Traumatic Brain Injury
Should I see a doctor if I hit my head in an accident in Sacramento, but have no pain or other symptoms?
You should always see a doctor as soon as possible if you’ve sustained a hard blow to the head, even if you have no immediate symptoms. The brain is a delicate organ, and any hard impact can damage its intricate structure, but symptoms may not show up for days, weeks or even longer. This is especially important for children ages 0-14 and adults ages 65 and over, the two groups whose brains are the most vulnerable to traumatic brain injury (TBI). However, from what medical researchers are learning about the long-term symptoms of TBI, the best advice for all ages is to go to the doctor immediately. If you’ve suffered a hard blow to the head and haven’t gone to the doctor yet, go now. It’s that important.
That depends on the severity of the traumatic brain injury. Physicians measure the severity of TBI using the Glasgow Coma Scale, which ranks TBIs ranging from mild to severe. It’s important to point out that this is just for measuring purposes. Every case of TBI is serious, and no case is “mild.” Using the scale, it’s possible to look at the vast range of TBI symptoms that can manifest in any case, either immediately or over a period of time. “Mild” TBI The most common form of traumatic brain injury is a concussion, which is classified on the “mild” end of the Glasgow Coma Scale. When someone takes a hit to the head and describes it as having their “bell rung” they’re describing a concussion. Some brain injury accident victims who’ve had a concussion will resist medical treatment. You don’t have to be knocked unconscious to sustain a concussion; it is still a serious brain injury. If you or a loved one has sustained a concussion, you may notice the following symptoms immediately or much later:
- Problems thinking clearly, difficulty concentrating, loss of short-term memory
- Headaches, blurry vision, nausea, vomiting, balance problems, light sensitivity
- Emotional issues, irritability, depression, anxiety
- Trouble falling asleep or sleeping more than usual
If these symptoms appear, seek medical help immediately. TBI victims may resist treatment for symptoms such as faulty thinking or emotional issues because they fear it may be considered a sign of weakness. It’s possible that a blood clot may form in the brain and prove to be fatal. If you or a loved one have suffered a head injury, and you notice any of the following symptoms, do not hesitate to call an ambulance or go to an emergency room immediately:
- Headache that worsens and does not go away
- Weakness, numbness and impaired coordination
- Repeated vomiting or nausea
- Slurred speech
- Nonstop crying or refusal to nurse or eat (in small children)
Fortunately, most people recover quickly from concussions and other “mild” TBIs, especially with prompt treatment. But for more severe cases of traumatic brain injury on the Glasgow Coma Scale, the long-term prognosis can be much more discouraging. Many severe TBI victims are knocked unconscious for an extended period of time, slipping into a coma. Some victims awake from the coma with amnesia (total loss of memory). Some victims appear to be fully recovered, but weeks later, develop the same TBI symptoms noted above, only more extreme:
- Difficulty thinking, including complete short-term memory loss
- Aggression and impulse control issues that alienate family and loved ones
- Abrupt personality change
- Deterioration in coordination, balance and motor skills requiring hospitalization
- Loss of speech ability and other high cognitive functions
Traumatic brain injuries can cause epilepsy and can increase the risk of developing other neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
- Falls – At least 1.7 million people sustain a traumatic brain injury annually in the United States. More than a third of those injuries are caused by accidental falls, which occur more often with children ages 0-14 years and adults 65 years and older. Sometimes, these accidents are just accidents, and no one is at fault. On the other hand, the fall may be the result of someone else’s negligence. The fall may be the result of a poorly maintained property, and the property owner and the person responsible for maintaining it could be held liable for the injury.
- Vehicle Accidents – Automobile, motorcycle, truck and other vehicle accidents cause about one in five traumatic brain injuries and account for one-third of the 52,000 people killed annually by TBI. If you’ve sustained a head injury in a vehicle accident through no fault of your own, anyone else found at fault – another driver, a trucking company, a government agency – is legally obliged to pay full financial compensation for your injury.
- Struck By Accidents – “Struck by/against” events are the next largest portion of traumatic brain injuries. In these accidents, the victim’s head collides with a stationary or moving object. For example, a heavy tool may fall from a construction site and strike a victim in the head. Struck by/against events frequently occur in high impact high school sports such as hockey and football. If someone else’s negligence is responsible for your TBI, they may be liable for damages.
- Assault – One in ten traumatic brain injuries is caused by a criminal assault. This includes blows to the head and gunshot wounds, the latter of which are a form of “open-TBI” that can be lethal. If you’ve been criminally assaulted, the perpetrator can be held responsible for paying full restitution for your injuries in both criminal and civil court. There are many different ways to incur a serious head injury. The cause listed by the CDC for one out of every four traumatic brain injuries is “other.” No matter what the cause, if someone else is at fault, you need Demas Law Group, P.C., on your side.
In closed-TBI, the skull and brain have not been penetrated by a foreign object. There may appear to be no injury. That’s one reason why the later effects of closed-TBIs are difficult to detect. In open-TBIs, there is an obvious breach of the skull and the brain, and hospitalization is required. Closed-TBIs are generally less severe than open-TBIs and account for the vast majority of TBI cases. Of the 1.7 million people who suffer a traumatic brain injury every year in the United States, 1.4 million people (82 percent) are treated and released by hospital emergency departments.
Treating TBI is expensive because it is or can become a long-term, progressive disease that affects both the mental and physical faculties of the brain. That covers a wide range of the medical spectrum, from neurologists, neurosurgeons, neuropsychologists, psychiatrists, psychologists, physical therapists and you’re your own primary care physician. Each case is different, but even in less severe cases of TBI, all of these medical resources may need to be accessed. In more severe cases, permanent long-term care needs may be required. The most important thing to remember about TBI is – see a doctor immediately.
Below are some reasons why TBI cases can be more complex than other personal injury cases:
- Head and brain injuries can have serious physical, emotional and cognitive effects that may impact a person’s life forever. Attorneys have to be very knowledgeable and experienced to be able to effectively capture the impact a brain injury may have on someone’s life and to aggressively represent the victim to ensure the maximum compensation possible.
- Brain injury cases can be very expensive. Not only can the medical cost of treating brain injuries be enormous, but the cost of hiring medical experts to prove and build up a case can also be significant. A brain injury attorney should have the resources available to pursue such cases. At Demas Law Group, P.C., we strive to hire the best experts in the field such as investigators, neurologists, neuropsychologists, vocational rehab counselors, and economists. In prior cases, we have invested over $200,000 in costs alone to hire the best scientists and experts in the field.
- Some brain injuries may be difficult to prove. Head and brain injuries are subtle and not easily identifiable (even with an x-ray or CAT-scan). To show that an accident caused a brain injury, lawyers may rely on many different experts and witnesses, whose testimony may not always be considered objective by the defense. To show that a trauma caused brain injury, lawyers often need to call on witnesses who knew the victim before the injury occurred and who have seen the effects of brain damage on the victim.
- Because the science involved in serious brain injuries is evolving constantly, brain injury lawyers need to remain up-to-date with current treatments and medical research. They also need to be familiar with the best medical treatments and experts in the field to best serve their clients.
Where can I obtain more information about suing the responsible party to recover my medical expenses and other damages?
Brain injury cases can be very complex. We urge you to contact Demas Law Group, P.C., for more information on how you can pursue your case. You may also want to visit our General FAQs page for answers to the questions below:
- How do I pay my expensive medical bills after sustaining a brain injury?
- The insurance company is offering a settlement for the TBI I suffered after an accident. Do I still need an attorney?
- What can I be compensated for after a traumatic brain injury that wasn’t my fault?
- What is my head injury case worth?
- What will it cost me to hire Demas Law Group, P.C., in a head injury case?
- The Center for Disease Control is the comprehensive source for TBI information: http://www.cdc.gov/TraumaticBrainInjury/index.html
- The Brain Injury Association of America offers help to victims of TBI: http://www.biausa.org/
- The Brain Injury Association of California (BIACAL) provides information, resources, education, advocacy and support for those affected by brain injury: http://biacal.org/
This literature may be considered attorney advertising or an offer of professional services, according to rule 1-400 Rules of Professional Conduct by the State Bar of California. The information does not constitute a guarantee, warranty or prediction regarding the outcome of your potential legal matter.