According to the Brain Injury Association of America, more than 5 million US residents suffer from a brain injury-related disability, and about 3 million people in the US encounter traumatic brain injuries every year.
A significant amount of these cases are caused by accidents where another party was responsible, like falls or motor vehicle accidents. That is why it is important to talk with an expert California brain injury lawyer to view your case.
Important decisions like liability and insurance coverage can be handled by an attorney specializing in California brain injury law. Having trusted legal representation is crucial to making sure you’re rightfully compensated for your damages.
At West Coast Trial Lawyers, our qualified California brain injury attorneys have more than 60 years of collective legal experience in handling personal injury claims. We have won over 5,000 cases and recovered more than $1 billion in settlements for our clients. As we continue to deliver client satisfaction with each case we handle, we are confident that we will get you the compensation you deserve for your losses.
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is an impact, jolt, or blow to the head or body that penetrates the skull and affects the brain.
Traumatic brain injuries can have dramatic effects on a person’s senses and brain functions. Severe cases of TBI have resulted in permanent disability, loss of motor functions, or even death.
There are two types of traumatic brain injuries: penetrating TBI and closed TBI.
A penetrating TBI (or open TBI) is a brain injury caused by an object penetrating the skull and directly harming the brain. Types of penetrating injuries may include:
This type of TBI needs special emergency care that should be addressed by a doctor immediately. Before talking to any personal injury attorney about your claim, make sure your safety is assured by a medical professional. Only after recovery, there is room to discuss damages and how to pay for medical fees through a brain injury claim.
Closed TBIs are injuries to the brain that do not penetrate the skull. Heavy blunt force trauma such as from falls or car accidents are common causes of closed TBIs, in which intense back and forth movements inside the skull bruise the brain. Other causes of closed TBIs may include:
Closed TBIs range in severity depending on how the impact directly affected the brain. Some brain injuries like a mild concussion may require a few months rest for a complete recovery, while others can result in hospitalization because of severe bruising.
Figuring out how your brain injury affected you will influence what damages you can claim after an accident. Leaving out valuable information about your injury or how it affected you may result in a lower settlement offer.
The most common causes for traumatic brain injury come from falls, motor vehicle accidents, assault, and blunt impacts from high-contact sports. The probability of having a traumatic brain injury increases with age in high-income countries due to a higher likelihood for falls.
Falls and car accidents can be prevented through following proper traffic safety and premises liability laws, lowering the TBI cases found in California. Regrettably, there are bad actors that violate these rules and endanger others through their negligence, forcing you to pay medical bills that were undeserved.
Without legal protection to hold negligent drivers and property owners accountable, you can be stuck paying thousands of dollars in medical bills for a brain injury that was not your fault.
Traumatic brain injuries range in severity from a mild concussion to a hematoma, so symptoms will range in severity as well. Experiencing at least one of these symptoms is an obvious signal to speak with a doctor and a brain injury attorney about your case.
Symptoms that indicate a mild TBI include:
Damages can be collected even if the brain injury you experienced was mild and you were not at fault. Each case is different, and a brain injury lawyer can help sort out complicated aspects like liability or negligence so you can be accurately represented.
According to the CDC, the below symptoms are signs of a moderate to severe TBI, and these forms of brain injuries require immediate attention. Going to your nearest hospital or dialing 911 will drastically reduce chances of permanent disability or death when experiencing these symptoms after a TBI:
If a traumatic brain injury stays untreated even when symptoms occur, there is risk of lifelong disability or death as a result of irreversible brain damage. Even when a traumatic brain injury is treated, there may be lingering side effects that can affect your daily activities like driving or concentrating.
Long term effects like accelerated brain atrophy or neurological disorders are incredibly serious and can be accounted as damages for your brain injury claim. Proving that an accident caused these long-term effects will help your brain injury lawyer establish a claim against the negligent party.
Because brain injuries range in severity, some cases just require rest and time to heal from the trauma, while others need rehabilitation like physical, occupational, or speech therapy.
Your doctor will know the best course of action after your TBI, and it is important to avoid high-concentration activities like driving to prevent further danger to yourself and others around you.
Ask the following questions to judge the severity of your injury:
It is important during this time to avoid vices like alcohol or other drugs while recovering from your traumatic brain injury. Consuming drugs and alcohol during this time will significantly slow the treatment process.
Your doctor will accurately diagnose your condition if you were using drugs for previous conditions prior to your traumatic brain injury.
If you are successful in proving that your brain injury case was caused by another party, you may be entitled to compensation for the following damages:
In order to prove these damages, you may have to undergo a CT scan or MRI to find visible proof of brain damage for your personal injury attorney to leverage against the liable party.
Written proof like medical records or pictures of the location the accident took place will help strengthen your lawyer’s argument and will result in a higher settlement.
Damages are also sorted by three categories: economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages.
Economic damages are the quantifiable, monetary losses you suffered through the traumatic brain injury accident. Examples of this would be lost past and future wages, medical treatment bills, and x-ray fees.
Even though non-economic damages are harder to quantify and prove, they can outweigh economic damages when the injury is life-changing like a traumatic brain injury.
When faced with such a devastating event, it is important to seek legal counsel to quantify your non-economic damages. The settlement from an insurance company will not take into account your emotional condition when calculating their totals.
Punitive damages are additional penalties given to the opposing party if their actions demonstrate complete disregard for the safety of others. These types of penalties are typically awarded to gross negligence cases and are used to prevent further negligent action from happening in the future.
Grossly negligent behavior is characterized by dangerous behavior where the perpetrator knew the consequences of their actions but chose to act otherwise. An example of this would be a drunk driver traveling at high speeds in a heavily occupied school zone.
A brain injury lawsuit issued by a contingency fee-based law firm will cost nothing to the client until damages are won. Only until you receive your settlement check will the personal injury attorney take a cut out of the total amount as lawyer fees.
The average amount contingency lawyers take from a brain injury settlement is anywhere between 25-40% of the final settlement.
Talk to a lawyer directly if you want to inquire about pricing and how large of a cut they take out of your settlement. Law firms grade brain injury cases on an individual basis, so the best answer to this question will come from the lawyer directly.
In California, a brain injury case usually settles for above $100,000 but amounts vary depending on the damages sustained or liability of the other party. Severe cases of TBI have settled for more than $1 million before, so talking with a trusted attorney about your case may determine how much you make from the settlement.
A lawyer who represents you in a court of law is better than taking the settlement offer from an insurance company. It is in the insurance company’s best interest for you to take a lower settlement in order to reduce how much they will pay you for your brain injury damages.
An expert brain injury lawyer will make sure your settlement is worth the damages you suffered from an accident that was not your fault.
According to the California Code of Civil Process, Section 335.1, the statute of limitations to sue for damages in a California brain injury case is two years after the date of the accident. If you do not sue before the time limit ends, you will be unable to file a lawsuit for that accident.
Two years may sound long, but cases have been lost due to potential clients not knowing that another party was liable for the injuries they suffered. They assumed responsibility despite knowing someone else caused their pain and suffering.
Even if you are partially at fault for the accident, you may be entitled to compensation due to California being a comparative negligence state. You may have partial blame for the accident, but if another party’s fault outweighs yours, you may have a case.
A brain injury claim often takes 18 months to two years depending on the severity of the injury or how long it develops over time. New damages may be discovered in the healing process. New discoveries about your brain injury might halt the claim further.
If the claims process is rushed and further complications arise, your settlement may not be enough to cover all of the medical bills. Regular communication from you, your doctor, and your attorney will be enough to withstand the claims process until you get your settlement.
West Coast Trial Lawyers have recovered over $1.5 billion in total settlements for our clients. We have handled brain injury claims before in our 100 years of collective experience representing Californians.