rule in most states allows you to bring a claim if you haven't discovered or known about the injury, this is up to court interpretation. The court may find that you should have known about your brain injury, and therefore, that the statute of limitations will not be tolled for your claim. It, therefore, benefits you to diagnose your brain injury issues as soon as possible and to seek a qualified attorney.

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David Alan Wolf
David Alan Wolf
587

1702 Emerson St #2A, Jacksonville, FL 32207

Bar #857157(FL)     License for 1990 years

Practice Areas: Animal and dog bites | Brain injury | Estate planning | Medical malpractice | Motorcycle accident | Trucking accident
Julie Aleve Fine
Julie Aleve Fine
331

622 NE 1st St, Gainesville, FL 32601

Bar #91070(FL)     License for 2011 years Member in Good Standing

Practice Areas: Animal and dog bites | Birth injury | Brain injury | Car accident | Defective and dangerous products | Litigation | Motorcycle accident | Personal injury | Slip and fall accident | Trucking accident | Wrongful death
Matthew Mayne Donaldson
Matthew Mayne Donaldson
223

31 S. Main Street, Brooksville, FL 34601

Bar #974226(FL)     License for 1993 years Member in Good Standing

Practice Areas: Brain injury | Personal injury | Social security
Antonio L. Viera
Antonio L. Viera
214

2002 West Cleveland Street, Tampa, FL 33606

Bar #183880(FL)     License for 1999 years Member in Good Standing

Practice Areas: Administrative law | Brain injury | Mediation | Personal injury | Social security | Workers compensation
Steven Leslie Frankl
Steven Leslie Frankl
182

2240 Woolbright Road Suite 201, Boynton Beach, FL 33426

Bar #665991(FL)     License for 2003 years Member in Good Standing

Practice Areas: Brain injury | Car accident | Medical malpractice | Personal injury | Wrongful death
Theodore Jay Berman
Theodore Jay Berman
149

3351 NW Boca Raton Blvd, Boca Raton, FL 33431

Bar #731633(FL)     License for 2004 years Member in Good Standing

Practice Areas: Brain injury | Personal injury | Wrongful death
Michael Stephen Steinger
Michael Stephen Steinger
85

1645 Palm Beach Lakes Blvd #900, West Palm Beach, FL 33401

Bar #83496(FL)     License for 1996 years Member in Good Standing

Practice Areas: Brain injury | Car accident | Personal injury | Transportation | Workers compensation | Wrongful death
James Owen Cunningham
James Owen Cunningham
79

236 South Lucerne Circle East, Orlando, FL 32801

Bar #242691(FL)     License for 1977 years Member in Good Standing

Practice Areas: Brain injury | Car accident | Medical malpractice | Personal injury | Trucking accident | Wrongful death
Cameron Denise Simpson
Cameron Denise Simpson
78

PO Box 1658, Fort Walton Beach, FL 32549-1658

Bar #559660(FL)     License for 1986 years Member in Good Standing

Practice Areas: Brain injury | Personal injury | Social security | Workers compensation | Wrongful death
Justin Weinstein
Justin Weinstein
75

713 E. Broward Blvd., Suite R, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301

Bar #98169(FL)     License for 2012 years Member in Good Standing

Practice Areas: Brain injury | Car accident | Personal injury | Wrongful death
Angela Zervos
Angela Zervos
68

1266 S Pinelllas Ave., Tarpon Springs, FL 34689

Bar #120839(FL)     License for 1997 years Member in Good Standing

Practice Areas: Brain injury | Car accident | Medical malpractice | Motorcycle accident | Personal injury | Slip and fall accident | Spinal cord injury | Trucking accident | Wrongful death
James Wayne Holliday, II
James Wayne Holliday, II
63

18920 N Dale Mabry Hwy Ste 101, Lutz, FL 33548-4929

Bar #45284(FL)     License for 1995 years Member in Good Standing

Practice Areas: Brain injury | Car accident | Personal injury | Slip and fall accident | Wrongful death

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