Traumatic Brain Injuries - The Silent and Costly Epidemic
Experts call it the silent epidemic. More people in the United States suffer from traumatic brain injuries than they do from heart attacks. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, more than 5.3 million people in the United States are living with long-term disabilities because of traumatic brain injury. Each year at least 1.4 million Americans suffer a traumatic brain injury.
According to estimates about 100,000 of these people will have prolonged and severe problems that could have a serious impact on their ability to work or perform everyday activities that most of us take for granted. And a majority of these people who suffer the most severe consequences are injured in car accidents.
According to the Traumatic Brain Injury Survival Guide authored by Dr. Glen Johnson a clinical neuropsychologist, a majority of people he sees are injured in car accidents or motorcycle accidents. Johnson notes that you don't have to be traveling at a high rate of speed to get a head injury. In fact, you don't even have to hit your head on an object such as a steering wheel or windshield to suffer a brain injury. He says that even at moderate rates of speed, traumatic brain injuries can occur causing bruising or bleeding, tearing and swelling of the brain.
As personal injury attorneys serving California car accident victims for three decades, we've seen these impacts first-hand. Our brain-injured clients not only lose their ability to go to work or support their families, but they end up themselves as dependants. They need round-the-clock care. They need someone to help them eat, bathe and dress themselves. They need constant therapy and rehabilitation. And of course, all of this costs a lot of money - millions over the life span of the injured person, especially if he or she is a child.
How Does the Brain Get Injured?
In a car accident-related brain injury, the victim is shaken up violently, sometimes against an object. This causes the brain to twist within the skull, bump against the walls of the skull, thereby damaging the brain's axions, which are basically the connections between the brain's nerve cells. This injury disrupts the brain's internal communications and hampers the person's ability to perform basic functions. Patients with severe axion damage may go into a coma or die immediately. Other common types of brain injuries caused by car accidents include concussions and contusions in the brain tissue or bleeding, skull fracture and anoxia or lack of oxygen supply to the brain.
What is the most common type of brain injury caused by a car accident?
The answer is "a closed head injury." In these cases, victims may feel fine right after the accident and exhibit, if any, mild symptoms such as headaches. But several symptoms develop in the following weeks, which may include dizziness, blurred vision, confusion, fatigue, memory loss, mood swings, lack of attention or concentration, slurred speech, dilation of pupils, vomiting and loss of coordination.
What is the Impact of a Brain Injury?
View this video that shows a young woman demonstrating the impact of tbi. She suffered severe head trauma due to a car accident.
What is the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Process?
Starting over after a brain injury is never easy. Take the case of Kim Valentini, a New Jersey resident, who still lives with a traumatic brain injury she suffered 11 years ago in a devastating car accident. This MSNBC article describes her life after the accident in great detail. Her long-term memory has been completely erased while her short-term memory comes and goes. Valentini used to like skiing and dancing, but now she does not even remember that she could ski or dance.
Brain injuries are often misdiagnosed or ignored because the symptoms may sometimes not be as obvious and there is no visual injury or pain. So an initial brain injury may often be waved off as just a bump on the head. People might look fine on the outside, but may not on the inside. Brain injuries are getting more attention these days with brain injuries suffered by soldiers in Iraq. But experts and the numbers say most brain injuries don't happen in the war zone. In fact, more than 40 percent of traumatic brain injuries are the result of car accidents.
And what most people fail to realize is that brain damage is forever. It's very much like losing a limb, an expert says in the MSNBC article. If you lose a leg, you don't expect it to grow again. A person with brain damage may be able to, with a lot of therapy and rehab, slowly climb back to a place where he or she learns to live a fulfilling life. But there are many limitations. They never again become the people they once were. Their lives continue, but in a very different direction.
The Exorbitant Costs of Brain Injury
The costs of actually living with a traumatic brain injury are also very high. After an accident, brain injury patients often have to relearn basic functions--from eating and walking to dressing themselves. In addition, they could suffer from mental disorders, lack of or reduced motor skills and problems with hearing and memory. According to the Center for Disease Control, the cost of traumatic brain injuries in the United States is estimated at $48.3 billion each year.
Hospitalization costs make up $31.7 billion of that amount. The CDC also estimates that the total cost of acute care and rehabilitation for brain injury victims is $9 billion to $10 billion per year, not including indirect costs to family members and society--lost earnings, work time, productivity for family members, caregivers, employers or the costs associated with providing social services. A conservative estimate states that it can cost close to $2 million to take care of someone with brain injuries over their lifetime.
This, of course, doesn't take into account the sacrifices made by the victim's family members. In the case of one of our clients, Joshua Newman, who suffered severe traumatic brain injuries, both his parents quit their jobs to care for their son. Newman made a remarkable recovery, although he will continue to have lifelong problems with his memory.
People with brain injuries generally tend to get large settlements or jury awards because the nature of their suffering is very apparent in many cases. But given the option, everyone of our clients, for that matter any one who has suffered a brain injury in a car accident, motorcycle accident or pedestrian accident would no doubt rather go back to the day when they were who they were than sue someone for millions over a brain injury.
The millions of dollars is not a jackpot or a windfall. It's just a cushion, a crutch to give them a little support and a better quality of life but it won't give them back their normal life.
If you or a loved one has suffered a brain injury as a result of a car accident or any type of accident, call us for assistance.
The personal injury attorneys at Bisnar Chase are experienced tbi attorneys. We have been successfully helping people with head injuries since 1978. If you or a family member has suffered from traumatic brain injury, please contact us right away.
Call us at 1-800-561-4887 for a No-Hassle, No-Obligation, Free Case Consultation.