A traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when the brain is damaged from a blow or jolt to the head from an outside source. Although brain injuries are not always visible to an outside observer, they can have life-changing consequences for the people who live with them.
Around 58,500 Michiganders sustain a TBI every year, according to the Brain Injury Association of Michigan. Estimates from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) indicate that each year 12,000 people suffer a serious TBI, requiring at least one night of hospitalization, and sometimes even resulting in death.
Making a full recovery is not guaranteed, even in mild brain injury cases. The lifelong costs of a catastrophic brain injury can easily reach into the millions, placing many victims in a precarious financial position while wrestling with permanent disabilities.
Why Christensen Law?
Christensen Law is an accomplished Southfield personal injury law firm with an established track record of success handling brain injury cases. In 2014, our lawyers secured Michigan’s largest ever personal injury verdict for a woman who suffered a traumatic brain injury in a car accident in Southfield. To learn more about how we can help you, call or contact us today for a free consultation.
Types of Brain Injuries
There are several types of brain injuries, which differ depending on how the head is struck, the angle of impact, if the skull is penetrated, and other factors. Common types of brain injuries include:
- Penetration injuries: A foreign object penetrates the skull. The brain, tissue, nerves, and blood vessels could be irreparably harmed.
- Contusions: A bruise forms on the brain after an injury. This can cause life-threatening bleeding and swelling.
- Concussion: The brain strikes the side of the skull after a sudden change in direction of movement or momentum. Concussions are considered the mildest form of TBI.
- Shear injuries: The brain is shaken or experiences a severe, sharp rotation. This can tear crucial nerve fibers, causing some of the worst TBIs.
- Coup-contrecoup: The brain is jolted and strikes one side of the skull and then another. Damage can occur on both sides of the brain.
Common Causes of Brain Injuries
No two brain injuries are alike. The ultimate impact of the injury will depend on its cause, location, severity, and individual differences.
Some of the most common causes of brain injuries include:
- Car accidents: Around 30% of Michigan TBIs occur in car accidents, according to DHHS. Broken glass or flying debris could strike or pierce the skull. Occupants could also hit their heads on the steering wheel, the window, dashboard, or other surfaces in the vehicle, causing a brain injury.
- Truck accidents: A collision with an 18-wheeler or another large truck can be extremely violent. The resulting impact could result in catastrophic TBIs, including puncture, shearing, or coup-contrecoup injuries.
- Motorcycle accidents: If a motorcyclist is hit by a car or thrown from the bike, they are at risk of hitting their head on the vehicle or on the ground when they land. This can cause a traumatic brain injury, even if the motorcyclist is wearing a helmet.
- Pedestrian accidents: Unlike other motorists and even bicyclists, pedestrians have no head protection if they are struck by a vehicle or other object.
- Slip and Falls: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that falls are the leading cause of TBI in the United States. Slip and fall accidents are often the result of poorly maintained property, spilled liquids, objects or cords on the floor, and other obstructions. Older adults are particularly susceptible to falls and traumatic brain injuries.
- Physical assaults: A blow to the head or gunshot injury suffered during an assault can cause deadly TBIs.
If you sustained a brain injury in an accident or due to another’s intentional act, speak to an experienced attorney right away to learn whether you have a case for compensation.
When Can I Sue for a Brain Injury?
You could have grounds to sue if someone else’s actions — or their failure to act — caused your brain injury. This act or omission is called negligence.
In Michigan, a successful brain injury claim can provide compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, loss of future earnings, and other damages. A lawyer can help you identify the party (or parties) responsible for your TBI, and work to build the strongest possible case for compensation for you.
You have three years from the date of your injury to file a personal injury lawsuit under Michigan’s statute of limitations. Consult with a knowledgeable brain injury lawyer right away to learn if other deadlines apply in your case.
Defining Negligence for TBI in Southfield, MI
Traumatic brain injury lawsuits are based on proving someone was negligent when they caused your injury. The core components of a negligence claim are:
- Duty of care: You must establish that the defendant (the person you’re suing) owed you a duty of care. That is, they had some legal responsibility to look out for you or prevent you being hurt. For example, drivers owe a duty of care to follow traffic laws and avoid causing accidents that could hurt others.
- Breach: Here, you have to show how the defendant did not live up to his/her legal responsibilities. Drunk drivers breach their duty of care because it’s against the law to drive under the influence.
- Causation: The defendant may have broken the law or breached their duty, but you also have to show how their actions led to your injury. Medical records, photographic and video evidence, witness testimony, and other proof can help substantiate your claim.
- Damages: You must prove that your losses can be compensated through a monetary award.
Collecting compelling evidence to support a TBI claim is hard work — something that is difficult for someone without legal training to do, and certainly exhausting for someone recovering from a TBI. A Michigan brain injury lawyer can take the pressure off by doing all the legal legwork for you so that you can focus on recovering from your TBI.
What is the Average TBI Case Settlement?
It’s impossible for any lawyer to guarantee you a certain amount of money in a brain injury case. Every claim is different. A settlement amount will depend on many factors, including:
- Your age
- The extent of the injury
- Whether you will need ongoing care
- Whether you will be able to work again
- Any pre-existing conditions
- Your general health before the accident
- Whether you are partially at fault for the accident
You can still recover compensation for a TBI in Michigan even if you are partly to blame. However, your ability to obtain compensation will hinge on the percentage of fault you are assigned for the accident. Insurance companies will always try to place the responsibility on you, so be sure to contact an attorney before considering any settlement offers.
How Long Does a TBI Case Take to Settle?
Traumatic brain injury claims are complicated. Since the brain is a complex organ, the final outcome for a victim may not be known for a long time after the accident.
It’s not prudent to settle until a doctor determines that you have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). This means that you have recovered as much as can reasonably be expected and no future improvements are likely. It’s essential to wait for this plateau, because only then will you be able to get an accurate estimate of what your financial losses will be.
However, the insurance company for the at-fault party will likely try to settle well before MMI has been reached. This tactic can result in significant under-compensation for accident victims. Experienced neurologists and top surgeons can’t even know the ramifications of a brain injury right after it happens.
Brain injury cases also require significant proof and in-depth investigation. This can take months, but is critical in order to achieve the best possible outcome in your case.
It also takes time to negotiate a fair settlement with the responsible party and their insurer. If the case goes to trial, that could also add time to your case. The sooner you hire an experienced brain injury attorney, the faster you can bring your claim.
How Can Christensen Law Help Me?
Christensen Law seeks justice for Michiganders whose lives have been changed by TBI. A Southfield brain injury lawyer at our firm will:
- Fully investigate your claim to identify all liable parties
- Handle all communication with the opposing parties, their lawyers, and their insurers
- Fight for the full value of your losses
- Prepare your case for trial, if that’s what it takes to secure a fair award for you
Call a Southfield TBI Lawyer Now
Are you a brain injury survivor? You could be entitled to compensation if your TBI was caused by someone else’s recklessness. An experienced Southfield brain injury lawyer at Christensen Law can outline your legal options in a free consultation. Call or contact us today.