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Traumatic Brain Injury


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is one of the most serious and complex injuries you can receive after an auto accident, a slip and fall or another incident. Although they can be chronic, life-changing and irreversible, it’s not always obvious at the time of the accident and many go undiagnosed. This is why brain injuries are known as “invisible injuries” or the “silent epidemic.”

The Centers for Disease Control reports that 1.7 million people suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI) each year. TBI is a contributing factor in almost a third of all injury-related deaths in the United States.

As one of the nation’s largest and most recognized traumatic brain injury law firms, The Smith Law Center has created this page as a reference for understanding more about the types and causes of brain injuries, how or when you may have grounds for a brain injury lawsuit, and what kinds of damages you might be able to claim. If you have a question that you don’t see answered here, please reach out to our lawyers at (757) 244-7000. Your phone call is free and confidential.

 

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CAUSES OF TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY

The leading causes of brain injuries are:

  • Falls – Falls are the number one cause of traumatic brain injuries, accounting for 47 percent of all TBI-related injuries and fatalities, reports Brainline. The elderly and children are especially prone to slip and fall accidents.
  • Blunt trauma or impact – Being struck by or against an object is the second most common cause of traumatic brain injuries, such as in sports or physical altercations.
  • Vehicle Accidents – Car, truck and motorcycle accidents were the third leading cause of TBI-related injuries among all age groups, making up almost 20 percent of TBIs.

When your brain injury happens because of another’s negligence, you are highly encouraged to contact a brain injury lawyer. Medical bills and other related costs can quickly pile up, and unfortunately, insurance companies often seek to protect their own assets rather than yours. To be sure you or your loved one is fairly compensated for your losses, it’s best to speak with a qualified brain injury lawyer as soon as possible. The attorneys at The Smith Law Center have more than 100 years of combined legal experience and are available to help you understand your legal options now. Contact us at (757) 244-7000 today.

Slip and Fall Accidents

Slip, trip, and fall accidents are the primary cause of TBI. These can and do happen almost anywhere. Common hazards include slippery floors in stores, hotels, apartment complexes, and restaurants, uneven stairs, decks, and icy parking lots. Property owners or managers are responsible for providing patrons and guests with a hazard free environment. When they fail to do so, they can be held liable for any resulting injuries.

Not all falls that injure or kill people result in lawsuits. These cases are known as premises liability actions. They are often complex, so it’s advised to speak with a lawyer if you ever find yourself or a loved one injured by a slip and fall accident.

 

Examples of Slip, Trip and Fall Causes 

Examples of potentially-dangerous conditions that can lead to a slip and fall claim:

  • Uneven flooring
  • Liquid spills in stores
  • Slippery floors without a warning sign
  • Icy parking lots or snow outside a business
  • Ripped, bunched or torn carpet in a hotel or restaurant
  • Gaps or trip hazards on sidewalks
  • Exposed tree roots
  • Unsafe or crumbling stairs
  • Lack of safety rails or handrails
  • Unsafe balconies or decks
  • Incorrect or lack of signage
  • Cluttered waking areas
  • Goods falling from stores
  • Unsafe displays
  • Falls from beds in nursing homes

 

If You Are Hurt in Slip and Fall Accident

If you are injured on someone else’s property by a slip and fall accident, you should report it immediately to the business or property owner. File a complaint and alert police about your accident if possible, to ensure a separate report is made. Take photos of the scene, collect witness contact info, and be seen by a doctor for your injuries immediately.

 

Liability in Slip and Fall Lawsuits

Of course, you must lawfully be on a property to sue a landowner, business owner, manager or other party for an injury, and trespassers have few rights in these types of accidents. One exception to this rule is when a child gains access to a dangerous, unsecured property such as a swimming pool.

Big businesses often have strong legal teams to fight your claim. However, an experienced slip and fall attorney will have the resources to build a successful case on your behalf. The Smith Law Center is one of the most widely-known and respected brain injury law firms in the nation. We have secured million dollar verdicts for slip and fall victims, including the largest slip and fall verdict in Virginia history. Contact us for a complimentary case review today. We will help you understand if you have grounds to file a slip and fall lawsuit.

 

Concussion

TYPES OF TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY

Brain injuries span a wide spectrum, from concussions to serious and even deadly injuries.

Mild TBI & Concussions

In past years, the seriousness of mild traumatic brain injury was minimized. Yet, concussions can be serious and cause permanent damage if they are not properly treated. Sufferers may appear uninjured but still be experiencing a wide range of neurological problems.

 

What Is a Concussion?

A concussion is a type of mild traumatic brain injury triggered by external force to the head, causing the brain to collide or rotate within the skull. It can prompt chemical changes in the brain or damage brain cells. While they are classified as “mild” brain injuries by medical providers because they are usually not life-threatening, concussion effects can be serious.

 

Symptoms of Concussions

A concussion might be indicated by the following signs:

  • Confusion or appearing stunned or dazed
  • Memory problems
  • Loss of balance or coordination
  • Lack of concentration
  • Brief loss of consciousness
  • Mood, behavior, or personality changes
  • Headache
  • Feeling down or out of sorts
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dilated or uneven pupils
  • Double or blurry vision
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Sluggishness

Often, these signs won’t show up until hours later, so be sure to check for them periodically in the days following the injury. If symptoms persist longer than a few days, visit the emergency room.

 

Long Term Complications of Concussions

When they’ve gone untreated or are severe, short term symptoms can become permanent and serious, impacting your quality of life in the long-term. This could mean:

  • Job loss
  • Depression
  • Epilepsy
  • Sleep problems
  • Personality changes
  • Poor memory

More on the effects of traumatic brain injury can be found below in the section “Damages in a Traumatic Brain Injury Lawsuit.”

Coma

A coma is a prolonged state of unconsciousness wherein the patient is still alive but is unresponsive to his or her environment. They may appear to be a deep sleep, but no amount of stimulation can wake a person from a coma, including pain.

The longer a patient remains in a coma, the lower his or her chance of recovery becomes. Patients who come out of a coma often do so in a matter of hours.

By the third day, the chance of a moderate or good recovery is reduced to just 7 percent and as low as 2 percent by the 14th day, according to the BMJ Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry. By the end of the first week in a coma, almost half of those who have not recovered consciousness will remain in a vegetative state.

 

Causes of Coma

A coma can be brought on by several different factors, including:

  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
  • Oxygen deprivation
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Infections, such as meningitis or encephalitis
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Lead exposure
  • Substance overdose

 

Glasgow Coma Scale

Brain injuries are classified using a system called the Glasgow Coma Scale, system that communicates a patient’s level of consciousness after an acute brain injury. It’s helpful because it may determine the level and type of treatment a TBI sufferer will receive.

The Glasgow Coma Scale is divided into three components: verbal response, eye-opening, and motor responses. These produce a total score of 15. For instance, a score of 13-15 is defined as a mild brain injury, 9-12 is moderate, and 3-8 is a severe brain injury. Patients who only score 3-8 are considered to have no meaningful response and incapable of voluntary activities.

A score lower than 3 is defined as a vegetative state. The patient will have sleep and wake cycles, but there is no interaction with the outside world or localized response to pain. When a patient has no discernible brain function, he or she is classified as brain dead.

 

Liability for Coma from Severe Brain Injury in Virginia

If you or a loved one suffered a coma due to an injury caused by another’s negligence, you may have grounds for a lawsuit. Parties who can be held liable for coma due to severe brain injury include:

  • Negligent drivers in car accidents
  • Trucking companies who employed an at-fault trucker
  • Landlords or property managers for injuries due to living conditions
  • Commercial building operators for a slip-and-fall injury
  • Employers for unsafe workplaces
  • Medical professionals who causes a coma through malpractice
  • Manufacturers of defective parts or products
  • Drug makers
  • Athletic organizations, schools or school districts for allowing an athlete to continue to continue playing with a concussion

Sports-Related Concussions

About 1.6 million to 3.8 million traumatic brain injuries are diagnosed in American athletes each year. Many of these are concussions that heal with rest away from the sports field. However, sports-related brain injuries can be extremely serious and cause permanent damage or even death.

 

School & College Sports

According to Brainline, children and teens make up about 70 percent of all sports-related concussions. A simple knock to the head can be very serious in a child’s brain because it is still developing. Concussions are especially common in high school athletics. They are a mild traumatic brain injury most commonly associated with high impact sports like football, soccer, and ice hockey. A student-athlete may not always lose consciousness but might show signs of mental confusion or have a headache. 

More than a decade ago, Virginia established policies to help address concussions and prevent brain injuries in athletes. In 2019, House Bill 1930 introduced a new state law that requires Virginia schools to update their concussion policies and procedures on a regular basis. Coaches, schools and entire school districts can be liable if they fail to adhere to the guidelines set out in Virginia Code 22.1-271.5, including at the collegiate level.

This code states that the Board of Education is responsible for establishing policies on removing injured athletes from play and educating coaches, students and their parents or guardians about concussion dangers. These rules must highlight the seriousness of not reporting the injury and allowing students to play on post-concussion. Athletes may only return to play with written clearance from a licensed healthcare provider.

 

Types of Brain Injuries in Athletes 

Common head and brain injuries sustained playing sports include: 

  • Cerebral concussion
  • Diffuse brain injury
  • Subdural hematoma
  • Second impact syndrome
  • Epidural hematoma
  • Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy is a progressive degenerative disorder that causes proteins known as tau to build up throughout the brain, slowly killing nerve cells that conduct electrical impulses. It is extremely serious and irreversible, but still isn’t fully understood and can only be detected by autopsy. CTE has been most associated with those who have suffered multiple and repeated head trauma, including:

  • Boxers
  • Military personnel who have suffered blast injuries
  • Rugby players
  • Hockey players
  • Soccer players
  • Wrestlers
  • Victims of physical abuse
  • Epileptics 
  • Football players

High school and college students have also been diagnosed with CTE. 

 

Behavior Associated with CTE

Possible signs of CTE can include:

  • Suicidal behavior
  • Aggression
  • Paranoia
  • Emotional instability
  • Depression
  • Dementia
  • Cognitive difficulties
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Motor skill impairment

 

football helmets

 

CTE in NFL Players

In recent years, the focus has shifted largely to pro football players due to a series of high profile suicides. A recent study by Boston University researcher Dr. Ann McKee found that 110 of the 111 brains of former NFL players had CTE.

 

CTE Lawsuits

In 2013, the NFL settled a lawsuit for $765 million over concussion-related brain injuries among more than 4,500 retired players. The NFL was accused of hiding the dangers of concussions and making a profit from the high impact collisions that lead to concussions among players. The league agreed to compensate victims, pay for their medical exams and underwrite research. 

To this day, little is known about CTE and post-mortem research continues on the brains of athletes who were diagnosed with it. There is no known cure for CTE.

Acquired Brain Injury

An acquired brain injury (ABI) describes a brain injury that occurs after birth. They can be classified as traumatic brain injuries. However, TBIs are caused by an external force, whereas ABIs also include internal conditions like a stroke, infections, oxygen loss and medical errors. For example, incorrect or excessive use of forceps or vacuums during childbirth can lead to an acquired brain injury.

Falls are the most common causes of acquired brain injuries, accounting for over half of ABIs. Elderly people and younger children are more vulnerable to falls. The second most prevalent cause of ABIs is objects striking the head, followed by car crashes.

 

Causes of Acquired Brain Injury

Acquired brain injury causes can include:

  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Car accident injuries
  • Near-drowning
  • Infection
  • Stroke
  • Aneurysm
  • Medical mishaps
  • Tumors, such as from exposure to cancerous substances
  • Anoxia or hypoxia
  • Assaults
  • Falling objects
  • Gunshot wounds

 

Traumatic vs. Non-Traumatic Brain Injuries

A TBI is different from a non-traumatic brain injury since TBIs are caused by physical trauma, as opposed to illnesses or ailments such as cancer, disease, or tumors.

 

Acquired Brain Infections

Serious infections can spread to the brain through blood and damage brain tissue. In some instances, a brain injury can spur an infection. Examples of acquired brain infections include:

  • Meningitis
  • Staph infection
  • Encephalitis
  • Herpes
  • Tick-borne infections
  • Other viral infections

Anoxia & Hypoxia

Anoxia and hypoxia describe brain injuries caused by oxygen loss to the brain. Because the brain consumes a fifth of the body’s oxygen supply, even a brief deprivation can cause serious damage. Both are serious conditions that typically require long-term medical care.

 

Anoxia vs. Hypoxia

  • Anoxia is defined as a total lack of oxygen to the brain.
  • Hypoxia is a reduced supply of oxygen to the brain.

 

Causes of Anoxia and Hypoxia

Possible reasons for anoxia and hypoxia include:

  • Drowning or near-drowning
  • Stroke
  • Drug overdose
  • Carbon dioxide or smoke inhalation
  • Poisoning
  • Asthma attacks
  • Medical mistakes in the administration of anesthesia
  • Heart attack
  • Traumatic brain injury from car, truck or motorcycle accidents
  • Birth injuries

 

Symptoms of Anoxia and Hypoxia

It only takes a moment for brain damage to begin once a victim’s oxygen supply is compromised. In fact, the signs of anoxia and hypoxia are almost immediately apparent. Just a few minutes can kill enough brain cells to create lasting damage or even life-threatening conditions. Initial signs include an inability to focus or a lack of coordination in movement, followed by dizziness, headaches, and profuse sweating. Vision is also often impaired, and certain patients may even experience a sense of euphoria.

As anoxia or hypoxia progresses, a victim’s mouth or fingertips might turn blue or have a seizure. These symptoms typically occur before a sufferer loses consciousness. Many sufferers slip into a coma.

 

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DAMAGES IN A TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY LAWSUIT

Whether it was yourself or a loved one who was hurt by a TBI, we’re here to ensure you know your rights and what you could be entitled to through a brain injury lawsuit. A skilled traumatic brain injury lawyer will be able to help calculate the total value of your losses to see how much your potential case is worth.

Long-Term Effects of Traumatic Brain Injury (Physical)

The long-term impacts of brain injury are typically serious, yet there are instances where victims can recover and lead normal lives. Depending on the severity of a patient’s injury, he or she may suffer a wide range of psychological and neurological complications, such as:

  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Hallucinations
  • Ongoing headaches
  • Sleeping disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • Seizures
  • Learning disabilities
  • Physical disabilities
  • Breathing complications
  • Speech difficulties
  • Dementia or psychosis
  • Lobe syndromes
  • Memory loss
  • Involuntary reflexes
  • Anton’s syndrome
  • Sensory disorders
  • Coma or brain death
  • Death

Other Lifestyle Impacts of TBI

The effects of TBI can have far reaching impact, causing more than just physical pain. Many times, these physical ailments carry over to impact other parts of a victim’s life. This damaging ripple effect can take many forms, and the examples below are just a few:

  • Financial Strain – Brain injuries can be expensive whether your injury requires short-term care or a life-long care plan.
  • Loss of Job or Educational Opportunities – In some cases, a TBI will impact memory, concentration and mood and a victim will no longer be able to meet performance expectations at work or in school. For certain individuals, it may be difficult to hold a job at all, which can further impact mood and self-esteem.
  • Relational Stress – Personal relationships can also suffer after a TBI when survivors struggle with anti-socialism and withdrawal.
  • Poor concentration – Traumatic brain injury can lead to a wide range of cognitive problems. Poor memory and concentration can severely impact your life.
  • Emotional Pain and Suffering – Adjusting to a new way of living is challenging for any brain injury survivor and seldom comes without considerable emotional and mental hardship.

LIABILITY FOR TBI IN VIRGINIA

Another party may be at fault for a TBI. It may be a reckless, drunk or distracted driver. If an athlete sustains a concussion and is allowed to play on causing serious brain damage, a sports league, body, university or school may be liable for an injury. A negligent business owner or manager may have caused a fall by leaving an obstruction or a wet floor or not complying with building codes. If you or a family member suffers a traumatic brain injury caused by the negligence or recklessness of another person, you should hire an experienced Virginia brain injury lawyer as soon as possible.

CONTACT AN EXPERIENCED VIRGINIA BRAIN INJURY LAW FIRM

At The Smith Law Center, we’ve been helping families heal and recover from the devastating impact of traumatic brain injury for more than 40 years. A lot of other firms accept cases for TBI, but few devote their practice to it and even fewer are formally educated on it. Firm founder Stephen Smith is a graduate of Marquette University’s Neuro Anatomical Program. This explains why his experience with the scalpel gives him an edge in the courtroom.®

We aren’t just caring, compassionate legal advocates who understand what you are going through; we are qualified litigators who will see to it that your family receives all they need to properly heal. Please contact us today to tell us more about your potential case and receive a free legal consultation at (757) 244-7000.

VERDICTS AND SETTLEMENTS

Trial for Woman with Brain Injury Settles Two Days Into Trial

Awarded: $14,590,000.00

Summary: MANASSAS, Virginia – Motorcycle dealer and tire manufacturers settled for installation of defective inner tube in the rear tire of a Harley Davidson motorcycle that failed, causing a brain injury to a female passenger.

VERDICTS AND SETTLEMENTS

Trial for Woman with Brain Injury Settles Two Days Into Trial

Awarded: $14,590,000.00

Summary: MANASSAS, Virginia – Motorcycle dealer and tire manufacturers settled for installation of defective inner tube in the rear tire of a Harley Davidson motorcycle that failed, causing a brain injury to a female passenger.

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SPEAK TO US NOW FOR FREE

Your legal questions answered, completely free of charge.

icon law

IF WE DON’T WIN, YOU DON’T PAY

There are absolutely no out-of-pocket fees for filing a claim.

icon target

DELIVERING RESULTS SINCE 1949

We are one of Virginia’s largest and most successful law firms.

WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU - Tablet View

WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU


Use the simple form below to send a message directly to our lawyers. We will respond within 1 hour or less during business hours.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.