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What Is the Average Settlement for Medical Malpractice?

According to the Medical Malpractice Report by the National Practitioner Data Bank, $348,065 was the average payout for medical malpractice claims in 2018, and plaintiffs received more than $4 billion in malpractice lawsuits collectively. 96.5 percent of the payouts resulted from settlements, while 3.5 percent resulted from court judgments.

The Most Common Complaints in Medical Malpractice Claims

The report also found that medical errors relating to diagnoses consisted of 34.1 percent of medical malpractice actions, which makes it the most common claim. While malpractice related to surgical procedures accounted for 21.4 percent of claims and malpractice associated with improper treatment accounted for 21.1 percent of all claims.

The statistics are consistent with the researchers’ past findings since one study about the medical malpractice lawsuit rates in the U.S. from 1992 to 2014 likewise found that surgical mistakes, treatment-related errors, and misdiagnoses are the top causes of claims.

As for damages, 12.3 percent of claims resulted in quadriplegia, brain damage, and other injuries requiring lifelong care, 18.7 percent resulted from catastrophic permanent injuries, and 29.7 percent resulted in fatalities. Additionally, the average payouts for claims that resulted in death, which is approximately $380,300, weren’t as high as claims resulting in brain damage, which earned payouts of up to $960,000.

How Much Is My Medical Malpractice Claim Worth?

If you believe that you have a valid claim, you are probably wondering about the potential value of your claim.

Lawyers typically categorize damages as:

  • Economic or special damages, which are based on calculable financial losses.
  • Non-economic, general, or pain and suffering damages, which are not clearly calculable or based on bills or expenses.

In some cases, patients may also pursue punitive damages if the doctor’s actions were malicious or intentional or the doctor should’ve known or knew that their actions would cause injury.

To be awarded damages through a malpractice claim, you must prove the actual malpractice that occurred, such that:

  • The doctor’s negligent actions resulted in your damages
  • You cannot resolve the damages resulting from the malpractice by any other means
  • Your injuries didn’t exist before the malpractice incident

Determining Your Special Damages

These include:

  • Lost earnings
  • Medical expenses
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Other quantifiable financial losses

Your medical expenses include all the bills that you have incurred due to your injuries and can include the cost you would reasonably incur if you require future medical treatment. Future medical bills are usually high in malpractice cases.

Your lost earnings and loss of earning capacity are earnings that you have lost or stand to lose due to the malpractice incident that led to your injuries. This includes employment benefits you lost, such as paid leaves, health insurance, and pension contributions, etc. Calculating your past lost wages is easy because you just add all the earnings and benefits you missed because of your injury.

On the other hand, calculating your future lost earnings and earning capacity will be more difficult. For this reason, your lawyer will need to enlist the help of a financial expert to accurately present these numbers in a way that the jury will understand. For example, let’s say that you were earning $50,000 yearly before the medical malpractice incident. However, you did not recover fully and could presently return to work part-time and only earn $25,000 per year.

This means that your estimated lost earning capacity is $25,000 yearly for the rest of your life, or more accurately, work-life expectancy. Put simply, work-life expectancy is a measurement based on federal statistics of the number of years a worker likely would continue working, depending on that worker’s age, race, and sex, among other factors. This might seem easy to calculate, but it becomes more complicated when you try to calculate what $25,000 yearly could be worth in the future.

Determining Your General Damages

As previously stated, pain and suffering or general damages are not exactly easy to calculate. It’s just not possible for the jury to rely on a chart, for example, to see how much pain and suffering you experienced (or are still experiencing) because of your injuries. This is why judges typically instruct the jury to put themselves in the injured patient’s shoes and utilize their experience, background, and common sense when determining awards for pain and suffering.

Pain and suffering damages include both mental and physical pain and suffering, such as:

  • The pain of your actual physical injuries
  • The pain and suffering you’re experiencing from a permanent injury or disability, disfigurement, or scarring
  • Mental suffering and pain, including emotional distress, mental anguish, anger, fear, humiliation, loss of life enjoyment, and/or sleep disorders, among others
  • Loss of companionship or consortium

Mental pain and suffering can likewise include severe depression, extreme mood swings, aggressive anger, chronic fatigue, eating problems, sleep disturbances, sexual dysfunction, and PTSD.

Never shortchange yourself when it comes to intangible losses, as these are often a significant part of a medical malpractice settlement or award. Discuss all of the effects you felt from your injuries with your lawyer so they can properly present the associated losses to the insurance company.

Seeking Legal Help from a Medical Malpractice Lawyer

A medical malpractice claim will require the legal guidance of an experienced medical malpractice lawyer to prove why and how the malpractice occurred. Remember that the basis of all malpractice claims is whether the doctor deviated from the medical standard of care, and if yes, whether the doctor’s actions resulted in the patient’s injuries.

Likewise, while the doctor’s actions are dependent on the case’s particular circumstances, the primary issue when establishing whether the doctor’s actions were indeed negligent is whether another doctor under the similar or same conditions would’ve done what the doctor did.

Consult with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer to learn more about your case and find out how your settlement might bring you. Never ignore your right to compensation from negligent doctors who caused you injuries.

Are Any Concussions Mild?

When you visit the emergency room following an accident, and the doctor informs you that you have a “mild concussion,” what exactly does that mean? Since it is mild, you don’t have that much to be concerned about, right?

Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions regarding the diagnosis of a “mild” traumatic brain injury (TBI), which doctors also refer to as a concussion. Too many patients hear the word “mild” and grossly underestimate their injuries or the need to seek compensation for their losses from at-fault parties.

Below, learn more about why doctors might refer to an injury with potentially serious and lasting effects as mild, and what you can do to protect your rights.

How Symptoms Present

Depending on the extent and location of brain trauma, these injuries can have widely varying symptoms from patient to patient. When medical professionals initially examine someone with a suspected brain injury, they look at how the symptoms are presenting to determine the specific diagnosis.

For example, a moderate to severe brain injury might result in a long period of unconsciousness, the inability to wake up from sleep, spinal fluid draining from the ears or nose, and seizures or convulsions, among other serious signs. Doctors observe such symptoms and enter a diagnosis of a moderate or severe TBI.

The immediate signs of a mild concussion can seem less concerning (though they should not be), as they are generally not life-threatening, and these might include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Blurry vision
  • Feeling confused or “out of it”
  • Short blackout period
  • Slurred speech

When doctors see these symptoms, they often diagnose a mild concussion, which can be confusing for patients.

“Mild” Does Not Reflect Your Potential Prognosis

When a medical professional deems your TBI to be “mild,” they are referring to your symptoms when you arrived at the emergency room – not to your overall prognosis. Many people assume that a mild concussion should not result in lasting symptoms and effects, which can be dangerous. Patients might not recognize that what they are feeling actually stems from their injury because they assumed their “mild” injury should clear up relatively quickly. This can be bad from both a medical and legal standpoint.

The reality is that mild concussions can have persistent effects that can impact your life in many ways. Some of these effects might include:

Physical Effects

  • Being overly sensitive to sound or light
  • Chronic headaches
  • Fatigue and lack of energy
  • Vision issues
  • Balance problems and dizziness

Sleep Effects

  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Sleeping more or less than you usually do

Cognitive Effects

  • Feeling like you have brain fog
  • Trouble with concentration and focus
  • Trouble paying attention
  • Short or long-term memory problems
  • Difficulty following basic directions
  • Decreased comprehension and communication abilities

Emotional Effects

  • Feelings of sadness
  • Irritability
  • Anger management issues
  • Lack of emotional control
  • Behavioral issues

Imagine that you believe that your so-called mild brain injury has healed, but you continue to experience several of the above symptoms. You likely will not realize that these effects stem from your concussion – after all, the doctor said it was mild, so it cleared up quickly, right?

Too many people struggle with symptoms of mild concussions for a long time without realizing what is happening, and this can result in additional problems, including depression, anxiety, frustration, isolation, and more.

Further, many concussion victims fail to tell their doctors about their continuing symptoms, as they might not connect the dots between the symptoms and their injury. This puts them at risk of developing complications and not getting the medical care or treatment plan they truly need.

Post-Concussion Syndrome

Many people with mild concussions will feel better in the days or weeks after their injury, but it is important to keep in mind that this is not the case for everyone.

Research shows that:

  • Almost one-third of mild concussion victims still feel effects of their brain injuries three months later
  • Ten to fifteen percent of victims continue to feel effects one year after the injury

Since these symptoms can be debilitating, they might prevent you from performing your job duties, taking care of your household, or participating in your usual activities for a long time. Always tell your doctor about persistent symptoms, as you might receive a diagnosis of post-concussion syndrome. This can lead to a better treatment plan that addresses the true nature of your “mild” injury.

Your Legal Rights After a Concussion

Because of the persistent and serious effects of some “mild” concussions, many people experience surprisingly significant losses.

These can include losses from:

  • Emergency medical care
  • Follow-up appointments
  • Medications
  • Time away from work
  • Pain and suffering

If someone else caused your accident and concussion, that party should be liable for all of your losses.

There are many causes of concussions that can lead to financial recovery:

  • Car and truck accidents
  • Motorcycle and bicycle accidents
  • Pedestrian accidents
  • Falls
  • Dangerous products
  • Nursing home abuse

Work with a brain injury attorney to determine the proper insurance claims you need to file to seek financial recovery.

Many insurance companies undervalue claims stemming from mild concussions. This is because adjusters see the word “mild” as part of your diagnosis and assume that your losses cannot be significant.

You want to have an experienced brain injury lawyer handling your claim who knows how to present the full value of your losses – both economic and noneconomic – in the most persuasive manner possible to the insurer. An attorney can advise you when you deserve more than the insurance adjuster offered and continue negotiating for the full amount you need to cover your damages.

If the insurance company continues to lowball your settlement offers, a skilled attorney can escalate the matter and file a brain injury lawsuit. They should handle every step of the litigation process, always working to reach a favorable settlement agreement before trial. Should your case go to trial, you want a lawyer who knows how to convince a jury of the major effects of your injury despite the diagnosis stating your concussion was “mild.”

Always take a mild concussion seriously, and never hesitate to raise concerns to your medical team or to protect your legal rights with the help of a brain injury lawyer.

What Happens After Lifting Injuries at Work?

According to the National Safety Council, the top cause of work-related injuries includes bodily reactions and overexertion.

It accounts for approximately 31 percent of all worker injuries and includes:

  • Non-Impact Injuries – These occur due to excessive physical effort a person directs to something, such as lifting, turning, pushing, throwing, carrying, and holding.
  • Repetitive Motion Injuries – These micro-tasks strain or stress body parts because of the tasks’ repetitive nature.

These activities involve manually handling materials and lifting objects at work, which puts all workers at risk for various injuries. Employers should carefully evaluate all manual handling tasks to ensure safety and avoid injuries by considering the worker’s lifting capacity and the load. Employers should likewise provide lifting aids when necessary.

What Is Manual Material Handling?

Manual material handling involves someone manually moving something by holding, lifting, seizing, turning, grasping, and similar actions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, manual material handling is a top contributor to more than half a million claims of musculoskeletal disorders in the U.S.

These disorders typically involve sprains and strains to the upper limbs, lower back, and shoulders. They often result in pain or disability, medical expenses, and financial burdens for workers who suffer from them.

These are injuries that usually result from lifting and manual material handling:

Hand Injuries

Any manual handling task will involve the hands, whether you’re lifting, pulling, pushing, or carrying. Depending on what you are handling, it could be dangerous by itself. For example, you could cut your hands if you’re lifting a load with sharp edges or burn your hands when lifting a hot load.

However, hand injuries may also result from putting down a load you’re carrying. For instance, you could bruise or break a finger if you’re putting down a heavy load and failed to get a finger out of the way. Likewise, your fingers could get stuck between the load and a wall or some other nearby obstacle. This is a common occurrence when a group of workers is lifting and moving one heavy load.

Sprains and Strains

Have you ever lifted something and then regretted it right after because it was heavier than you realized? Or maybe because over time, the load became too heavy to carry? This commonly happens in warehouses. But stretching the muscles beyond what they can handle, and doing it over and over again, could result in pain, bruising, and inflammation. Consequently, this can cause sprains and strains in the wrists, arms, shoulders, and back.

Back Injuries

Lifting often leads to back injuries, particularly if workers do not practice proper lifting techniques or are constantly lifting loads that their bodies simply can’t handle. However, workers should also be aware that poor posture could likewise injure their back when they’re carrying a load. Additionally, twisting and stooping could make your back more susceptible to injury. The most common back injuries related to lifting include slipped discs and spine problems.

Musculoskeletal Disorders

These cover a wide array of pain and issues in the back, upper limbs, and lower limbs. They can likewise result in many symptoms that typically develop over time and worsen without early diagnosis and treatment. Most musculoskeletal disorders that develop at work are due to poor manual material handling and lifting practices, specifically, tasks that require workers to:

  • Turn, twist, and bend their necks, backs, and/or torsos.
  • Overstretch their muscles to reach difficult-to-reach areas.
  • Awkward, uneven, and heavy loads, which could include animals, people, tools, boxes, devices, or other inanimate objects.
  • Work in cramped environments with uneven and unstable surfaces or flooring.

Hernias

Hernias occur when an internal body part pushes against a weak muscle or tissue wall. Repeated strain on the stomach area usually causes hernias. Most cases will require surgery to fix. Likewise, excessive straining by lifting heavy things could cause hernias. Older individuals are also naturally more at risk of developing them.

Foot Injuries

You may not use your feet for lifting, but manual handling can cause foot injuries if workers drop the load they’re carrying on their feet. The risk of injuring your feet is even higher when workers do not wear proper protective footwear. Dropping a load from height, instead of lowering it carefully, and gripping a load incorrectly could all result in bruised, broken, or crushed feet.

Injuries from Slips, Trips, and Falls

Slips, trips, and falls are common workplace injuries, whether or not you’re manually handling or lifting something. While these accidents typically result from something else other than lifting, manual handling could raise the risk of slips, trips, and falls. When you carry something, it might limit your visibility to some degree, and you might not notice the wet floor, pile of cables, or obstacle on the floor. Additionally, the consequences of tripping or falling while carrying a load could be more serious since you can’t use your arms to break the fall or hold on to something.

What to Do If You Suffered a Lifting Injury at Work

The law requires that most employers in the U.S. provide their employees with workers’ compensation insurance. This type of insurance provides injured employees immediate help with wage replacement and medical bills. If you’ve sustained a minor injury at work and have fully recovered from it, you could easily handle filing a workers’ comp claim by yourself.

However, you should consider getting help from an experienced workers’ compensation claim lawyer if you sustained more serious workplace injuries. Keep in mind that while you might work for the best boss and company, it’s the company’s insurance company that will be handling your claim. A lawyer can help safeguard your legal rights, ensure that you receive the right wage benefits and medical treatment, and handle negotiations with the insurance provider.

Furthermore, take note that some workplace injuries might involve the liability of other parties apart from your employer. A lawyer might help you file a third-party claim to seek full compensation for all your losses after a failure of safety equipment, machine malfunctions, and motor vehicle accidents—in addition to the benefits you can receive from your workers’ comp claim.

How to Sue a Doctor for Malpractice

Thousands of patients suffer and die each year due to doctor malpractice. A study by John Hopkins Medicine found that the third most common cause of death in the U.S. is medical errors. Doctors rarely admit to committing a medical error. And some doctors, who may be leaning towards admitting an error, might be scared of violating a cooperation clause found in their medical malpractice insurance. Likewise, for plenty of doctors, their insurance providers prohibit them from admitting that they committed a medical error.

The problem is that doctors do commit medical errors that could sometimes be fatal to patients. If you or a loved one sustained injuries due to a doctor’s negligent actions, you have the legal right to pursue compensation through a medical malpractice claim.

Determine If You Have a Medical Malpractice Claim

Each medical malpractice is different. But, you will need to establish these elements to ensure that you have a valid malpractice claim:

  • You received treatment from a doctor that does not hold up to the medical standard of care.
  • You sustained a serious and verifiable injury that you wouldn’t have otherwise sustained if not for the doctor’s negligence.

Doctors are negligent when they commit something wrong or fail to carry out certain things that other reasonable doctors would have done in similar circumstances.

For example, most medical errors occur due to these negligent actions:

  • Improper Treatment: Doctors who prescribe improper or wrong treatments or medications or improper medicine dosages might be liable for medical malpractice.
  • Failure to Diagnose: Doctors who fail to recognize and diagnose a dangerous medical condition, such as cancer, or make an inaccurate diagnosis might be liable for your damages.
  • Failure to Warn: If you’ve undergone treatment and experienced adverse effects that your doctor failed to warn you about, your doctor might be liable for malpractice.

Check the Statute of Limitations of Your State

All jurisdictions have legal rules that specify deadlines for settling different kinds of injury claims or suing negligent parties. When you miss this deadline, you automatically forfeit your legal right to pursue compensation for your losses. These rules could be very complex because the deadline could greatly differ based on a particular case’s circumstances.

Broadly speaking, these statutes of limitations rules are common:

  • The filing deadline is usually one to two years.
  • The exception, known as the discovery rule, for cases in which patients were not aware or could not have reasonably known that a doctor’s negligence contributed to their injuries.
  • Different deadlines for incapacitated people, minors, and other special groups.
  • An overarching deadline for suing a negligent party, called the statute of repose, which applies regardless of the discovery rule.

Keep Track of All Your Medical Records

Your medical records can serve as evidence to support your medical malpractice claims. You should also consider collecting medical records before the occurrence of the malpractice, even if the records are from other medical providers that are not part of your claim. If your claim goes to court, your medical records will also be necessary during the discovery process.

Make sure to write down a list of all the medical providers you have consulted with or treated you as well as the dates of all medical appointments, diagnostic tests, and hospital admissions. It will be easier for your lawyer to review and gauge the strength of your case if you have this supporting evidence.

Keep track of these documents related to your claim:

  • Tests results
  • Prescriptions
  • Any correspondences with your doctor and their staff
  • Written instructions provided before medical treatments or diagnostic tests
  • Emergency room or hospital discharge paperwork

Document How Your Injuries Changed Your Life

Take note that you are likewise legally entitled to significant compensation for the pain and suffering or emotional distress you’ve had to endure or are still enduring due to a medical error. If you’re able, keeping a journal or diary about your experiences could be very helpful to your claim.

You should list down everything you can remember about your health and symptoms before the malpractice incident.

Following the incident, you can describe in your journal all the harms you suffered, including:

  • Your specific symptoms
  • Pain levels
  • Discovery of the medical error
  • Further medical treatments
  • Sleep, emotional, and psychological disturbances
  • Physical limitations and changes
  • How your daily activities and overall quality of life has been affected

Keep in mind that you are deserving of fair compensation for all aspects of your life that your injuries have negatively affected. This can include your inability to care for your family, home, and/or pets and even the distress and shame you feel because you require help with going to the bathroom and your personal hygiene tasks.

Consider Filing a Complaint with the Medical Board

Upon receiving your complaint, the medical board will need to investigate your doctor. While you won’t receive compensation for this action, if the board finds that your doctor was negligent, they could face hefty fines and revocation of their medical license.

Work with an Experienced Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Medical malpractice cases are expensive, complicated, and could take several years to resolve, depending on the specific facts of the case. Working with the right lawyer for your case will ensure that you receive fair compensation for all your losses. A lawyer with experience in medical malpractice cases will likewise know which experts to hire to strengthen and prove your claim.

For instance, you will need medical experts for:

  • Reviewing your medical records
  • Establishing the proper standard of care fit for your specific situation
  • Determining how your doctor failed to provide you the proper standard of care
  • Identifying the permanence and scope of the injuries you sustained due to the malpractice

In addition, you’ll need financial experts for:

  • Calculating your future lost earnings and lost earning opportunities
  • Determining the future cost of your medical treatments
  • Evaluating how the medical malpractice affected your family financially

Find a medical malpractice lawyer who has the means to advance all the funds required for covering the costs of medical experts, court fees, accountants, discovery costs, and more. While you cannot go back in time and undo the ill effects of a medical malpractice injury, receiving fair compensation will hopefully help you move on with your life.

How Do Car Accident Settlements Work?

About 38,800 people in the U.S. died due to car accidents in one recent year, according to the National Safety Council. Also, roughly 4.4 million people sustained injuries in car crashes that required medical treatment. Car accidents can be minor or very complex, depending on the specific circumstances. Regardless, car accidents are usually stressful incidents that can disrupt an injured person’s life temporarily or permanently.

People who sustained injuries due to the negligent actions of another driver may recover compensation for covering qualified accident-related expenses, such as:

  • Medical treatment expenses
  • Hospital bills
  • Lost wages
  • Property damage
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Loss of companionship
  • Pain and suffering

They can recover compensation for these expenses and damages through a car accident settlement.

What Exactly Is a Car Accident Settlement?

A car accident settlement entails all the parties in the accident agreeing on a specific payout or compensation amount to cover expenses related to the accident. The settlement can happen without going to court, before a trial, or during an ongoing trial. Essentially, a car accident is a contract that states the liable party agrees to compensate the injured individual for losses incurred due to the accident and resulting injuries.

Done right, car accident settlements can save money and time for all parties involved. Rather than wasting weeks to months fighting it out in a trial and spending lots of resources, moving forward with a fair settlement is usually a better option than going to court. However, settlements will only work if all involved parties cooperate and reach a settlement agreement.

Note that auto insurance companies also offer car accident settlements directly to injured parties who don’t have legal representation. In cases like this, you have to keep in mind that you have the right to reject a low settlement offer, even if it means negotiating with the insurance company to come up with a fair settlement amount. You can also consider finding a car accident lawyer who offers free consultations to help you review the facts of your car accident claim.

What Happens During Settlement Negotiations?

After your lawyer establishes whom you can hold liable for the car accident and your injuries and how much compensation will be fair for all parties, your lawyer will then demand compensation from the liable party. Your lawyer may send the liable parties and/or their lawyers a demand letter detailing your claim and demands. Your lawyer may also choose to sue the liable party.

Once the liable party’s insurer evaluates your demand letter and responds to it, the car accident settlement negotiations will begin. Expect back and forth discussions between all parties everyone tries to come up with a fair settlement agreement. If the parties manage to agree to a settlement, negotiations will end, and you’ll recover your compensation.

On the other hand, if negotiations break down and the parties simply can’t agree on a settlement amount, you might consider alternative dispute resolution or mediation. If the parties still can’t agree, your lawyer may take your car accident case to court. Take note, though, that car accident claims rarely make it to court since settling is usually easier, more affordable, and less stressful for everyone.

How Much Money Can I Recover from a Car Accident Settlement?

Each car accident case will differ from one case to the next and comes with varying weaknesses and strengths. This means that the settlement amount will likewise vary greatly.

When estimating how much compensation is commensurate for your damages, your lawyer may consider:

  • The specific nature and severity of your injuries, which can include pain and suffering damages as well as any long-term effects on your life
  • Whether fault for the car accident is obvious or easily determinable
  • Whether the liable party is open to settlement negotiations

When receiving compensation through a settlement, you can receive it in the form of a structured settlement, annuity payment plan, or a lump sum. With a structured settlement, you’ll receive installment payments regularly over time. With a lump-sum payment, you’ll receive the settlement amount in its entirety. But there can be significant tax implications when receiving a massive amount of money. Your lawyer can advise you on the most cost-effective and tax-friendly option for you.

Be Extremely Cautious When Speaking to an Insurance Claims Representative

Following the car accident, regardless of whether you have a lawyer or not, the liable party’s auto insurance provider will most likely contact you and offer to settle your claim. This may tempt you, especially if you’re struggling to pay your bills. But you have to remember that the insurance company isn’t on your side. All too often, insurance providers, through an insurance claims representative or adjuster, will try to get injured victims to accept a fast but extremely undervalued settlement offer.

Accepting this offer will also mean that you’ll be waiving your rights to seek more compensation and sue the liable party when you realize that you didn’t receive a fair amount. Furthermore, accepting the low offer, particularly before you receive a long-term and more thorough prognosis for the injuries you suffered, would result in not getting the compensation amount that you truly deserve.

Instead, direct all discussions with the adjuster to your lawyer. If you don’t have a lawyer, consider contacting one that offers free case consultations so you can better understand your case before accepting anything from the insurance company.

When You Need a Lawyer for Your Car Accident Case

Tatiana Boohoff Managing Partner at Boohoff Law
Tatiana Boohoff, Car Accident Lawyer

Injured victims who recover from simple injuries typically can negotiate with insurance companies without any issues and legal representation. On the other hand, victims who’ve sustained potentially permanent and severe injuries such as spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, extensive scarring and/or burns, or injuries that need a long recovery or lifetime care will require the experience of a lawyer.

A car accident lawyer can review all the facts of your claim, explore your legal options, estimate the value of your claim, determine all liable parties, negotiate with insurance providers, and represent you in court, if necessary.

Acceleration and Deceleration Brain Injury

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a traumatic brain injury or TBI is one of the leading causes of disability and death in the U.S. In 2019, there were approximately 61,000 deaths from TBI. TBIs result from sudden trauma damaging the brain and disrupting its normal functions. Depending on the TBI’s severity, it could have very significant lifelong cognitive, physical, emotional, social, and psychological effects.

Medical professionals classify TBIs into primary and secondary injuries. Primary brain injuries occur due to mechanical forces and develop instantly. Secondary brain injuries, on the other hand, do not happen mechanically and may develop later on after sustaining primary injuries. Acceleration and deceleration brain injuries are primary brain injuries.

Understanding Acceleration and Deceleration Brain Injuries

Acceleration and deceleration brain injuries result from an unrestricted and sudden head movement that causes compressive, tensile, and shear strains. Among the most common situations that can result in this type of primary TBI is a high-speed auto accident, where whiplash is very common. Whiplash occurs when the head moves forward and backward rapidly.

With acceleration and deceleration brain injuries, these are the three most common types of damage:

  1. Diffuse axonal injury (dai)
  2. Focal contusions
  3. Intracranial hematomas, or bleeding around or in the brain

Diffuse Axonal Injury

This refers to widespread white matter damage in the brain. Your brain’s white matter consists of axon bundles, which, similar to computer wires, are responsible for connecting the different brain areas. DAI results from shearing forces that tear, twist, or stretch the axon bundles.

The problem is that DAIs are usually microscopic, which means that standard neuroimaging techniques cannot easily detect them. Severe DAIs, on the other hand, can be detected using an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) machine. DAIs could injure various brain areas and often occur with mild TBIs, but could likewise occur with severe TBIs.

Focal Contusions

These are swelling or bruising in tiny, specific brain areas. Focal contusions are also typically called coup injuries, in which bruising occurs directly under the trauma site, and contrecoup injuries, in which bruising occurs on the particular area of the brain that’s opposite the impact site. But coup-contrecoup injuries can also occur when the brain shakes back and forth, leading to bruising on both sides of your brain.

Intracranial Hematomas

Bleeding or hematomas around or in the brain is another common damage type that could occur with acceleration and deceleration TBIs.

It’s the most common cause of clinical deterioration and death after TBI and comes as:

  • Epidural hematoma: This usually results from a temporal bone fracture and middle meningeal artery rupture. With an epidural hematoma, blood clots pool between the dura and the bone. Since the bleeding source is arterial, epidural hematomas could develop rapidly and place undue pressure on brain tissue.
  • Subdural hematoma: This kind of hematoma often results from the subdural space’s bridging veins getting ruptured. Left untreated, it could grow quickly and serve as a mass lesion. Subdural hematomas can lead to high mortality and morbidity rates.
  • Subarachnoid hematoma: This results from blood vessel damage in the posterior cranial fossa.

There’s also the possibility of intracerebral hematomas with TBIs. Any kind of bleeding within or surrounding the brain is dangerous and potentially fatal.

What You Should Know About Secondary Injuries and Other TBI Complications

As with all kinds of traumatic brain injuries, which include accelerating and decelerating brain injuries, secondary injuries are common and occur because of the effects of the primary injuries. Essentially, a secondary injury results from processes that the primary injury initiates and evolves over time.

Secondary injuries can include:

  • Hyper/hypotension
  • Ischemia
  • Hypoxia
  • Cerebral edema
  • Hypercapnia
  • Raised intracranial pressure, which could lead to herniation
  • Brain abscess
  • Meningitis
  • Epilepsy
  • Biochemical changes

Furthermore, besides the immediate dangers of TBIs, they can also cause long-term complications and consequences, which can include:

  • Nerve damage
  • Seizures
  • Cognitive issues – Problems with focus, processing information, reasoning, nonverbal and verbal communication, multitasking, judging situations, remembering things, organizing ideas and thoughts, and problem-solving, etc.
  • Issues with senses – These can lead to tinnitus, clumsiness because of poor eye-hand coordination, difficulty recognizing objects, sensing bad smells, or blind spots and double vision
  • Changes in personality – These changes typically result in impaired impulse control, leading to inappropriate behavior and, in turn, causing anxiety and stress for family members, caregivers, and friends
  • Long-term neurological issues – These can include Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and depression, among others
  • Coma – People with TBI who become comatose and remain in a coma for a long period might wake up completely fine. Unfortunately, it’s more common for people to wake from a coma with long-term disabilities and issues. Some even stay in a coma forever.

Seeking Help for a Traumatic Brain Injury

Tatiana Boohoff Lawyer
Tatiana Boohoff, Brain Injury Attorney

Moderate and severe TBIs could result in lifelong cognitive, physical, behavioral, and emotional disabilities that will damage the injured person’s quality of life. The CDC also found that despite hospitalization and rehab services, approximately 50 percent of TBI patients would experience further decline or die within five years of sustaining a TBI.

Fortunately, it is possible to reduce or prevent some of the adverse effects of TBI. Managing these lifelong problems, also called chronic disease management, is immensely vital to help improve the lives of people with TBI. However, the estimated lifetime costs of managing a TBI can range from $85,000 up to $3 million in recent years. And for many people, the cost is a massive barrier to proper TBI management.

Because of this, TBI cases require proper and prompt medical treatment as well as legal support. If you or a loved one is suffering from a TBI that resulted from another individual’s negligence in an accident or at work, consult with a brain injury lawyer to learn about your legal options.

An experienced brain injury lawyer can help determine how and where you can recover compensation to afford all the medical treatments you will need for your brain injury, whether from your own health insurance, the at-fault party’s insurance coverage, and/or your worker’s compensation insurance.