Successfully resolving a traumatic brain injury case involves a great deal of knowledge, legal skill, time, attention, and money for experts. While attorneys in New Jersey typically undertake such cases on a contingency basis, it is important for both the attorney handling the case and the client to understand what is required to prosecute a brain injury case successfully. It is critical that they understand what is a brain injury, what effects such an injury may be having on the client, and what evidence is required to win in court.
What is a Traumatic Brain Injury and What May Be Its Effect
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is brain damage caused by a severe blow, strike, or the penetration of an object through the brain, resulting in permanent or temporary damage. The damage can range from mild to severe or even death.
A TBI can radically change a person’s life and result in major cognitive, physical, and psychological changes. It can cause memory loss, problems with focus and concentration, vision and other sensory impairments, emotional problems such as depression and anxiety, loss of the ability to work, and have devastating financial and emotional results.
Injuries of the brain are categorized according to the types and grades of the TBI. Traumatic brain injuries are classified as mild, moderate, or severe:
Mild TBI - Concussions are classified as mild traumatic brain injury since most people recover over time. Some mild brain injuries can cause temporary damage to brain cells. The majority of TBIs that happen each year are concussions. These concussions can include a brief loss of consciousness (less than 30 minutes).
Symptoms of a mild brain injury include a headache, light-headedness, mild confusion or memory loss, dizziness, blurred vision or tired eyes, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, and mood or behavioral changes.
The problem with the phrase “mild traumatic brain injury” is that these injuries can sometimes be much worse than what most people would consider “mild.” The phrase “mild traumatic brain injury” is a medical term that differs what ordinary person would consider “mild.” In many cases, mild TBIs result in significant, life-long cognitive and psychological impairments.
Moderate TBI - Head injuries of this type generally result in unconsciousness for over 30 minutes but no longer than 24 hours.
Severe TBI - This level of injury would result in a person losing consciousness for over 24 hours, and abnormalities could be visible on a CT or MRI of the brain.
A report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2010 found that there are 1.7 million TBIs each year in the United States, which result in emergency department visits, inpatient hospitalization, or death. In 2020, here were more than 214,000 TBI-related hospitalizations and 190 TBI-related deaths in 2021. There are also large number of people injured by TBI each year who receive medical care outside of hospital or receive no medical care at all.
Traumatic brain injuries may involve:
Fatigue or drowsiness,
Problems with speech,
Dizziness or loss of balance,
Ringing in the ears,
Sensitivity to light or sound,
Other sensory problems,
Cognitive, behavioral or mental symptoms
Loss of consciousness,
Coma and other disorders of consciousness,
Being dazed, confused or disoriented (even when there has been no loss of consciousness)
Memory loss or impairment,
Mood changes or mood swings,
Agitation or combativeness,
Feeling depressed or anxious,
Sleeping more than usual,
Loss of motor function, inability to move, or paralysis,
TBIs may require intensive medical treatment and, at times, long-term care. They can cause great financial and emotional harm to the person injured and their family.
How to Succeed in A Traumatic Brain Injury Case - What Types of Evidence Do You Need
To succeed in a personal injury lawsuit and get a settlement or judgment in your favor for a TBI injury, you must prove that:
The person responsible for your injury had a duty of care that they failed to meet;
As a result, suffered personal harm or injury; and
The extent and nature of your injuries and damages.
You must first prove that the party you believe was at fault owed you a duty of care that it breached or violated that duty. This often means that you will be required to show that the person failed to act as a reasonable and prudent person would under similar circumstances. Examples of breaching the duty of care in car accidents include speeding, running a red light or stop sign, and drunk driving. An example at a restaurant or commercial place of business includes situations where the business knew of a tripping or slipping hazard but failed to act in a timely manner to make the place safe from that hazard. Photographs, videos, written records, and witness statements are often used to prove that a duty of care was violated. At times, accident reconstruction experts and other experts may be used as well.
You must also prove that you suffered an injury as a result of the other person’s actions or inactions. Medical records and testimony from medical experts are often used to prove that your injuries were caused by the accident.
You must also demonstrate the severity of your injury. This determines how much you are entitled to receive in compensation. Damages in a personal injury case are meant to cover your pain and suffering, all of your medical bills, including future medical bills, and economic losses such as lost wages. Medical records, your own testimony, testimony of family members, co-workers, and friends, as well as testimony from medical experts is often used to prove that your injuries were caused by the accident and to show the extent of your injuries. Often, economic and other experts are used as well.
In cases where your injury will require future medical care, it is important to determine and show whether you will need in the future any future, rehabilitation, in-home care, or inpatient care. If your injuries make you unable to work, you must prove how much income you will lose as a result of the injury.
Evidence used to show the severity of a traumatic brain injury and the effect it will have on a person’s life may include:
Medical images such as CT scans, MRIs, and x-rays;
Brain mapping, diagrams, or computer simulation;
Intracranial pressure (ICP) monitoring diagnostic reports;
Diagnostic tests about your level of mental function, cognitive ability, information processing skills, speech control, motor skills, and physical function;
“Before and after” witnesses who can testify about how the injury has affected you;
Medical expert testimony such as neuropsychologists, neurologists, and psychiatrists, and other doctors; and
Economic loss experts.
A traumatic brain injury can affect you cognitively, emotionally, and physically. It can cause changes to your personality and memory. Such changes have devastating financial and emotional effects on you and your family.
The attorneys at Kemeny, Ramp & Renaud, LLC provide aggressive and effective legal representation for accident victims throughout New Jersey. We have experience successfully representing clients who have sustained brain injuries.
Contact the New Jersey traumatic brain injury attorneys at Kemeny, Ramp & Renaud, LLC if you or someone you love was involved in an accident in New Jersey that caused a brain injury. Our firm fights for traumatic brain injury accident victims and their families. Our attorneys provide free consultations for people injured as a result of an accident. Call us at (732) 853-1725 to schedule a consultation.