Traumatic Brain Injuries

Traumatic Brain Injury Lawyers

California Brain Injury Firm Representing Clients Nationwide

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when a sudden blow or jolt to the head disrupts the normal function of the brain. A TBI can vary from a mild concussion to a fatal head injury. Traumatic brain injuries – even when mild – have the potential to severely impair a person’s cognitive function, memory, and motor skills. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 1.7 million Americans suffer a TBI each year.

At Baum Hedlund, we have a team of attorneys from various backgrounds bringing to your TBI case a unique combination of skills and care. Among our lawyers are five former law professors, former public servants, former magistrates, mediators and arbitrators, and two assistant attorneys general who have all handled catastrophic personal injury cases involving TBI injuries. We also maintain membership in various associations and societies, including the North American Brain Injury Society, the Brain Injury Association of America and the California Brain Injury Association.

Contact Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman today at (855) 948-5098 to schedule a free consultation. We represent TBI cases in Los Angeles, California, and nationwide.

Next Steps: After a Traumatic Brain Injury

It is extremely important to seek medical attention if you suspect any level of head injury. Even mild TBIs with mild symptoms can quickly take a turn for the worse. It is imperative to get prompt treatment in any TBI case in order to minimize any long term damage. Once a brain injury is stabilized, short-term and long-term care for TBI patients can take various forms. Whether treatment is received in an inpatient or outpatient setting, a rehabilitation program will usually include numerous specialists who work with patients and their families to overcome the physical, emotional and neurological complications that arise after a traumatic brain injury.

Traumatic brain injuries are known to affect a wide range of functions including behavior, thinking, emotions, speech, sensation, language and memory. Recent research has found that a progressive degenerative disease called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is caused by repeated head trauma. This means that even the mildest hits to the head, if repeated (repeated tackles in football, for example), can lead to CTE symptoms, which include memory loss, aggression and progressive dementia.

Also, a single moderate to severe TBI can have lasting consequences. According to recent research, a moderate or severe blow to the head can significantly increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Another troubling complication from traumatic brain injury is long term disability, which researchers believe is common 12-14 years after a patient suffers a TBI.

If you or a loved one has suffered a TBI, and you believe the injury was due to the fault of another party, you may be entitled to compensation for your pain and suffering. Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman is a national law firm which has represented thousands of clients in personal injury and wrongful death cases involving traumatic brain injuries, as well as transportation accidents and pharmaceutical product liability.

Types of TBI

A TBI can range from a mild to a severe injury. These classifications are assessed by emergency and medical personnel using the Glasgow Coma Scale, or GCS. The GCS is a 15-point scale that measures certain TBI symptoms associated with each level of injury. It also measures motor, verbal and eye responses to gauge the level of injury and chance of survival, with a lower number demonstrating a more severe injury.

There are many different types of traumatic brain injuries – and many factors to consider when determining a diagnosis. Some injuries concern the bruising and swelling of the brain, while others involve a crack or intrusion of the skull.

Concussion

A concussion, by itself, is one of the least serious and most common types of TBI. Many consider concussions to be “mild” TBI’s, but in reality there is no such thing as ‘mild’ when it comes to a traumatic brain injury. Concussions are trauma-induced alterations of the alert state and can result in momentary unconsciousness and lead to complications including permanent long term damage, blood clots, or death. It could take a concussion anywhere from several days to a few years to heal completely. Concussions can result from both open and closed head injuries.

Whiplash

Although not technically a TBI, whiplash often induces a traumatic brain injury. Whiplash occurs when the soft tissues of the neck are injured by a sudden jerking or “whipping” of the head. This type of motion strains the muscles and ligaments of the neck beyond their normal range of motion. When a vehicle stops suddenly in a crash or is struck from behind, a seat belt will keep a person’s body from being thrown forward. But the head may snap forward, then backward, causing whiplash. In addition to car accidents, whiplash can be caused by roller coasters and other amusement park rides, sports injuries, or being punched or shaken (whiplash is one of the hallmarks of shaken baby syndrome). You may feel pain and stiffness in your neck for the first few days following a whiplash injury, then feel better, only to have the pain and stiffness come back several days later. This symptom can last for months or years. The discomfort you feel may involve surrounding muscle groups in your head, chest, shoulders, and arms.

Closed Head Injuries

Closed head injuries are mostly caused by motor vehicle accidents or falls, and involve no penetration of the skull. In this case, the brain could have bleeding within the tissue or bruising which affects blood distribution. Oftentimes, a bruised brain will swell inside the skull, which can cause permanent damage due to the limited amount of space.

Types of closed head injuries:

  • Contusion: A bruise or bleeding on the brain. It can result from a direct impact to the brain or from violent back and forth shaking of the brain, causing brain tissue to come into contact with blood released from broken vessels.
  • Coup Contrecoup: When a person suffers a closed head injury the brain will often rattle back and forth inside the skull, causing an injury called coup contrecoup. This type of shaking, which often occurs during automobile accidents, slams the brain against one side of the skull and then sends it on a collision course with the other side of the skull, causing more than one contusion in various parts of the brain. The primary impact is called the “coup” and the secondary impact is called the “contrecoup”.
  • Diffused axonal injury, or shearing: Occurs when the brain is violently rattled back and forth, forcing the brain against the skull. If the blow is hard enough, parts of the brain can be stretched enough to tear apart. This type of injury can cause major damage to individual neurons as well as the connections between neurons, breaking down all communication between neurons in the brain. This type of disturbance can result in widespread brain damage, coma, or death.
  • Hematoma: Hematoma is caused by the breakage of a major blood vessel, resulting in heavy bleeding in the brain or in the area between the brain and skull.

Open Head Injuries

Open head injuries occur when there is penetration of the skull, commonly from bullets or other physical objects causing a penetrating injury. These are far less common than closed head injuries, but can be very serious.

Understanding and Identifying TBI Symptoms

A traumatic brain injury can affect numerous aspects of a person’s physical, emotional and cognitive well-being. Most TBI symptoms appear immediately or shortly after the initial injury. In many cases, symptoms can be easy to miss. The following are lists of possible TBI symptoms. In no way should the following lists be a substitute for medical advice or treatment. If you or someone you know has suffered a head injury, seek medical advice immediately and dial 911 in case of an emergency.

The following are symptoms associated with all types of TBI, including mild (between 13 and 15 points on the Glasgow Coma Scale-GCS), moderate (between 9 and 12 points on the GCS) or severe (between 3 and 8 points on the GCS) injuries. One should seek medical advice if they see signs of the following TBI symptoms after a head injury.

Mild TBI symptoms include:

  • headache
  • bad taste in mouth
  • ringing in ears
  • confusion
  • lightheadedness
  • dizziness
  • blurred vision / tired eyes
  • fatigue / lethargy
  • change in sleeping patterns
  • behavioral changes and mood changes
  • trouble with memory
  • trouble with concentration
  • trouble with attention
  • trouble thinking

The following are symptoms associated with moderate or severe TBI. If the following symptoms are seen or if there is any suspicion of a TBI, you should contact a physician immediately or call 911.

  • headache that gets worse or doesn’t go away
  • repeated vomiting or nausea
  • inability to wake from sleep
  • convulsions or seizures
  • spinal fluid/liquid coming out of the ears or nose
  • dilation of one or both pupils
  • slurred speech
  • paralysis
  • slow pulse
  • weakness or numbness of extremities
  • loss of coordination
  • increased confusion
  • restlessness
  • inappropriate emotional responses (inappropriate crying or laughing, irritability, agitation)
  • loss of bowel or bladder control

When children suffer a traumatic brain injury, TBI symptoms can be extremely difficult to detect since they might lack the ability to communicate. If a child begins showing signs of the following TBI symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible.

  • refuse to eat
  • appear cranky or listless
  • change in sleeping pattern
  • change in school performance
  • loss of interest in favorite activity

Common TBI Complications

Many short- and long-term complications can arise from Traumatic Brain Injuries, including:

  • Seizure: A large percentage of TBI sufferers experience either immediate seizures or early seizures. Immediate seizures occur within 24 hours of the initial injury. These seizures increase the risk of early seizures, which occur within one week after the initial injury. However, these types of seizures have no link in increasing the possibility of epilepsy.
  • Infection: Infections like meningitis can affect the tears in the brain by letting in air and bacteria. Meningitis is inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. A TBI can potentially spread the infection to other parts of the brain and nervous system.
  • Stroke: Damage to major vessels leading to the brain can block blood flow and lead to stroke, either from bleeding of the artery or the formation of a blood clot at the injury site. Headache, vomiting, seizures, paralysis, and semi consciousness can also be caused by blood clots.
  • Coma: TBI sufferers may fall into comas and become unconscious and unresponsive for a few days or weeks after the injury. After this amount of time, some will gradually awaken and become conscious, or enter a vegetative state or die. Those that fall into a vegetative state for over a year rarely make a full recovery and require an extensive life care plan.
  • Cognitive and sensory disabilities: TBI complications can lead to impaired reasoning and problem-solving skills. Short-term memory loss is the most common of these impairments. Sensory problems such as hand-eye coordination, taste and smell, constant ringing in the ear, and double vision are also common.
  • Personality changes: Personality changes and unstable emotions are typical with brain injuries. Impulse control is also impaired, resulting in inappropriate behavior, especially during recovery.
  • Alzheimer’s disease: Alzheimer’s disease, characterized by memory loss and the deterioration of cognitive abilities, can arise from TBI. The more severe the injury is to the head, the more likely it is that one will develop Alzheimer’s.
  • Parkinson’s disease: Although rare, Parkinson’s disease may develop secondary to TBI many years after the initial injury occurred. Symptoms include slow movement, stiffness, trembling, and stooped posture, and will, once they appear, progress steadily throughout life.
  • Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE): Repeated head trauma, including symptomatic concussions and asymptomatic subconcussive blows to the head can lead to a progressive degenerative disease called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE. CTE is most commonly found in athletes in contact sports prone to traumatic brain injuries, including football, ice hockey and wrestling. CTE is associated with memory loss, depression, impaired judgment, aggression, impulse control problems, confusion and progressive dementia.
  • Long Term Disability: Long term damage resulting from TBI complications appear to be more common than previously believed. According to new research recently published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, patients that sustained a head injury showed a high occurrence of disability (51 percent) up to 14 years after sustaining the injury. Patients in the study showed signs of higher stress levels, lower self-esteem, poorer cognitive function, and higher levels of anxiety and depression after sustaining a TBI. Researchers concluded that “disability is common 12 -14 years after hospital admission with a [head injury].” For some patients, scientists added, “there is a dynamic process of change in disability over time that is associated with self-perceptions of control.”

What Is the True Impact of a TBI?

Although a traumatic brain injury is confined to a person’s head and brain, it is rarely an isolated incident. A serious TBI will impact everything associated with the survivor including family, friendships, business and community. A person’s brain is the center of his nervous system. It dictates everything, from the ability to control the movement of arms and legs, to sensations, memory, emotions, thoughts and behaviors.

Any injury to this complex organ has the potential to erase precious memories, alter behaviors, cause crippling seizures and destroy lives. A traumatic event to the head, even a seemingly minor one, can lead to serious, long-term injury.

Leading Causes of TBI

Traumatic brain injuries contribute to a large number of deaths and permanent disabilities annually. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to 50,000 people die from brain injuries every year, and an estimated 5.3 million Americans currently live with a disability related to a TBI. Traumatic brain injuries caused by motor vehicle accidents result in the greatest number of hospitalizations. Motor vehicle accidents are also the number one cause of TBI in people under the age of 75.

The most common causes of these injuries include:

Although head trauma can occur to anyone at any age, there are certain groups who are more susceptible to TBIs. The leading TBI causes for adolescents and adults come from motor vehicle accidents, along with violent crimes and assaults. Infants, toddlers, and elderly people over the age of 75 years old can easily suffer from falls around the home. However, the most vulnerable group to TBIs would be males between the age of 15 and 24, who are 1.5 times more likely to suffer from a head injury than females, due to their high-risk and fast-paced lifestyles. Approximately half of TBI accidents involve the use of alcohol.

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    $18 million settlement for Boeing government overcharging on aircraft maintenance

  • A Major US Plane Crash $17.5 Million
  • Commercial Truck Accident $15 Million

    $15 million settlement for a person gravely injured by a major truck company

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Traumatic Brain Injury Lawsuit

Not every TBI results in a TBI lawsuit, but when a lawsuit is necessary, it requires a highly capable and experienced medical and legal team that is able to handle the complex issues surrounding such a case. Having a legal team with the resources, experience, and knowledge in the field of traumatic brain injury and other catastrophic injuries, is key to successfully resolving these types of cases.

Due to the amount of media coverage surrounding the NFL concussion lawsuits, some people are under the impression that head injuries like concussions are specific only to men suited up to play on Sundays. In fact, roughly half a million emergency room admits for TBI are kids under the age of 14. Children younger than 4, adolescents between 15 and 19 years of age, and senior citizens over 65 are the most likely age groups to sustain a head injury.

There are many different circumstances that could lead to a TBI lawsuit. Baum Hedlund handles all sorts of TBI cases across the country stemming from various causes, such as:

  • Commercial Transportation Accidents
  • Helmet Defects
  • Slip and Fall Accidents
  • Defective Products
  • Commercial Transportation Accidents

Baum Hedlund has decades of experience representing severely injured passengers in aviation, bus, train, and truck accidents. A catastrophic brain injury is common in accidents involving airplane or helicopter disasters, as well as ground transportation accidents.

In one such case, we represented 45 passengers in a midair catastrophic incident where an airliner began “porpoising” due to an uncontrolled wing slat deployment. Many passengers were thrown to the ceiling and some broke their necks. Two passengers died. One of our clients, the lead flight attendant, was severely brain damaged when she was violently thrown around the cabin and slammed into the ceiling and floor. In order to get her the critical medical help she needed we went above and beyond our legal duty during her TBI lawsuit when we arranged to have her flown to the U.S. from China to undergo advanced medical care and rehabilitation by a world-renowned neurologist in Los Angeles.

TBI Resources for Care and Management

Below are a few TBI resources for care and management after a TBI:

  • Brain Injury Association of America: BIAA is the leading national organization serving and representing individuals, families and professionals who are touched by a life-altering, often devastating, traumatic brain injury (TBI). Together with its network of more than 40 chartered state affiliates, as well as hundreds of local chapters and support groups across the country, the BIAA provides TBI resources, information, education and support to assist the 3.17 million Americans currently living with traumatic brain injuries.
  • Brain Injury Association of America Treatment and Rehab: The goal of rehabilitation is to help people regain the most independent level of functioning possible. This website describes the different types of hospital and rehabilitation programs; healthcare professionals; and tests and scales used in the recovery process for brain injury.
  • National Association of State Head Injury Administrators: NASHIA is the only forum addressing state government’s significant role in brain injury. NASHIA is the premier source of information and education for State Agency employees who are responsible for public brain injury policies, programs, and services.
  • North American Brain Injury Society: NABIS is a society comprised of professional members involved in the care or issues surrounding brain injury. The principal mission of NABIS is moving brain injury science into practice. Whether it is in the area of clinical care, research, policy or litigation, the organization stands behind the premise that advances in science and practices based on application of the scientific evidence will ultimately provide the best outcomes for those with brain injuries and the community as a whole.
  • Brain Injury Recovery Kit: Praised by leading brain injury experts as an innovative system for guiding individuals through the day-to-day challenges faced after brain injury, while providing information and support to family and friends. The Brain Injury Recovery Kit is a step-by-step approach to recovery that can be tailored to each individual’s needs and can be used at an individual’s own pace.
  • CDC TBI Resources: The CDC’s research and programs work to prevent TBI and help people better recognize, respond, and recover if a TBI occurs. They cover Traumatic Brain Injury Topics, Concussion and Mild TBI, Concussion in Sports, Clinical Diagnosis and Management, and Statistics.

Get Help for Your TBI Lawsuit

If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury, skull fracture, spinal cord injury, paraplegia, quadriplegia, or other devastating injury due to a defective product or someone’s harmful actions or negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact a Los Angeles TBI attorney at Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman to discuss your options. We are here to answer any legal questions you might have about the injury. We can also help our clients find the right treatment and rehabilitation services to meet their needs.

At our firm, we’ve represented plaintiffs from all over the country in thousands of catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases stemming from traumatic brain injuries, transportation accidents, and pharmaceutical product liability. The firm is listed in US News & World Report and Best Lawyers® Best Law Firms, The Best Lawyers in America®, Top Ranked Law Firms™ published in Fortune, and The Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers™.

Contact us at (855) 948-5098 to schedule a free consultation today.

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