Every day in the U.S., 153 individuals pass away from injuries that include a traumatic brain injury (TBI), according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (TBI). Hundreds, if not thousands, of more individuals suffer TBIs each day that lead to short- and long-term side effects. In fact, the CDC reported TBI was a diagnosis in 2.5 million emergency department visits in 2013.
If you were recently diagnosed with a TBI after an accident, which was the result of another person’s negligence, you may have the right to file a personal injury claim and pursue compensation. After an accident, whether it was a slip and fall or car crash, you should contact a Wisconsin brain injury lawyer at Studinski Law, LLC. One of our highly experienced lawyers will investigate your situation, explain your legal rights and options, and guide you through the process of seeking compensation for your injuries. We understand how to document the injury’s impact on your life and, if necessary, we will hire the expert witnesses we need to prove the profound effect of a brain injury in court.
What is a TBI?
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a TBI is an acquired brain injury that occurs when a sudden trauma causes damage to the brain. The CDC defines a TBI as a disruption in the normal function of your brain. Whatever an organization’s specific definition, it is clear that a TBI is a physical injury to your brain tissue, just like a broken arm is a physical fracture to a bone. It needs to be diagnosed and treated to reduce the risk of long-term complications.
TBIs occur along a spectrum, ranging from minor to severe. The more minor a TBI, the more likely you are to fully recover and not experience long-term complications or side effects. The more severe the TBI, the greater the likelihood that you suffer long-term effects, permanent limitations, or death. The more severe a TBI, the less likely you are to return to your full physical and cognitive abilities without any side effects.
If you suffered a TBI in an accident, it is important to work with a Wisconsin brain injury attorney as soon as possible. If you work with serious injury attorney who lacks experienced with TBI claims, you may not obtain all of the compensation you are entitled to under the law.
Common Causes of TBIs
You can suffer a TBI in any situation involved a blow to the head. However, the most common causes of TBIs include:
- Slip and fall accidents
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Being struck by a falling object
- Explosive blasts
At Studinski Law, LLC, we have handled a wide range of TBI cases, many of which arise from a slip and fall accident or car crash. If you were injured in any type of accident, which you believe was another person’s fault, do not hesitate to call us to speak with our Wisconsin brain injury lawyers. We can offer you the knowledge and advise you need to maximize your personal injury compensation.
The severity of a TBI can be determined in a number of ways, including by the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS), which looks at visual, verbal, and motor responses. According to the Shepherd Center, a not-for-profit hospital specializing in brain and spinal cord injuries, to determine your points on the GCS, a physician will measure:
- Visual Response: (1) None, (2) to pain, (3) to speech, or (4) spontaneous
- Verbal Response: (1) None, (2) incomprehensible, (3) inappropriate words, (4) confused, or (5) oriented
- Motor Response: (1) None, (2) extends to pain, (3) flexes to pain, (4) withdrawal to pain, (5) localizes to pain, (6) obeys commands
- Duration of Loss of Conscious: Less than 30 minutes, more than 30 minutes and less than 24 hours, or more than 24 hours
For your visual, verbal, and motor responses, physicians add up the corresponding values. For example, if you displayed spontaneous visual responses, you were oriented in your verbal responses, and you could obey motor commands, your score would be 15 points. This is a minor TBI. However, if you visually responded to pain, your verbal responses were incomprehensible, and you flexed to pain, your score would be 7 points, which is a severe TBI.
Minor TBI (Concussion)
A minor TBI, also known as a concussion or mild TBI, is designated by a loss of consciousness for less than 30 minutes and GCS 13-15 points. Common signs of minor or mild TBIs include:
- Sensitivity to light
- Dizziness and/or balance problems
- Confusion and mental fog
- Mood swings
The signs of a mild TBI vary drastically from person to person, which is why it can be difficult to diagnose. The recovery time also depends on the individual.
You suffered a moderate TBI if you lost consciousness between 30 minutes and 24 hours and GCS 9-12 points. The symptoms of a moderate TBI include all of those associated with mild TBIs as well as:
- Strong recurring headaches
- Memory loss/amnesia
- Fluid draining from the nose and ears
- Dialed pupils
- Slurring of speech
The symptoms of a moderate TBI may be more severe and last longer than for a minor TBI. Recovering from a moderate TBI may take months, during which your normal activities can be difficult. The effects of a moderate TBI can impact your education, career, hobbies, and intimacy with your significant other.
A severe TBI is determined by a loss of consciousness greater than 24 hours and GCS 8 or fewer points. In addition to the symptoms for mild and moderate TBIs, you may also experience:
- Blurred vision in one or both eyes
- Mild vision problems
- Changes in sensory perception
- Difficulty coordinating balance
- Motor impairment
- Trouble speaking and swallowing
- Trouble forming sentences
- Difficulty communicating
- Difficulty with reason and logic
- Poor concentration
- Limited attention span
- Forgetting things
- Behaving inappropriately
- Sleep disturbances
- Lack of bowel or bladder control
- Changes in sexual function
Problems with Traditional Diagnostic Methods
More moderate and severe TBIs are sometimes easier to diagnose, though they are not always obvious. Diagnosing a mild-to-moderate TBI can be tricky, particularly when you do not exhibit common symptoms, or the signs are covered up by other injuries. At Studinski Law, LLC, it is our experienced that many motor vehicle accidents cause brain injuries, and our clients are not always properly diagnosed or treated after visiting an emergency room (ER).
Many regional trauma centers do not have the equipment or specialists on site to correctly determine if you have a concussion or more serious TBI. Physicians may use a CT Scan or MRI to look for brain injuries. These scans can show when there is bleeding in the brain, blood clots, brain tissue swelling, and bruised brain tissue. However, disturbances in the white and gray matter of your brain may not show up on CTs and MRIs, or they may be not clear enough for an ER physician to diagnose you with a brain injury. Following a car accident or other type of serious injury, it is best to see a specialist who can utilize Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI), also called Diffusion Tensor Magnetic Resonance Imaging (DT-MRI), to determine if you are suffering from a TBI.
A DTI isolates the movement of water within the brain, which enables physicians to see the areas that are not functioning the way they should. Studies have shown that a DTI can find injuries that occurred up to one year before the imaging. If you did not have a DTI performed immediately following your accident, it is not necessarily too late. If it has only been a few weeks or months, speak with your physicians about having a specialist perform and review the results of a DTI. You may find you suffered a brain injury in the accident, or you may find the brain injury is more serious than physicians first realized.
Treating a TBI
It is essential that you are properly diagnosed if you have a TBI so that you can receive proper treatment and recover as quickly and as much of your capabilities as possible. Treatment is based on the severity of your injury.
For a concussion, there is little to do but treat your symptoms and rest. After a minor TBI, you should not return to your cognitive and physical activities until your physician gives the OK. You may require days or weeks of rest, and then you can slowly become more mentally and physically active. However, you should be monitored very closely in the weeks and months following your accident. A mild TBI can worsen overtime. If your symptoms become more severe or persistent, then you need to receive additional medical care as soon as possible.
For more severe TBIs, you may require greater pain management, medications, such as anti-seizure drugs, surgical interventional, and rehabilitation. Surgery may be necessary if you have a skull fracture, blood clot in the brain, or bleeding in the brain. If there is swelling, you may need surgery to open a window to the brain, which allows accumulated fluid to drain and gives a place for the tissue to go.
The more significant the TBI you suffered, the more likely you will need rehabilitation, such as a physical therapist, a speech and language pathologist, and an occupational therapist. Depending on your needs, you may work with a vocational therapist or recreational therapist.
Long-Term Consequences of a TBI
The Mayo Clinic states that research suggests multiple or severe TBIs increase your risk of a degenerative brain disease, which includes:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Dementia Pugilistica
Researchers have not yet found a way to predict whether you are at a higher risk for a degenerative brain disease because of one or multiple TBIs. However, your best chance of reducing you risk of such a complication is to have your TBI diagnosed and appropriate treated as soon as possible. Also, if you appear that you are at risk for such a severe complication down the road, then you need to speak with a highly experienced TBI lawyer. Your higher risk of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson, and dementia may increase the value of your personal injury claim.
Calculating the Cost of a TBI During a Personal Injury Claim
To maximize your potential compensation during your personal injury claim, you need to work with experienced Wisconsin brain injury attorneys to properly value your TBI. To determine the true cost and financial value of your TBI injury, we will work with you and your health care professionals to fully document the impact the injury has had on your life, including in your ability to go to school or work, exercise, participate in your favorite hobbies like playing sports, playing music instruments or reading, assist your family around the house, and be intimate with your partner. We will document whether you have experienced changes in your typical personality and mood, such as if you now suffer from depression or anxiety.
We will document all of the medical and daily care you need to recover from the TBI to the greatest extent possible. You may need a daily nurse to help you through normal daily tasks, such as bathing, clothing yourself, and eating. You may need multiple rehabilitation specialists to regain your physical capabilities like walking, feeding yourself, and talking. You may have rehab specialists to help you relearn how to perform daily tasks. Throughout all of this, you may also be using medication and other medical treatments to manage your pain and other symptoms.
We will also gather evidence regarding the risks you now face after suffering a TBI, particularly if it was a severe injury or you have had one or more TBIs in the past. If you are now at risk for a degenerative brain disease, your claim for compensation should take this into consideration.
Contact a Wisconsin Brain Injury Lawyer Today
If you suffered a TBI in an accident, or your loved one passed away after suffering a severe TBI and other injuries, contact our TBI lawyers at Studinski Law, LLC. We have officers in Plover and Marshfield, Wisconsin, though we are honored to represent individuals and families throughout the state. We also serve Steven’s Point, Wisconsin Rapids, Waupaca, and other nearby cities. We understand how devastating a TBI can be for you and your family, which is why we are committed to providing you with compassionate and thorough legal representation.