Brain injuries usually happen because of a hard jolt or blow to the head or objects that penetrate or break the skull, damaging the brain tissue. A hard crack could cause a piece of bone to enter the brain tissue; thus, a full break is unnecessary for a penetrating brain injury. Medical professionals classify traumatic brain injuries as mild or severe. Even a mild traumatic brain injury, such as a mild concussion, which usually damages the brain cells temporarily, could cause permanent damage in certain circumstances.
Types of Traumatic Brain Injuries
A person who suffers a brain injury could have a closed brain injury or a penetrating brain injury. A closed brain injury means that nothing penetrated the skull. A penetrating brain injury is when a bullet, a rock, or even a piece of the skull penetrates the brain.
A diffuse axonal injury is when the brain’s axons—the long connecting nerve fibers—tear. In some cases, CT scans and MRI scans cannot see this injury as the changes are very small.
Causes of Brain Injuries
Anytime you hit your head in a car accident or a fall, you could sustain a traumatic brain injury.
Causes of traumatic brain injuries include:
- Car accidents.
- Truck accidents.
- Motorcycle accidents.
- Pedestrian accidents.
- Dog bite injuries.
- Slip and fall injuries.
- Sports injuries.
- Shaking a baby.
- Medical malpractice.
An accident can cause shearing, bruises, lesions, bleeding, swelling, or even cuts or holes in the brain. Even if you did not hit your head, you could sustain a traumatic brain injury—all it takes is a severe jolt, such as when someone hits you from behind in a car accident and causes sudden forward movement. The same can happen if someone t-bones you or hits you head-on while you are traveling forward.
The sudden stop, forward movement, or change in direction can cause shearing, bruising and other damage to the brain.
Effects of Traumatic Brain Injuries
You could suffer from one or more effects depending on the severity and type of brain injury.
Medical professionals categorize these effects into:
- Cognitive deficits including amnesia, coma, confusion, judgment issues, problem-solving issues, shortened attention span, inability to comprehend more than one or two-step instructions, failure to understand abstract concepts, memory problems, and loss of sense of space and/or time.
- Motor deficits including weakness, paralysis, poor coordination, poor balance, muscle tightening, muscle shortening, tremors, cannot plan motor movements, and swallowing issues.
- Sensory and/or perceptual deficits, including loss of sensation, heightened sensation, vision issues, changes in touch, tastes, smell, vision, and hearing, and difficulty feeling where your limbs are.
- Language and communications deficits including difficulty speaking, forming sensible sentences, choosing the correct words, understanding speech; forgetting common actions, such as combing your hair; slow speech; decrease in vocabulary; hesitant speech; and issues with identifying items, the function of items, writing, reading, and working with numbers.
- Functional deficits including issues with organization, operating machinery (including your car), having trouble dressing, eating, and bathing, or problems with living abilities such as shopping or paying bills.
- Traumatic epilepsy, including major and minor seizures (grand mal and petite mal seizures).
- Social difficulties including trouble making and/or keeping friends, trouble with social interaction, and having trouble with interpersonal relationships.
- Regulatory disturbances, such as changes in eating habits and sleep patterns, fatigue, headaches, dizziness, and loss of bladder and bowel control.
- Psychiatric and/or personality changes, including irritability, becoming aggressive, becoming easily frustrated, apathy, decreased motivation, anxiety, and depression.
Contact your medical professionals immediately if you or a loved one notice any of these signs after an accident or fall. Some brain injuries might not manifest immediately after an accident, especially psychological issues such as depression and anxiety. In this case, it is better to have a professional check you out and find you wrong than to wait and see if the issue worsens. You could recover with therapies if you have a traumatic brain injury.
Recovering Damages After a Traumatic Brain Injury
Because traumatic brain injuries are catastrophic, they often affect you for the rest of your life. You should contact a traumatic brain injury attorney to help you recover the compensation you deserve if another’s negligent actions or inactions caused the injury.
Illinois allows you to collect two types of damages: compensatory and punitive damages. The court orders compensatory damages in an attempt to make you financially whole again. If the defendant’s actions or inactions were grossly negligent, the court might order the defendant to pay punitive damages as a punishment for their behavior.
Most people recover compensatory damages in the form of economic damages, which have a monetary value and include:
- Current and future medical expenses.
- Lost wages.
- Loss of future earning capacity.
- Replacement or repair of destroyed or damaged personal property.
- Death-related expenses.
Those who suffer long-term or permanent injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries, sometimes recover non-economic damages, which do not have a monetary value and include:
- Pain and suffering, including emotional distress.
- Loss of quality of life if you have to make life-altering changes, such as using ambulatory aids or taking prescriptions.
- Loss of consortium if you can no longer have a physical relationship with your spouse.
- Loss of companionship if you can no longer participate in or enjoy family activities, events, and outings.
- Inconvenience if you have to hire someone to do the chores you usually do, such as lawn maintenance, grocery shopping, house cleaning, or home repair and maintenance.
- Excessive scarring and/or disfigurement.
As for punitive damages, you have to prove that the defendant’s actions or inactions were grossly negligent or intentional. For example, if the defendant purposely sped down a crowded street and ran over people, causing them to hit their heads on the concrete. This is more than simple negligence.
Contact a medical malpractice attorney for a free case evaluation if you or a loved one suffered a traumatic brain injury because of an accident.