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Atlanta Brain Injury Attorneys
The brain controls who we are and what we do. After an accident, a head injury can affect a person’s ability to communicate, relate to others, enjoy life, or function on a daily basis. Because getting a favorable brain injury settlement can impact your future significantly after an accident, a brain injury lawyer can prove invaluable to your wellbeing.
If you or someone you love has sustained a brain injury, we understand that you may have questions, such as:
- Will my loved one recover?
- How will I care for and support my injured family member?
- Will there be ongoing medical expenses?
- How will I pay for medical care, rehabilitation, and therapy?
- How am I going to make up for the time I have lost from work?
- What will the future hold?
The team at Shane Smith Law understands the issues faced in traumatic brain injury cases and can help you and your family through this difficult time.
What is a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)?
According to many non-profit organizations, a TBI is a forceful impact to your head and brain that disrupts your brain’s natural functions. Traumatic brain injuries can occur due to medical conditions, but those caused by auto accidents can affect a victim severely.
There are three different levels of traumatic brain injuries: mild, moderate or severe. Depending on the level of a traumatic brain injury, some victims may be able to recover fully, but with traumatic auto accidents, victims usually suffer disabilities and require medical attention for the rest of their lives, sometimes around the clock.
Three Types of Brain Injuries
Mild Brain Injury
With a mild brain injury, victims may suffer headaches, nausea, dizziness, balance issues, blurred vision, confusion, fatigue, and more. Victims may lose consciousness for several minutes or just a few seconds with a mild brain injury. In 10 percent of mild brain injuries, permanent disabilities occur. However, most people with mild brain injuries recover within three weeks and are able to return to the life they once knew.
Moderate Brain Injury
With a moderate brain injury, victims may suffer the same symptoms above but the symptoms may linger. A person with a moderate brain injury may have a headache that doesn’t go away and ringing in the ears. Additionally, this person may have repeated vomiting, weakness, loss of coordination, and vision loss. People with moderate brain injuries may suffer behavioral changes that can have lifelong consequences for their daily lives. In about 66 percent of moderate brain injuries, permanent disabilities result; however, about 90 percent of people with a moderate brain injury are able to live independently—although some need lifelong assistance.
Severe Brain Injury
Victims with severe brain injuries in Atlanta will have permanent brain loss and long term behavioral problems. Unfortunately, a person with a severe traumatic brain injury will have permanent disabilities. Those with a severe brain injury typically will not be able to live independently.
Signs and Symptoms of a Brain Injury
The Mayo Clinic recommends an immediate emergency medical evaluation if a victim shows any of the following symptoms after a head injury:
- Severe bleeding from the head or face;
- Bleeding or leaking fluid from the nose or ears;
- Severe headaches;
- Reduction in the level of consciousness for even a few seconds;
- Difficulty breathing or breathing stoppage;
- Coordination problems or difficulty using arms or legs;
- Slurred speech;
- Dilated or unequal pupils.
Common Causes of Brain Injuries
In Georgia, the law allows a victim to seek monetary compensation when their brain injury is caused by negligence or a wrongful act. Examples of negligence include:
- Drunk driving accidents
- Super speeders
- Truck accidents
- Reckless driving car crashes
- Pedestrian accidents
- Distracted driving car crashes
- Recreational Activities
The Long-Term Impact of Serious Brain Injuries
In many cases a serious brain injury will result in some type of permanent impact on your life.
Many victims develop disabilities that can impair:
- emotional control
- daily function
- muscle control
The conditions resulting from a brain injury can be life-changing and require round-the-clock care, medical assistance devices, or ongoing therapy.
The costs and burdens associated with caring for a loved one after a brain injury can put families at a severe disadvantage if they do not take the steps to seek full compensation for their damages following an accident.
How are traumatic brain injuries measured?
One metric to measure how severe a traumatic brain injury is, is with the Disability Rating Scale. The disability rating scale measures a comprehensive set of functions a victim displays after the injury.
For example, with the Disability Rating Scale, three examples of monitoring include a patient’s ability to:
- Open their eyes
- How (verbally and written) and how well they can communicate
- Move around – how they can move their arms, legs, neck, back, etc.
Based on the level of functioning observed, a rating is assessed. Further tests include how well a victim can take care of themselves through their ability to prepare and eat food, how they can take care of hygiene and bodily functions and the ability to wash and take care of oneself.
Another type of assessment includes the Independent Living Scale (ILS). As the name implies, it determines how well a person can take care of themselves without any physical or mental assistance. This is similar to the first assessment, but it assesses an individual in a hypothetical case of living independently.
What Types of Financial Liabilities Will a Victim of a Traumatic Brain Injury Experience?
When someone is a victim of a personal injury accident, there are immediate medical expenses such as the cost of medical treatment at the scene of the accident and necessary treatment at the Emergency Room to stabilize a traumatic brain injury. Other medical expenses might include the transportation costs to the hospital.
While these medical costs associated with the initial personal injury accident are somewhat predictable and may be covered by health insurance, there are other types of medical treatments and possible damages for a future personal injury claim that will incur more charges and last for a life-time.
Other expenses may involve:
- Mental health treatment
- Surgery and/or on-going medication costs
- Nursing and around the clock nursing services
These are just some of the medical damages that victims of a traumatic brain injury may incur depending on the severity. Therefore, it is best to speak with an attorney and recommended medical professionals to make sure that you receive the proper medical care and to make sure that you are able to secure a judgment that will pay your projected medical bills adequately.
Brain injury claims require extensive case preparation and document review. Appropriate information is essential to bring and support a victim's claim. This information will include accident evidence, medical records and personal information.
- Accident evidence: Key accident-related evidence includes the law enforcement and insurance accident reports, accident scene photographs including those of damaged vehicles and surrounding areas and eyewitness names and contact information. Your representatives at the Law Office of Shane Smith will contact the appropriate Georgia law enforcement agency to see if the offending party was arrested and/or interrogated following the accident and will obtain any relevant documents. Medical documents from first responders such as Emergency Medical Technicians or emergency room exams will also be obtained.
- Medical records: Ongoing medical treatment may be required following a traumatic brain injury. Symptoms may take some time before appearing and may become more serious as time passes. Reporting to the doctor any psychological/behavioral symptoms such as altered personality, anxiety, depression, increased aggressiveness or anger, mood shifts, antisocial behavior, impulsiveness or lack of emotion may help in the victim's diagnosis and treatment. Having these symptoms documented may also be used as part of the victim's claim. Following a physician's advice and taking prescriptions, promptly informing an attorney of medical appointments and diagnoses are essential parts of maintaining a legitimate legal claim.
- Personal information: Documenting changes to a victim's life after an accident can be useful evidence in a Georgia brain injury claim. Loss of income, short- and long-term memory loss, confusion, attention deficits, impaired judgment and linguistic difficulties are just some of the cognitive difficulties that may result from a traumatic brain injury. Statements from family, supervisors or co-workers may be useful as the claim advances.
What Compensation Can I Recover?
Georgia courts will consider multiple factors when evaluating a TBI case. These factors include:
- Lost wages and/or loss of future earning capacity: TBI victims may receive compensation for work missed while rehabilitating from an injury and for reduced earning potential.
- Medical expenses: TBI victims may receive compensation for past, present, and future medical expenses. Medical experts are usually required to testify and determine the likely treatment length and potential future medical issues that will result from the TBI. Some future medical issues might include in-home care (such as retrofitting bathrooms), therapy or rehabilitation expenses (which could include physical or speech therapy) and home health care.
- Pain and suffering: TBI victims may be eligible for compensation for the physical pain and emotional suffering directly related to the brain injuries. This may include chronic pain (including headaches) and lifestyle alterations resulting from the injury (including a reduced quality of life).
- Loss of consortium: A married TBI victim's spouse may have a loss of consortium claim to compensate for spousal relationship deprivation.
- Punitive damages: In especially egregious or reckless cases a court may award punitive damages to punish the offending party.
The Importance of Choosing the Right Law Firm
While it may seem almost impossible for a brain-injury victim to handle a claim and know what a successful settlement would be, an experienced Atlanta brain-injury lawyer could handle the brain-injury lawsuit on the victim’s behalf. This way, a qualified law firm would negotiate the case – only settling for a successful settlement.
An excellent lawyer would know when the offer is not enough and would have no problem taking the case to court to litigate. Moving the brain-injury lawsuit forward into the courtroom shows the other side that the victim is serious and has a lawyer who is properly prepared to take the case to court.
How retaining a qualified law firm can secure a successful case result through:
Case preparation – critical documentation should be gathered to support the brain-injury claim. This evidence would include medical records, hospital documentation, test results, and other critical information necessary to ensure a successful claim. Additionally, collecting the accident evidence is very important to a case, such as photographs of the accident scene, accident reports, and testimony from witnesses.
Law firm’s reputation – law firms and individual lawyers have reputations for settling every case or taking certain cases to trial. A brain-injury victim needs to have an attorney known for excellence in trial advocacy. Also, the lawyer should aggressively pursue litigation in order to gain a successful result. Our reputation is known for excellence at the settlement table and in the courtroom.
What about rehabilitation for traumatic brain injury victims?In conjunction with the body’s natural ability to heal itself, rehabilitation attempts to “teach” your body and brain how to perform functions that were automatic before a traumatic brain injury. Depending on how serious the damages are, how much rehabilitation, the types of exercise, and the age of the patient, medical professionals give nearly all victims a good chance of recovery. With the exception of very severe cases, most victims can learn basic functions but may have mild to moderate disabilities. It is noted that rehabilitation can be very expensive if many months or years are required.
How well can a victim’s brain recover from a traumatic brain injury?
Depending on the victim’s age, the ability to recover and relearn basic functions is possible over time. However, if there are past injuries, internal bleeding or a loss of oxygen to the brain can all seriously damage and leave a victim with permanent injuries. While the brain, like every organ in the body has the ability to recover, how well and how complete one’s recovery is depends on many different factors.
Why do some brain injury victims have better outcomes than others?
Depending on where the brain suffers trauma different functions are impacted. For example, if the cortex portion of the brain is damaged, it will impact fewer vital organ systems as is controls personality. However, if the brain stem is damaged, around-the-clock medical may be necessary because vital functions such as heart rate and breathing are directly impacted.
What is brain damage and are there different types of damage?
Brain damage occurs when the tissue of the brain is damaged. Different types of brain damage include:
- Direct trauma to neurons that kill the cells
- Connections between the neurons, known as “white matter” can also be damaged
- Swelling and loss of oxygen also kill brain cells
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