Our accomplished attorneys can help you move forward.
AEL has been handling cases involving traumatic brain injury for decades, and one of the first things we learned is that brain injuries can be insidious. Often, people who have been injured don’t know about their injury until days, weeks or even months later. Unfortunately, this means they may not seek medical help for some time – and they may have a harder time recovering compensation for their losses. Throughout that process, they will need to have the right personal injury attorney in their corner.
We’re committed to helping victims of brain injury get better, and one of the most important steps in the recovery process is recognizing that you have an injury. If you’ve been involved in a car accident or fall, hurt while playing sports, or injured in a violent attack, review the list of warning sign below – and if you have any reason to suspect you may have a brain injury, see a doctor right away.
Our attorneys understand the danger of concussions.
Some of the most common – and most potentially serious – injuries sustained in auto accidents are head injuries such as concussions. The collision itself may have been over in an instant, but the effects of such an injury can last a lifetime. You may be left lost, confused and overwhelmed, struggling to remember what happened, or replaying the accident in your mind, wondering if you could have done something differently – and whether your life will ever be the same.
Even a low-speed collision can cause a serious injury.
Car crashes can cause concussions in a number of different ways. The most obvious is when a driver or passenger’s head strikes a hard surface inside the car, such as a window, door or windshield. Someone who is thrown from a vehicle may sustain an injury after landing on his or her head. Some car accidents even cause penetrating head injuries – that is, a foreign object, such as a piece of shrapnel or debris thrown in the accident, pierces the skull and enters the brain.
But not every brain injury sustained in a car accident is that obvious. Some injuries don’t even involve contact. When the head moves violently forward and backward, the brain may strike the skull, causing an injury – just like, and often accompanying, a whiplash injury to the neck. These types of injuries can be sustained in any type of car accident, including low-speed collisions.
What’s important to remember is that a concussion is a brain injury, and no brain injury is truly minor. Even a seemingly low-speed, low-impact accident can cause injuries with serious symptoms. For instance, new research is showing that a high percentage of car accidents cause damage to the pituitary gland, which produces and regulates important hormones – and, frighteningly, even a very minor concussion can result in serious pituitary dysfunction.
Our law firm will help you get the compensation you need
Legal cases involving brain injuries sustained in car accidents can be highly complex and difficult to litigate. Often, that’s because the injured person does not remember what happened. The insurance company representing another driver may try to pin the blame on a victim who is in no position to respond. Or the insurance company may dispute the extent of your injuries, claiming that you couldn’t have been seriously injured because the collision happened at a low speed. Moreover, due to the high long-term cost of a brain injury, you may run into issues with policy limits – it may look as though there just isn’t enough coverage to pay for the treatment and services you need.
Your injury has lifelong consequences. You need an attorney who understands.
Any injury can have significant long-term consequences, but few are quite as serious as traumatic brain injuries. For most victims, life will never be quite the same. Depending on the severity of your injury, you may be unable to work or care for loved ones. You may feel fine now, only to suffer consequences decades down the road. You may require care for the rest of your life. With all of the difficulties that arise after a traumatic brain injury, you need a personal injury lawyer who truly understands your injury.
Unfortunately, the insurance company representing the person who caused your injury may only see you as a chance to save money. They don’t understand – or deliberately refuse to acknowledge – the unique nature of brain injury cases. Making a brain injury survivor whole again can require hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars to pay for long-term care and treatment, a sum that insurers balk at paying even when they have a clear responsibility to do so.
One of our attorneys survived a brain injury. We know exactly what you’re going through.
At AEL, we are uniquely qualified to help victims of traumatic brain injury. Brain injuries have lifelong implications. When we prepare a case, we keep our client’s entire lifetime in mind. Our personal injury team will closely review your medical records and work with our network of top medical providers and specialists in the Seattle area to get you the best possible care. We understand how to coordinate the long-term care and special services that brain injury survivors need. We’ll put all of our considerable resources to work for you.
AEL Law has been at the forefront of brain injury prevention as well as litigation. Our law firm represented the namesake of the Zackery Lystedt Law, which protects young athletes from concussions. Originally passed here in Washington, similar laws have now gone into effect in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Types of Traumatic Brain Injuries
Broadly speaking, a traumatic brain injury is any injury that results in damage to the brain. Most brain injuries are closed head injuries, which result in blunt force trauma to the brain. For instance, a person might hit his or her head on a windshield or car door during an accident, or may be struck in the head while playing a contact sport such as football. External trauma to the head is not always necessary; for instance, whiplash sustained in a car accident can cause a brain injury. Some accidents lead to penetrating head injuries, which are cases in which an object actually penetrates the skull and damages the brain directly.
There are three types of damage involved in traumatic brain injuries:
- Bruising: When the brain is injured, blood vessels can tear apart, which causes blood to pool within the brain and put pressure on sensitive tissue. This can cause tissue to die off and stop critical parts of the brain from functioning.
- Tearing: Microscopic tears can form in the brain when it is injured. These tears can be difficult to spot on a CT scan or an MRI because they are so small.
- Swelling: When the body recognizes that the brain has been injured, the body sends extra help to begin the healing process. Unfortunately, there is very little room within the skull, and pressure starts to build up. This, again, can cause critical areas to stop functioning.
Note that traumatic brain injuries do not necessarily involve loss of consciousness. Many survivors initially only suffer minor symptoms such as a headache.
Warning Signs of Traumatic Brain Injury.
Brain injuries can be insidious, and they may go unnoticed for some time. It’s important to understand the symptoms of a brain injury and seek medical attention right away if you have any reason to suspect you may be injured.
- Persistent mild headache or neck pain.
- Loss of memory, concentration, organizational ability or decision making ability.
- Slow speech.
- Difficulty reading or focusing.
- Loss of energy or sex drive.
- Change in sleep patterns, e.g. insomnia or oversleeping.
- Loss of coordination or balance.
- Sensitivity to light.
- Blurred vision or loss of senses.
- Ringing in the ears.
- Mood swings or changes.
When a child suffers a traumatic brain injury, seeing those warning signs can be even more difficult. Children may feel some symptoms that they are unable to express, or they may not understand that a change in their body or mind is a sign that something is wrong. Some visible warning signs of a traumatic brain injury include:
- Lack of energy.
- An increase in tantrums or general crankiness.
- Changes in play or eating habits.
- Altered performance in school.
- Loss of previously learned skills such as reading or toilet training.
- Loss of interest in favorite toys, games or activities.
- Difficulty with balance and coordination.
Causes of Traumatic Brain Injury.
Any incident that involves violent movement or an impact to the head can lead to a traumatic brain injury. The majority of these injuries are suffered in car, truck and motorcycle accidents, but a brain injury can happen at any time, for a variety of reasons. Some common causes of brain injury include:
- Falls: Older people are especially vulnerable to brain injury when they fall down. Falls from heights can also lead to brain injuries, such as construction workers who fall from scaffolding. Another common cause is falling merchandise or other objects that might strike a person in the head.
- Sports Injuries: In recent years, concussions sustained while playing sports have gotten a great deal of media attention. While sports injuries still account for a fairly small percentage of brain injuries, the majority of the victims are quite young, which means the long-term consequences can be severe. Many serious brain injuries involve “second impact syndrome,” when an athlete who has already suffered a concussion is hit in the head again within seven days.
- Assaults: Any sort of violence that involves trauma to the head can cause a brain injury. These injuries may be sustained by law enforcement officers, members of the military, or private citizens who are victims of assault.
- Work Injuries: Falls and other incidents that can result in brain injury are a hazard in many workplaces. Working with heavy equipment in a factory or construction site, for instance, could lead to an accident that injures the brain.
Remember, brain injuries often remain hidden for some time after the trauma itself. That’s why it’s so important to seek medical help as soon as possible if there’s any chance you could have sustained a brain injury – and to reach out to an attorney who has experience handling complex injury cases.
Concussions and Traumatic Brain Injury.
A concussion is a common type of traumatic brain injury that is caused when the brain jars or shakes inside the skull, causing damage to the brain when it impacts the inside of the skull. Concussions are often caused by falls or blows to the head, but it’s not necessary for the head to actually strike the ground or an object to cause a concussion. When the head moves violently back and forth due to a sudden stop, the brain may also move inside the skull, causing a concussion.
Some common causes of concussions include:
- Vehicle collisions
- Fights and assaults
- Sports and recreational injuries
- Work accidents
It’s important to remember that a concussion is a traumatic brain injury, and while concussions are generally mild, no injury to the brain is truly minor. Even a seemingly mild concussion can cause long-term symptoms, ranging from persistent headaches to significant changes in mood and energy level. Moreover, new evidence indicates that even a minor concussion can cause damage to the pituitary gland – the “master gland” that produces essential hormones, including growth hormone.
If you’ve sustained a concussion, no matter how minor, due to someone else’s negligence, you need a law firm with extensive experience handling brain injury cases on your side. That’s why we strongly encourage you to contact AEL today. We’ll help connect you with top specialists and care providers to help you reach maximum medical improvement, and we’ll pursue full and fair compensation for your injury.
How Did You Injure Your Head?
Any collision can cause a brain injury such as a concussion. You may have hit your head on a window or other hard surface. But even if your head didn’t hit anything, any violent back-and-forth movement (whiplash) can cause brain injuries, including damage to the pituitary gland.
Because commercial trucks are so much larger than passenger cars, these collisions involve more force – and thus more potential trauma to the brain. Some truck accidents involve underride, which means a part of the trailer may actually enter the vehicle’s cab.
Unlike cars and trucks, motorcycles provide no head injury protection to operators or passengers. Wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of a brain injury, but helmets only do so much. If you landed on your head, you may have a concussion or other serious injury.
Slip and Fall
Falls are the leading cause of traumatic brain injury nationwide, accounting for about two in five overall – and they’re especially dangerous for children and elderly people. If you or your child sustained a head injury in a fall, you should seek medical attention right away.
Children and adults alike can sustain significant head injuries during sports and recreational activities. Concussions put athletes at risk of second-impact syndrome – a rare but deadly condition in which a second concussion is sustained before the first has had time to heal.
Violence involving blunt force trauma to the head can result in moderate and severe brain injuries, especially for younger victims. Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to take legal action against the person who assaulted you or the owner of the premises.
What Are Your Symptoms?
Did you lose consciousness after the accident?
Not every brain injury results in loss of consciousness, but if the accident did knock you out, especially for 30 minutes or more, that’s an immediate red flag.
Do you have head or neck pain?
A persistent headache or a literal pain in the neck that just won’t go away is a warning sign that your
head or spine may have experienced significant trauma.
Do you hear ringing or buzzing?
This is called tinnitus – hearing something when no external sound is present. It may indicate an injury to the part of your brain that interprets nerve signals as sound.
Have your sleep patterns changed?
Some traumatic brain injury survivors develop insomnia. Others begin to oversleep. Either way, if your sleep patterns have changed significantly, you may have a brain injury.
Do you have blurred vision or sensitivity to light?
A brain injury may have affected the part of your brain that processes visual information, leading to these difficulties. Other senses such as taste and smell may also be affected.
Have you lost energy or libido?
Victims of brain injury are often very tired and have trouble staying awake. Some brain injuries also cause loss of libido (sex drive).
Are you having trouble with everyday tasks?
An injury to the brain can affect your memory, focus, organization and decision-making, making formerly routine tasks at home or work difficult or impossible.
Have you had trouble with balance?
Traumatic brain injuries may cause damage to the brain stem and cerebellum, the parts of the brain that control coordination. This leads to dizziness and disequilibrium – loss of balance.
Do you have trouble reading?
Post-Trauma Vision Syndrome (PTVS) is a symptom of brain injury that causes your brain to see a block of text as a bunch of isolated letters, rather than reading it as a coherent whole.
Have you been irritable or “moody?”
Damage to the brain can have unpredictable effects on your mood. Brain injury survivors often experience mood changes, which may be misdiagnosed as a psychological condition.
Are you feeling depressed or losing interest in activities?
Many brain injuries cause damage to the pituitary gland, which can cause low levels of growth hormone and other hormones. Those hormonal imbalances can cause symptoms such as depression and fatigue – and are often misdiagnosed.