Learn common TBI terms in personal injury claims | Virginia Traumatic Brain Injury LawyerThe specific details of any traumatic brain injury (TBI) case will differ, but the terms used by the courts or medical professionals are often the same. After an accident, a Virginia personal injury attorney can answer your legal questions and explain the process to help you make the most well-informed decisions when it comes to your financial recovery.  

Common TBI Terms in Personal Injury Cases

Medical and legal terms often collide in brain injury lawsuits involving a traumatic brain injury, as the specific type of injury and its effects may play a role in your compensation. Here are some of the frequently used words and phrases you should know about ahead of time: 

Closed head injury

When a victim’s head strikes an object with enough force to cause a traumatic brain injury, but the object doesn’t actually penetrate the skull, the injury is referred to as “closed.” This type of injury can be extremely dangerous, as the internal effects of the impact may not be immediately visible to the naked eye. The possibility of closed head injuries is why anyone who has been in a car crash or a slip and fall accident should see a doctor as soon as possible.

Cognitive rehabilitation

Either closed or penetrating traumatic brain injuries can lead to cognitive issues such as difficulty with memory, perception, and problem-solving. Cognitive rehabilitation therapy is designed to improve those impacted functions through repetitive practice, while also offering coping mechanisms for dealing with difficulties that will remain permanent. TBI victims may also need to utilize language or vocational therapy depending on the severity of the symptoms and how they impact your life. 


This type of closed head injury occurs when a victim’s brain slams against one or more sides of the skull, typically during a vehicle collision or other accident involving a violent jerking of the neck and head. 


A type of mild brain injury, concussions usually have temporary effects like nausea, loss of consciousness, slurred speech, or impaired vision. In some cases, symptoms may not appear for days or weeks after the accident, however.


In a TBI case, damages are money recovered for economic and non-economic impacts to your life, like medical bills, loss of wages or earning potential, and emotional trauma such as anxiety or PTSD.

Diffuse axonal injury

Also known as “shearing,” this type of injury occurs over a larger section of brain tissue rather than a single impact site, which can result in a wide variety of symptoms.


When someone fails to uphold the basic duty of care that any reasonable person should have used in the situation, they have behaved with negligence. Negligent behavior in TBI cases could be anything from distracted driving to failing to clean a spill in a grocery store. If that negligence caused your traumatic brain injury, then you have a legal right to recover damages.

Penetrating head injury

The opposite of a closed head injury, this type of injury occurs when an object fractures the skull and actually penetrates brain tissue. 

Preponderance of evidence

While a criminal case requires that a person’s guilt be established “beyond a reasonable doubt,” a civil trial like a TBI case only requires a claim to be more likely true than not. This is known as a “preponderance” of evidence.

Statute of limitations

Virginia law limits the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit against a negligent party. In most accident cases, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of your injury.

Kevin W. Mottley
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Richmond, VA trial lawyer dedicated to handling brain injuries, car accidents and other serious injury claims