Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can range from mild concussions to severe brain damage, resulting in complications and limitations in life which require continuous care and treatment. Suffering a catastrophic brain injury brings immense amounts of mental anguish to victims and their families. In addition, the aftermath of a severe injury can also lead to financial difficulties.
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. Our Fort Myers traumatic brain injury attorneys at Viles & Beckman can help you file a claim and fight for the compensation that you deserve.
What Is a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)?
The complete medical definition of a traumatic brain injury, according to a CDC facts report, 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.”
Meanwhile a concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury that often heals within a few weeks. Unfortunately, TBIs can be much worse, and they can even be fatal in the most severe cases.
CDC data shows that 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
If you don’t see your injury listed above, don’t worry; most injuries that result in a TBI qualify. A traumatic brain injury attorney in Fort Myers can help verify that you can file a claim for your injury.
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 brains are still developing are especially vulnerable to delayed brain injury symptoms.
Immediately after head trauma and for the weeks and months following, victims and family members need to pay special attention to symptoms that 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% of TBIs each year, can result in a variety of symptoms. The most common symptoms are:
- 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 or fall asleep
- Trouble with writing or speaking
- Difficulty regulating emotions
- Memory problems
- Issues with retaining attention
- Loss of sensory perception
- Cognitive processing difficulties
These symptoms potentially indicate 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.
How Long do I Have to File a Claim for My Traumatic Brain Injury?
According to Fla. Stat. § 95.11, you have four years from the date of the injury to file a claim against the negligent party. For example, if your injury occurred on April 10th of, 2022, you would be able to file a claim until April 10th, 2026. If you file a claim after the four years pass, you risk losing the ability to get the maximum settlement or any settlement at all.
However, the statute of limitations for an act of negligence can vary depending on the injury and the details of your case. One of our traumatic brain injury attorneys in Fort Myers can tell you the exact amount of time you have to file a claim.
Filing a claim early is beneficial to you and your lawyer. You have a higher chance of getting the maximum settlement, and your lawyer can gather the evidence that will build a strong case.
What Qualifies as Evidence for a Traumatic Brain Injury Case?
Evidence is one of the most important parts of a strong case. After you prove that someone else’s negligence led to your accident, we will gather evidence of your TBI to strengthen your case. We may gather the following pieces of evidence if we decide they will be helpful to your case:
- Witnesses: People who saw the accident happen can provide different perspectives via statements or photos. Witnesses can confirm that you were injured and provide any additional information they have which can be beneficial to your case.
- Photos: Photos are a valuable piece of evidence. They provide visible proof of your injury and show the conditions that led to your TBI. For example, if you took photos of your injuries, they can be a testament to the severity of your pain, even if your wounds have healed.
- Police report: Reports from police officers provide another perspective on the accident with their expert knowledge.
- Videos: If your TBI occurred in a public place with security cameras or surveillance, the footage could show exactly what happened.
- Results of a brain scan: Brain scans can alert you to any further conditions you may have, and they can also show the severity of your injury, which may result in more damages that you can recover. If a brain scan shows that a part of your brain is severely injured, you may be eligible for damages to pay future medical expenses.
- Medical diagnosis: A medical diagnosis can show your injury in-depth and help your lawyer negotiate a settlement that will help you pay for the medical care you may need.
These are only a few pieces of evidence we use to prove your case. When you meet with one of our traumatic brain injury attorneys at Viles & Beckman, we will go over any additional evidence we think will be helpful to your case.
Potential Effects of a Traumatic Brain Injury
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, such as:
- 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
Depending on the severity of your injury, there may be other ways your TBI affects you. A Fort Myers traumatic brain injury attorney can help you fight for compensation for any further health effects you discover.
Seeking Compensation for a TBI in Florida
If a car crash caused your TBI, 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.
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 recovery or lifelong care or treatment
- Rehabilitative service costs for specialists who help TBI victims recover and repair brain function e.g., physical therapists, speech therapists, and occupational therapists
- 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 that 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 them. One of our compassionate lawyers can 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 losses 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. For example:
- 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
- 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. We understand how Florida’s comparative negligence rule applies to your case, anticipate defense strategies to devalue your claim, and can protect you against defense tactics intended to undermine your claim.