The CDC reports that the majority of the approximately 200,000 brain injuries resulting in hospitalization per year are considered Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries. The term Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) is often used to describe concussions. In fact, these terms are generally used interchangeably. However, just because concussions are considered “mild” in comparison with other brain injuries, this does not mean that concussion victims cannot have long-lasting physical and psychological effects.
No matter the severity of your concussion, if your injury was caused due to the negligence or wrongful act of another, you have the right to seek fair compensation for your economic and non-economic losses. However, how much you have the right to claim or how much you should expect to receive in a financial settlement depends on a variety of factors.
Mild Traumatic Brain Injury
How can an injury be described as both “mild” and “traumatic?” In this instance, the term “traumatic” means that an outward trauma has caused a brain injury. The severity of these injuries can vary greatly depending on the force of impact and the area of the brain that was damaged. Brain injuries may even initially go undetected until a medical professional sees the victim.
Determining the extent of a brain injury should be the first priority after an accident. When treating a head injury, doctors will use the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) to measure the severity of a TBI. The Glasgow Coma Scale scores traumatic brain injuries on a scale of 1-15, with the most severe forms of brain injury on the lower end of the scale. Therefore, the higher a patient's GCS score, the more “mild” their injury is considered.
Researchers have identified key risk factors for concussion injuries by examining concussion injury data. For example, certain activities (motorcycling, football, or hockey) are far more likely to result in concussion than others. However, concussions are most commonly sustained in falls and motor vehicle collisions. In addition, certain groups, such as older adults or those who have previously suffered a concussion, are more at risk for severe concussions.
How do you know if you have a concussion? There are a few tell-tale symptoms that warrant immediate medical attention. Even if you are unsure, it is in your best interests to seek medical attention after suffering any impact or trauma to the head.
While not all of the following symptoms are necessarily indicators of a concussion, if you are experiencing a combination of the following symptoms, you should be seen by a doctor as soon as possible. Some of the most typical symptoms of a concussion include:
Lack of concentration
Inability to sleep
Long-term Consequences of a TBI
Concussions can have long-term consequences that will affect victims and their families for years to come. Post-concussion syndrome (a condition in which concussion symptoms last for more than 90 days) occurs in approximately 20% of all concussion cases. Similarly, second impact syndrome is a serious condition that can turn a mild concussion into a potentially fatal brain injury. This condition is caused when someone receives a second concussion before their initial concussion has healed and will often cause the brain to swell from the trauma.
Concussion Settlement Awards
Any time someone suffers a brain injury, the compensation tends to be relatively high due to the relative danger and extensive side effects of these injuries. However, no two mild traumatic brain injuries are the same, and many extenuating factors can affect any potential financial compensation, such as a settlement award.
Because of the factors listed below, concussion settlement awards can vary widely. The amount a brain injury victim is awarded to cover their losses depends on the degree of their brain injury, whether or not the case goes to trial, and their state’s comparative negligence laws (among other factors). To get a better idea of the potential worth of your claim, contact an experienced personal injury attorney to review your case.
Degree of Injury
As stated above, doctors will utilize the Glasgow Coma Scale to diagnose the extent of a traumatic brain injury. The lower the number on the Glasgow Coma Scale, the higher the settlement value is likely to be. Concussion injuries are scored 13-15, so these claims would typically settle for less than an injury claim involving open head injuries, brain swelling, or cranial hematoma.
Mild traumatic brain injuries that worsen over time are more likely to receive high financial settlements than brain injuries that heal quickly. For example, a car accident victim who suffered post-concussion syndrome and long-term memory problems received a $329,000 settlement for their claim.
Settlement vs. Trial
One of the first decisions your attorney will make regarding your claim is whether to attempt to settle out of court or to take your case to trial. Both approaches have pros and cons. However, the majority of personal injury victims choose to settle outside of court to avoid a lengthy and potentially expensive legal battle. Additionally, if your attorney can negotiate a settlement for your claim, you are guaranteed compensation; if you take your case to trial, you may not receive any compensation if the judge or jury rules in the defendant’s favor.
While most injury claims involving two individuals are settled outside of court, brain injury cases that involve malfunctioning products often go to court. For example, a 46-year-old man injured by a malfunctioning windshield on a fishing boat manufactured by Donzi Marine, LLC eventually filed a product liability claim against the company. His claim argued that the product’s malfunction resulted in a traumatic brain injury that caused sleep disorders, mood swings, headaches, and other cognitive changes. While the man admitted to some fault in the injury (see information on comparative negligence below), the jury eventually awarded the victim a $405,00 verdict (which was later reduced to $750,000 to account for the victim’s fault).
In some states, victims are ineligible to seek compensation for their injuries if they were partly at fault. However, the vast majority of states follow what is known as comparative negligence law. According to comparative negligence law, victims can seek compensation for their injuries even if they were partly at fault. Thirteen states recognize pure comparative fault, which means that the victim can seek compensation even if they were 99% at fault for the injury (although their compensation will be proportionately reduced). Thirty-three states follow a modified comparative negligence model, in which victims can only claim compensation if they are 50 percent or less at fault.
Comparative negligence cases can quickly become contentious. For example, a 16-year-old girl sued her private school when she suffered a traumatic brain injury during golf class. The private school asked the court to dismiss this case, arguing the girl had assumed the risk of injury. While the question of fault was argued back and forth in court, the victim was eventually awarded a $10 million settlement.
Find a Lawyer
It is almost always in an injury victim’s best interest to seek legal representation for their claim. While there are costs involved with hiring an attorney, the reality is that accident victims are unlikely to receive a fair settlement or judgment without an experienced legal professional representing their claim. If you are searching for a personal injury attorney to represent your mild traumatic brain injury claim, Expertise.com’s legal directory can help you find experienced lawyers in your area.
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