More than 1.5 million people in the United States sustain traumatic brain injuries each year, and it’s a leading cause of death and disability among younger adults and children. If you or your child has sustained a traumatic brain injury due to the fault or negligence of another party, you may have a case for compensation.
Working with an experienced brain injury lawyer in South Carolina can help you understand your options and seek damages that might help you cover expenses associated with medical bills, ongoing care, and other losses related to your TBI.
Why It’s Important to Understand a Brain Injury When Seeking Compensation
Brain injuries vary widely. If you’ve ever had a mild concussion, that’s a form of traumatic brain injury. Most people typically recover full function after a mild concussion, especially with proper treatment and rest. More serious injuries on the TBI spectrum leave people with little to no brain function for an extended length of time or even the rest of their lives. Between these two extremes are injuries that cause varying levels of disability for individuals.
When seeking compensation for yourself or a loved one who was injured, it’s essential to understand the severity of a brain injury. The amount your brain injury impacts your physical and mental functioning, emotional and social wellbeing, and ability to live and work in the future is vital to the compensation you can seek.
An experienced brain injury attorney can work with you to gather and review medical records, discuss current and future losses, and help determine the best course for any legal action, including how much compensation you might seek.
The 4 Main Types of Traumatic Brain Injury
Healthcare professionals measure traumatic brain injuries on the Glasgow Coma Scale, or GCS. This scale evaluates someone’s level of consciousness after a traumatic brain injury, with doctors rating consciousness and brain function on a scale of 1 to 15.
- 1 to 3 points indicate a persistent vegetative state with little to no brain function, such as a coma
- 4 to 8 points indicate a severe disability
- 9 to 12 points indicate a moderate disability
- 13 to 15 points indicate a mild TBI
In general, the higher the GCS score, the shorter the recovery time. The lower the GCS score, the longer the recovery time and the increased likelihood that full recovery may not be possible.
GCS scores can be important in understanding what type of case you have for compensation after a traumatic brain injury. If someone has a 4 or 5 GCS, they won’t be able to work or function normally within social and family circles. This may create a stronger case for higher compensation levels than if someone scores a 14 or 15 and recovers within a few weeks.
Closed Versus Open Injuries
The GCS number isn’t the only way medical providers categorize traumatic brain injuries. Doctors usually group TBIs into two main categories: open or closed injuries.
Open injuries are also sometimes called penetrating injuries. They occur when the skull bone is breached or damaged/broken by an object. Closed injuries damage the brain through trauma but don’t break or breach the skull.
Brain injuries are further divided into types such as:
- Concussions. Concussions occur when your brain hits the inside of the skull due to a strong force, such as when two people collide headfirst on an athletic field. Concussions can range from mild to severe; it’s important to get checked out by medical professionals if you believe you have a concussion. Severe concussion symptoms can lead to life-long issues.
- Contusions. A contusion is a bruise. Anything that causes your brain to hit or be hit with force can cause a contusion, which is common with concussions. The seriousness of a contusion depends on where it’s located, how big it is, and how long it takes to heal.
- Hemorrhages. A hemorrhage is any type of uncontrolled bleeding. When it happens in the brain, it’s known as a brain hemorrhage. These types of TBIs impact specific regions of the brain, which means they can cause disabilities with specific body symptoms or functions.
- Hematomas. Hematomas occur when blood collects in areas of the body outside of the normal flow of blood vessels. When it happens in the brain, it can create pressure and other issues that lead to serious symptoms; they can also be life-threatening. Hematomas can develop weeks after you sustain a TBI, so it’s important to follow up with a physician.
- Diffuse axonal injuries. This type of injury doesn’t occur from the brain hitting something. Instead, it’s caused by the brain being shaken or twisted, causing tears in certain fibers. The severity of the injury depends on how bad the tears are.
- Second impact syndrome. Second impact injuries occur when you have a second TBI shortly after a first one. The second TBI can compound issues and lead to more severe disability or symptoms, even if both of the TBIs on their own would have been considered mild.
Should You Hire a Brain Injury Lawyer?
Leading causes of brain injuries in South Carolina include motor vehicle crashes, falls, and assaults. If you were injured in any type of incident that might have been the fault of someone else, you might be able to seek compensation.
Serious brain injuries can lead to financial and emotional losses. Someone may be unable to work again for a long time (or ever), leading to lost wages, or a spouse might lose the quality of companionship if their partner has a sustained and serious disability. Hiring an experienced brain injury lawyer can help you seek compensation for these losses and others.
A brain injury attorney works with you to:
- Ensure you understand your options. A good lawyer helps you understand how your symptoms and situation might play out in a legal case and what your options are so you can make an educated decision.
- Name defendants. Personal injury liability cases can be complex. That complexity starts with something as simple as naming defendants. Your lawyer ensures all appropriate parties, including insurance companies, are named.
- Structure a case. Your attorney will gather medical records and other documents, depose witnesses and medical experts, and otherwise work to build a case for your lawsuit.
- Follow up through settlement or trial. If you’re dealing with a TBI or caring for a loved one who is, you have a lot on your plate. The right attorney handles many legal details and follows up on your case throughout the process to settlement or trial so you can concentrate on healing or finding a new normal.
If you or a loved one has sustained a traumatic brain injury in South Carolina, you may have a case for compensation. The Leddy Law Firm can help you understand whether you have a case and what the next steps are.