A brain injury can have devastating, permanent effects. If you or a loved on has suffered a brain injury or damage, call a Los Angeles brain injury attorney at Citywide Law Group. We offer a free consultation to discuss your case.
Approximately 50,000 people die each year from traumatic brain injuries, making these injuries one of the leading causes of death among those under 45. A staggering 1.7 million Americans will suffer some level of brain injury each year, and while some of those will eventually return to a relatively normal life, many more will be permanently disabled.
How Long Do You Have To File a Brain Injury Claim?
Treatment for brain injuries is expensive, placing extreme financial burdens on the patient and the patient’s family. Victims of brain injuries could find themselves unable to return to work, for months, or even permanently.
The statute of limitations in California for accidental injury claims, including brain injuries, is two years from the date of the accident as per the California Code of Civil Process, Section 335.1. If a brain injury claim is not resolved or a lawsuit filed within this two-year window of time, the injured person could be forever barred from seeking damages for the injury.
Elements of a Brain Injury Case
If your brain injury was the result of malpractice, your attorney will show your health care provider had a specific duty of care, that is, he or she was required to exercise a reasonable level of care in order to prevent harm, and this duty of care was breached. A breach of duty may result from any action taken by a physician which could reasonably be considered unacceptable by other medical professionals.
Similar standards exist if an automobile accident caused your brain injury, and the other driver exhibited negligence or acted in a manner which would not be considered reasonable under accepted standards. Your attorney may work together with your medical professionals to demonstrate the link between the negligence of another person or medical professional, your brain injury, and your current issues related to the brain injury.
Symptoms to Take Seriously Following an Accident
If you have been involved in an auto accident and suffer any of the following symptoms, you should immediately seek medical attention:
- Loss of memory related to the events prior to or immediately after the accident;
- Ringing in the ears;
- Bruising on the head;
- Loss of consciousness, or
- Any alteration in mental status.
Common Causes of Brain Injury
Most often, brain injuries are the result of an accident—such as an automobile accident, a sports injury, or a fall. Brain injury causes include:
- Motor Vehicle Accidents: About a fifth of all brain injuries are the result of an automobile accident, however this number includes motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians who are struck by an automobiles as well.
- Falls: Slip and fall accidents account for about 35 percent of all brain injuries, with children and the elderly disproportionately the victims of such falls. Falls from bed, down stairs, in the bathtub or shower, or, in the case of children, falls suffered while playing, make up the majority of these brain injuries from falls.
- Assaults and other violent incidents: are responsible for 10-15 percent of brain injuries, particularly from child abuse or domestic violence.
- Sports Injuries: The rest of brain injuries are sustained because of sports injuries, construction injuries, or in military combat.
- Medical Malpractice: In the case of medical malpractice, a brain injury can occur any time deviations occur in the accepted standards of medical practice. Most commonly, a birth injury in which the baby is deprived of oxygen, is responsible for brain injuries, although the improper use of anesthesia or a mistake made during surgery can also lead to a brain injury.
Open and Closed Brain Injuries
Brain injuries can be closed head injuries, or open head injuries.
- Closed Head Injuries: When the brain moves violently within the skull, brain swelling can result. When a child or adult is shaken violently, deceleration occurs, and a closed brain injury results. When a brain injury is the result of a chemical or solvent, lead poisoning or carbon monoxide poisoning, the neurons in the brain are damaged. These are also considered closed head injuries, as is hypoxia, or a lack of oxygen to the brain.
- Open Head Injuries: While the brain is enclosed within the hard bones of the skull, in the event of violent contact with a hard object it can be severely damaged. When there is a wound on the head, whether from being struck with an object, a gunshot wound, or an automobile or sports injury, which leaves an obvious wound, an open head injury has occurred.
Serious Alterations in Brain Functions from Brain Injuries
Each part of the brain has a specific function. The parts of the brain include: the brain stem, the frontal lobe, the cerebellum, the parietal lobe and the occipital lobe. Depending on which part of the brain is most severely injured, one or more of the following alterations can occur:
- The brain-injured person may have an altered ability to understand spoken language;
- The brain-injured person may see significant alterations in memory, thinking and reasoning;
- The motor skills of the brain-injured person may be substantially altered;
- Communication skills may be perceptibly altered, leading to frustration in the brain injured person as he or she struggles to be understood;
- The ability to solve problems can be altered following a brain injury;
- The brain-injured person may exhibit a lack of inhibition;
- Visual perceptions can be lessened following a brain injury;
- The ability to plan and anticipate can decrease or become lost altogether in a brain-injured person;
- Even minor brain injuries can result in memory loss, depression, irritability and the inability to concentrate;
- A brain-injured person may be easily confused and may find themselves lost in once-familiar areas;
- A brain-injured person may see an increased sensitivity to normal sounds and lights;
- Sadness or anger is often seen in those with brain injuries;
- There may be a marked hesitation in the ability to think, react, read or speak in the brain-injured person;
- The brain-injured person may see their spatial perceptions significantly altered, and
- The touch, taste and smell of the brain-injured person may suffer substantial alterations.
Brain Injury Following an Automobile Accident
In an auto accident, a person may experience both open and closed brain injuries including brain lacerations, bruised brain tissue, swelling, nerve damage, fever or seizures. Perhaps the most common mistake made following a blow to the head without obvious outward signs is to assume they are uninjured.
Failing to seek medical attention following a car accident could leave you unable to convince an insurance company your brain injury was, in fact, the result of the auto accident. While any brain injury can change your life, many of these injuries are treatable, allowing the victim to recover normal functions and resume the life he or she had prior to the accident. Make sure you seek immediate medical attention and speak to a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer to determine your rights.
Difficulties Experienced in Those with Brain Injuries
It can be extremely difficult for those with brain injuries—even relatively mild injuries—to re-adjust to their “normal” life. Personality changes as well as changes in cognitive skills can be hard on the patient and his or her family members as well.
Abilities and skills which were once taken for granted may now represent a struggle. Many basic skills may need to be relearned. Many of those with brain injuries suffer mild to severe depression as they find recovery from their brain injury physically, emotionally and mentally exhausting.
Could Brain Injuries Age the Brain Faster?
Recently, a group of 1500 healthy people had their brain scans analyzed by researchers at the Imperial College of London. The goal was to precisely calculate a person’s age from nothing more than a brain scan.
The resulting program estimated the brain age of ninety-nine volunteers who had received a traumatic brain injury as well as more than a hundred healthy people. The scans of those with brain injuries showed significant alterations in the structure of the brain. In fact, the brain structures of those with brain injuries were very similar to those seen in much older people.
The computer program estimated the age of those people who had suffered a brain injury to be a minimum of five years older than their actual age. The researchers also believe brain injuries can trigger secondary responses related to inflammation which can not only continue to damage the brain for years and years, but may also contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Further, a 2008 study suggested brain-injured people have a higher risk of seizures, and may be more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease.
Speak to a Los Angeles Brain Injury Attorney Today
Calculating damages for a brain injury can be difficult, making it even more important to have an experienced personal injury attorney by your side. Brain injuries can affect your quality of life, as well as your financial stability and future. You may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses (present and future), lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Your Los Angeles brain injury attorney can assess your injuries and the circumstances surrounding the injury, then present your options. Having a strong advocate in your corner who will fight aggressively on your behalf is especially important when a brain injury exists.