A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can have a significant, lifelong impact on the injury victim. Symptoms of a traumatic brain injury vary significantly, and may include:
• Speech difficulties
• Cognitive impairment
• Mood disorders
• Sleep disturbances
• Loss of motor skills
• Memory problems
• Irritability and aggressiveness
Because different areas of the brain control different functions, the exact symptoms a TBI victim suffers will depend in part on which area of the brain is affected. Some TBIs are more serious than others. In some cases, victims develop symptoms some time after the injury and initial treatment.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 2.5 million people with traumatic brain injuries visit hospital emergency rooms each year. More than 280,000 are admitted to hospitals, and about 50,000 TBIs prove fatal each year.
Causes of Traumatic Brain Injury in Los Angeles County
A traumatic brain injury can result from any type of significant blow or jarring to the head. Some common examples include:
• A slip and fall on ice, an uneven surface, or other same-level fall
• A motor vehicle accident, whether as an occupant of the vehicle or bystander
• Falls from heights, such as a construction worker from a scaffold
• Being struck in the head by a falling object
• Being shot or intentionally struck in the head
• Banging the head into a wall or other fixed object
The frequency with which these injury types occur and the seriousness of the resulting harm varies based on a number of factors. Some of the most significant variations are based on the age of the person suffering a traumatic brain injury.
Common Causes of Death from TBI
Falls are the most common cause of accidental TBI-related death among people 65 and older. In this age group, more than half of TBI deaths are attributable to falls. Falls also cause about 15% of traumatic brain injury deaths among people aged 45-64. Among younger people, the numbers are much smaller. For example, just over 4% of TBI deaths among people 25-44 are attributable to falls, and just 1.7% among those aged 15-24.
For teenagers and non-senior adults, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of accidental fatal traumatic brain injuries. Car, truck, bus, and motorcycle accidents cause:
• 23.2% of fatal TBIs in people aged 45-64
• 33.4% of fatal TBIs in people aged 25-44
• 47.4% of fatal TBIs in people aged 15-24
• 55.7% of fatal TBIs in people aged 5-14
In very young children, aged 4 and under, the most common cause of fatal traumatic brain injury is assault.
Statistics for Traumatic Brain Injury Hospitalizations and ER Visits
Falls are the leading cause of hospitalization for traumatic brain injury among most age groups. Falls are responsible for:
• 37.6% of TBIs requiring hospitalization among people aged 65 and older
• 24.5% of TBIs requiring hospitalization among people 45-64
• 22.8% of TBIs requiring hospitalization among people aged 5-14
• 46.2% of TBIs requiring hospitalization among children 4 and under
For people between the ages of 15 and 44, motor vehicle accidents are the most common cause of TBIs resulting in hospitalization.
Falls take the lead in TBI-related emergency room visits for all but ages 15-24. In that age group, the most common reason people visit hospital emergency rooms with traumatic brain injuries is assault.
Liability for Traumatic Brain Injury in Los Angeles
Because TBIs occur in a variety of ways, the potential liability for damages also varies. Some of the most common scenarios are addressed below, but each case must be evaluated individually.
California Liability for TBI Sustained in a Car, Truck, or Motorcycle Accident
In a motor vehicle accident case, the driver who caused the accident is typically the most obvious responsible party. Depending on the circumstances, there may be on or more other responsible parties, as well. Some possibilities include:
• The driver’s employer, if the driver was working at the time of the accident or driving a vehicle owned by the employer
• The owner of the vehicle, if he or she negligently entrusted it to the driver
• The owner of a bar or restaurant that over served a drunk driver
• The manufacturer of a vehicle or piece of automotive equipment, if the accident was caused by or aggravated by an equipment failure
Liability for TBI Sustained in a Fall
Many falls seem like “just an accident,” but in truth, most are avoidable. If you’ve sustained a serious injury such as a TBI in a fall, a third party may be legally responsible for your fall. Some examples include:
• A retail establishment that fails to mop up after a spill, leaving a hazard which the injured party slips on
• Faulty maintenance of property, such as loose floorboards, broken concrete, or other uneven surfaces leading to a fall
• Failure of a property owner, construction company, or other responsible party to provide safe barriers and safety markings in elevated areas
Liability for Assault Related TBIs in Los Angeles
Assault is an intentional tort, but the person who assaulted you may not be the only responsible party. That’s important, because an individual who causes a serious injury is often without the resources to provide compensation. That’s even more likely if he or she is on the way to jail for a violent crime.
Often, however, a third party shares responsibility. One example might be a child who is assaulted by another child at school, due in part to negligent supervision by school officials or lack of appropriate policies to prevent violence.
Talk to a Traumatic Brain Injury Lawyer in Los Angeles
A local attorney who is experienced in handling TBI-related injury cases can help determine who may be responsible for your injuries and guide you through the process of pursuing fair compensation. An attorney who understands both liability issues and the complicated medical issues associated with traumatic brain injury can also help determine the damages you may be entitled to and build a case on your behalf.
California Damages Associated with Traumatic Brain Injury
Because the severity and duration of TBI symptoms varies significantly, the damages available to a person who sustains a TBI will also vary greatly. Some common types of damages awarded include:
• Reimbursement for medical expenses and costs of rehabilitation
• Costs of projected ongoing medical care, therapy, and nursing care
• Costs of equipment and necessary adaptations to living environment
• Lost income associated with the injury
• Loss of future earning capacity as a result of the TBI
• Pain and suffering / loss of quality of life
Family members who have lost a loved one to a traumatic brain injury or who have been forced to assume greater responsibility and have been deprived of support, companionship, and other elements of family life as a result of the injury may also be entitled to compensation.
Contacting an experienced traumatic brain injury attorney can be the first step toward a more secure foundation to rebuild on.