Manhattan Brain Injury Lawyer
As reported by the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, about 5.3 million people are currently living in the United States with a disability caused by a traumatic brain injury. And each year, there are 1.7 million new traumatic brain injury cases, with 80,000 to 90,000 of those signaling the onset of long-term or lifelong disabilities. Brain injuries result in 20 times more hospitalizations each year than spinal cord injuries do, and nearly 79 percent of brain injury sufferers are male.
About Brain Injuries
The brain is a vital part of the body, controlling its ability to complete voluntary functions, such as walking across a room or opening a door, as well as involuntary functions, including breathing, swallowing, and waking from sleep. A traumatic brain injury involves a sudden jolt or blow to the head that results in damage to the delicate tissues of the brain. The brain has a limited ability to heal itself after injury, which means damage caused to it is possibly permanent.
The type of damage and long-term deficits that may occur after a brain injury depends on the severity of the injury, the portion of the brain that sustained the injury, and the side of the brain where the damage occurred.
As the Brain Injury Association of America explains, the brain consists of several sections, known as lobes. The various lobes and the deficits associated with each portion of the brain are as follows:
- Frontal lobe: This portion of the brain controls functions, such as attention, concentration, self-monitoring, organizing, personality, awareness of abilities and limitations, emotions, problem-solving, planning, and judgment. Injuries to the frontal lobe often result in deficits to the person’s ability to control emotions, impulses, and behavior. The person may also have difficulty speaking or recalling events.
- Temporal lobe: The temporal lobe controls functions such as memory, the ability to understand language, sequencing, and hearing. Injuries to this portion of the brain may result in difficulty communicating and difficulty remembering.
- Parietal lobe: The functions of the parietal lobe include controlling one’s sense of touch, visual perception, depth perception, and identification of shapes, sizes, and colors. Injuries to this portion of the brain may result in difficulties relating to the five primary senses—sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell.
- Occipital lobe: The occipital lobe controls the vision. Injuries to this part of the brain can result in the inability to see or perceive the size and shape of objects.
- Cerebellum: The functions of the cerebellum include balance and coordination, skilled motor activity, and visual perception. An injury to the cerebellum can cause difficulties with balance, movement, and coordination.
- Brain stem: The brain stem controls the body’s involuntary functions, such as breathing, arousal, consciousness, heart rate, and sleep/wake cycles. Damage to the brain stem generally results in death, as the body is unable to survive without these functions.
In addition to the different portions of the brain, each of which controls various functions of the body, the brain is also divided down the middle into two equal parts: the left brain and the right brain. The left brain controls the right side of the body, and the right brain controls the left side of the body.
The deficits related to a brain injury are also affected by the side of the brain on which the injury occurred.
- The left brain controls analytical, logical, precise, organized, detached, and literal traits. Injuries to the left brain may result in difficulties both speaking and understanding language, impaired logic, depression and anxiety, difficulties with sequencing, and loss of control over the right side of the body.
- The right brain controls traits relating to creativity, intuition, imagination, empathy, and figurative concepts. Right brain injuries may result in altered creativity and music perception, impairment to visual-spatial function, memory deficits regarding visual cues, the loss of “big picture” thinking, inattention to the movements of the left side of the body, and lack of control over left-side body movements.
Brain injuries can produce three levels of severity:
- Mild injuries may cause a brief loss of consciousness, some vomiting or dizziness, lethargy, and memory loss.
- Moderate injuries may result in loss of consciousness of up to 24 hours, signs of the injury on neuroimaging tests, bleeding and bruising of the brain, and visible signs of impairment.
- Severe injuries result in coma, which is unconsciousness lasting more than 24 hours, as well as no sleep/wake cycles during coma. Severe injuries will also appear on neuroimaging tests.
The coma produced with severe brain injuries is of particular concern, as it may lead to other long-term loss of conscious disorders, including:
- Vegetative state: The individual, though continuing to be unaware, may begin having sleep/wake cycles, normal digestion, breathing, and heart rate. He or she may occasionally open the eyes, as well as respond to painful stimuli.
- Persistent vegetative state: A vegetative state lasting at least one year after the injury occurred is considered to be in a persistent vegetative state.
- Minimally conscious state: The individual may show slight awareness of self or environment.
- Locked-in syndrome: The individual is conscious and able to think, but cannot move any part of the body except the eyes.
- Brain death: All parts of the brain, including the brain stem, cease to function.
Secondary Complications of Brain Injuries
Along with long-term damage, traumatic brain injuries often also produce serious, and even life-threatening, complications. Some of the complications that victims may experience in the days and weeks after the injury occurs include:
- Increased intracranial pressure: The buildup of pressure in the brain may reach life-threatening levels after a brain injury and will often require monitoring and medication to treat.
- Edema: Swelling in the brain is dangerous, as there is no place for the swollen brain to expand inside the skull. This complication may result in a decrease in blood flow and damage to brain cells. Often, it is treated through surgery and medication.
- Hydrocephalus: “Water on the brain” is actually a collection of cerebrospinal fluid. It generally occurs during the first year following the injury and may require the placement of a shunt to drain the fluid from the brain to other areas of the body.
- Low blood pressure: After an injury, the blood flow to the brain may be decreased. As the brain relies on oxygen that is carried from the blood to function, medical providers will carefully monitor blood pressure to prevent it from becoming too low.
- Fever: Certain parts of the brain control the body’s temperature. If those areas sustain damage, the individual may have high fevers. Fevers can also be a sign of infection. Medication and cooling blankets are often used to control fevers.
- Brain infections: Infections can occur within or outside of the membranes covering the brain. Infections are particularly common with penetrating injuries in which bacteria may be allowed to enter the skull cavity. Infections may occur in other areas of the body, as well, due to the placement of tubes, or other injuries that were sustained at the time of the injury.
- Blood clots: Brain-injured individuals are at high risk of developing blood clots. These clots may appear in the deep veins of the legs, known as deep vein thrombosis, or they may break free and travel to the lung, producing a life-threatening condition known as pulmonary embolism.
- Pressure ulcers: Also known as bedsores, this preventable condition is common in individuals who are bed-ridden and is caused when the body remains in one position for too long, causing skin to break down in that area. Bedsores not only result in pain and damage to skin tissue, but can also result in infection.
Brain injuries also increase the likelihood of developing additional disorders, such as:
- Endocrine disorders
- Cognitive Decline
- Parkinson’s Disease
Frequently Asked Questoins FAQ
In the blink of an eye, a traumatic brain injury (TBI) can change your life forever. Following a blow, bump, or jolt to the head, injured victims may experience a wide range of symptoms. Common symptoms of traumatic brain injury include confusion and disorientation, difficulty focusing and concentrating, trouble regulating emotions, and even changes in sensory perception. For example, victims of traumatic brain injury frequently experience tunnel vision or ringing in the ears.
While some victims recover with time, others may experience symptoms for the rest of their lives. Traumatic brain injuries often cause lingering complications and permanent limitations. Even a “mild” TBI can cause symptoms for years after an accident.
If you suffered a traumatic brain injury in Manhattan, it is natural to feel overwhelmed. You may have high medical bills, serious worries about returning to your everyday life, and questions about your personal injury claim. Consider contacting us for a free evaluation of the specific details of your claim as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, here we attempt to provide answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about traumatic brain injuries.
What Causes Brain Injuries?
Brain injuries may occur during the birth process or later in life. The most common causes of brain injuries include:
- Motor vehicle accidents. Motorcycle accidents, in particular, produce a high number of brain injuries, and brain injuries are the leading cause of death following a motorcycle accident. Other types of traffic-related accidents that frequently result in brain injuries include head-on collisions, as well as accidents involving pedestrians or bicyclists.
- Falls. Falls are the leading cause of accidental death in individuals over the age of 65 and commonly result in traumatic injury to the brain.
- Violence. Gunshot wounds or other violence, including being hit or punched in the head, are a frequent contributor to brain injuries in the United States.
- Sports and recreational activities. Contact sports, such as football or rugby, may result in injuries to the brain. Activities such as skiing or horseback riding may also cause brain injuries.
How Expensive Are Brain Injuries?
Brain injuries come with a societal cost of about $48.3 billion annually, including costs such as medical treatment for uninsured individuals, the impact to health insurance premiums, lost productivity, and taxpayer-funded services meant to ease the burden on brain-injured individuals and their families. Brain injuries are expensive to those suffering them, as well. The cost of medical and non-medical treatment for a person with a traumatic brain injury is estimated at about $151,587 per year, with a lifetime cost of up to $4 million.
Many brain-injured individuals must undergo acute rehabilitation therapy after their injuries. The cost of this therapy is about $1,000 a day, and the average stay at a rehabilitation center is about 55 days. Additional expenses that a person suffering from a brain injury may face include the cost of home modifications to accommodate the injury, the expense of mental health services for the injured person and his or her family members, the cost of an in-home personal care aid, and assistive devices, such as wheelchairs, eyeglasses or hearing aids.
Many people suffering from a brain injury are no longer able to perform the job tasks that they did before the injury, and some may not be able to work at all.
Beyond the monetary losses associated with brain injuries, brain-injured people suffer, and their families suffer non-economic expenses, as well. Some of those include pain and suffering, loss of consortium (the spouse’s loss of physical intimacy and companionship resulting from the injury), loss of enjoyment of life, and permanent disability.
Who has to pay my medical bills after I suffer a traumatic brain injury?
Of course, you are ultimately responsible for the costs of any medical services you consent to receive following an accident. Depending on the facts of your case, you may be entitled to pursue compensation for your medical expenses from the party who caused your injuries. A personal injury claim allows victims to seek financial compensation from responsible parties to help alleviate the financial burden of medical expenses associated with a traumatic brain injury.
Who bears liability for my traumatic brain injury?
Traumatic brain injuries can result from several different types of accidents, including construction accidents, auto accidents, and slip and fall accidents. An attorney can help you identify all parties who may share liability for accident-related costs. Oftentimes, there are multiple contributing factors leading to an accident. As a result, you may need to name more than one responsible party in a personal injury claim to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. Consider the following:
Premises Liability Claims
Did you suffer your traumatic brain injury in a slip and fall accident or due to something impacting your head? If so, you may be entitled to file a premises liability claim. This is especially true if you suffered injuries at a business or other property intended for public use. In a premises liability claim, responsible parties may include:
The owner of the premises. Property owners have a duty to ensure the premises are reasonably safe for customers and guests. Under this duty, owners are required to remedy any hazards they become aware of on the property. The owner may be liable for damages resulting from a slip and fall accident if the property has been inadequately maintained.
A company working on the premises. While the owner of the premises may bear primary liability for property maintenance, a renter or company that operates on the premises may bear liability for an accident if:
- The company failed to properly report maintenance issues to the owner of the premises.
- The company failed to take adequate precautions, e.g. spreading salt during icy conditions or putting up wet floor signs after a spill.
- The company did not take care of maintenance issues that are the company’s responsibility per their contract with the building owner.
Auto Accident Claims
Your body, including your head, can be seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident. You may suffer a traumatic brain injury if your head strikes a hard surface or object inside the car, including the windshield or the dashboard. If a collision causes you to sustain a traumatic brain injury, you may need to identify multiple entities that contributed to the accident. Potentially liable parties include:
- The driver
- The auto manufacturer or manufacturer of parts, when a mechanical failure causes the accident
- The mechanic who most recently worked on the vehicle, if the mechanic missed mechanical errors
- The party that owns the vehicle
- The company that employs a driver, who is working at the time of the auto accident
Nursing Home or Medical Malpractice Claims
In hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities, patients expect a high quality of care, including care to reduce the risk of falls and other potential dangers. After a slip and fall accident in these facilities, it may be difficult to determine who should be responsible for the resulting damages. You should consider whether:
- Doctors may not have properly assessed the risk of fall for the patient
- The facility was improperly maintained
- Caregivers provided adequate care to prevent a fall that resulted in a traumatic brain injury
Construction Accident Claims
Construction sites contain numerous hazards that can substantially raise the risk of an accident for visitors to those sites. If you suffer a traumatic brain injury due to a construction site accident, you may need to file a claim against:
- The property owner. Despite ongoing construction, the property owner does bear some liability for maintaining the property. Property owners must provide proper notifications to customers and visitors regarding any safety hazards on the property.
- The contractor in charge of the job site. You may need to identify the company that is primarily responsible for maintaining the job site.
- Subcontractors. In some cases, a subcontractor’s error may cause or contribute to the dangerous conditions that ultimately cause your accident. If the subcontractor knew of the dangerous conditions and failed to remedy them, they may be liable for any resulting injuries.
In most, but not all, cases, negligence and liability don’t play roles in work accidents—workers’ comp is a no-fault system. An attorney may need to complete a thorough investigation to identify if any parties bear you liability in a traumatic brain injury claim. An attorney must discern who owed you a duty of care at the time of the accident, who violated that duty of care, and how that violation led to your injuries. A Manhattan construction accident lawyer can also determine if the Scaffold Law applies in your case.
How much compensation should I expect from my traumatic brain injury?
As with other types of personal injury claims, the compensation you may be entitled to receive after sustaining a traumatic brain injury can vary. Some questions you may want to consider include:
- Who caused your accident? If you suffered a traumatic brain injury in an auto accident, the liable driver’s insurance policy limits may impact the amount of compensation you may recover. New York drivers must carry a minimum of $25,000 in personal injury coverage for auto accidents. If you face more than $25,000 in medical bills and the only liable party is the other driver, your ability to receive additional compensation could be substantially limited.
- How severe are your financial losses following the accident?Most people include both tangible and intangible damages when filing a personal injury claim after traumatic brain injury. Damages may include medical expenses, lost income, lost earning potential (if a traumatic brain injury prevents you from returning to your former profession) and compensation for pain and suffering. Traumatic brain injuries typically require extensive medical care with significant costs. In the case of severe traumatic brain injury and a long-term recovery or need for lifelong care, your costs may total more than $3 million. Even minor traumatic brain injuries can cost victims as much as $85,000. Discuss the facts of your case with an attorney, so you can evaluate the amount of compensation you may be entitled to.
I wasn’t wearing protective gear at the time of my accident. Does that change the compensation I can receive?
Wearing a motorcycle helmet when riding a motorcycle can reduce your risk of severe traumatic brain injury by as much as 67 percent. Wearing a bicycle helmet while biking or a hard hat when on a construction site can offer similar advantages.
That does not mean, however, that failure to wear these important protective devices will reduce the compensation you can receive for your injuries. Most claims base the compensation you can recover on the extent of your injuries. Failure to wear a helmet may contribute to the severity of your injuries, but it does not change the balance of liability in the accident. Ultimately, the accident would not have occurred had the liable party taken precautions to help you avoid that accident.
Do I need an attorney to file a personal injury claim after my traumatic brain injury?
As a practical matter, yes. Hiring an attorney can provide advantages that working alone will not offer—one that you can focus on your physical recovery.
- A personal injury attorney can help answer your questions. An attorney can help injured parties better understand how to file a claim, what deadlines they must meet, and how to communicate with an insurance company or liable entity. Many personal injury attorneys have experience working with traumatic brain injury victims. An experienced attorney can guide victims through the claims process with empathy and compassion.
- A personal injury attorney can help reduce the emotional stress associated with your claim. Many traumatic brain injury victims have difficulty regulating their emotions after their accident. An attorney may help reduce emotional stress. A skilled attorney can negotiate with relentless insurance company representatives on behalf of injured victims, so they may focus on recovering.
- A personal injury attorney can help collect evidence and properly file paperwork related to your claim. Do you need to access security footage from a store after a slip and fall accident? Traffic camera footage of an auto accident? Whether you need to access important video of the accident or you need to consult with witnesses, when appropriate, an attorney can help clients to easily access that information. A personal injury attorney can also connect you with expert witnesses who can help reconstruct the accident to determine what caused the accident. A medical expert witness may also be hired to testify to the extent of your injuries and the associated limitations, if necessary.
How long do I have to file a personal injury claim for a traumatic brain injury?
Following your traumatic brain injury, you will most certainly prioritize getting back on your feet. Not only that, filing a personal injury claim might not cross your mind until you have progressed in your recovery. The New York statute of limitations limits the amount of time injured victims are permitted to file a personal injury claim.
However, there are exceptions to time limits, so do not hesitate to contact our Manhattan brain injury attorneys, even if you believe you may have waited too late. The sooner you call us, the better the chance that we can find and preserve important evidence and timely file your claim—and the quicker we can resolve your case.
When should I file my personal injury claim following a traumatic brain injury?
Traumatic brain injuries often involve multiple medical appointments with various treatment providers, long-term rehabilitation, and extended time away from work. While some victims eventually return to work in their full capacity, others may need to work within new limitations or even seek a different type of employment. We understand the aftermath of an accident resulting in a traumatic brain injury can be overwhelming. When should you take care of your traumatic brain injury claim?
Ideally, you should contact an attorney as soon after your accident as possible. Having an attorney on your side from the beginning can make a big difference in how your claim progresses. You may note that having an attorney could possibly help maximize your compensation and increase your understanding of the personal injury claims process.
You may need to wait to file the claim itself. While you should contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible, your attorney may advise you to wait before initiating your claim.
You may need to delay filing a personal injury claim if:
- Your claim requires an investigation to help determine who bears liability for your injuries.Sometimes, you can clearly see who caused your accident and your injuries. Other times, you may need a more extensive evaluation to help you assess who caused or contributed to the accident. Your attorney may advise you to wait until you have a clearer picture of who caused your accident.
- You have not yet progressed far enough in your recovery to anticipate your future limitations and capabilities. Traumatic brain injury recovery is often difficult to predict. Some victims may quickly return to normal cognitive function. Others, however, may have long-lasting symptoms. If you have not yet progressed far enough in your recovery to know what your future may look like, your attorney may advise you to wait to file your claim.
What should I do if the insurance company contacts me soon after my accident?
Sometimes, the insurance company that covers the liable party will contact you immediately after your traumatic brain injury. The insurance company may offer to send you a fast settlement check to cover your injuries. Often, however, the amount of compensation initially offered is typically much lower than the expenses your injuries will require. If you receive an offer immediately after the accident, consult with an attorney before accepting it. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you determine how much compensation you really deserve after your traumatic brain injury.
If You or a Loved One Were Hurt, Call Jacoby & Meyers’s Manhattan Brain Injury Lawyers
A brain injury is often a serious, life-altering injury, resulting in extreme physical, financial, and emotional impacts. If you suffered a brain injury as the result of a car accident, construction accident, slip and fall accident, or other situation that was caused by the actions of someone else, you may be eligible to file a personal injury claim against the at-fault party. To do so, you must be able to show that the other individual is liable for your injuries and that the injuries resulted in specific costs and impacts to you.
Your best option for obtaining compensation to help you cover the financial and emotional costs of your injuries in Manhattan is to seek the services of an experienced Manhattan brain injury lawyer at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP.
Your lawyer can not only provide you with sound legal advice and knowledge of the legal process involved in a personal injury lawsuit, but may also help you to establish a value to your case, determine liable parties and insurance resources that might be available for compensation, conduct negotiations with insurance companies to obtain a fair amount of compensation for your injuries, and represent you in all pre-trial, trial, and post-trial proceedings.
Living with a brain injury isn’t easy. Let us help. For a free case evaluation with our experienced Manhattan brain injury lawyers, contact us at (212) 445-7000 or contact us online.
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