Hildebrand & Wilson, LLP
Personal Injury Claims – Brain Injury Settlement Factors
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a leading cause of permanent disability and death. Every year, personal injury attorneys represent many people with brain injuries, helping them to obtain a fair case settlement based on their specific circumstances. These cases are especially challenging for injury attorneys, since TBI may not be initially apparent or can worsen over time.
Whenever there are unique circumstances regarding any pending claim for brain trauma, it is essential to work with experienced injury claim attorneys who have represented clients diagnosed with TBI and know how to handle such legal cases.
Understanding Traumatic Brain Injury
Nearly two million people are treated every year for some form of traumatic brain injury.1 It is estimated that as many as 2.4 million people experience some kind of TBI each year, including those who do not seek treatment.2 These injuries are classified as either open or closed-head injuries. Closed-head injuries are the most prevalent type and are graded as mild, moderate, or severe. They include any type of trauma to the brain that causes concussion and/or unconsciousness, affects motor function and cognitive ability, or changes a person's mental/emotional state.
Unfortunately, making accurate trauma classifications can be difficult, as TBIs can progress over time and change the classification. This makes claims involving TBI challenging for personal injury lawyers, who must consider both the victim’s current state and circumstances as well as future health and wellness issues.
Considerations When Settling TBI Cases
Based on the possibility of brain trauma victims experiencing different or escalating levels of recovery or disability, lawyers who handle injury cases consider some specific aspects when claiming damages in these cases, including the following:
- Extent and Circumstance of Trauma - The nature and severity of the injury will be considered when injury attorneys work on these type of cases, as more severe injuries typically warrant higher settlement demands. Yet circumstances at the time of the accident that include whether immediate medical attention was sought, witnesses who can verify what happened, delays in diagnosis, and other such aspects can affect case outcome. The most difficult part of assessing the extent of injury is determining if the injury may worsen over time and how that determination will affect the victim’s future life.
- Previous Diagnosis or Care - Another factor that can complicate TBI cases is if victims have had previous treatment for head injuries or even mental disorders. Injury claim attorneys must know how to judge such circumstances and the impact a previous diagnosis or treatment could have on the current extent of injury.
- Ongoing Medical Expenses - Personal injury lawyers must also consider whether the injured party will have ongoing medical expenses due to the accident. They need to estimate the cost of such future expenses, including any post cost increases.
- Additional Care or Assistance - Beyond medical expenses, injury claim attorneys will also address whether victims of TBI may need additional assistance such as a home aide, ongoing rehabilitative care, or even nursing care during recovery.
Because of these various factors that must be considered when representing victims of TBI, personal injury attorneys stress that settlement or trial should not be rushed. Traumatic brain injury follows no rules; each person is affected differently. For injury lawyers to calculate a comprehensive settlement request, the above factors must be closely examined, then carefully weighed when considering the settlement of specific traumatic brain injuries.
1U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: CDC TBI Stat Sheet, 2006
2Brain Injury Association of American Media Center: Quick Facts About Brain Injury