This type of personal injury claim can represent the most challenging case an attorney may ever face. In our personal injury practice, we often see brain injuries caused by blunt trauma from things like falls or car accidents.
When the injury results from head trauma, damage to the brain may occur at the time of impact or may develop later due to swelling (cerebral edema) and bleeding into the brain (intracerebral hemorrhage) or bleeding around the brain (epidural or subdural hemorrhage). When the head is hit with sufficient force, the brain turns and twists on its axis (the brain stem), interrupting normal nerve pathways and causing a loss of consciousness. If this unconsciousness persists over a long period of time, the injured person is considered to be in a coma, a condition caused by the disruption of the nerve fibers going from the brain stem to the cortex.
If the injury is severe, as in the case of an acceleration-deceleration injury in which the moving head impacts against a hard, fixed surface, multiple areas of the brain are damaged. Upon impact, the brain rebounds forward and backward against the skull (this is called coup-contracoup), which tears the subdural veins, causes damage to the temporal lobes as they move across the rough bony structures within the skull, and results in bleeding, swelling of the brain stem, and shearing of the blood vessels and nerve fibers.
The term “closed head injury” is used when the brain has been damaged without penetration of the skull by another object. One example of this is Shaken Baby Syndrome, in which the brain is damaged by severe and violent shaking or twisting. Such injury often occurs without leaving obvious external signs. The difference between closed and penetrating injuries can be profound.
In a bullet wound to the head, for example, a large area of the brain may be destroyed but the resulting neurologic deficit may be minor if that area was not a critical one. In contrast, closed head injuries result in more widespread damage and can result in more extensive neurologic deficits. These deficits can include paralysis, cognitive, behavioral, and memory dysfunction, persistent vegetative state, and death.
We also have seen a large number of clients whose brain injuries were caused by medical negligence in a hospital or emergency room setting. In these situations, brain damage is caused from an insufficient supply of glucose and oxygen to the patient’s brain. This could be caused by a number of medical conditions including heart attack, stroke or a birth injury.
Symptoms from brain injuries range from mild to the profound. In the more severely disabled, time conscious physicians are often reluctant to devote the effort and resources necessary to determine the exact nature, extent or duration of the damage. In nearly every case, it will be necessary for us to employ independent experts to thoroughly identify and evaluate those injuries and their consequences.
Of course, the brain damaged victim is entitled to recover general damages like medical bills and loss of earnings and earning capacity. An element of damages that may be particularly available to family members whose love one has suffered a severe brain injury is loss of consortium. Loss of consortium includes damages for such things as interference with the natural and normal relationship the family member had with the loved one. It includes the loss of advice, counsel, affection and companionship with the loved one. Generally speaking, only a spouse or child may recover for loss of consortium. Texas law, unfortunately, does not recognize a parent’s right to recover for loss of consortium if the victim of brain damage is a child.
HSSH has experienced brain injury attorneys and would be happy to discuss your claim with you. The consultation is free and if we do not make a recovery on your behalf, you owe us nothing.
If you or a loved one has suffered a brain injury and you would like to discuss your case with us please call us at 800-753-5359 or 806-376-8903 (Texas office) or 303-333-2200 (Colorado office) or contact us here. The consultation is free and if we do not make a recovery, you owe us nothing.