Across the United States, there are more than 2.8 million emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and deaths every year related to traumatic brain injuries. Brain injuries are among the most serious and life-changing. Even fairly minor brain injuries can cause symptoms and harm for months or even years while serious traumatic brain injuries can cause life-long cognitive impairment and pain and suffering.
Head trauma and brain injuries are usually the result of violent crime or accidents such as car accidents, falls, and sports accidents. If you or someone you love has suffered a brain injury due to someone else’s wrongful conduct, you may have the right to compensation through a brain injury claim or lawsuit. The experienced San Diego brain injury attorneys at Berman & Riedel, LLP will help you protect your rights, navigate the complex legal landscape, and fight for the full compensation you deserve for your pain.
Table of Contents
Types of Brain Injury | Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
There are two broad types of brain injuries: traumatic brain injuries and acquired brain injuries. These types of injuries are equally serious and come with similar symptoms but they are sustained in different ways.
TBI is the result of external trauma to the head. Traumatic brain injuries may be fairly minor and cause reversible damage but they can lead to life-changing and permanent symptoms.
Our San Diego brain injury attorneys have represented clients who have suffered all types of traumatic brain injury (TBI) such as:
A concussion is a typically minor brain injury that can be caused by a sudden change in movement, impact, or shaking. Concussions may lead to memory loss, confusion, disorientation, difficulty concentrating, and migraines. A second concussion can be more dangerous than the first if the first concussion has not fully healed.
A contusion is bruising of the brain tissue and it happens when blood vessels break or leak. In the brain, a contusion can increase pressure which causes symptoms. Many contusions are the result of an impact which may happen in a sports injury, a car accident, or a slip and fall.
Diffuse Axonal Injury
DAI is a type of TBI that happens when the brain is rapidly shifted in the skull when the injury happens. This causes connecting fibers called axons to be sheared as the brain accelerates and decelerates inside the skull. By damaging brain cells, DAI is one of the most dangerous forms of traumatic brain injury as it can cause permanent damage or death.
An intracranial hematoma happens when a blood vessel ruptures and causes blood to collect in empty space or brain tissue. Hematomas come in many types such as subdural hematomas which are blood clots between the dura and brain, epidural hematomas with blood clots between the brain and dura but beneath the skull, and intracerebral hematomas which cause bleeding in the brain tissue.
Penetrating Brain Injury
This is one of the most serious types of TBI and it happens when an object penetrates through the skull which causes contact with the brain. Depending on the injury, the injury may affect a small or large area of the brain. Penetrating brain injuries usually occur after car accidents, gunshots, slip and fall accidents, and sports accidents.
A skull fracture is a break in the skull that surrounds the brain. Not all skull fractures cause brain damage but a fracture can lead to brain injury symptoms and fluid leaking from around the eyes and ears.
Second Impact Syndrome
SIS occurs when the brain swells after a second concussion before a previous concussion has fully healed. Second impact syndrome is uncommon and often fatal.
Locked-in syndrome is a neurological disorder that causes total paralysis of voluntary muscles while the patient is conscious and awake. While it’s very rare, locked-in syndrome is one of the scariest potential effects of a traumatic brain injury.
A coup injury is a type of injury occurring under the site of impact while a contrecoup injury happens on the opposite side of impact. These injuries often occur with cerebral contusions.
Types of Acquired Brain Injury (ABI)
An acquired brain injury or ABI is usually the result of internal occurrences that happen after birth but are not caused by birth trauma or hereditary, congenital, or degenerative conditions.
There are two main types of ABI:
Hypoxic Brain Injury
This type of injury happens when the brain receives too little oxygen to function normally.
Anoxic Brain Injury
Anoxic brain injury happens when the brain doesn’t get any oxygen. There are three types of anoxic ABI: anoxic anoxia when the brain receives no oxygen, anemic anoxia when the blood supplying the brain doesn’t have enough oxygen, and toxic anoxia when the blood’s oxygen is blocked by toxins.
Causes of Brain Injuries | Types of San Diego Brain Injury Cases
Brain injuries can occur from all types of accidents, even seemingly minor accidents. It’s a common misconception that most brain injuries are the result of violence or serious car accidents. In fact, falls are the leading cause of brain injuries in San Diego.
The most common causes of TBI include:
- Falls, which are responsible for 48% of all TBI-related ER visits. Among seniors 65 and older, falls are responsible for about 81% of TBIs.
- Being struck by an object is responsible for 17% of TBI-related emergency room visits.
- Motor vehicle accidents account for 20% of all TBI-related hospitalizations.
- Assault and self harm are responsible for more than 33% of TBI-related fatalities or 255,000 cases of TBI per year.
- Sports-related injuries are responsible for nearly 21% of TBI among children and adolescents, although they rarely cause fatalities. Sports most likely to lead to a head injury include cycling, water sports, baseball and softball, skateboarding, and basketball.
The cause of a traumatic brain injury isn’t always known, however. About 217,000 cases every year have an unknown cause.
Acquired brain injuries can also be caused by many conditions and incidents such as:
- Drug abuse
- Drowning or choking
- Exposure to poison or toxins
- Heart attack or stroke
- Meningitis and other infections
Risk Factors for TBI
Anyone can suffer a head injury that leads to a traumatic brain injury, but there are risk factors associated with TBI-related emergency room visits, hospitalization, and death.
One of the biggest risk factors of TBI is age, according to the CDC. Falls, the leading cause of TBI, disproportionately affect children and seniors as they’re responsible for almost half of TBI-related ER visits among kids 0 to 17 and 81% of visits in older adults. TBI-related deaths are also highest among seniors aged 75 and older.
Among TBI-related fatalities, falls were the leading cause of death for seniors, intentional self-harm for adults 45 to 64, car accidents for people 15 to 34 and over 75, and homicide for kids 0 to 4.
In general, the people most at risk of TBI are:
- Males of any age
- Adults 60 and older
- Young adults between 15 and 24
- Children, especially between 0 and 4
Traumatic Brain Injury Statistics
Traumatic brain injuries are more common than many people believe. TBI affects men and women of all ages and these injuries are responsible for hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations every year.
- 235,000 people are hospitalized for TBI every year. That’s 20x more hospitalizations than spinal cord injuries.
- TBI is responsible for almost 2,700 deaths every year among children 14 and under.
- Almost 79% of TBI victims are male.
- About 56,000 people die from TBI per year with a mortality rate of 30 per 100,000.
- About half of people who die from a traumatic brain injury die within 2 hours of the injury.
- Seniors over 75 have the highest mortality rate from traumatic brain injury at almost 79 fatalities per 100,000 people.
- About 288,000 people are hospitalized for a traumatic brain injury every year.
- Up to two-thirds of people who sustain a TBI have a history of risky drinking or alcohol abuse. About one-third of people who get a traumatic brain injury were injured while under the influence of alcohol.
Brain Injury Symptoms Commonly Seen by San Diego Brain Injury Attorneys
A brain injury can cause a wide range of symptoms depending on the severity. Some symptoms of brain injuries may not be apparent for days after the accident which makes it crucial to seek medical attention right away after an accident. Seeking medical care as soon as possible helps establish the cause of your injury and helps your San Diego brain injury lawyer build the strongest case possible.
Some of the most common traumatic San Diego brain injury symptoms include:
- Confusion or disorientation
- Vomiting and nausea
- Loss of consciousness
- Difficulty remembering events around the time of your accident
- Trouble remembering new information
- Difficulty speaking
- Changes in your sleep patterns, emotions, or behavior
Without prompt medical treatment, a traumatic brain injury can lead to lasting symptoms. A severe injury can also affect your ability to work and perform basic tasks or even impact motor skills and cognition.
Berman & Riedell, LLP | San Diego Brain Injury Law Firm
Why Work With a Top San Diego Brain Injury Lawyer?
After seeking medical attention after an accident, it’s important to speak with an experienced San Diego traumatic brain injury lawyer as soon as possible afterward. Unfortunately, many people delay seeking legal advice until they realize how seriously they’ve been hurt (sometimes due to a delayed diagnosis) or the insurance company won’t make a fair settlement offer.
Injury claims involving a brain injury are notoriously complex. It can be difficult to prove the cause of a traumatic brain injury and even determine the value of the claim as a TBI may lead to life-long changes to cognition and motor skills. The higher the value of a claim, the harder insurance companies fight a payout and try to minimize or deny a claim.
Insurance defense attorneys and claims adjusters may try to minimize the extent of the injury and claim it’s minor or that you will recover quickly. The truth is up to 15% of people who suffer even a mild TBI have not fully recovered after a full year. Some people experience even more symptoms as time goes on.
A San Diego brain injury law firm helps you through every stage of your claim by giving you sound legal advice, protecting your legal rights, ensuring you get the medical help you need, and seeking fair compensation for your injuries.
Experienced brain injury attorneys in San Diego are familiar with the tactics insurance attorneys and claims adjusters use to fight serious brain injury claims. Your attorney will serve as your advocate and work to examine your claim, gather evidence, and get expert medical testimony to demonstrate the severity of your injuries. Depending on the circumstances, your San Diego brain injury lawyer may even recommend an independent investigation into your accident to search for evidence before it disappears.
If your San Diego TBI attorney can’t reach a fair settlement with the insurance company, he or she will discuss filing a brain injury lawsuit and represent you in court.
Settlements in San Diego Brain Injury Lawsuits
Victims who sustain a brain injury may live with the effects for the rest of their lives. Depending on the severity of the injury, you may be unable to work or even enjoy your favorite hobbies. Even basic tasks may be difficult or even possible years after a brain injury. Under California law, when someone else is at fault for your injuries, you have the right to compensation that’s designed to make you as whole as possible.
While financial compensation can’t reverse your injuries or restore your life to what it once was, it can ensure you receive the medical attention you need, make sure your home is adapted to your needs, and give you a sense of justice knowing the responsible party has been held accountable.
How much you can recover in a brain injury lawsuit in San Diego depends on many factors including what your life was life before the accident, the severity of your injuries, the economic and non-economic damages you have suffered, and even the nature of the accident.
A brain injury settlement or lawsuit in San Diego can help you recover compensation for:
- Medical expenses. You don’t just deserve to be reimbursed for the medical bills you have faced so far in your treatment; you are also entitled to compensation to cover your future medical expenses as estimated by an expert. This includes the cost of surgery, assisted living, medical devices, prescriptions, and more.
- Lost wages and lost future income. Compensation for a brain injury in San Diego generally includes not only the wages you lost after the accident but the wages and benefits you are expected to lose in the future if you are unable to return to work or have reduced earning capacity.
- Non-economic damages. This includes a range of less tangible losses you have suffered without a clear financial cost including pain and suffering, loss of consortium, mental anguish, and emotional distress.
- Punitive damages may be awarded in rare cases by a jury or judge. These damages are designed to punish someone for egregious wrongdoing or reckless behavior and they aren’t available in all cases.
For many people, the non-economic losses resulting from a traumatic brain injury deal the most damage. These damages are also the hardest to prove and calculate. Your San Diego brain injury lawyers will help you demonstrate why you are entitled to these types of damages.
In California, your damage award may be reduced if you are found even partially at fault. In this case, a jury or judge may assign a percentage of fault in the accident to you which directly reduces your award. This is one of many reasons it’s crucial to work with an experienced brain injury law firm in San Diego that understands the extent of your injuries and can seek full compensation for the harm you have suffered.
Contact a San Diego Brain Injury Attorney
Due to the often subtle nature of brain injuries and the complexity of the medical issues involved, it is crucial that a victim be represented by an attorney that has experience and an extensive understanding of brain injuries. The San Diego brain injury attorneys at Berman & Riedel, LLP, have had much experience with these very injuries. Our attorneys work closely with a team of highly-respected, professional brain injury experts to ensure that a proper diagnosis is made, and to forecast exactly what affects that injury will have on the victim’s life both presently and in the future.
Our traumatic brain injury attorneys in San Diego work diligently to recover the past and future medical expenses, pain and suffering damages, damages for the loss of enjoyment of life, and lost income to which our clients are rightfully entitled.
The attorneys at Berman & Riedel, LLP have recently settled a mild Traumatic Brain Injury case for $8,000,000.00 for our client who was struck in the head unexpectedly by a large piece of machinery. Our attorneys are currently working a Traumatic Brain Injury case in which our client fell through the roof of a house that he was employed to construct. Our brain injury attorneys can offer the experience and skill necessary to provide you with sound advice on how to protect your legal rights.
Contact a San Diego brain injury attorney at Berman & Riedel, LLP to discuss your legal options. Initial consultations are always free of charge.