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Traumatic Brain Injury & Concussion Lawsuits: A Detailed Guide

When you or a loved one have experienced a serious injury to the brain, it’s a scary and confusing time. While traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are shockingly common in the United States — over 3 million emergency hospital visits are attributed to this type of injury each year — they differ considerably from patient to patient. 

TBI recovery is very individualized. While symptoms from a mild TBI may dissipate in a few days, a severe TBI could result in lifelong disability or even death. The difference all depends on the severity, cause, and type of TBI.

An Experienced Brain Injury Attorney Can Help you Navigate the Legal Process

As traumatic brain injury lawyers in Oregon, we want you to know the facts about brain injuries. Drawing from expert medical sources, we’ve compiled this detailed guide to explain a bit more about TBIs. Read on to learn what you could be facing in the event you or your loved one is the victim of a traumatic brain injury, and when you should consult with a brain injury accident attorney. 

Can I sue after a brain injury?

If you believe an individual or organization’s negligence contributed to you or your loved one’s brain injury, you may be able to successfully bring a brain injury lawsuit against them.

If this is the case, contact a personal injury lawyer or an experienced traumatic brain injury law firm as soon as possible. Before you speak with a representative from an insurance company, file a workers’ compensation claim, or apply for other benefits, you need to seek legal advice that’s in your best interest. Brain injury cases often become complex legal and medical situations; it’s critical to have a legal advocate who’s on your side to help you navigate the situation.

Settlements or judgments from a brain injury lawsuit can be incredibly valuable for victims and their families. The head injury claim compensation could cover your pile of medical bills, the deep emotional or mental pain you suffered as a result of the injury, and other costs associated with surgery, rehabilitation, loss of work or life, and much more. The rest of this article will help you understand the different types of traumatic brain injuries, ways to avoid concussions and brain injuries, and when you should consult a traumatic brain injury attorney. 

Please note: the information in this article is not intended as legal advice but is provided for educational purposes only. Please contact an experienced brain injury lawyer at Swanson Lathen Prestwich.

Traumatic brain injuries: What are they?

A traumatic brain injury is a sudden injury to the head that causes damage to the brain. TBIs vary greatly in severity. Some patients recover from TBIs in just a couple days while more severe injuries cause permanent brain injury and death.

Who is at risk for TBIs?

According to the Cleveland Clinic, anyone is at risk for a TBI. However, almost 80% of them occur among males. The most common age group to experience TBIs are those 65 and older. This is because seniors have a higher risk for falls which can result in a forceful or serious injury to the head. Yet, infants can also experience TBIs following a fall, as well as children and other adults in a range of activities and situations.

Certain professionals or hobbyists have a higher risk of TBIs. These include:

  • Active military members
  • Athletes
  • Construction workers
  • Law enforcement personnel

When or how do you know how serious a brain injury is?

Brain injury diagnosis with medical doctor seeing Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) film diagnosing head injuries, concussions, and traumatic brain injuries.

Experienced medical professionals, specifically a neurologist or a specialist in neurotrauma, are the only people who can accurately determine the severity of a brain injury. A traumatic brain injury attorney can help you or your loved one navigate the legal process, but brain injuries must be assessed by a medical professional.

How do they determine how extensive your loved one’s TBI is in those first few days after their injury? While knowing for certain can be difficult, clinicians have developed a method through which they can make an often-reliable estimation.

It is known as the Glasgow Coma Scale, and it is based on observations made of your loved one by the clinicians who treat them immediately after hospitalization. Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the GCS measures responses in the following areas: 

  • Verbal communication
  • Motor skills
  • Eye movement and opening

After observing your loved one’s responses, their caregivers will assign point totals to each of the aforementioned categories. A higher score is what you are hoping for, as scores between 13-15 and 9-12 indicate mild and moderate brain injuries, respectively. A score of eight or below could mean that your loved one had suffered serious brain damage, and their likelihood of a full recovery may be remote.

What causes traumatic brain injuries?

Falls are the primary cause of TBIs. However, other causes are commonly associated with TBIs, and include: 

  • Domestic violence or child abuse
  • Gunshot wounds
  • Auto accidents
  • Injuries sustained during sports, recreation, or manual labor

TBIs are divided into several categories based on their severity and cause. The Cleveland Clinic outlines the following eight types — these are terms medical practitioners use to describe a specific TBI. 

There are several different types and grades of TBI:

Brain Injuries based on severity

Concussion vector illustration. Labeled educational post head trauma scheme. Medical explanation with brain injury kinds. Direct impact, acceleration and blast health causes with symptoms list diagram

  • Mild concussion: Concussions are the most common TBI; each year, about 75% of TBIs are concussions. Concussions can cause brief changes of consciousness (such as feeling “dazed” or experiencing a loss of consciousness for no more than 30 minutes). People who suffer a concussion may experience confusion for a day or so. Even if you don’t think the head injury is severe, consult with an experienced concussion lawyer to help navigate the outcome and medical bills.
  • Moderate TBI: mTBI’s are associated with a loss of consciousness for over 30 minutes but less than one day. Confusion may continue for up to 7 days.
  • Severe TBI: This TBI is associated with a loss of consciousness for over a day. These injuries are also commonly “complicated” TBIs, as described below.

Brain Injuries based on brain imaging

  • Uncomplicated TBI: When CT scans or MRI imaging is “normal,” doctors describe it as uncomplicated, regardless of the TBI’s level of severity.
  • Complicated TBI: When CT scans or brain MRI imaging is “abnormal,” or depicts changes in the brain post-injury, doctors describe it as complicated. Brain bleeding may be a common issue that causes a TBI to be labeled as “complicated.” 

Brain injuries based on the cause of injury

  • Open: This term (also referred to as a “penetrating” TBI) refers to injuries that penetrate the skull. For example, a bullet wound may cause an open TBI. If the object goes into the brain, it is likely the primary cause of brain tissue damage.
  • Closed: This term describes the majority of TBIs. Closed TBIs are caused by a blow to the head that did not puncture or penetrate the skull. A fall is a common cause for a closed TBI. Often, brain damage caused by this type of TBI is due to internal swelling.
  • Non-traumatic: Also known as a hypoxic brain injury, this TBI isn’t from direct trauma to the head. Instead, it occurs when the brain is deprived of oxygen. Strokes, seizures, chokings, or near-fatal drownings can all result in non-traumatic TBIs.

How can you prevent brain injuries? 

Avoid TBIs While Behind the Wheel

According to Shepherd Center, a treatment facility specializing in brain injuries, you can reduce the risk of TBI by taking the following precautions:

  • Do not drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. These substances, including prescription medications, can slow your response time, impairing your ability to make good decisions, and act quickly.
  • Wear your seatbelt. These safety devices help you and your passengers stay in the seats in the event of a crash. Buckle small children into safety seats or booster seats if they are too small or light for a standard seatbelt.
  • Invest in a protective helmet. Whether you ride a bicycle or motorcycle, a helmet can protect against severe brain and spinal cord injuries.
  • Stow the cell phone while driving. Driver distraction is a leading cause of roadway collisions. Individuals who talk or text while driving are four times more likely to become involved in a crash.

Focusing on your surroundings when behind the wheel. It helps you spot erratic driving by others and take evasive action. By removing yourself from dangerous circumstances, you can reduce the chance of being in a collision. If you sustain injuries as the result of driver negligence or faulty equipment, you may have grounds for a claim. Visit our webpage for more information on this topic.

Avoid TBIs in Daily Life

Off the road, remember these tips at work or home — or when engaged in your favorite activity, exercise, or sport. 

  • Advocating safety — If you are a parent, you can educate others who care for your children, such as babysitters and coaches, about safety measures to prevent concussions. 
  • Exercising regularly — Falls are among the most common causes of concussion. You can decrease your risk of falling by improving your balance and strengthening your leg muscles with regular exercise. 
  • Reducing tripping hazards — Keep the floors of your home free of objects that you or your family members could trip over. Be sure that your home is well-lit, especially in stairwells where a fall could be more dangerous. 

Wearing protective gear — Some recreational activities, such as snowboarding or bicycling, carry a greater risk of head injuries. When participating in such activities, it is important for you and all other members of your family to wear helmets and other protective gear. You should ensure that your gear fits well and is appropriate for the activity you are participating in.

How can a brain injury lawyer help my case?

If you believe you or your loved one’s TBI was caused by negligence, it’s important to carefully select your personal injury attorney  — and quickly. Your traumatic brain injury attorney will make sure you don’t miss out on presenting your case due to the timeline imposed by Oregon’s statute of limitations. 

When it comes to your selection, don’t choose just any personal injury lawyer. Those experienced in brain injury lawsuits bring a unique and valuable perspective to your case. Drawing from their years of successful litigation and settlements, they can help position the facts of your case to maximize your chances for fair compensation. Average compensation for head injury lawsuits will vary greatly due to all of the factors mentioned above. To get a better idea of your head injury claim compensation, contact an Oregon head injury lawyer to see what your brain injury case is worth.

At Swanson Lathen Prestwich PC, our team has recovered millions of dollars for our clients. We are the confident, capable, and compassionate law firm experienced in brain injury lawsuits and ready to fight for your right to justice. 

If you are looking to hire an Oregon lawyer after a brain injury, contact an experienced traumatic brain injury law firm, Swanson Lathen Prestwich, PC. Your free consultation with our head injury lawyers is completely confidential.