Seattle Traumatic Brain Injury Lawyers
Traumatic or Catastrophic Brain Injury
When referring to severe brain injuries, the terms traumatic and catastrophic can be used interchangeably, although they’re commonly called traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs.
A TBI is an injury that occurs after the head has received trauma sufficient enough to damage the brain and interrupt its normal processes. They can be difficult to detect and diagnose at first, but the effects of a TBI can often be felt by the victims for the rest of their lives.
A successful personal injury claim can get you coverage for therapy fees, lost wages, medical bills, physical pain, mental anguish and more.
What Happens When the Brain Is Damaged?
The brain is a collection of tissue, neurons, and axons. Neurons are responsible for processing and transmitting information while axons conduct electrical impulses which contain the information to other neurons, muscles, and glands. They are both essential not only to our vital functions, but also our very beings - our behaviors, moods, and personalities.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) involves axonal damage, whether through shearing or tearing. Think of an axon as a kind of passageway for information. When an axon is torn, information is essentially blocked up, limiting capacity for communication. When an axon is stretched or sheared, information takes longer to reach its destination, slowing down the processing of thoughts and other impulses.
In summary, when the victim of any accident suffers a TBI, his or her internal information network is comprised. This could have disastrous effects as it could result in signals from the brain not reaching the arms, legs, or other areas of the body.
Types of TBIs
Unfortunately, many types of accidents can cause traumatic brain injuries. TBIs range from severe to mild, but a “mild” classification does not mean that the injury is not serious, or a person is unable to claim compensation for it. Traumatic brain injuries include:
- Concussions. Concussions are often considered "mild" traumatic brain injuries, and people sometimes don’t even realize they have suffered an injury. Symptoms may be noticed immediately after a concussion, or days or weeks later. They include: headaches, changes in smell or vision, dizziness, sudden or unpredictable irritability, sudden mood changes, sensitivity to light, confusion, and difficulties with memory.
- Contusions. Contusions are when a bruise forms somewhere in the brain, or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts or becomes damaged. Contusions can happen anywhere in the body; but of course, because the brain is responsible for all bodily functions, contusions are much more serious when they appear here, classified as severe TBIs. These injuries are most common after serious car accidents.
- Open head injuries. These injuries are a result of an object hitting a person’s head and breaking through the skull. (They are sometimes also called penetrating head injuries.) In the worst cases, the object can go fully through the skull and penetrate the person’s brain. These injuries can bring immediate symptoms, such as an inability to function, or rendering the person immobile.
- Closed head injuries. When an object strikes the head but it does not break the skull or penetrate the brain. Although these injuries may not have the serious external bleeding that accompanies open head injuries, they can still be deadly. Internal bleeding is a huge risk, and closed head trauma can also cause other injuries, such as contusions.
- Anoxic brain injury. An anoxic brain injury means that the brain has been deprived of oxygen for an extended period of time. If brain cells don’t get the oxygen they desperately need, they will begin to die after four minutes. Car accidents can result in an anoxic brain injury, as can near-drowning, as can birth injuries when the infant is not delivered quickly enough or when the umbilical cord becomes knotted.
- Coma. A coma is a condition in which a person remains in a state of unconsciousness for a long period of time. Individuals in a coma are still breathing, even though it may be with the help of a ventilator, and are still alive. They will look as though they are in a deep sleep for the duration of the coma. It is still unknown if people can hear or sense things while in a coma, but doctors often encourage family members to speak to them. People in a coma will remain unresponsive to any type of stimulation. Comas can either be temporary or permanent. At times, especially when the brain has been severely injured, doctors may induce a coma in a patient in order to provide treatment or give the body the time it needs to rest and recover.
Causes of TBIs
Car accidents and motorcycle accidents are the main causes of TBIs year after year. Motorcyclists in particular are at risk for TBIs if they’re involved in accidents because they don’t have the protection (such as airbags and a large steel frame) that other drivers do.
Other common causes of TBIs are:
- Construction accidents
- Sports-related accidents
- Medical mistakes
- Birth injuries
- Falling objects
- Diving and swimming accidents
- Workplace accidents
Symptoms of TBIs
While symptoms may not be present at first, they can start to appear weeks, and sometimes even months, after the accident. The most common symptoms associated with TBIs are:
- Regularly occurring migraines or headaches
- Nausea, with or without vomiting
- Lack of concentration
- Lack of coordination
- Lack of balance
- Delayed or slow reflexes
- Trouble sleeping
- Loss of consciousness
- Coma, especially in car-accident cases
Other symptoms may not be physical but could include personality and behavioral changes. Some of these symptoms to watch out for are:
- Uncomfortable in certain social situations
- Suddenly withdrawn
- Constantly stressed or anxious
- Lack of motivation
- Mood swings
Because symptoms are not always present right away at the time of injury, it’s important to seek medical treatment any time a head injury is experienced. It will not only allow a medical professional to assess the injury and treat it if necessary, but it can also help document details that may turn out to be important further down the road.
TBIs are some of the most severe injuries a person can suffer in his or her lifetime, and they are often irreversible. Not only is it very painful and difficult during the time of recovery, but accident victims often cannot work ever again, and have increasing costs for rehabilitative therapy and ongoing care.
TBIs can also have complicated effects on the person who has been injured and his family, especially if he had family members dependent on him. If the accident was due to the negligence of another person, there may be compensation available to help with those costs.
Take Prompt Action in Washington After a Motorcycle Brain Injury
A statute of limitations is the time within which a lawsuit must be filed for compensation for injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident. In Washington, the statute of limitations for a brain injury is two years from the date of the crash. If the lawsuit is not filed within those two years, you lose the right to seek any compensation for the negligence that injured you or your loved one.
Victims of accidents resulting in traumatic or catastrophic brain injuries should only have to worry about focusing on their recovery. Financial compensation could be part of that recovery, and your best chance of getting it is to contact an experienced and qualified Seattle catastrophic injury lawyer at Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. Call us right now at (888) 228-3860 so we can start reviewing your case today.
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