Although any severe injury can be traumatic and life-altering, sustaining a brain injury might be one of the most devastating. A victim might not display any visible signs of trauma such as bleeding, scarring or disfiguration but the changes in cognitive abilities, memory, mood, and personality that brain injuries can produce are all too real. Contact a Toronto brain injury lawyer from Affinity Law if you or a loved one has sustained a severe or traumatic brain injury.
Brain injuries can occur in any type of accident:
- Motor vehicle
- Slip and fall
- Gunshot wound to the head
- Struck by object on a construction site
- Negligent medical procedure where oxygen to patient was cut off
- Failure to monitor fetal distress leading to permanent brain injury
- Child abuse
- Nursing home abuse
Even a simple blow to the head can lead to hemorrhaging in some cases. Because of the invisible nature of many head injuries and the catastrophic consequences they may create, victims need to be examined promptly after any accident where they suffered head trauma. Also, be sure to retain one of our Toronto personal injury lawyers at the outset so that your claim is handled with competence and care.
Symptoms of a Brain Injury
The symptoms from a head injury are many and varied:
- Blurred vision
- Loss of balance
- Ringing in the ears
- Sudden depression
- Sensitivity to light
- Memory loss
- Anger or rage from minor provocations
- Changes in behavior and moods
Do not ignore any of these symptoms as they can quickly escalate to more serious consequences.
Types of Brain Injuries
Brain injuries range from mild to catastrophic. They can be minor and resolve after a short time or can be permanent and catastrophic. The most common types of brain injury include:
This is the most common type of brain injury and can occur without a loss of consciousness. When you strike your head or you suffer a violent shaking, your brain moves from side to side, damaging brain cells in the process. The severity of a concussion often depends on whether you did lose consciousness and for how long. If longer than 15 minutes, there may be more complications. If you are out for 6 hours or more, your chances of having suffered permanent brain damage is heightened. Any of the above noted symptoms are common in persons who sustained a concussion regardless if they lost consciousness or not.
Contre-coup injuries are similar to concussions and occur when contusions to the brain occur at the point of impact and on the opposite side. This can cause bleeding in the brain, usually in the frontal and temporal lobe that affects speech, swallowing and balance.
A more serious head injury is a hematoma where blood vessels rupture and bleed into the brain, resulting in swelling that must be relieved by surgery. There are different types of hematomas:
• Epidural—bleeding under the skull but outside the brain and dura (membrane surrounding the arachnoid mater that protects the brain)
• Subdural—bleeding between the brain and dura
• Subarachnoid—bleeding within the dura and under the arachnoid layer
• Intracerebral—bleeding within brain tissue
• Intraventricular—bleeding into the ventricles. There are four interconnected cavities in the brain where cerebrospinal fluid is generated
A blow to the head or a gunshot wound can produce a skull fracture where bone fragments are splintered and become lodged in the brain. These are classified as:
- Simple—minor cracks with no brain damage
- Linear—thin crack(s) in the skull with no brain damage
- Compound—a break in the skin; the bone splinters and carries a high risk of infection
- Depressed—a broken or crushed bone fragment becomes imbedded in the brain leading to abscesses and possible infection
- Penetrating—debris or a bullet pierces the skull with a high likelihood of infection and severe damage to brain tissue and cells
- Basilar—fracture at the base of the skull
Symptoms of a skull fracture are more serious and ominous than those associated with a concussion, and typically include:
- Clear fluid leading from the nose or ears
- Loss of balance or coordination
- Severe headaches
- Slurred or loss of speech
- Difficulty swallowing
- Swelling in the head
- Ringing in the ears
Diffuse Axonal Injuries (DAI)
One of the most serious types of brain injuries are Diffuse Axonal Injuries. In cases where a victim is unconscious for at least 6-hours, doctors will look for signs of a DAI. If the injury is serious, the victim will generally never regain consciousness. If the victim does recover, there is a high probability that he will suffer some degree of brain damage. A DAI can be diagnosed by MRIs to find lesions that may signal this type of injury. An EKG may reveal abnormal brain wave activity.
Mild to moderate sufferers may have to endure months of speech, occupational, and physical therapy.
Proof of Liability or Injury
Unless liability is acknowledged, the claimant has the burden of proving fault by another party or entity. Insurers will usually try to impose some degree of responsibility on a claimant whom they allege may not have been riding his bicycle in a marked bike lane, who crossed the street outside of a crosswalk, made an unsafe lane change, or was not wearing a helmet. One of our Toronto personal injury lawyers can investigate the circumstances of your accident and if necessary, retain an accident reconstruction expert or expert in human factors to demonstrate that the other party was substantially at fault. An expert in injury biomechanics can further show how the forces of the accident generated by the defendant’s negligence contributed to the head and brain injury suffered by the plaintiff or victim. These experts are often necessary to dispel arguments that if the victim wore a helmet, he would not have suffered the injury or it would have been less severe. If proven, then the compensation awarded to you whould be reduced accordingly.
Use of Experts to Prove Damages
Similarly, in cases where a victim has suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and substantial damages are alleged, the testimony of experts is not only essential but necessary to prove damages. These include medical experts in neurology, occupational and physical therapy. Medical experts can explain to a jury how the injury has affected the plaintiff’s ability to engage in daily or recreational activities, as well as her severity of pain, the likelihood of future treatments and therapy, and prognosis.
An expert in forensic economics can verify a plaintiff’s future loss of income and earning capacity as well as the value of household services provided by the injured victim. Retaining a credible expert for your case is essential to proving all your damages. Our highly experienced Toronto personal injury lawyers routinely use such experts to obtain maximum compensation for our clients.
Damages in Brain Injury Cases
Your damages in a brain injury case can be substantial depending on its severity, the victim’s ability to return to work, future treatments, and prognosis. If you or a loved one was injured in a motor vehicle accident including as a pedestrian or bicyclist, you are entitled to Accident Benefits regardless of fault. These benefits include:
Income Replacement—if unable to work, you can receive up to 70% of your gross income but no more than $400 per week unless you opted for higher coverage that can be as much as $1000 per week.
Non-Earner—if you were not working or are a student and unable to engage in routine daily activities, you can receive up to $185 weekly.
Care-Giver—if you provided care to a dependent and are unable to do so, you may receive compensation to hire a replacement worker. These benefits only cover certain injuries.
Medical-Rehabilitation and Attendant Care—Coverage is up to $65,000 for non-catastrophic injuries and to $1M for catastrophic. These are doubled if you purchased higher coverages. You can also receive assistance at home or at a facility if you sustained a serious injury.
Other benefits can include lost educational expenses, housekeeping and home maintenance, and damage to items such as a computer, glasses, clothing and other personal possessions.
You can only pursue a third-party claim for additional compensation such as pain and suffering in a car accident if your injury was “serious and permanent.” This refers to disfigurement or impairment of an important physical, mental, or psychological function. If you were injured in any other type of accident, your injury need not meet this threshold.
Damages in a brain injury case can include:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future income loss
- Loss of earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Expenses for household and attendant care
- Family claims for loss of the plaintiff’s care, love and guidance and any expenses incurred in caring for her
Damages for pain and suffering are presently capped at below $400,000. There are no limits on other damages, though they must meet the standard of reasonableness. Be sure to retain a Toronto brain injury lawyer from Affinity Law to ensure that you receive all the benefits and damages to which you are entitled.
It is recommended in many brain injury cases that negotiating a settlement be delayed in order to fully assess the extent of the injury and the impact on the victim’s life and that of his/her family. If there is limited insurance or compensation available, though, your attorney may want to demand the policy limits if the injury is obviously serious and permanent. Otherwise, it may take months or even years before the injury has stabilized and the damages can be more clearly assessed.
RETAIN AFFINITY LAW
You have 2-years to file a personal injury claim in the appropriate court. But it is vital that you promptly retain a skilled and resourceful Toronto brain injury lawyer from Affinity Law so that your claim can be professionally handled, and no egregious errors made that could jeopardize the compensation to which you are entitled.