Whether caused later in life or during the birth process, incurring a brain injury can be both serious and devastating. Knowing the exact cause is paramount if you’re considering filing a personal injury lawsuit. If the brain injury is due to the negligence of another party, that party is liable for their action or inaction that caused the injury. The two causes of a brain injury are hypoxia and trauma. Hypoxia occurs when there is an interruption of the flow of oxygen, and the brain does not receive enough oxygen. Head and brain trauma can occur due to the impact of force.
A hypoxic-ischemic injury is most common before, during or after childbirth. This type of brain injury occurs in four out of 1,000 births. Although it is relatively rare, it can cause permanent brain damage and even death. Out of those newborns who survive the injury, about 25 percent will face lifelong neurological problems, such as learning disabilities, cerebral palsy, epilepsy and mental retardation. The causes of a hypoxia injury in a newborn have been linked to umbilical cord complications, maternal uterine rupture, placenta issues and maternal blood pressure problems. Symptoms include seizures and other signs of brain damage after birth.
Other causes of brain hypoxia include hypotension, asthma, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, asthma and holding one’s breath for an extended period of time. It can result in short-term memory loss, problems with paying attention, decision-making difficulties and loss of bodily function. Brain hypoxia injuries often vary in severity, from mild and moderate to severe. In severe cases, the brain may lose all functionality.
The causes of a brain trauma injury are diverse. The top three causes include vehicular accident, falls and firearms. Other causes of brain trauma include sports injury, worksite explosion and medical error, such as improper use of forceps during birth. The injury itself may be an open head injury, closed head injury or deceleration injury. In a deceleration brain injury, the brain is moved through the skull and rapidly and decelerates when it the head meets a stationary object. If the impact is strong enough, there may be axonal shearing, and the neurons die.
The effects of brain trauma can be significant and are classified as either mild or severe. A brain injury is considered mild if there’s a loss of consciousness or confusion that is less than 30 minutes. Mild brain trauma injuries can result in cognitive problems, such as difficulty thinking, mood swings, memory problems and attention deficits. Even though this type of brain trauma is considered mild, it can be devastating for the injured person and their family.
Severe brain trauma is associated with the loss of consciousness for more than 30 minutes after the injury. There may be deficits, such as:
Because of the intricacies of a brain injury claim, it’s wise to hire an attorney who understands brain injury and has experience in these types of cases. As in any personal injury case, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant acted negligently. Negligence includes the elements of duty, breach, causation and damages. The plaintiff must establish that the defendant had a duty of care owed, and the defendant failed to act according to that standard. For example, healthcare professionals are held to the same ordinary care and skill of others in the same field. It must also be shown that the defendant’s action or omission was the direct cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.
The final element of negligence requires that the plaintiff show that they have suffered damages as a direct result of the defendant’s negligence. It’s important to note that detecting and diagnosing a brain injury can be difficult. Sometimes, symptoms don’t manifest until weeks or months after the accident. An experienced brain injury attorney will consult with seasoned medical professionals to help understand and evaluate the scope of your injury.
While most personal injury cases are settled prior to trial, those involving severe brain injury and high damages may wind up in the courtroom. That’s why it’s important to choose an attorney who has trial experience in serious brain injury cases.
The damages available in a brain injury lawsuit often include lost wages, loss of earning capacity, pain and suffering, current medical expenses and future medical expenses. When a wrongful death lawsuit results from a brain injury, loss of the decedent’s income and loss of companionship are often awarded.
Without a doubt, the catastrophic impact of a brain injury can have a dramatic impact on the victim and their family. There may be long-term medical repercussions, and that part of the compensation should be included in the settlement. Let an experienced brain injury attorney get you the compensation that you both need and deserve.