Sleep Better at Night With Answers to Your Top Questions on Virginia Brain Injury Claims
Experiencing something as traumatic as an accident in Chesterfield County can leave your head spinning with questions and uncertainty. Get the answers you need fast in this FAQ series from Richmond brain injury attorney Kevin Mottley.
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What do I need to know about filing a lawsuit for a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI)?
When dealing with a traumatic brain injury (TBI), the word “mild” is something of a misnomer, as you may still experience serious symptoms over an extended period. Unfortunately, that word alone can cause problems when dealing with insurance companies or filing a lawsuit against an at-fault driver. Here’s what you need to know before taking your next legal steps.
Impact of Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries
Mild TBIs such as a concussion are easily missed the first time around, as they often don’t appear physically on a scan like bruising or a cerebral laceration. That makes a mild TBI case difficult to prove in court if you don’t have a CT or MRI scan clearly showing a physical injury. Insurance companies are also more likely to push back on covering costs associated with a mild TBI, and they may even try to deny the claim outright.
Before providing a statement, you need an attorney’s help to handle communication with the insurance adjuster. An experienced TBI lawyer can utilize medical records, eyewitness accounts, and other evidence to prove your injury was caused by the accident and had a financial impact on your life. It’s critically important to have a brain injury lawyer perform an investigation and provide evidence if you need to take the negligent party to court.
Even mild brain injuries can have a big impact on your finances as you rack up expensive medical bills—especially if returning to work full time isn’t always possible. Symptoms after suffering a mild traumatic brain injury in an accident can include:
- Anxiety and depression
- Changes to thought processes, such as delays in thinking or difficulty comprehending concepts
- Difficulty concentrating
- Dizziness and nausea
- Emotional issues like irritability, mood swings, and sudden angry outbursts
- Fatigue and difficulty sleeping
- Memory loss
- Ringing in the ears
- Sensory issues like loss of smell or sensitivity to light and sound
- Vision problems
Even these supposedly “mild” symptoms may prevent you from completing your normal work duties, stop you from driving, or otherwise interfere with your daily routine and cause a financial loss. You have a legal right to recover damages for those losses if your injury was caused by negligence, whether in a car crash, slip and fall, or other incidents.
Are You Considering Legal Action After a Mild TBI?
If you are suffering symptoms after a mild TBI, you should discuss your case with a legal professional to weigh your options and help decide on the right path for moving forward. The Mottley Law Firm is here to help.
How can I support my loved one after a traumatic brain injury?
Whether caused by a vehicle crash, a work accident, or a slip and fall, traumatic brain injuries (TBI) frequently result in lifelong changes that require significant adjustments to everyday activities. While the victim of a TBI directly deals with their injury, it is also necessary for you personally to make changes and help your loved one cope with these new challenges.
How to Help a Traumatic Brain Injury Victim
Medical professionals and therapists can offer a brain injury victim rehabilitation and coping techniques, but they will still likely experience significant difficulties with previously routine actions. You as a spouse, child, sibling, or friend can help your loved one in these simple ways:
- Assist with appointments and recordkeeping. Cognitive problems after a TBI are common. Your friend or family member may need gentle reminders for when to pay bills and show up for doctor visits. Providing transportation if they can’t drive or have difficulty following a bus schedule is also frequently necessary. You may additionally need to maintain medical records to provide details to caregivers and healthcare professionals.
- Be patient. It is extremely easy to become frustrated with a TBI victim’s behavior and take emotional outbursts personally. Your loved one may not know what they need or have problems expressing their needs, and they may find it difficult to do things they used to love, like reading a novel or watching a movie with loud sounds.
- Help reduce stress and distractions. Difficulties associated with brain injuries are made worse by distractions and stressful situations, so other people may need to frequently take care of basic chores like cleaning and cooking.
- Make sure they have a personal injury lawyer. Getting justice for your loved one’s injury by holding the negligent party responsible is just the beginning. Medical costs associated with a TBI can be astronomical, and your loved one might not be able to work. Work with an attorney to prove negligence caused the injury so your family member can receive the full compensation they are owed.
- Maintain a schedule. Avoiding confusion that leads to extreme frustration is critical. Besides making a regular schedule, be ready to break bigger tasks into smaller, more manageable actions and allow plenty of time for breaks.
Taking the Next Steps to Help Your Loved One After a TBI
Are you ready to help your loved one with the challenges of living with a traumatic brain injury? Get in touch with The Mottley Law Firm so we can discuss the brain injury case and connect you with support groups for more help.
What evidence do I need for my brain injury case?
To recover damages after suffering a traumatic brain injury (TBI), the burden falls on you and your lawyer to show that your injury was caused by negligence. If you’re considering a lawsuit, you may question if you have the evidence necessary to prove your case and receive a settlement or get a successful outcome in court. Let’s take a look at what evidence you can already access, and what details a skilled attorney can help you gather.
Evidence of the Accident and Injury
First and foremost is proving that the accident occurred and that it was responsible for your TBI. Whether you were in a vehicle crash, injured due to a work mishap, or suffered a slip and fall, these are the most common forms of evidence to look for:
- Photographs of the scene where the injury occurred
- Police reports
- Video evidence if the accident was filmed
Directly showing the extent of your brain injury is also crucial to a successful case. Brain injuries often aren’t physically obvious, which is why you need to see a doctor after any blow to the head. In particular, these are the types of medical documentation that best help in a TBI case:
- Diagnosis from an emergency room doctor or neurologist
- Medical documentation of the injury such as an MRI or CT scan
- Cognitive evaluation from a neuropsychologist
Evidence of Future Expenses
Expenses for a TBI don’t stop just at the initial emergency room visit or hospital stay, however. You may require ongoing and expensive medical treatment, from additional surgeries to long-term therapy and even assisted living costs.
Additionally, severe TBI patients often lose the ability to earn income as they can’t work due to cognitive and language difficulties caused by brain injury. You may be able to recover damages for continuing expenses and loss of wages. That's why you need to keep track of:
- Pay stubs, bank statements, and tax returns
- Treatment notes from any physical, occupational, or speech therapy
- Expert witness testimony
That last type of evidence is typically handled by your attorney, who may consult with economic, medical, or vocational experts to provide context to your situation. You need a personal injury lawyer who understands how TBI cases work and knows the ins and outs of both state and federal law to put this evidence together into a compelling argument.
Did You Suffer a Traumatic Brain Injury in Virginia?
Whether you or a loved one are experiencing hardship after an accident led to a brain injury, contact us for a consultation. We’ve got a track record of positive outcomes for patients who have suffered a TBI and we can help you gather the evidence you need.
What factors determine the value of my brain injury case?
From hospital stays to loss of employment, unexpected financial stress is common after a traumatic brain injury (TBI), which is why you want the assistance of a personal injury attorney in seeking compensation. Whether the at-fault party agrees to a settlement or the case is successfully litigated in court, the specific monetary value of a TBI case can vary dramatically depending on several important factors.
Calculating Brain Injury Damages
The main component to keep in mind is the severity of the brain injury and the impact it has on your daily life. For instance, mild TBI cases with a short period of unconsciousness followed by lingering headaches typically result in less compensation than a more severe injury with lifelong repercussions.
The value of a brain injury case goes up when significant vision, language, or cognitive difficulties occur that interfere with your ability to hold down a job or perform everyday tasks. In most instances, these are the main factors that will be taken into account when determining the value of your Virginia traumatic brain injury case:
- Medical treatment costs from the initial accident
- Long-term care costs
- Pain and suffering beyond the original injury if you experience a loss of quality of life
- Lost wages and earning potential if you are unable to work after your accident
To accurately establish the value of your case and recover the full amount you are owed, it is critical to see a doctor immediately after the accident to establish a paper trail. You will need documentation to prove the accident caused your brain injury as well as to show the extent of the injury’s impact on your life.
With that information in hand, TBI cases still require dealing with insurance adjusters who have a vested interest in reducing or denying your claim, as well as at-fault parties who often don’t want to admit their responsibility. For the best shot at a successful recovery, you need a local attorney with a track record of positive outcomes for traumatic brain injury victims.
Get the Assistance You Need After a Traumatic Brain Injury
You have a legal right to seek damages after suffering an injury caused by negligence, but you need a skilled attorney to assess the details of your specific injury first. Come in for a consultation and we can help determine the possible value of your case while holding the at-fault party responsible for your pain and suffering.
What is a cerebral laceration?
Despite its importance to the human body, your brain is a fragile organ. Any number of common injuries may lead to a cerebral laceration. These lacerations might result in mild to severe cognitive impairment causing monetary setbacks that go far beyond medical bills, as you may no longer be able to work after a head injury. It’s important to know the signs and symptoms of lacerations so you can seek proper treatment and find an attorney to help you recover monetary damages.
How Cerebral Lacerations Occur
A laceration is an actual tearing of brain tissue, rather than a simple contusion or bruise. Any of these accidents can lead to cerebral lacerations:
- Slip and fall
- Vehicle crash
- Workplace accident caused by your employer’s negligence
- Direct violence
The cut itself occurs when a sharp blow to the head causes the skull to fracture and pierce the brain, or when the brain strikes a ridge on the skull. Lacerations can still occur without any actual penetration or fracturing of the skull, however. Tearing may take place if the brain quickly and violently twists and moves inside the head during an accident.
While the laceration itself is dangerous and may create life-long medical issues, it can also lead to devastating secondary effects. In particular, the laceration may cause swelling in the brain due to bleeding.
What to Do After a Cerebral Laceration
Cerebral tears can occur even if you don’t lose consciousness or suffer any immediate cognitive difficulties after the accident. Because of the potential for serious health problems, it is important to see a doctor after any head injury to determine if a laceration has occurred. Cerebral laceration treatment may require an extended hospital stay so you can be monitored for swelling, ensure your brain is receiving enough oxygen, and manage pain.
A doctor visit also establishes a paper trail on your injury so an insurance carrier or at-fault party can’t claim the damage to your brain occurred in a previous incident. If someone else caused your cerebral tear, you should contact an experienced attorney focused on traumatic brain injury cases to determine who is legally at fault for your injury and seek compensation.
Did You Suffer a Traumatic Brain Injury in an Accident?
It is your legal right to pursue a personal injury claim against the person or business responsible for your cerebral laceration. Schedule a consultation to discuss your case and find out if we can help you seek justice after a traumatic brain injury.
Can a traumatic brain injury be cured?
When a head injury causes brain tissue to be damaged, there is no way to reverse the damage. So in that way, traumatic brain injuries cannot be cured. However, the limitations and disabilities imposed on the victim by the damaged brain can be overcome through intensive therapy and rehabilitation. These options can be very expensive and may not be covered by health insurance. If you or a family member sustained a traumatic brain injury in a motor vehicle crash or slip and fall, you might be able to hold the negligent party responsible for paying for your long-term medical needs.
What Are Treatment Options for Traumatic Brain Injury?
Depending on the severity of the TBI and the abilities it has affected, the appropriate treatment may include physical, occupational, and speech therapy. The goal of rehabilitation is to help the patient regain as much of the function he or she has lost, including the following:
- Gross motor skills, including walking, balancing, throwing a ball, and exercising
- Fine motor skills, such as picking up objects, holding utensils, writing, and crafting
- Speech and communication skills, which may include speech therapy or learning alternative forms of communication.
- Occupational skills, including relearning work tasks or learning new skills in order to get a job
- Counseling to cope with the emotional and psychological effects of the accident and injury
These therapies may be needed for months or even years in order to make up for the deficits caused by the injury and are very expensive. If the accident that left you injured was not your fault, you shouldn’t have to pay for the consequences.
Should Someone Else Be Paying for Your Rehab?
If another driver, property owner, or another negligent party was responsible for causing the accident that left you injured, you might have a claim for compensation from their insurance company. At the Mottley Law Firm, we are experienced with traumatic brain injury claims and understand what kinds of long-term therapies and treatments may be required. If you or a loved one has suffered a TBI in an accident, reach out to our firm today to find out if we can help. We only accept a few personal injury cases at a time because we want to provide each of our clients with the highest level of service. If we can do your case justice, we will tell you how!
What is the difference between a mild, moderate, and severe brain injury?
Suffering a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in an accident—or helping a loved one who has been injured—is a frightening and confusing experience. At the time of the injury, doctors often aren’t able to tell you much about the prognosis for recovery. However, you should be given information about the severity of the injury, which will give you an idea of what the road ahead will look like.
Three Levels of Traumatic Brain Injury
Whether you or your loved one has sustained a concussion, contusion, penetrating injury, or diffuse axonal injury, your injury could be considered mild, moderate, or severe. Based on the symptoms and expected recovery, brain injuries are generally rated as follows:
- Mild. When there is no—or a very brief—loss of consciousness and symptoms such as confusion, headaches, and dizziness are brief and minor, the brain injury is considered mild. Mild TBIs are often diagnosed based on the fact that there was an impact to the head rather than on scans showing brain damage or permanent impairments.
- Moderate. If the person was unconscious for anywhere from a few minutes to several hours, the TBI would be considered moderate. Long-term cognitive, physical, and emotional effects are possible with a moderate TBI. These impairments could last for several months, and some changes may be permanent.
- Severe. A severe TBI is often permanently debilitating or fatal. An injury that crushes or penetrates the skull and damages brain tissue is considered severe because there is no way to repair the damage. If they survive, victims of a severe TBI cannot expect to return to the life they had before the accident.
No matter what level of brain injury you or your loved one has suffered, if another person’s negligence caused the car accident, slip and fall, or workplace accident that lead to your TBI, you need an attorney to help you fight for damages. Contact the Mottley Law Firm to learn more about our traumatic brain injury legal services.
What is the goal of rehabilitation after a brain injury?
When you were diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury (TBI), your doctor said that you would need intensive rehabilitation to regain some of the motor and cognitive function you lost. If your injury happened in an accident caused by a negligent party, the costs of rehab might be recovered in a personal injury claim against the at-fault party. Learn more about what rehab for a TBI may consist of and how our Richmond personal injury team can help you get the compensation you deserve.
Rehabilitation After a Virginia TBI
Whether you sustained a traumatic brain injury in a car crash, slip and fall, or workplace accident, you have a long road ahead to recovery. A big part of your treatment will likely be working with therapists on a rehabilitation program. The goal of your program is to overcome the limitations caused by the injury and to regain as much of your former functioning as possible. Depending on how the TBI has affected you, your rehab might consist of any of the following:
- Neuromuscular brain rehabilitation. Physical therapists will work with you on the motor control and mobility issues caused by the brain injury.
- Cognitive rehabilitation. Improving mental processing, memory, mood, and emotional challenges are the goals of this type of therapy.
- Speech and language therapy. If your brain injury has affected your ability to communicate, working with a speech and language therapist can help you regain skills and learn other ways to communicate.
- Occupational rehabilitation. If your TBI prevents you from returning to the type of work you did before the accident, you may undergo occupational therapy to learn new ways to complete tasks or to learn a new trade altogether.
- Support groups and counseling. People with TBI may experience depression and have other emotional struggles. Group and individual counseling can ease some of the suffering.
Your doctor will recommend the right combination of these rehabilitation services for your specific case.
Worried About Paying for Rehab? Our Richmond Attorney May Be Able to Help!
If a careless driver, negligent property owner, or non-compliant employer contributed to the cause of the accident that left you struggling with a TBI, you might be able to sue for compensation to cover your losses. Our brain injury lawyer can fight the complex battle against an insurance company and the people who caused the injury while you focus on recovering from the injury. Contact us to learn more about the kinds of personal injury cases we take at the Mottley Law Firm.
If I told the EMT that I did not lose consciousness, do I have a case for my traumatic brain injury?
One of the standard questions a first responder (emergency medical technician, or "EMT") will ask a person who has been involved in an accident is whether they "lost consciousness." Depending on the answer, the EMT will put that information in their report. Then, when the injured person gets to the emergency room, they will again be asked whether they lost consciousness. Once again, the answer given by the patient will be put in the emergency room report.
This raises the question: "What if I told the EMT and the emergency room doctor that I did not lose consciousness? Does that mean I have no case for a traumatic brain injury from the accident?"
No, it does not.
A person who loses consciousness is not aware of having lost it. Therefore, they're not able to accurately respond to that question. Only if a third person was there observing what happened (rarely the case) can loss of consciousness be accurately determined by simply asking the question. Loss of consciousness means that the person has a gap in their ability to recall a period of time. That lost period of time may be only a few seconds. If a person responds to a question about loss of consciousness by saying that they "don't know" or "no," that fact does not medically rule out the possibility that a concussion occurred. Determining whether a concussion, or mild traumatic brain injury, occurred, requires the medical provider to dig a little deeper into investigating what happened.
Another factor that plays into this issue is that emergency personnel, including EMTs and emergency room doctors, are typically more focused on other problems with a patient than they are with investigating whether a concussion occurred. To illustrate the point, let's assume a patient was in a car accident in which they broke their leg and suffered a nasty gash on their hand, which is bleeding profusely. When they arrive at the emergency room, they are fully awake and oriented. They are as conscious as a person can be. But they're bleeding and in a lot of pain. The ER doctors are going to focus, first, on stopping the profusely bleeding hand and, second, on getting down to fixing that broken leg. They'll most certainly ask whether a loss of consciousness occurred. The answer will in most cases be "I don't know" or "no," at which point the medical personnel will check that box off in their report and move on.
This sort of dynamic is why a recent study showed that more than 50% of mild traumatic brain injuries (concussions) are not diagnosed in the emergency room.
Here at The Mottley Law Firm, most of the traumatic brain injury cases we handle involve a person who either responded "no" or "I don't know" to the question, "did you lose consciousness." That is the fact pattern we see most of the time in mild TBI cases.
If you or a loved one have suffered a mild traumatic brain injury or concussion due to some sort of accident or mishap, feel free to contact us about the matter. We focus a significant portion of our practice on helping people in this position with their legal needs.
What is post-concussion syndrome?
Post-concussion syndrome, or postconcussive syndrome as it is sometimes referred to ("PCS"), is a diagnostic label applied to a set of symptoms that sometimes arise following a concussion. These symptoms may last days, weeks or months, but a diagnosis of PCS is usually not made until several months following an injury. The symptoms are the same as those for a mild traumatic brain injury ("TBI"). They include headache, difficulty concentrating, irritability, and emotional and behavioral changes.