If you or a loved one was involved in an accident that resulted in an injury to the brain, you are likely traumatized, frightened, and perhaps unsure of how to proceed. The resulting impact of trauma to the brain can lead to devastating emotional, physical, and personal losses.
Beyond this, a severe injury could prevent a person from returning to work, resulting in financial losses despite a growing pile of medical bills and fees for attendant care services. However, if your injuries were due to someone else’s careless, reckless, or malicious behavior, the ensuing costs should not be solely on you.
By filing a claim for compensation, you may be able to recover damages that help to ease your financial strain and allow you to focus on your recovery. A Michigan brain injury lawyer could help. By enlisting a skilled and compassionate injury attorney at Buckfire & Buckfire, P.C., you could have help with each step of filing a claim for compensation.
The Signs and Effects of Brain Trauma
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is defined as a blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the function of the brain. A TBI can result when the head suddenly and violently hits an object, or when an object pierces the skull and enters brain tissue. Not all injuries to the head result in TBI, of course, and the severity of a brain trauma can range from “mild” to “severe.” a TBI can cause serious disabilities and have lasting or even permanent effects. It is important to recognize the signs, which may include:
- Persistent headaches or neck pain
- Cognitive impairment
- Difficult remembering, paying attention, or making decisions
- Slowness in thinking, speaking, acting, or reading
- Getting lost or easily confusing
- Perception problems
- Feeling tired or lacking energy
- Sudden mood changes
- Blurred vision
- Changes in sleeping patterns
- Light-headedness, dizziness, or loss of balance
- Increased sensitivity to light, sound, or distraction
Along with these and other symptoms, severe trauma to the head might also result in aphasia. Aphasia is a brain condition that results from damage to the areas of the brain responsible for language. For most people, this means the damage has occurred to the left hemisphere of the brain. This condition usually limits the ability of a patient to speak or communicate, although the degree to which a person’s language skills are affected will vary with each person.
Furthermore, concussions are the most common and least understood type of traumatic brain injury. A concussion occurs when the soft tissue of the brain is thrust against the hard bone of the skull. The force of a blow or sudden movement affects the brain center controlling the blood vessels in the brain and creates a deficiency of blood supply to the brain. This can have a tremendous and long-term impact on an individual’s life. More immediately still, a brain injury may result in a coma. Because of the severity of these injuries, it is important for anyone who has suffered an injury to the head to seek medical attention immediately, as well as to contact an experienced Michigan head injury attorney for legal assistance.
Common Misconceptions About Severe Head Injuries
There are frequent debates between lawyers and even doctors in cases involving traumatic brain injuries and closed head injuries. Because many victims “look normal” to the average person, despite the possibility of having significant cognitive deficits, there are common myths that must be overcome to prove the serious nature of the injury. The most common misconceptions about severe head injuries are:
- Myth 1: There must be a loss of consciousness after the accident. This myth has been disproven by physicians and scientists. A person does not need to be “knocked out” to suffer a TBI and even a slight alteration of consciousness could be evidence of serious head trauma
- Myth 2: The victim must forcibly strike their head on an object. This is untrue as sudden, unexpected movements of the head can cause the brain to strike the inside of the skull and suffer serious damage and harm
- Myth 3: There must be a negative result on imaging studies, like an MRI or CT Scan. It has been proven that a person can have serious brain trauma even with normal results
- Myth 4: Most people recover within 6 months of an injury. Although some people may have full or partial recovery within six months, many people have lifetime problems that never fully resolve even with extensive therapy and rehabilitation
The Risk of a Seizure
Seizures that occur in relation to a head injury can be classified as Immediate (or Impact), Early (within several days to weeks of the injury), or Late (months to years after the injury, after recovery to the best-expected level of function). Head injuries can be broadly classified based on the extent of injury (mild, moderate, or severe) and on the type of injury suffered (missile or “penetrating” trauma, and closed or “blunt” trauma). Mild injury generally refers to the absence of injury to the brain or damage to the skull, and few neurologic signs.
The classification of the type of injury can be a little confusing, because blunt trauma can produce ‘open’ head injuries with skull fractures and the entrance of skull fragments or foreign bodies into the cranial cavity. The exact mechanism of an injury is not always known, but is critical in understanding the extent and manner of an injury. Acceleration-deceleration and rotational forces, associated with blunt trauma, penetrating trauma, and the effect of rapid movement of brain matter against the skull’s interior, can cause shearing injuries, to blood vessels and nerve fiber tracts.
As with all epileptic conditions, a proper diagnostic work-up is essential. The treatment of post-traumatic epilepsy is often complicated by the fact that there may be more than one area of focal brain trauma, and thus more than one area capable of generating epileptic discharges. Certainly, the best treatment rationale begins with prevention. The proper use and application of helmets and seat belts significantly reduces the risk of head trauma, associated with sports-related, bicycle, motorcycle, and motor vehicle accidents.
The Glasgow Coma Scale
When an individual suffers a traumatic brain injury, it is important to assess the amount of damage that has been done, both for their personal health, as well as for an attorney to calculate the extent of their client’s losses for a claim. To do this, doctors and physicians use a scoring system known as the Glasgow Coma Scale, which measures the level of consciousness in a person based on a variety of different responses.
This tool has proven to be a reliable way for medical professionals to instantly gain an understanding of what type of brain injury they may be dealing with. This is also an effective tool for our attorneys to understand better the level of trauma that has occurred. The Glasgow Coma Scale measures three factors and scores them accordingly based on the level of response. Medical professionals use the aggregate scores of this test to assess the level of damage to a person’s brain. By adding the 3 scores, the injury can be classified.
- Severe Brain Injury: GCS 3-8
- Moderate Brain Injury: GCS 9-12
- Mild Brain Injury: GCS 13-15
It is important to note that the Glasgow Coma Scale is used for adults who suffer from brain injuries. For children, a modified version of the GCS is used.
The Common Causes of Head Injuries
A brain injury can occur from any number of circumstances. In Michigan, common factors include:
- Trips and falls
- Motor vehicle wrecks—including cars, buses, trucks, and motorcycles
- Bicycle falls
- Pedestrian incidents—such as a person being struck by a vehicle
- Sports and recreational injuries
- Construction site incidents
Often, these incidents are the result of someone’s careless or reckless action or inaction. Other times, it is due to directly malicious behavior. Even when the cause of a brain injury is an accident, however, the victim may have a legal right to pursue compensation from an at-fault person, business, or other entity. A skillful Michigan lawyer could help to assess the facts of an incident that led to a brain injury in order to determine fault.
Because of the often widespread and devastating impact of many injuries to the brain, a claim for compensation can request a number of economic and non-economic damages. These might include medical expenses, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, lost wages, decreased earning capacity, and loss of consortium.
However, before these and other damages can be collected, an injured plaintiff must first be able to prove that an at-fault party was negligent. The legal process of doing this is often complex and involves establishing a defendant’s legal duty and breach of this duty, as well as how this breach resulted in the claimant’s injuries.
For example, if a motorist was texting while behind the wheel, this would be a breach of their duty to drive reasonably and safely. Therefore, if this breach—their distraction—caused them to hit a person while they were walking or driving, that person would have strong legal grounds for a claim. By enlisting well-versed brain injury attorney, an injured individual could have help to hold an at-fault individual responsible for covering their damages in Michigan.
No-Fault Insurance in Michigan
If the victim of a brain injury was a motorist, cyclist, or pedestrian, there is a chance they could instead seek compensation through Michigan’s no-fault insurance system. Unlike a civil lawsuit, a claimant does not have to prove that another motorist or individual was responsible for their damages in order to recover damages.
However, some claimants may find that benefits granted through an insurance coverage plan may not be as extensive as a civil lawsuit. Because of this, it is important for anyone injured to speak with a legal professional and understand how to best proceed for their unique circumstances.
Brain Injury Awareness Month
A brain injury can happen anytime, anywhere, to anyone. In fact, these severe injuries are more common today than ever before, contributing to 30 percent of all deaths. Due to this reason, you and your loved ones should learn more about awareness and advocacy in the community.
The month of March is marked as Brain Injury Awareness Month. During this month, there are several initiatives and advocacy events that the public can get involved with to learn more and promote brain injury awareness.
Enlist a Michigan Brain Injury Attorney for Help
Suffering trauma to the brain may force a person out of work despite the need for extensive medical treatment and assisted living care. This might make a person feel as though their situation is hopeless. However, if you or a loved one was involved in an incident that resulted in severe damage to the head, you have legal options and might benefit from speaking with a Michigan brain injury lawyer.
Navigating the claims process and legal system to seek compensation can be confusing and difficult for underprepared claimants, especially as they recover from an injury. A tenacious and seasoned attorney at Buckfire & Buckfire, P.C. could help to explain your rights, investigate your circumstances, and work to build a claim that suits your needs. Call a legal professional today to get started.
Brain Injury References and Resources
- 29000 Inkster Road
Southfield, MI 48034
- Phone: (248) 595-7544
- 19 Clifford St.
Suite 805 Merchants Row
Detroit, MI 48226
- Phone: (313) 992-8281
- 1001 Woodward Ave.
Detroit, MI 48226
- Phone: (313) 777-8482
- 343 S. Main Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
- Phone: (734) 888-3003
- 51424 Van Dyke Ave
Shelby Township, MI 48316
- Phone: (586) 250-2626