How to Evaluate a Traumatic Brain Injury Claim
By Scott J. Corwin, Motor Vehicle Accident Attorney
What is a Traumatic Brain Injury?
Traumatic Brain Injuries or TBIs occurs when the brain experiences significant trauma, resulting in physiological function. TBIs can occur from whiplash injuries or blunt force trauma to the skull. The sudden acceleration and deceleration of the brain against the inside of skull can cause internal bleeding or nerve damage. The subsequent damage to the brain can leave the victim with a diminished mental capacity. These types of injuries often can occur in motor vehicle accidents.
What are My Treatment Options?
If a traumatic brain injury is suspected, witnesses or victims of the accident should contact emergency medical services immediately. Time is a critical factor in the success rate of a recovery from a brain injury. Continuing treatment according to the treating clinicians and following up regularly is extremely important. Neurologists experienced in car accident and other motor vehicle related trauma understand the importance of high quality medical treatment and consistent evaluations to review progress.
Rehabilitation to re-learn skills and further develop coping mechanisms may be necessary to re-enter society after a serious brain injury. There are a variety of centers and professionals that specialize in rehabilitating patients with brain injuries; it is important to research these institutions before investing time and money into a program. Early intervention is crucial in determining the success of recovery from a brain injury.
What determines the Value of My Brain Injury Motor Vehicle Claim?
Factors that contribute to the determination of the value of a brain injury claim include but are not limited to: special damages, including medical expenses, future medical care costs, past earnings loss and future loss of earnings due to any total or partial disability, the nature and extent of the injuries and permanence of the disability, how the injury affects the victim’s ability to engage in activities of daily living (ADLs), how the injury affects the victim’s ability to engage in meaningful social and interpersonal relationships (which are often impaired by brain injuries). The liability of the at fault party, whether there is any comparative negligence on the part of the victim and the amount of insurance coverage available for both the at fault party and the victim through his or her underinsured motorist coverage. Of course, general damages for pain and suffering account for a major portion of the valuation of the claim. Traumatic brain injuries can range in value from moderate dollar amounts to very significant recoveries, well into six and seven figure settlements and verdicts.
Medical Expenses, in the case of a TBI or other head injury, are often high due to the time spent in the hospital, as well as the extensive treatment and follow-up care. Current medical bills as well as future medical expenses are calculated and factored into the settlement. Future treatment may include, part time or full time attendant care, physical therapy, occupational therapy, cognitive therapy or rehabilitation to help the injured patient recover.
Out of Pocket Expenses following a serious accident can quickly pile up and have serious financial impact on the injured party. Over the counter and prescription medications, transportation costs and other miscellaneous expenditures resulting from the accident can burden a brain injured victim. These costs can add up and influence the overall settlement value. It is important to keep all receipts and notes for each expense that a victim claims.
Loss of Income is a combination of lost wages and diminished capacity to earn income. During the recovery process, the injured individual may miss many hours of work. The amount that he would have been paid during that time is factored into the claim value. Many brain injured victims may not be able to return to work or work full time. Full time students for example, may have a significant loss of income resulting from an accident. If the traumatic brain injury is serious and greatly diminishes the student’s ability to earn a living, the negligent party must compensate the injured party for any future loss of income that can be established.
General Damages, which accounts for pain and suffering as well as other damages, is often the greatest contributor to a brain injury claim. Both the nature of the accident, as well as the duration and permanency of the injury weigh heavily on the value that pain and suffering contribute to the overall motor vehicle claim.
Do I Need a Motor Vehicle Accident Attorney for my Brain Injury Case?
Given the nature of the injury and the complexities of the recovery process, it is strongly recommended that victims of Traumatic Brain Injury Accidents hire experienced and specialized attorneys. Many Personal Injury Attorneys represent clients in a broad range of cases, from slip and fall to defective products. Brain Injury cases require special attorneys to maximize the value of a claim and give the client the compensation that he or she deserves. As a prospective client, you need to know the attorney’s experience handling similar cases to determine whether that attorney is right for you.