If you or a loved one has suffered a brain injury as a result of another party’s actions or negligence, Florida law often permits you to seek compensation for damages in civil court. Money will not change the past, but it can help alleviate any financial hardship, allowing victims to focus on rehabilitation and families to cope with their loved one’s injury.
You need an experienced Fort Meyers personal injury attorney who understands the complexities involved with brain injury cases. If you live in the Fort Myers area, contact the knowledgeable traumatic brain injury lawyers at Viles & Beckman at 239-334-3933 for a free consultation to learn how we can assist you after a traumatic brain injury.
Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can range from mild concussions to severe brain damage, resulting in complications and limitations for life which require continuous care and treatment. Those who suffer a traumatic brain injury might face decades of therapy with specialists who help them regain brain function and with psychologists who help them cope with the emotional aftermath of a severe TBI.
Suffering a catastrophic brain injury in brings immense amounts of mental anguish to victims and their families, who also have to learn how to cope with the challenges of their family member’s injury. The aftermath of a severe injury can also lead to financial difficulties. TBI victims who used to financially support their families sometimes cannot return to work, losing wages while accumulating increasing amounts of medical expenses often associated with brain injuries. In extreme cases, families face foreclosures, vehicle repossession, and not having enough money for day-to-day needs.
Advocating for Traumatic Brain Injury Victims Since 1995
The skilled and award-winning traumatic brain injury lawyers at Viles & Beckman have more than 40 years of experience in the negotiation, settlement, and litigation of personal injury claims, including those involving traumatic brain injuries. The firm’s relentless dedication to advocating for injured victims has resulted in the recovery of millions of dollars in damages from settlements and verdicts in favor of clients.
We cannot guarantee results for any particular traumatic brain injury claim; each case has distinct characteristics which contribute to potential settlement or verdict amounts. We can, however, promise that we will diligently pursue the best outcome for your case and aggressively litigate your case in court when necessary. We are committed to obtaining the best results possible for your circumstances.
What Is a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)?
It’s obvious a TBI is an injury to the brain, but the complete medical definition of a traumatic brain injury, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is “a disruption in the normal function of the brain that can be caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or penetrating head injury.” You most likely have heard the word concussion used before; a concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury which often heals on its own within a few weeks. Unfortunately, TBIs can be much worse and they can even be fatal in the most severe cases.
The CDC estimates more than 2.5 million people visit emergency rooms across the country each year for traumatic brain injuries. Almost 300,000 visits result in hospitalization and more than 55,000 lead to death. These numbers also include almost 25,000 children hospitalized for TBI and more than 2,500 child fatalities.
Causes of Traumatic Brain Injuries
Many different types of accidents and situations might result in a traumatic brain injury. Specific causes vary greatly among age groups. Generally, older adults over age 75 face the most risk for TBIs, which often occur when these adults slip and fall. The most common causes of traumatic brain injuries include:
- Motor vehicle accidents including: car accidents, truck accidents, and motorcycle accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Scooter accidents
- Unintentional falls
- Defective products
- Full-contact sports
- Abuse and assault
Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injuries
When someone has an accident or incident which results in a traumatic brain injury, they might not experience symptoms for hours, days, or weeks. Children, whose brain is still developing, are especially vulnerable to delayed symptoms of a brain injury. This makes diagnosing head traumas challenging for doctors. Immediately after head trauma and for the weeks and months following, victims and family members need to pay special attention for symptoms which might indicate a brain injury.
Concussions might present the following symptoms:
- Feeling nauseous
- Frequent headaches, especially those which increase in severity
- Excessive fatigue
- Neck pain
- Frequent or continuous ringing in the ears
Severe traumatic brain injuries, which account for about 25 percent of TBIs each year, can result in one or more of the following:
- A constant headache or migraine, or one which increases in severity
- Speech impediments, especially slurring
- Loss of feeling or numbness in the limbs
- Unevenly dilated pupils
- Cannot wake up from sleep
These symptoms potentially indicated a severe and life-threatening TBI. If you or one you love experiences any of these symptoms you need to call 911 or head to the nearest emergency room for treatment. Your life may depend on it.
Potential Effects of a Traumatic Brain Injury
Immediate medical treatment can possibly prevent the long-term effects of a TBI. Yet, in many cases, those who suffer a moderate to severe TBI will face lifelong challenges as a result of their injury. This is especially true of children, and of babies who suffer a TBI during childbirth. Sometimes parents don’t know their child has suffered a TBI until they miss one or more major developmental milestones. The CDC describes broad potential short-term and long-term effects of traumatic brain injuries which include:
- Challenges with thinking, which can include memory issues such as amnesia, and struggles with logical reasoning
- Challenges with sensation, which include problems with sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste
- Challenges with balance, including vertigo and other internal equilibrium issues
- Challenges with communication, such as difficulty putting together sounds and sentences to speak
- Challenges with expression and comprehension
- Challenges with emotions, including personality changes, aggression, anxiety, depression, and social inappropriateness
- Potential permanent vegetative state (PVS) or coma
Seeking Compensation for a TBI in Florida
Depending on the situation which led to your traumatic brain injury, the process for recovering damages related to your injury might include filing a claim under your mandatory Florida personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. Florida is a no-fault insurance state, which means when a motor vehicle accident occurs, drivers file a claim with their own carrier regardless of fault. Florida PIP insurance only covers 60 percent of lost wages and 80 percent of necessary medical treatment and applies to car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, and pedestrian accidents.
Treating traumatic brain injuries can be expensive because of long hospital stays, one or more surgeries, and the likelihood of long-term treatment in severe cases. It’s not uncommon for TBI victims to quickly meet or exceed their PIP policy limits. Once this occurs, a skilled traumatic brain injury lawyer can advise victims whether the law allows them to seek further compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier by filing a personal injury lawsuit in Florida court. If the lawyer reaches a settlement agreement or a court rules in the victim’s favor, the award may include compensation for the following damages :
- Medical expenses such as ambulance ride, emergency room visit, hospital stay, surgery, diagnostic imaging, and medication
- Future medical costs when a severe or catastrophic traumatic brain injury leads to permanent disability, PVS, a coma, or any other condition which requires extensive recover or lifelong care and/or treatment
- Rehabilitative service costs for specialists who help TBI victims recover and repair brain function e.g. physical therapist, speech therapist, occupational therapist
- Assistive device costs for items such as wheelchairs, canes, walkers, and technology to help victims function and communicate
- Lost wages for time away from work due to the traumatic brain injury, treatment, hospitalization, and recovery
- Future lost wages when a traumatic brain injury causes a permanent disability which prevents a victim from returning to their job
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium with spouse and other non-economic costs related to family relationships
- Loss of quality of life
- Mental anguish
If a child, spouse, or other loved one lost their life as a result of traumatic brain injury, you might be eligible for compensation depending on your relationship to the deceased. Contact one of our compassionate traumatic brain injury lawyers at Viles & Beckman to discuss the possibility of filing a wrongful death claim. You might recover some of the damages mentioned above as well as funeral expenses, burial costs, and non-economic costs specific to surviving family members.
Comparative Negligence in Florida Traumatic Brain Injury Cases
Florida courts apply a pure comparative negligence rule to personal injury cases to assess the extent to which a plaintiff might be responsible for his or her own injuries. If the court finds the defendant is negligent, it assigns a percentage portion of fault to each party in a lawsuit.
Many parties named in a personal injury lawsuit will go the extra mile to avoid financial liability. Florida’s pure comparative negligence rule provides an avenue for the defense to do just that. One common defense tactic is to argue the plaintiff was negligent as a way to devalue the claim. In motor vehicle accidents the defense might claim you were breaking traffic laws; in slip and fall accidents leading to a TBI, the defense might argue you ignored warnings of a hazard; and, in defective product claims, the defense might argue you ignored product instructions which caused a traumatic brain injury.
To maximize your chances of the best outcome for your case, you need a Fort Myers traumatic brain injury attorney who understands how Florida’s comparative negligence rule applies to your case, anticipates defense strategies to devalue your claim, and can protect you against defense tactics intended to undermine your claim.