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Will I Ever Recover from My Traumatic Brain Injury?

How your brain and body react to a traumatic brain injury will depend on the severity of the injury. In the first couple of weeks following a brain injury, you could experience bleeding, swelling, or changes in the brain chemistry. These complications will often affect your brain functions. For example, you might not be able to speak, show any signs of awareness, or your eyes could remain closed. If the swelling decreases or the bleeding is controlled, your brain’s functions could improve.

The most significant improvement typically occurs during the first six months following an injury. During this period, you might begin to show signs of steady improvement. It is possible to show continued improvement over the next two years, though it varies from person to person. Nonetheless, the rate of recovery usually slows down significantly after two years. Some people will continue to have long-term problems, although they might not be as bad as when the injury occurred. The rate of or possibility of recovery often depends on the severity of the injury, the age of the victim, and if there were any pre-existing conditions.

Traumatic brain injuries are not fractures. They rarely mend without complications or consequences. Because of the long-term effects and required medical care, recovering from a TBI is not only physically exhausting, it is expensive. If another’s negligence caused your injury, they should be held financially liable. Our Philadelphia personal injury lawyers at the Reiff Law Firm have fought for the rights of injured individuals for over thirty years. To confidentially discuss your case, call (215) 709-6940.

Understanding the Types of Brain Injuries

After over thirty years, our Philadelphia personal injury lawyers have seen first-hand the anger and frustration a traumatic brain injury (TBI) can cause. The injured individual is frustrated because they are unable to do the things that they used to doing or are unable to achieve the quality of which they have become accustomed.  Because the true impact of many TBIs is internal, family members and friends can fail to understand the full extent of the injury.  At times, they may consider the injured’s improper actions or inability to complete tasks as “acting out.” However, what they are actually witnessing is the true extent of the injury. A greater understanding of the injury, its impacts, and the potential treatment options can help the injured along with friends and family better handle the situation.

The two main types of brain injuries are penetrating injuries and closed-head injuries.  A penetrating injury occurs when a foreign object penetrates the skull and causes localized damage to one or more structures.  The archetypical example of a closed-head injury is a gunshot to the head. Closed-head injuries occur due to a blunt-force impact to the skull.  The repeated blows to the head an NFL player suffers is a typical example of a closed-head injury.  Unfortunately, both types of brain injury can cause brain damage such as:

  • concussion
  • nerve damage
  • blood clot
  • laceration(s)
  • epilepsy
  • fever
  • intracranial pressure
  • hematoma

The Problems Typically Associated with Traumatic Brain Injuries?

Regardless of whether your TBI was caused by an auto accident, a household accident, a sports injury, or a defective product, generally the impacts of a TBI can be seen in three distinct areas:

  • Communication – After a TBI the injured individual may find it difficult to comprehend normal conversation. Depending on the severity of the injury, they may need to concentrate as if they were attempting to decipher a foreign language to glean meaning or may be unable to understand. Other problems may include the inability to use an appropriate tone or volume of voice, recognizing and understanding facial expressions and body language, or taking turns in a conversation.
  • Cognitive Functioning— Simply put, your cognitive ability is your ability to think, reason, solve problems, be self-aware and plan for the future. Individuals who suffer a TBI may find these and other tasks extremely difficult. Coping strategies such as minimizing distractions, taking notes, and asking the speaker to repeat the information may allow for improved functioning.
  • Physical Problems – This category of problems is typically the easiest for friends and family members to understand because they seem to affect the physical body rather than the mind. Physical problems associated with a TBI can include:  dizziness, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, decreased coordination, hearing loss and tinnitus.

While we have already discussed the types of TBIs above, but we have yet to touch on the severity of TBIs. The severity of a TBI is graded on scale of one to seven with one being the least functional and seven being the most. The grade is computed based upon the injured individual’s performance on a series of Functional Communication Measures.

Can My Condition be Treated?

While this question is better answered by a medical professional, our experienced Pennsylvania personal injury attorneys have had to opportunity and pleasure to represent many Pennsylvanians who have suffer a TBI.  The short answer is: it depends.  The successful treatment of a brain injury is dependent upon many factors including the type of injury, the severity of the injury, and the injured individual.

However, there is hope.  According to a study by the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA) a significant percentage of patients who undergo treatment show improvement in their functioning. ASHA reports:

  • Improvement in 81% of patients who undergo treatment for memory
  • Improvement in 82% of patients who undergo treatment for attention
  • Improvement in 83% of patients who undergo treatment for pragmatics
  • Improvement in 80% of patients who undergo treatment for problem solving

While each injury and recovery are different, the apparent efficacy of therapy and treatment offers real hope to those impacted by a traumatic brain injury. However, the most important step is to take the first one and seek treatment for your injury.

What are My Options Under Pennsylvania Law?

If another individual’s negligence, carelessness, or intentional act caused your injury, you may be entitled to compensation for your injury. Delay, however, may adversely impact or bar your claim in its entirety. While the pain and suffering caused by traumatic brain injuries and other serious bodily injuries can make it difficult or nearly impossible to concentrate, your perseverance is essential.

In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations for both personal injury and wrongful death claims is two years. The statute of limitations is, essentially, a time limit on how long you can wait to bring legal action after becoming aware of the injury or death. Because of the relatively short period a Pennsylvanian has to bring suit, seeing an experienced personal injury promptly is extremely important. Putting your case in the hands of an experienced attorney will allow greater peace of mind and allow you to better focus on maximizing your personal recovery.

Damages Available for Traumatic Brain Injuries

The severity of your brain injury will influence what damages you could recover through a personal injury lawsuit. In addition to the severity, your prognosis will impact your future medical costs and lost income. Our Philadelphia personal injuries will thoroughly evaluate your damages, whether you want to pursue a lawsuit in civil court or negotiate with an insurance company.

Medical Expenses

A traumatic brain injury has sometimes been described as a disease rather than a single injury. This is because victims who suffer a TBI are often left with long-lasting effects similar to a chronic medical condition. The cost of treatment is reflected in the amount of anticipated medical expenses going forward.

A traumatic brain injury could result in substantial and ongoing medical costs. The estimated costs to care for an individual with a severe TBI range from $600,000 to &1.8 million dollars depending on the severity of the injury and the age of the victim. Even a mild brain injury could cost $85,000 to $100,000 in medical costs throughout an individual’s life.

Medical expenses and care account for a significant portion of an average traumatic brain injury settlement. The amount does vary greatly depending on the severity of the injury, the percentage of recovery expected, and the victim’s age.

  • Hospitalization
  • Surgery
  • Hospital-based rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation in a residential facility
  • Outpatient therapy
  • Home-health care, including home nursing care
  • Assisting living care
  • Psychological counseling
  • Prescription medications
  • Suicide intervention
  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Speech therapy

Physical therapy only could cost tens of thousands of dollars depending on the damage your brain sustained. If you require a lifetime of therapy, the cost could exceed a million dollars. By gathering receipts, bills, and other statements, our Pennsylvania TBI attorneys will calculate your medical expenses.

Lost Income

Traumatic brain injuries are one of the leading causes of disability in the United States. Approximately 60% of adults who experience a TBI are unemployed for at least two years after their injury. If another party’s negligence caused your TBI, you are entitled to seek compensation for your lost wages and your future lost earnings. If you miss a significant amount of work because of your medical treatment, or are unable to return to work, your lost income could represent a significant portion of your recovery.

Our Norristown personal injury lawyers will determine your lost income by reviewing your pay stubs and tax returns. However, calculating future lost earnings is much more challenging.

Some of the factors that our office will have to evaluate include your occupation, age, life expectancy, professional qualifications, skills, lost benefits, career path, and post-injury earning capacity.

Additional Expenses Associated With a Traumatic Brain Injury

It is unlikely that your financial costs will be limited to medical expenses, lost income, and lost future earning capacity if you sustained a traumatic brain injury. Other costs are often associated with a TBI that you could recover through a personal injury lawsuit. For example, you might require modifications to your home or car. In addition to modifications, you could require domestic or cleaning assistance if you are unable to care for your home yourself. Depending on the severity of your TBI, you might also need vocational therapy to help you find another job.

Non-Economic Damages

In any personal injury lawsuit, calculating non-economic damages is difficult. This is especially the case if you have suffered a traumatic brain injury. However, a substantial part of your damages is based on how your injury impacts your daily life.

Like compensatory damages, non-economic damages will vary from person to person depending on the severity of the injury and their lifestyle. For example, if you were an amateur dancer but lost motor functions because of your injury, you should be compensated for your loss. Likewise, a new parent should recover for the inability to interact with their child. While these types of damages are subjective, you are still entitled to recover them.

Some common non-economic damages available after a traumatic brain injury include mental anguish, loss of consortium, emotional distress, loss of companionship, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life. Our Norristown personal injury lawyers will work closely with you, your family, friends, and healthcare providers to calculate your non-economic damages.

Put Our 30+ Years of Experience to Work for You

If you or a loved one have been seriously injured, you don’t have to go through it alone.  For more than 34 years, the Reiff Law Firm have represented Pennsylvanians in personal injury and wrongful death claims.  Let our experienced nerve damage attorneys handle your legal claim so that you can focus on your health.  For your free no-obligation consultation, call us at (215) 709-6940 or contact us online today.

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