Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) continue to be a significant cause of death and long-term disability in the United States according to the CDC. An average of 190 Americans lost their lives to TBI each day in 2021 according to available data. The serious nature of traumatic brain injuries and the long-term impairments sometimes caused by TBIs cost an estimated 48.3 billion dollars annually. Acute injury care and lengthy rehabilitation services cost up to 10 billion per year. Added to this expense are the unknown costs of lowered work productivity and lost earnings. Even more striking, is the estimated cost to an individual living with a traumatic brain injury and its long-term impacts which range between $600,000 and $1,875,000 per lifetime.
When a brain injury occurs because of a preventable accident caused by someone else, a successful brain injury claim can relieve the immense financial pressure caused by an injury that affects how the brain works, often impacting the entire family. Taking on the challenge of navigating a legal claim while dealing with your own TBI or that of a loved one, can seem overwhelming, but gaining compensation for the mounting costs may be the first positive step forward.
What is a Brain Injury?
The brain is responsible for the function and efficiency of every body system as well as for cognitive function, memory, mood, and personality. When the delicate tissue of the brain sustains damage from an injury it can impact entire body systems. Brain injuries occur when the head sustains damage from the following:
Blunt force trauma
A powerful jolt that shakes the brain, causing it to bump against the interior of the skull or to twist and tear inside the skull
A penetrating injury such as from a bullet or blade
Depending on what part of the brain is injured and the severity of the injury, the victim may suffer from cognitive impairment, speech problems, memory and concentration issues, and personality and mood changes. With severe brain injuries, the victim may experience coma or brain death.
Recovering from a moderate traumatic brain injury often requires long-term speech and occupational therapies to rewire the brain to use undamaged portions. Recovery varies greatly from one individual to another.
Why Are Traumatic Brain Injuries So Costly?
The goal of TBI treatment is to overcome or reduce the disability caused by the injury and support independence. It begins with emergency treatment after the accident—most often a car accident, fall, sports injury, or violent assault. Emergency, or acute treatment, includes:
Surgically removing any blood clots
Medicating patients to sedate them
Monitoring and surgically relieving pressure from inflammation or excess brain fluid
Applying life support systems if necessary
Once the above treatments stabilize a brain injury patient they move to subacute traumatic brain injury care. In subacute treatment, the medical professionals evaluate the patient to determine the extent of impairment and outline appropriate treatments to mitigate them. Depending on the nature and severity of the injury, the patient eventually leaves subacute care to live independently, with in-home assistance, or in a long-term care facility depending on the extent of their recovery. Long-term treatments often include therapies, home assistive equipment, counseling, and medications.
The goal of a brain injury claim is to gain compensation for the costs of the extensive medical care required to deal with this type of injury.
Understanding the Brain Injury Claim Process
A traumatic brain injury claim is a personal injury claim and follows the same legal process. It’s important to keep all documents supporting your claim, including:
Medical reports with detailed information about treatment recommendations and prognosis
The accident report, police report, or incident report
A log or journal of pain, and the impact of the injury on daily life
Employment records showing lost time from work and diminished earning capacity
Determining which insurance policy to file a claim against depends on how the injury occurred. For instance, in Connecticut’s at-fault insurance state, an injury victim could file a claim against the liable party’s car insurance if the accident was caused by a car accident or against a store owner’s commercial property insurance if the injury resulted from a slip and fall accident due to a preventable fall hazard. Proving liability means legally demonstrating the following:
That the at-fault party owed a duty of care to take reasonable measures to prevent harm such as a driver’s duty to follow traffic laws or a store owner’s duty to identify and address fall risk factors on their property
That the at-fault party breached this duty through an act of negligence, recklessness, or wrongdoing
That the breach of duty directly caused the brain injury
That the injury victim and their family have experienced significant financial damages due to the injury
Once the evidence shows the above legal liability points, it makes a compelling case for compensation against the appropriate insurance policy. A personal injury attorney with successful experience in navigating liability in brain injury cases is the best ally in making this type of claim and achieving the maximum compensation for damages.
What Damages are Available in a Brain Injury Claim?
The cost of a brain injury and the related treatments, therapies, and often ongoing care and equipment can add up to staggering sums. A successful brain injury claim can recover compensation for the following damages:
Medical expenses already incurred
Future medical expenses related to the injury
Future lost income
Lowered earning capacity due to disability
Pain and suffering
Emotional trauma and/or PTSD
An insurance company may try to minimize their payout on a brain injury claim through a variety of tactics, such as denying the severity of the injury, claiming that doctor-recommended medical treatment isn’t necessary, or trying to assign the injury victim a greater percentage of fault for the accident. It’s important to have a brain injury attorney in New Haven diligently protecting your rights and best interests throughout the process of a complex brain injury claim.