Brain and Head Injury

Lawyers Helping Victims Who Have a Traumatic Brain Injury

The attorneys at The Mahoney Law Firm, P.C. have extensive experience representing people who have sustained serious brain injuries. We understand that these injuries cause devastating consequences to not only the injured person, but to the family members as well. We work with the most respected medical experts in order to prove the nature and extent of the brain injury so that we can obtain full compensation for our clients who have sustained brain injuries.

Traumatic brain injury (referred to as "TBI") is not an uncommon occurrence. According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, about 2.5 million annual hospitalizations, emergency room visits, and deaths are associated with traumatic brain injury. On average, 138 people in the United States die each day from injuries related to TBI.

Causes of Traumatic Brain Injury

Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries. About 40% of all TBIs are the result of falls. Most fall-related traumatic brain injuries occur in the very young and the very old. More than half of traumatic brain injuries in children under the age of 15 were caused by falls. And more than 80% of traumatic brain injuries in adults aged 65 and older are caused by falls.

The second most common cause of TBIs is unintentional blunt trauma (accidentally being hit with an object). Motor vehicle accidents are the third leading cause traumatic brain injuries among all age groups. However, motor vehicle accidents are the most common cause of TBI-related deaths among people between the ages of 5 and 24.

Damage to the brain occurs when the head slams into an object, such as a car dashboard or windshield. Another mechanism which can cause brain injury is when the head is suddenly propelled forward or sideways. Oftentimes, a brain injury cannot be easily demonstrated since there is no obvious external injury. The person may appear "normal" based upon outside appearance, even if a serious brain injury has occurred. Therefore, testing by a qualified neuropsychologist may be necessary in order to prove the nature and extent of the brain injury.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of a Head Injury?

Brain injuries can occur without there being any open would or fracture to the skull. These are called "closed head injuries. Closed head injuries can range from mild to severe. Some of the most common signs and symptoms include the following:

  • Change in personality
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Dilated pupils
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Difficulty forming words
  • Difficulty moving arms and legs
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Inappropriate behavior
  • Incontinence of bowel or bladder
  • Irritability
  • Loss of coordination
  • Moodiness
  • Numbness or tingling sensation in arms or legs
  • Problems with vision
  • Seizures
  • Sleep disturbances

Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries

Brain injury is not always apparent right away. Sometimes it is a family member who notices subtle changes like memory loss, confusion, and depression that result from a mild closed head injury. The term "concussion" is sometimes used to describe a mild traumatic brain injury. The most common signs and symptoms of a concussion are headache, difficulty concentrating, blurry vision, sensitivity to light, sensitivity to noise, loss of energy, irritability, depression, difficulty falling asleep, and difficulty remembering new information. Just because a brain injury is classified as "mild" does not mean that it is not serious or debilitating. Approximately 15% of people who have a mild traumatic brain injury have symptoms that last more than a year. If you have sustained any kind of head trauma and are exhibiting any of the signs or symptoms described above, you should be seen by a physician, preferably a neurologist.

Assistive Technology for Head Injury Victims

The term "assistive technology device" means any item, piece of equipment, or product system that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities. There are both low-tech and high-tech forms of assistive technology devices. Some forms of low-tech devices are simple "home-made" items that help remind a person to complete certain tasks. This would include simple things like post-it note reminders and labels on drawers, or cabinets which describe the contents. Some individuals with brain injuries benefit from simply using diaries or calendars to record their daily activities and to remind them of certain tasks to complete. Other useful devices are hand-held voice recorders that one can use to create recorded reminders. There are many devices that make it easier for people with disabilities to access computers. There are keyboards with larger keys which can help those who have difficulty seeing the correct key or people who have coordination deficits that make it more difficult to press the correct key. For individuals who enjoy participating in sports, there are light-weight wheelchairs that are easy to maneuver.

Here are links to additional information about the latest assistive technology for people with brain injuries:

http://www.abledata.com
http://www.agrabilityproject.org
http://www.ataccess.org
http://www.ablelinktech.com

Unfortunately, many of the devices are expensive. The good news is that there are many organizations and government programs that can help with funding. The Colorado Brain Injury Program ( http://www.biacolorado.org/support/cbip) and the Colorado Kids Brain Injury Resource ( http://cokidswithbraininjury.com/parents/) are two excellent resources for individuals who need help with funding for assistive technology devices and other therapies and program. Here are some additional links that will give you more information about funding for assistive technology devices for people with brain injuries:

http://www.aapd.com
http://www.resnaprojects.org
http://www.givetech.org
http://www.share.umassd.edu

Frequently Asked Questions About Brain Injury

What is a severe brain injury? It is an injury that is the result of an insult to the brain that causes a period of unconsciousness or coma. The injury may be severe enough to cause death. If the person survives, the injuries are permanent and disabling. There are different types of severe head injuries including closed head injuries, penetrating head injuries, hypoxic (lack of oxygen) brain injuries, and toxic brain injuries.

How common are brain injuries? Much more common than most people realize. Every year, approximately 1.7 million people in the United States sustain some sort of brain injury. Most people who sustain a brain injury are treated in an emergency room and make a recovery. However, approximately 50,000 die every year from brain injuries, and approximately 125,000 people are permanently disabled each year as a result of brain injuries.

What causes brain injuries? More than one third of all brain injuries are the result of falls. Other leading causes of brain injuries are motor vehicle accidents, gunshot wounds and assaults.

How can doctors predict if someone will be able to recover from a brain injury? There are a variety of factors that doctors consider when making this prognosis. First, a "Glasgow Coma Scale" assessment is done on the person. This is a scale that takes into account the patient's ability to respond verbally, the patient's ability to obey motor commands, and the patient's ability to respond with his or her eyes. The patient is assigned a score from 3 (the worst) to 15 (the best). The lower the score, the worse the prognosis. Doctors also use CT scans, MRI scans, and electroencephalograms (EEGs) to assess the location and severity of a brain injury, and can use this information to make a prognosis. Finally, in the early stages of a head injury, doctors can take a measurement of the pressure inside the skull; if the pressure inside the skull is elevated, this typically comports with a worse prognosis.

Are certain people at an increased risk for brain injury? The majority of brain injury victims are males. Males are approximately 1.5 times more likely than females to sustain a traumatic brain injury. The two age groups that are at the highest risk of sustaining a head injury are those ages 0 to 4, followed by those ages 15 to 19.

What are the emotional and cognitive symptoms associated with brain injuries? Many people who suffer a brain injury exhibit poor judgment, lack of impulse control, irritability, depression, change in personality, and angry outbursts. In addition, most victims of brain injuries experience memory problems, difficulty with abstract thinking, loss of vocabulary, and difficulty communicating.

What is a concussion? A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that affects the way your brain functions. Inside the skull, the brain is surrounded and protected by a layer of fluid called cerebrospinal fluid. When there is a blow to the head, or when the head suddenly moves direction or decelerates, the brain can come into contact with the skull, which results in stretching and tearing of nerve fibers in the brain. Most concussions are caused by a blow to the head, such as during sports-related activities. Less commonly, concussions result from a child being shaken violently by an adult. Indeed, the word "concussion" derives from the Latin word " concutere," which means "to shake violently."

How common are concussions in children? The true incidence of concussions in the pediatric population is likely underestimated. However, there are about 150,000 ER visits each year where children are diagnosed with concussions. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, there may be as many as 3.8 million recreation and sports related concussions per year in the United States. Concussions represent about 10% of all high school sports-related injuries. For boys, football is the sport with the highest rates of concussions. For girls, soccer and basketball have the highest rates of concussions.

What should I do if someone in my family gets a concussion? If you suspect that someone in your family has sustained a concussion, the first thing to do is to see a doctor to make sure that there is a proper diagnosis. Unless you have already consulted with a doctor, you should not give your child aspirin or other drugs that can induce bleeding. If the concussion is sustained during a sports practice or game, the American Academy of Pediatrics, recommends that you remove your child from the practice or game and monitor your child closely for several hours. You should never allow your child to return to play on the same day that he or she sustains a concussion. A child who sustains a concussion should avoid activities that cause overstimulation of the brain (loud noises or bright lights). Most children recover from a concussion within 5 to 10 days. Your child should not return to sports until he or she is symptom free and has been cleared to return by a doctor.

Do helmets prevent concussions? Unfortunately, no. While helmets are pretty good at preventing skull fractures, they are not very effective at preventing concussions. According to a study presented at the 2014 annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology, football helmets do little to protect against concussions. The study tested ten popular football helmets by subjecting dummies to 12 m.p.h. impacts. The study found that football helmets only reduced the risk of traumatic brain injury by 20% when compared with not wearing a helmet.

Brain Injury Lawyer who is a Medical Doctor

Dennis Mahoney, M.D., is not only an experienced Colorado personal injury attorney, he is also a licensed medical doctor. He has handled brain injury cases for four decades. Dr. Mahoney understands serious brain injuries and can explain the science and medicine to the jury. Our attorneys are skilled at cross-examining the doctors who are hired by insurance companies and who will try to minimize the extent of your brain injury. Our attorneys also have established relationships with top notch medical experts who can analyze your case and provide testimony regarding serious brain injuries.

Brain Injury Lawyer Provides Personal Attention to Your Case

Your case will get the attention it deserves. We do not take dozens of cases like other personal injury law firms. Nor do we advertise on television or the radio. We believe that the best results are achieved by only accepting a limited number of cases and giving those cases the attention that is warranted. When you call us, your call will be returned by an attorney, not a paralegal or a secretary. Once your case is filed, all of the attorneys in our firm will be intimately familiar with the status of your case, and we will keep you informed about what is going on. You will not get lost in the shuffle.

Brain Injury Lawyer Does Work on a Contingency Fee Basis

You do not have to pay The Mahoney Law Firm, P.C. unless we obtain a settlement or judgment on your behalf. We do not bill you by the hour. You do not pay any attorney's fees unless and until a recovery is made on your behalf. Contact us for a free consultation.