Nebraska Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Explainer
One of the most common and, not to mention, dangerous injuries one can suffer in a car accident in Nebraska is a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Most people are familiar with traumatic brain injuries but are unaware that the term is actually a broad classification for several types of brain injuries. Such injuries are caused by damage to the various regions of the brain, such as those which control vision, hearing, and other basic motor functions. The severity of the traumatic brain injury typically depends upon where and how the injury took place. While most TBI’s are rather minor and heal within weeks, others can be rather serious and lead to long-term to permanent damage, sometimes even death.
Victims of traumatic brain injuries caused by car accidents may have legal standing to file an injury claim against those found responsible. The best bet to recover just compensation for a TBI caused by a car accident is to hire a skilled attorney with experience handling injury claims involving the brain. If you’ve suffered a TBI in Nebraska caused by a motor vehicle accident, the following guide has all the answers you need about your injury and future legal options.
What is a Traumatic Brain Injury?
Medical professionals use the term Traumatic Brain Injury to describe a wide array of injuries to the brain. In short, almost any injury to the brain which is not the result of a genetic or degenerative disease may be classified as a traumatic brain injury.
The majority of traumatic brain injuries are the result of a sudden blow or strike to the head or boy by an outside and outsized force. These injuries might even occur by a foreign object actually penetrating the skull. Other TBI’s might be invisible, completely contained inside of the cranial cavity.
A traumatic brain injury can be as mild as a concussion or serious enough to warrant emergency surgery. More severe TBI’s can cause significant cognitive impairment, paralysis, or even death. TBI’s can be severe injuries and victims should seek out professional medical treatment as soon as possible due to the risk of long-term consequences.
Nebraska TBI Statistics
Every year over 1.7 million people suffer traumatic brain injuries in the United States. Sadly, over 20% of these TBI’s are caused by car accidents. The state of Massachusetts ranked 1st per capita for TBI-related fatalities and South Dakota ranked last. While Nebraska is ranked near the middle, the state’s statistics remain harrowing, with 1 person dying every day from a TBI and 3 people being hospitalized in emergency departments.
Below are additional statistics showing the impact of traumatic brain injuries both nationally and in Nebraska:
- Nearly 5,000 TBI’s occur every day in the United States
- 1 person sustains a brain injury every 10 seconds
- Auto accidents are the second leading cause of TBI’s with accidental falls being first
- Injuries to the brain are the second most-reported disability
- 80% of all TBI victims are male
- 50,000+ people die every year from TBI’s
- Almost 300,000 people are hospitalized annually for traumatic brain injuries
- TBI’s cost the U.S. economy over $60 billion dollars every year
- The cost to Nebraska from TBI’s in 2009 exceeded $413 million
- Falls were the leading cause of TBI hospitalizations and deaths in Nebraska, with auto accidents being 2nd, and suicide being 3rd
Such statistics offer a sobering view of the dramatic impact traumatic brain injuries can have on the lives of victims and their families. These statistics only offer a glimpse of the painful reality TBI victims face every day of their lives. Due to the brain’s incredible complexity, no two traumatic brain injuries are ever the same. A TBI is a wholly unique condition for each and every victim.
Brain Injury Complications and Symptoms
Traumatic brain injuries often cause a number of symptoms and complications which make treatment and recovery difficult, if not impossible. Here are the most common complications victims face which are caused by traumatic brain injuries.
Seizures: Seizures are the sudden and uncontrolled electrical disturbances in the brain. Seizures can last for a few seconds or even minutes with the victim losing consciousness and suffering from jerking limbs. If a seizure lasts five minutes or more, it is considered to be an acute emergency and should be treated by a medical professional as soon as possible. Post-traumatic epilepsy is when a person suffers multiple seizures for more than a week following the initial injury.
Altered States of Consciousness: Traumatic brain injuries may cause victims to experience several types of altered states of consciousness. Victims may find themselves in a minimally conscious state, where they have limited aware of their surroundings, or they may even fall into a vegetative state which leaves them completely unaware or responsive to their surroundings beyond basic reflex responses or unresponsive alertness. One of the most serious altered state of consciousness is a full-blown coma. In a coma, a victim is unable to respond to any external stimuli and is completely unaware of their surroundings. The most severe state of consciousness is when there is absolutely no brain functions to measure and the victim is effectively brain dead.
Hydrocephalus: This is a condition where excess fluid amasses in the ventricles deep inside of the brain. Such a dangerous build-up of fluid puts enormous pressure on the brain and if left untreated can cause severe damage and possibly impairment. More serious cases require a shunt to be inserted into the brain in order to allow the excess cerebrospinal fluid to drain. The shunt is typically permanent and will require continued checkups by a doctor for the remainder of a victim’s life.
Meningitis: Meningitis is the inflammation of the membranes and fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Most instances of meningitis are caused by a viral infection. In the case of TBI’s, meningitis can be caused by bacteria introduced into the body potentially causing a rather serious condition. Bacterial meningitis should be immediately treated with an aggressive dose of antibiotics or it could prove fatal within a few days.
Brain Anatomy and Traumatic Brain Injuries
Different regions of the brain control different functions of the body. As such, the exact location of a brain injury can determine both the types of complications a victim may experience and the method of treatment they will need to recover. Each region of the brain functions on such a tiny scale that even a shift of an inch or two could very well change the nature and severity of the brain injury.
One example is an injury to the frontal lobe, located near the front of the skull, which can dramatically affect brain functions such as memory, attention, and general problem solving. The frontal lobe helps regulate a person’s judgement, emotions, social behavior, and even their impulse control. An injury to this part of the brain, such as a minor crash like a fender-bender, could cause long-term problems for victims. More specifically, there is even difference between injuries caused to the left and right frontal lobes. The right frontal lobe controls non-verbal communication compared to the left lobe which regulates basic language skills and abilities. Unfortunately, the massive size of the frontal lobe easily lends itself to injury.
Another area of the brain which is especially susceptible to injury are the temporal lobes. Both lobes are situated at each the side of the brain on level with the ears. These areas of the brain assist in maintaining memory, both long and short-term. The left temporal lobe relates to verbal memory used in the construction and regular use of language. The right lobe, in comparison, works more with visual memory and the ability to readily recognize and differentiate objects from one another. In addition, both temporal lobes assist in the interpretation of other people’s emotions. An injury to the temporal lobes could have a dramatic impact on memory and the ability to effectively communicate.
The occipital lobe is situated near the back of the brain and processes all visual information captured by the eyes. Primarily, the occipital lobe is responsible for our ability to recognize shapes and to understand just exactly what our eyes are focused upon. Suffering an injury to this area may leave a victim blind or without the ability to identify size or shape.
The parietal lobe is also located at the back of the brain not far above the occipital lobe. The parietal lobe controls movement, the sense of touch, and integrates signals from other parts of the brain which perceive and make sense of the reality around the body. An injury to the parietal lobe may affect spatial awareness and how information produced by the primary senses is processed.
The cerebellum is located above the brain stem, positioned near the back of the skull. The placement of the cerebellum allows far more protection from trauma than the other lobes. The cerebellum coordinates movement, balance, and equilibrium. An injury to the cerebellum might affect a victim’s ability to walk, stand straight and still, or even the use of their hands.
The brain stem is located at the lower middle of the brain. The brain stem is a vital area attaching the brain to the spinal cord. It serves as a conduit which coordinates the various signals exchanged between the body and the brain. The brain stem is also responsible for regulating autonomic functions which keep the body alive, such as breathing, heartbeat, and digestion. While injuries to the brain stem do not typically result in cognitive difficulties, they do have detrimental affects and might even prove serious or life-threatening.
TBI Litigation in Nebraska
In part due to the lengthy recovery period needed for most traumatic brain injuries, litigating a TBI injury claim can pose a host of unique challenges. Even a mild concussion can cause victims to experience a number of symptoms and difficulties. Due to the hidden nature of TBI’s, with most of the damage occurring within the skull, proving the injury can be a difficult task in an Utah courtroom. Only a practiced injury attorney has a chance at conclusively proving an injury beyond actual medical evidence such as a brain scan or other diagnostic imaging. Since a jury is unable to see the physical effects of an actual TBI, such as a broken arm in a cast, they may find it hard to grasp the true connection between the injury and the substantial impact on the victim’s life. The attorney’s job at this point is to show the negative burden the victim has suffered by providing sufficient evidence and expert testimony.
The most effective way to prove the damage of a traumatic brain injury is through testimony given by expert witnesses. An attorney may call medical professionals to the stand to better interpret health reports so the jury can fully understand them. Family members and personal acquaintances may also provide testimony about the dramatic changes caused to the victim’s behavior and lifestyle. Injury claims involving TBI’s can quickly become complex and in order for a victim to receive maximum compensation for the full amount of their losses, hiring an experienced attorney is an absolute necessity.
Since 1993, The Advocates have established a reputation as one of the top personal injury law firms in the United States. Compared to other personal injury law firms, our experience representing victims of TBI’s is unmatched. Our attorneys know what it takes to build you the best possible case for the injuries and losses you have suffered. The Advocates can help you win just compensation for your traumatic brain injury. Don’t wait to contact one of our attorneys for free evaluation of your case. You can contact our office today by calling (402) 275-6980, by filling out the form below, or you can chat with a live attorney right now from the bottom of your screen. You deserve an Advocate!