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,
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, 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.
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:
- bad taste in mouth
- ringing in ears
- 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
- slow pulse
- weakness or numbness of extremities
- loss of coordination
- increased confusion
- inappropriate emotional responses (inappropriate crying or laughing, irritability,
- 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
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
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.