New York Brain Injury Lawyer
Brain damage is a condition that causes the destruction or deterioration of brain cells. Often, brain damage is caused by some type of trauma or injury to the brain. Brain damage also occurs when oxygen supply to the brain is cut off. Most types of brain damage are irreversible. This means that the individual who suffers the brain damage may become disabled or lose some of his or her physical and mental abilities permanently.
Brain damage can have a devastating effect on not just the victims, but also their families. When an individual suffers a brain injury, family members are suddenly faced with significant financial expenses for its treatment as well as patient care. They may have to take time off work to care for the loved one who is injured. Rehabilitation and nursing care costs can add up very quickly. The cost of treating a brain injury and living with a brain injury may add up to millions of dollars over a person’s lifetime. When a traumatic brain injury or brain damage is caused by the negligence or wrongdoing of another, it is important for victims and their families to seek knowledgeable legal counsel and get a good understanding of their legal rights and options.
Types of Brain Damage
Although all head injuries do not necessarily affect the brain, all traumatic brain injuries are head injuries. There are two main types of brain injuries: traumatic brain injury and acquired brain injury. Both types of brain injuries can severely disrupt normal brain functioning. While an external force such as a blow to the head causes traumatic brain injuries, an acquired brain injury occurs at the cellular level and is most often associated with pressure on the brain. Brain damage may also occur as the result of congenital defects.
The severity of brain damage depends on the type of brain injury and the location of the injury. Some injuries cause localized brain damage. An example of this type of damage is when a bullet enters the brain. The damage is limited to a small area. Closed head injuries often cause diffused brain damage, which means many areas of the brain are damaged. A mild brain injury may be temporary and have symptoms such as headaches, confusion, dizziness and nausea.
In a moderate brain injury, the symptoms may be more pronounced. Whether it is a minor or moderate brain injury, patients have a good chance of recovery although problems may persist for a year or more. However, with a severe brain injury, the person may suffer life-changing and debilitating effects. The patient may be left with cognitive, behavioral and physical disabilities. Some may be reduced to a vegetative state where they may remain dependent on the care of others for the rest of their lives.
What Causes Brain Damage?
The degree of the brain damage can depend on several factors including the nature of the traumatic event and the force of impact. The brain injury may cause damage to the brain cells limited to the area directly below the point of impact. A severe blow or jolt, for example, may cause multiple points of damage as the result of the brain moving back and forth in the skull. A severe rotational jolt can cause the cellular structures in the brain to tear or disintegrate. The blast resulting from an explosion may cause damage in several areas of the brain. A penetrating injury may cause severe, irreversible damage to brain cells, blood vessels and protective tissues around the brain. Bleeding in and around the brain, swelling and blood clots can disrupt oxygen supply to the brain and cause irreparable damage as well.
Common incidents and circumstances that lead to brain damage include, but are not limited to:
- Slip-and-Fall or Trip-and-Fall: Slip-and-fall accidents, falling down stairways, and other types of falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injury overall. When an individual hits his or her head while falling down, serious brain damage may occur.
- Auto Accidents: Collisions involving cars, motorcycles, bicycles, buses, trucks and pedestrians tend to result in brain injuries. Car accidents may lead to catastrophic brain injury because of the violence and high impact of these collisions.
- Construction accidents: Falls are one of the most common causes of fatal and catastrophic injuries on construction sites. Falls from roofs, ladders and higher levels almost always result in serious head injuries including brain damage.
- Acts of Violence: Acts of violence such as gunshot wounds, domestic violence or child abuse is said to cause about 20 percent of brain injuries in the United States. Shaken baby syndrome stems from the violent shaking of an infant, which damages brain cells.
- Explosions: Explosive blasts are also a factor in traumatic brain injury, which we often see in active-duty military personnel. In New York City, gas or fire-related explosions can also cause brain injuries.
- Birth Injuries: Brain damage is one of the most serious health problems caused by birth injuries during labor or childbirth. Brain damage during birth is often caused by a condition called hypoxia, when oxygen to the infant’s brain is cut off. Such brain damage has a lifelong impact on affected babies and their families.
- Medical negligence: Carelessness or negligence on the part of a medical professional such as a surgeon, nurse, anesthesiologist or member of the hospital staff may bring about conditions leading to irreversible brain damage.
- Lead poisoning: Exposure to lead paint, lead dust or products such as toys containing high lead levels may lead to severe and irreversible brain damage. Children are particularly at risk.
The Cost of Treating Brain Damage
After a brain injury, patients may need a surgery or several surgeries depending on the nature and severity of the damage. Many patients require lengthy periods of hospitalization before they are transferred to rehabilitation centers. Rehabilitation is an extremely crucial part of the recovery process for brain injury victims because it is during this time that they will learn to manage and cope with their situation. Within the first few months of rehabilitation, victims may regain some of the physical and mental abilities that were temporarily lost.
Patients may have to relearn very basic skills such as talking, walking, feeding or dressing themselves. In addition to physical therapy, patients may receive occupational therapy and other forms of rehabilitation to help them adapt to their lifelong disabilities. Some may also need speech therapy to relearn how to communicate. There are a number of transitional and assisted living facilities that help victims recover and prepare for their lives ahead.
These treatments and services, of course, come at a steep cost. The recovery process is often lengthy for brain injury victims and many of them lose insurance coverage either because they are unable to return to work or because they no longer have the financial resources.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), direct medical costs and indirect costs such as lost productivity caused by brain injuries totaled about $60 billion in the United States in 2000. Recent studies show that about 40 percent of those hospitalized with a brain injury had at least one unmet need for services one year after their injury. The most frequent unmet needs were:
- Improving memory issues and problem solving
- Managing stress and emotional upsets
- Getting behavioral issues under control
- Improving one’s job skills
The CDC states that acute care and rehabilitation of brain injury patients in the United States costs about $9 billion to $10 billion per year. This does not include indirect costs to society as well as to families or lost income, work time and productivity and costs relating to providing social services. The costs of a brain injury vary depending on the extent of the injury and its specific long-term effects. According to estimates, the cost of caring for a survivor of a severe traumatic brain injury is between $600,000 and $1,875,000 over a lifetime.
Damages in Brain Injury Cases
Victims of brain injuries or brain damage may be able to seek compensation for their losses from one or more parties that was or were responsible for their injuries. If you wish to file a personal injury claim seeking damages, it is important to understand the legal basis of the case because it will dictate the elements you will have to prove in order to be successful with your claim.
A majority of brain injury lawsuits are based on the legal theory of negligence. A negligence claim requires the plaintiff to prove that the party he or she is suing is liable or at-fault for the injuries and damages caused. The plaintiff must prove that the law required the defendant to be reasonably careful or that the defendant owed a “duty of care” to the plaintiff. The plaintiff must be able to show that the defendant failed to exercise reasonable care with the plaintiff. The plaintiff must also prove that he or she suffered injuries and losses and that the defendant’s negligent actions caused those injuries and resulting damages.
For example, if a distracted truck driver caused the plaintiff’s brain injury, the driver and his or her employer can be held liable for the damages. If a doctor was negligent or made a mistake during the labor and delivery process that led to the infant’s brain damage, then the doctor and possibly the hospital may be held accountable. If a property owner allowed a dangerous or defective condition to exist such as not providing window guards or having peeling lead paint on the premises, then such a negligent property owner may be held liable for the injuries and damages caused.
Proving that a brain injury or brain damage occurred and linking such damage to the defendant’s conduct can be challenging in a personal injury lawsuit. Brain injuries are often more complicated and more challenging to detect than other types of injuries. So, it is critical that you gather as much evidence as possible. It is also important to have medical and other experts who can testify that the injury was caused by the defendant’s reckless actions, if that were the case.
Some of the damages that can be claimed in brain injury cases include, but are not limited to:
- Medical expenses
- Hospitalization costs
- Surgery expenses
- Cost of medication and medical devices
- Rehabilitation costs
- Continuing treatment expenses
- Nursing care expenses
- Loss of income and benefits
- Loss of livelihood
- Loss of life’s enjoyment
- Lost future income
- Permanent injuries and disabilities
- Past and future pain and suffering, etc.
Brain Injury Case Results
The brain injury clients of the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm have obtained a number of favorable verdicts and settlements. Here is just a sampling:
- $43,940,000 for a child who suffered brain damage during birth. The hospital failed to diagnose fetal distress, which led to the baby’s permanent injuries including brain damage and cerebral palsy from lack of oxygen to the brain. Our firm worked with another law firm on this case. This verdict was so large that it was reduced to $7,000,000 on appeal.
- $23,500,000 for a child who suffered brain damage because doctors departed from proper medical procedures in allowing a resident to handle the birth of the child. Doctors also failed to inform the infant’s mother of a urinary tract infection they had tested her for weeks earlier. The resident applied too much pressure on the infant’s head causing trauma to the head and bleeding in the brain. This verdict was so huge that it was reduced to $5,400,000 on appeal.
- $5,600,000 settlement for a bicyclist who suffered catastrophic brain damage after being struck by a vehicle.
- $2,550,000 for a passenger in a motor vehicle accident who was brain damaged.
- $1,162,500 settlement for a child who suffered lead poisoning from paint in her apartment.
- $800,000 settlement for a pedestrian who suffered brain damage after being hit by car.
New York City Brain Injury Lawyers
If you or a loved one has suffered brain injury or brain damage, the experienced New York personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your legal rights and options. Please contact us TOLL FREE 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-WORK-4-YOU (1-800-967-5496). WE CAN EVEN COME TO YOU. There is no attorneys’ fee unless we recover money for you. We can also help with personal injury cases in New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, or Florida. If you have been seriously injured in any of the 50 U.S. states, please call us and we will try to help you with your case.
Other TOLL FREE phone numbers for us are:
1-800-RADIO-LAW, 1-888-WYPADEK, OR 1-800-LAS-LEYES
Please visit us at: www.WORK4YOULAW.com
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