Traumatic brain injury is sometimes referred to as a silent epidemic because, following an accident, a brain injury can be hard to diagnose. The symptoms may be hidden for an extended period, particularly for people suffering from a brain injury that is in the "mild" category. Although you, your family, and your friends may know something is not quite right, it can be enormously challenging to prove to insurance adjusters and juries that you experienced a traumatic brain injury at someone else’s hands. This is why it is important for you to speak with an experienced Virginia traumatic brain injury lawyer as soon as possible.
What is a (TBI) Traumatic Brain Injury?
A traumatic brain injury, also referred to by some as an acquired brain injury, is an injury to the brain that is caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain. Not all jolts or bumps to the head result in a TBI. Our brain injury attorneys know that the severity of a TBI may range from “mild” to “severe.” The majority of TBIs that occur every year in the U.S. are concussions or other forms of mild TBI.
What are the types of Traumatic Brain Injury?
Traumatic brain injuries that result from a "non-penetrating" event to the skull are grouped into three "classifications" of increasing severity by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States, as well as by the U.S. Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs. Those classifications are mild, moderate, and severe.
The three classifications largely turn upon the extent and duration of change in a victim's brain function. A "mild traumatic brain injury" (mTBI) which is commonly referred to as a concussion, involves a loss of consciousness that ranges in length from 0 to 30 minutes. A moderate traumatic brain injury involves a loss of consciousness of between 30 minutes and 24 hours. And a severe brain injury involves a loss of consciousness of greater than 24 hours. Similarly, on the mild end, a victim's alteration of consciousness/mental state lasts up to 24 hours, whereas a person suffering from a moderate or severe TBI will have a period of altered consciousness that lasts greater than 24 hours.
Post-traumatic amnesia is also an indicator. Persons suffering from a mild TBI will have a period of amnesia following the trauma that lasts 0 to 1 days, whereas a moderate TBI victim's period of post-traumatic amnesia will last anywhere from 1 to 7 days. On the severe end of the spectrum, victims suffering from severe TBI will have post-traumatic amnesia greater than 7 days. Another indicator has to do with the Glasgow Coma Scale. Mild traumatic brain injury victims will have a GCS in the 13 to 15 range. Moderate traumatic brain injury patients will have a GCS of 9 to 12. And severe TBI patients will have a GCS of 3-8. These GCS ranges assume that the assessment is made at or after 24 hours after the trauma.
What are the long-term effects of a traumatic brain injury?
The long-term effects of a traumatic brain injury can range from none to severe. Whether a person will fully recover from a traumatic brain injury is a complex medical issue. The answer depends upon factors unique to the individual patient. Most traumatic brain injuries that are in the "mild" category, particularly if the person has not suffered a prior concussion, completely resolve over a short period of time, such as within days, weeks, or several months. However, even in the category of mild TBIs, a small percentage of victims experience symptoms that persist indefinitely and become permanent, a condition generally referred to as persistent "postconcussion syndrome" (PCS). Medical experts do not agree upon what percentage of people experience permanent symptoms, with opinions on the subject varying among medical professionals.
However, the medical literature suggests that, in the mild TBI category, 50 to 80 percent of victims suffer symptoms for days or weeks following the injury, while approximately 50% have symptoms for up to 3 months. It is generally understood that somewhere between 10% to 15% of TBI victims will have symptoms persisting for more than 1 year after the traumatic incident. Postconcussion syndrome is a term used to describe patients who have symptoms that persist for 1 month to 3 months following an injury. If the symptoms persist for greater than 3 months, the situation is referred to as "persistent" postconcussion syndrome or PCS.
The long-term symptoms of a traumtic brain injury can include any of the common symptoms (or sequelae) of a traumatic brain injury, including:
- Cognitive deficits affecting a person's ability to perform mentally, such as recall information, concentrate, and focus;
- Sleep problems;
- Changes in a person's sense of smell and taste;
- Mood and personality changes;
- Light and noise sensitivity; and
Other long-term problems following a traumatic brain injury include difficulties managing social, employment, and familial roles and relationships. The burden placed upon those around a traumatic brain injury survivor is a big part of the story of how this injury affects the survivor.
Can you fully recover from a TBI?
The severity of a brain injury is thought to have an effect on the long-term effects that a person may experience, but even that issue is not clear in the medical literature. Other factors, such as a victim's age and whether they have suffered prior brain injuries, are thought to have an effect as well. The nature and extent of medical treatment a person receives, including therapy after an injury, certainly play a role in determining the long-term outcomes for the patient.
Do Insurance Companies Pay Money For Traumatic Brain Injuries Caused By Accidents?
According to the CDC, traumatic brain injuries result from numerous types of traumatic events, all of which involve some sort of blow, bump, or jolt to the head. Falls are the leading cause of TBI in the United States. Motor vehicle accidents are another leading cause. Assaults are another leading cause. All three of these sort of "accidents" or incidents may involve a situation in which someone else's negligence or intentional conduct caused the injury. For that reason, people suffering from TBI often have legal claims they can assert to recover compensation for their traumatic brain injury.
For instance, if a person slips and falls in a store and hits their head, a traumatic brain injury may result. The store and its insurance company may be responsible. Whether the store is legally responsible to compensate the victim depends on why the accident happened. If the accident happened due to some dangerous condition on the premises, and if the property owner knew or should have known of that dangerous condition, then the store and its insurance company may be responsible for the damages. Similarly, car accidents often result in traumatic brain injuries. Depending upon who was at fault in the accident, our brain injury attorney may be able to help the traumatic brain injury victim recover money from the other driver's insurance company assuming the other driver was at fault.
In many cases, the issue of who is at fault is clear, and is agreed to by everyone. Nevertheless, the insurance company for the person who was at fault still refuses to pay fair compensation for the traumatic brain injury in many of these cases. This happens quite often in the cases we handle. The question you may be asking is, "why does an insurance company refuse to pay money for a traumatic brain injury when their insured was at fault?"
Here is the answer. Insurance companies fail or refuse to compensate victims of traumatic brain injury for a number of reasons:
- The brain injury was not diagnosed within days after the accident;
- The brain injury was caused by something other than blunt force trauma, such as deceleration or whiplash-type injury, making the insurance adjuster doubt that the injury came from the accident;
- The brain injury is in the mild category, making the insurer doubt that the injury will require ongoing costly medical treatment; and
- The brain injury resulted from a closed head injury, and CT Scans and other diagnostic tests/scans do not provide conclusive evidence of a brain injury.
When compensation is denied by an insurance company to a traumatic brain injury victim, it is often necessary to obtain advice from a Virginia traumatic brain injury attorney who can assess the case.