Traumatic Brain Injury Attorney in Austin, Texas
The National Football League (NFL) made headlines when it was forced to deal with players who had suffered traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) on the field. Many suffered lifelong disabilities, and many also died. The NFL initially agreed to a $765 million settlement for concussion-related injuries, including TBIs, which was later expanded to $1 billion when it was shown that testing was race-based to the detriment of Black players.
When it comes to traumatic brain injuries, you don’t need to play football to be a victim. According to the Brain Injury Association of America, more than 144,000 Texans suffer a TBI every year. Of those, more than 5,700 become permanently disabled. To date, approximately 381,000 Texans (2% of the population) live with a TBI-related disability.
A traumatic brain injury can occur in a variety of ways. Falls, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are the most common cause, but even whiplash can result in a TBI. Symptoms can range from a headache to disabling and life-threatening conditions.
If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury in Austin, Texas, contact me at Rodman Law Office. I am a personal injury attorney with more than three decades of experience helping victims recover compensation for injuries caused by someone else’s negligence. I proudly serve clients throughout the state, including Travis County, Williamson County, and Hays County.
What Is a Traumatic Brain Injury?
A traumatic brain injury is the result of an external force impacting the head and resulting in cognitive dysfunction. If you’re traveling in a vehicle at 45 mph and hit another vehicle, your speed goes instantly to zero, and your brain, which is protected in normal conditions by cerebral fluid, will strike against the hard bone of the skull.
Because of this whiplash, the impact of the brain against the skull will cause blood vessels to burst and blood to stream into areas of the brain where it’s not supposed to be. The brain will swell and cause parts of the brain to stop working. Some areas of the brain may even die. In the worst cases, this can result in seizures or strokes, or even death.
Common Causes of Traumatic Brain Injuries
Playing sports like football or even lacrosse can expose participants to brain injury, but as the CDC notes, the biggest cause is falls, especially among the elderly. Slipping on a wet floor in a supermarket and falling backwards can result in a TBI. As illustrated above, vehicular accidents account for a large portion of TBIs.
Construction sites, where workers can be struck by falling objects, fall from unprotected heights, or be struck by a construction vehicle, are also a primary source for brain injury. Hospitals and nursing homes can also be instrumental in causing TBIs when negligence is involved. Improper use of an anesthesia or a surgical error can cause a TBI. Even problems during birth can cause a baby to suffer a brain injury.
Types of Traumatic Brain Injuries
A concussion is the most common type of mild traumatic brain injury. Concussions in the NFL are frequent, and for some players, they result in long-term health issues. This is why the NFL instituted its billion-dollar fund to help cover the medical expenses and suffering of retired and former players.
A concussion can cause a loss of consciousness or a feeling of being dazed. A concussion can also result in temporary or lasting damage to the brain and can take months or years to recover from. Other types of traumatic brain injuries include:
CONTUSION: A contusion is a bruise to the brain, and, if large enough, may require surgery.
COUP-CONTRECOUP INJURY: This is a double contusion — one contusion at the point of impact and another on the other side of the brain caused by the movement of the brain in the skull.
DIFFUSE AXONAL INJURY: This is what is commonly called “shaken baby syndrome.” The brain is damaged when the head is shaken or rotated by force, which tears the nerve tissue of the brain.
RECURRENT TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY: This occurs when there is a second brain injury before the first one has healed, and it commonly experienced by football players. A second impact is more likely to cause long-term effects, including muscle spasms, emotional problems, and learning difficulties.
PENETRATING INJURY: This is when a foreign object enters the brain, such as a gunshot wound. Penetration is the leading cause of death from brain injuries.
Symptoms of a TBI
Depending on whether your brain injury is mild, moderate or severe, symptoms can range from headaches to a coma. A mild TBI typically results in a momentary loss of consciousness followed by headaches, nausea and vomiting, and even dizziness and loss of balance.
In a severe TBI, those initial symptoms increase. The loss of consciousness can last hours or longer, and the nausea and vomiting can be recurrent. In the most severe cases, there can be agitation, slurred speech, coma and disorders of consciousness. Strokes, seizures and death are the most severe result of all.
Proper Diagnosis & Documentation
If you’ve suffered any type of whiplash or blow to the head, you need to seek medical evaluation and treatment immediately. In many cases, the cause of your brain injury may be due to the negligence of someone else.
For instance, another driver strikes your car, and your head is jerked backwards or sideways, and brain damage results; or someone in a retail outlet neglects to clean the floor, and you slip and fall backwards on a slippery surface. Your injuries are the result of someone else’s negligence. A driver has a duty of care not to harm others, and a store also has a duty of care to provide a safe and hazard-free environment.
In these situations and many others, you can file a legal case against the negligent party, but you must also have medical evidence to support your claim of a TBI. As a practical step, you also need to document what happened to you. As soon as possible after your injury, write down or record exactly what happened. If there were witnesses, try to get their statements at the time of the accident if you are able.
Legal Challenges of a TBI Claim
In a personal injury lawsuit for a TBI, it may prove more challenging to substantiate your injuries since, unlike a physical injury that is openly visible to others, a TBI is more internalized. You may be suffering emotionally or facing learning and adaptation challenges, or your TBI may still be in its early stages, making it harder to prove. That’s why a thorough diagnosis is essential.
Statute of Limitations
To file a personal injury lawsuit in Texas — which will be based on the negligence of a third party — there is a two-year statute of limitations starting from the date of your injury. If you feel minor symptoms in the beginning and believe you’ll recover over time, the clock is nonetheless ticking. If after two years, your condition has worsened and you want to sue, you may have your claim rejected.
In a lawsuit based on negligence, you must be able to prove that four elements were present:
The other party (the defendant) legally owed you (the plaintiff) a duty of care.
The defendant failed to act with a duty of care.
The defendant’s action or inaction caused your injuries.
As a result, you suffered damages that are measurable and compensable.
If you win your case, you can receive compensation not only for your medical expenses, including physical or vocational therapy, but also for noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering and loss of consortium.
Traumatic Brain Injury Attorney Serving Austin, Texas
If you or a loved one has suffered a TBI, even if the symptoms are still in their early stages, you need to seek professional help immediately. This includes not only medical evaluation but also legal counsel as to your rights to compensation. Filing a personal injury lawsuit based on a TBI can be challenging, so you will need the guidance of an experienced attorney to gather all the necessary evidence and documentation. If you’re located in the Austin, Texas, area, reach out to me at the Rodman Law Office for skilled legal guidance.