While traumatic brain injuries (TBI) often occur during accidents like vehicle collisions or slips and falls, they can also stem from situations of domestic abuse or other physical altercations. If your loved one has suffered a brain injury caused by violence, you can be a vital resource for them during the ongoing recovery process. To offer the most help, it's important to understand how TBIs happen, what potential physical and emotional symptoms to look out for, and how an attorney can be an invaluable resource.
How Brain Injuries Occur During Acts of Violence
Infants and children are particularly susceptible to TBIs if shaken or shoved, but people of any age or gender can suffer traumatic brain injuries through physical force. Whether through intimate partner violence, a fistfight, or any other type of physical dispute, these are the most frequent ways that a traumatic brain injury occurs:
- Bullets penetrating the skull and striking the brain.
- Direct blows to the head from either a blunt or sharp object, with or without actual penetration of the skull.
- Disruption of oxygen to the brain due to strangulation.
- Hitting a solid object like the floor or wall when pushed, shoved, tripped, or hit.
In any of these cases, the victim may remain alert or lose consciousness for a period of time. After the initial incident, the effects of a traumatic brain injury caused by violence may include some or all of these symptoms:
- Behavior changes like frequent irritability, mood swings, or outbursts of anger even when there doesn’t seem to be a triggering event.
- Fatigue, headaches, difficulty sleeping, and other daily challenges to normal function.
- Impacts on basic cognitive abilities like understanding concepts and carrying on a coherent conversation.
- Impairment or entire loss of senses such as blurry vision or inability to smell.
- Language difficulties like forgetting what words mean or having trouble forming specific words and sounds.
- Loss of memory, often surrounding the act of violence itself.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder, which is particularly prevalent in incidents of purposeful violence. PTSD can come with its own range of issues that disrupt daily life, such as anxiety, depression, and constantly remembering the violent event.
What to Do After a TBI Caused by Physical Violence
Removing yourself from the situation and contacting law enforcement to deal with the perpetrator are of course the top priorities after an act of violence. Immediate medical attention is also extremely important, however, even if you or your loved one didn’t suffer a skull fracture. Unfortunately, an obvious physical head wound isn’t always apparent with a TBI.
Loss of oxygen to the brain due to choking is an all-too-frequent occurrence during domestic abuse situations, but that is by no means the only way TBIs can occur without a visible sign. With coup-contrecoup injuries, for instance, the brain strikes one or both sides of the skull and is damaged from the force of the impact when falling or striking an object. Even if there is no physical penetration of the skull, this kind of traumatic brain injury can still result in long-term or even permanent repercussions.
Any type of brain injury, whether by a gunshot wound, choking, hitting, or pushing, may cause massive consequences to a person’s personal and professional life. While the medical bills stemming from TBI treatment are often extreme, those aren’t the end of associated costs. Considering your loved one may be unable to work full time after a brain injury, or even able to return to your job at all, part of the recovery process has to include seeking compensation.
With the help of an attorney, a TBI victim can attempt to recoup the costs of previous and future medical treatment, therapies required to deal with cognitive and language difficulties, loss of wages, and the pain and suffering caused by these extreme life changes.
To get financial help now, you may need to pursue a civil lawsuit against the defendant even if there is currently a criminal case ongoing. You may also be able to recover compensation even if the TBI was suffered by tripping and falling while fleeing an act of violence. An attorney can perform an investigation into the incident and find the best possible source of compensation, whether that’s the property owner for failing to provide security or the actual defendant in the criminal case.