Brain injuries contribute to approximately 30 percent of all injury-related deaths in the U.S., and they accounted for more than 50,000 deaths in the year 2010 alone. Approximately 2.5 million Americans suffered some sort of traumatic brain injury in 2010, ranging from concussions to severe brain trauma, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Approximately 5 million Americans currently live with brain injury-related disabilities.
According to the Mayo Clinic, a traumatic brain injury occurs when an external mechanical force causes brain dysfunction. Traumatic brain injuries can be caused by a blow to the head, such as during a car accident, or an object penetrating the skull, such as a bullet or broken piece of the skull. “Mild” traumatic brain injuries, such as concussions, can result in brief unconsciousness or changes in mental function. Severe brain injuries can result in prolonged amnesia, unconsciousness, and even lifelong disability.
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More than 40 percent of those who are hospitalized for a traumatic brain injury continue to experience some sort of related disability one year after the incident. The effects of a traumatic brain injury can be short- or long-term issues, and they can include:
- Decreased cognitive function, such as decreased attention span and reduced memory
- Impaired sensation, including difficulty hearing, seeing, perceiving, or touching, as well as partial or full paralysis
- Impaired motor function, such as impaired balance, decreased coordination, and weakness in the extremities
- Altered emotions, including depression, increased anxiety, increased aggression, difficulty controlling impulses, and personality changes
Brain injuries are certainly among the most traumatic and life-changing injuries. The lasting effects of a traumatic brain injury, while varied, can have a serious impact on one’s life and livelihood.
In certain cases, the traumatic brain injury is caused by someone else’s negligence. The most common causes of brain injuries, according to the Mayo Clinic, are:
- Falls, including falling during a construction accident, falling from an unsafe ladder or other equipment, and slip-and-fall accidents
- Motor vehicle accidents, including bicycle accidents and pedestrian accidents
- Violence, including violent assaults, muggings, and even nursing home abuse
- Sports injuries
- Explosive blasts, including construction or demolition failure and combat injuries
It is important to identify early on whether or not someone else is liable for causing the brain injury. The sheer cost of treating and caring for someone with a traumatic brain injury is extremely high, and often the best way to get compensation for medical expenses (as well as other damages) is to file a personal injury claim.
It is also crucial to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Brain injury claims require shrewd investigative skills, combing through school records, employment records, medical records, and diagnostic test results. It requires the advice and testimony of many experts, including neurologists, psychiatrists, psychologists, rehabilitation specialists, social services agents, employability specialists, life care planners, and economists to calculate the massive costs associated with a brain injury.
Preparing a brain injury case is complicated and time-consuming, and with a two-year statute of limitations on personal injury cases in New Jersey, it is important to act fast.