If you or a loved one have been in an accident resulting in damage to the brain, you need an experienced San Diego brain injury attorney on your side. Attorney Richard Morse and his team have over 20 years of combined experience helping with traumatic brain injury (TBI) cases. We offer a free consultation and only get paid if you win.
Importance of a Personal Injury Attorney
Brain injury cases can be complex for several reasons. First, you must establish that the defendant was the cause of the injury to the brain. After an accident, either the initial cause of injury or the subsequent medical treatment could have led to brain damage. When necessary, your San Diego attorney will work hand-in-hand with medical experts to fully demonstrate the link between the negligence of a person or entity and your brain injuries.
Second, we must be able to show the jury or insurance company the full extent of damage to maximize the claim. For these reasons, having an experienced accident attorney greatly increases your chances of success.
After an accident, you may be contacted by the at-fault party’s insurance company to settle the matter. Unfortunately, insurance companies often make unreasonably low offers. To protect yourself, you need an experienced attorney negotiating on your behalf.
The only way to negotiate a fair settlement is by fully understanding the extent of the injuries and the cost associated with treatment. We have over 35 years of combined experience successfully investigating and negotiating for our clients. Let us review your case before you accept a settlement to ensure your rights are protected.
How Long Do You Have To File a Personal Injury Claim?
Under California Code of Civil Procedure § 335.1, you have two years to bring a personal injury claim. However, if your brain injury was the result of medical malpractice, then you have more time. Under California Code of Civil Procedure § 340.5, you have three years from the date of the incident or one year from the time you discover, or should have reasonably discovered, the injury.
Brain Injury Overview
Traumatic brain injuries are the most life-altering and life-threatening of all injuries a victim can sustain in an accident. Even the most minor brain injury can leave a person dealing with personality changes as well as constant pain. According to the Center for Disease Control, over 1.7 million Americans will suffer some level of head or brain trauma injury this year alone. Further brain injury statistics show that:
- Of the 1.7 million brain injuries, over 52,000 will not survive the trauma.
- As many as 130,000 will never regain their prior cognitive or physical functions, forced to live their lives permanently disabled.
- Traumatic brain injury is a contributing factor to nearly a third of all injury-related deaths in the U.S.
- Children between the ages of 0 and 4, adolescents between the ages of 15 and 19 and adults over the age of 65 are the most likely to sustain a traumatic brain injury.
The Financial Devastation Caused by Brain Injuries
Even the mildest brain injury can rack up medical expenses as high as $85,000. A moderately severe brain injury can result in medical expenses close to a million dollars, while a severe brain injury can cost more than $3 million.
About two-thirds of those costs are attributed to hospitalization and surgery, while the other third will be spent on rehabilitation and acute care. It is easy to see that a brain injury affects not only the person with the injury, but families as well. Insurance may be exhausted early on, leaving the family responsible for these astronomical expenses.
Insurance settlements are intended to compensate victims and their families in order to help them move forward from this type of injury, but the reality is that insurance companies work aggressively to limit the amount that they ultimately pay in a settlement agreement. This is where a personal injury attorney comes in handy: to help you fight back against the insurance companies and defendant’s lawyers, and get you the money you deserve.
Most Common Causes of Brain Injuries
Brain injuries are commonly caused by car accidents, a fall, assault, explosions, sports injury, or through medical malpractice.
- Car Accidents – Brain injuries from accidents are often from automobile accidents, and, in fact, nearly 20% of all brain injuries are the result of a car or truck accident. This number includes pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists who are struck by a motor vehicle.
- Falls – Slip and fall accidents account for the majority of brain injuries—over 35%. Children and the elderly are the most likely victims of brain injuries from falls, as they may fall out of bed, slip in the bathtub or shower, fall down the stairs, or, in the case of children, suffer a fall while playing.
- Assaults and Violence – Some 10-15% of all brain injuries are the result of assaults or violent incidents such as gunshot wounds, child abuse or domestic violence.
- Explosions or Sports Injuries– The remainder of brain injuries in the accident category are caused by explosions such as those experienced by military personnel, sports injuries, and injuries resulting from a construction accident or defective product accident. Traumatic brain injuries from sports are most common among boxers and football players as well as those who snow ski, skateboard or play soccer, baseball or hockey.
- Medical Malpractice – Brain injury caused by medical malpractice can occur when the accepted standards of medical practice are not followed. One of the most common types of brain injury related to medical malpractice is a birth injury, in which the baby is deprived of oxygen to the brain—known as hypoxia. The improper use of anesthesia, an undiagnosed brain tumor, brain surgery gone wrong, surgical infection of the brain, or over-medication can all fall under brain injury caused by medical malpractice
The Different Types of Brain Injuries
The brain is enclosed within hard skull bones, which generally offers protection to the soft brain inside. However, when the brain comes into violent contact with a hard object, it can be seriously damaged. In general, there are three different types of brain injuries:
- Closed Brain Injury – A closed brain injury is caused by movement of the brain within the skull. This is often the result of a fall, a sports injury, an auto accident or an altercation in which the person is struck in the head with a blunt object. A baby who is severely shaken can also suffer a closed brain injury.
- Acquired Brain Injury – An acquired brain injury is any type of damage to the brain not caused by external physical trauma. An acquired brain injury can occur after during birth or it can be the result of a stroke, intracranial surgery, lack of oxygen to the brain from a near drowning, a drug overdose or cardiac arrest, an infection in the brain, a brain tumor, or toxic exposure, such as carbon monoxide poisoning, the inhalation of toxic chemicals or the excessive and prolonged use of drugs and/or alcohol.
- Penetrating Brain Injury – A penetrating brain injury results whenever the brain itself is injured directly by penetration. It can result from such things as a gunshot wound or being struck with a sharp object.
- Concussions – Concussions can be caused by such things as a whiplash injury, anything which violently shakes the head or a direct blow to the head or a gunshot wound. A concussion can result from either a closed or open head wound. When a concussion occurs, the brain may actually “stretch,” damaging the cranial nerves. A person who suffers a concussion may or may not lose consciousness, and the concussion may or may not show up on a CAT scan. It can take months, or even years, for a concussion to fully heal.
Symptoms of a Traumatic Brain Injury
According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms associated with a mild traumatic brain injury, such as a concussion, include:
- Seeping more than usual
- Nausea & vomiting
- Loss of balance
- Blurred vision
- Memory or concentration problems
- Alterations in vision and hearing
- Sensitivity to light and sound
- Depression, anxiety and mood changes
- There may or may not be a loss of consciousness from a few seconds to a few minutes
Moderate to severe traumatic brain injury can include any of the above symptoms, as well as:
- Clear fluids draining from the nose or ears
- Inability to awaken from sleep
- Repeated vomiting or nausea
- Persistent headache or worsening headache
- Loss of consciousness from several minutes to hours
- Weakness or numbness in the fingers and toes
- Profound confusion
- Slurred speech
- Agitation or combative behavior
Unfortunately, brain injuries are not always immediately apparent after an accident. If your accident involved trauma to the head, call us to discuss your injuries and find out how we can help.
Brain Injury Consequences
The brain is made up of the frontal lobe, parietal lobe, occipital lobe, cerebellum and brain stem, and each of these have a specific function. Depending on which lobe of the brain is most affected by the brain trauma, one or more of the following functions may suffer serious changes:
- The ability to understand language can be altered;
- The ability to communicate can be hindered;
- The level of motor skills can change;
- Visual perception can be lessened;
- Inhibition of behaviors can result;
- Problem-solving ability can be impeded;
- The ability to plan may be lost;
- The ability to anticipate can decrease;
- Touch, taste and smell can be dramatically altered;
- Memory, thinking and reasoning can change significantly, and
- Spatial perception can be affected.
Brain trauma, even in minor forms, can result in loss of memory, depression, irritability and the inability to concentrate. A person with a traumatic brain injury may become confused easily, may get lost in familiar areas, may be easily distracted and may have an increased sensitivity to normal lights and sounds.
The brain injury victim may be sad or angry much of the time, or may experience hesitation in the ability to think, speak, read or react.
Frequently Asked Questions About Brain Injury Law
What is the best path forward for seeking compensation after a brain injury accident?
There are many different questions that we will need to answer before we are able to identify the appropriate path forward towards compensation for this catastrophic injury. We will need to consider all of the details of the accident, including who caused it, why it happened, and much more. Additionally, we will need to understand whether or not going through an insurance company is a prudent decision, how aggressively we will negotiate with the insurance company, and whether or not we will push to go to trial. Fewer than 5% of personal injury cases ever actually make it to trial, so whatever our approach is, it will be to get you the most amount of money possible with as little legal issues as possible.
Contact us now so that we can begin to make sense of your options and how we can help you seek the compensation that you rightfully deserve. Personal injury law in California can be complicated, which is overwhelming for the inexperienced but also creates many pathways towards success with the help of an attorney.
How much is my case worth?
There are many different impacts that an injury has on your life, and not all of them have readily-measurable dollar values associated with them. These are known as non-economic damages, and while they are harder to calculate than the economic damages such as medical bills and lost wages, they are equally important and they play a significant role in determining the value of your injuries.
As your brain injury attorneys, we will work aggressively to ensure that we have considered all impacts to your life, economic and non-economic, in order to fight for the money that you rightfully deserve. In order to do this, we will need to begin working together as soon as possible, and immediately set out to understand each impact, no matter how minor or major, that this injury has had on your life, and set out to calculate a value that we will use to negotiate a settlement with.
Should I sign anything with an insurance company?
Whether or not you ultimately reach a deal with the insurance company and decide to settle before trial, it is absolutely imperative that you do not sign anything without the guidance and advice of an experienced personal injury attorney. When you settle with the insurance company and sign a waiver, you are agreeing to give up all future abilities to seek compensation for anything relating to this accident, whether or not any new information or issues arise. This certainly makes sense if you are compensated a fair amount, but can be a terrible limitation on your life if signed too soon, or in exchange for too small of a settlement.
We will help you understand any and all documents that the insurance company requests of you, including waivers but additionally including things like testimonies, statements, and more. Every piece of information that you provide an insurance company will be picked apart and examined from all angles, so that the insurance company can use it to leverage a lower settlement offer. We will help you counteract their motives.
How a San Diego Brain Injury Attorney Can Help
Your San Diego attorney will understand that brain injuries affect not only the victim of the accident or incidence of malpractice, but their family as well. The medical expenses related to a brain injury can be devastating, particularly when long-term medical care and rehabilitation are a part of the brain injury victim’s daily life.
If you or a loved one has suffered a brain injury as a result of the negligence of another, you may have legal recourse. You need a legal professional who will take a comprehensive look at the circumstances surrounding your brain injury and determine the best way to proceed.
Why Hire a San Diego Brain Injury Attorney?
Brain injuries affect the quality of life as well as financial stability. Because of this, you need a San Diego brain injury attorney who will fight aggressively to recover compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. As you can see from the information provided above, working with an insurance company can be a complicated and tense process that is designed to limit the amount of money that any one victim gets in a claim. This is no different in your own case, and while you are trying to focus on getting your life back on track, you should be able to trust in your lawyer to take the right steps towards a positive outcome for your case.
Trying to take all of your legal issues on by yourself can be a lonely and overwhelming process, which is why the support of an experienced attorney can be invaluable.