The questions on this page were answered by our team of Virginia Beach & Norfolk personal injury attorneys. The questions are categorized by practice area such as car accidents, medical malpractice, wrongful death, etc. If you have specific questions about your situation, contact our firm to set up a free consultation with an actual attorney.
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How can I prove someone else caused my traumatic brain injury?
Answering this question in specific detail requires knowing all the facts of your case.
The general answer in Virginia, where we practice as personal injury lawyers who take a special interest in helping TBI victims, boils down to showing that the other person was solely responsible for injuring you. For instance, if your TBI resulted from a car crash, you must produce police reports, eyewitness testimony, traffic camera footage and other types of physical evidence that conclusively demonstrate that the other driver caused the wreck.
In another example, a young child’s TBI resulting from a near-drowning could result from failing to properly fence and monitor a pool.
Still different types of evidence will be needed for cases involving medical malpractice, slips and falls, or physical assaults. Consulting with an experienced plaintiff’s attorney will help you understand what you need to substantiate your insurance claim or to succeed with your civil lawsuit.
Is a blow to the head the only thing that can cause a severe brain injury?
To meet the technical definition of “traumatic brain injury,” the damage to a person’s brain must result from trauma -- usually a blow to the head to the head that causes the brain to slam into the inside of the skull.
A TBI is not the only type of severe and disabling brain injury, however. Medication overdoses that amount to poisonings, surgical errors that sever nerves and accidents or intentional actions that restrict the flow of oxygen to the brain also leave too many people suffering from irreversible and disabling brain damage. Note that mistakes during labor and delivery, near-drownings and physical assaults can restrict oxygen supply.
When a severe brain injury can be traced to the actions of another person or to the use of a defective or dangerous product, the victim has an undeniable legal right to partner with a Virginia personal injury lawyer and file insurance claims or a civil lawsuit.
What causes a traumatic brain injury?
Here, it is useful to fully quote the standard definition of a traumatic brain injury used by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
According to NINDS, a TBI
Occurs when a sudden trauma causes damage to the brain. TBI can result when the head suddenly and violently hits an object, or when an object pierces the skull and enters brain tissue. Symptoms of a TBI can be mild, moderate, or severe, depending on the extent of the damage to the brain. A person with a mild TBI may remain conscious or may experience a loss of consciousness for a few seconds or minutes. Other symptoms of mild TBI include headache, confusion, lightheadedness, dizziness, blurred vision or tired eyes, ringing in the ears, bad taste in the mouth, fatigue or lethargy, a change in sleep patterns, behavioral or mood changes, and trouble with memory, concentration, attention, or thinking. A person with a moderate or severe TBI may show these same symptoms, but may also have a headache that gets worse or does not go away, repeated vomiting or nausea, convulsions or seizures, an inability to awaken from sleep, dilation of one or both pupils of the eyes, slurred speech, weakness or numbness in the extremities, loss of coordination, and increased confusion, restlessness, or agitation.
This video helpfully illustrates the concepts spelled out by the federal brain injury experts.
The damage done to the nerves may not show up on MRIs or CAT and PET scans. Anyone in Virginia who files an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit over a TBI should at least consult with a brain injury lawyer to learn what types of medical evidence and testimony is needed to establish the existence of a TBI.
- The Devastating Effects of a Brain Injury
- The Most Common Causes of Brain Injuries
- Brain Injury Treatments
What are common reasons for personal injury lawsuits for auto defects?Personal injury lawsuits for auto defects can be filed if a vehicle caused personal injury and is manufactured with defective parts; if it has an unreasonably dangerous design; and if there were manufacturing flaws. In some cases, the dealership could be held liable for selling you the defective vehicle, as well.
My child’s brain injury from a car crash left her with special needs. Can I make the at-fault driver pay for therapy?
Children who suffer traumatic brain injuries in car crashes often need lifetimes of ongoing care. They can remain locked into the developmental stage they were in at the time of the collision, never making progress in their abilities to read, speak or care for themselves. Some children who suffer TBIs regress in their development or become paralyzed, creating even greater strains on their family’s resources.
Recognizing this, Virginia law allows insurance claims or personal injury lawsuits to include requests for money to pay for ongoing medical and personal care. Consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney who can put parents in touch with brain injury and occupational therapy specialists will make it possible to predict the level of services a child with a TBI will need throughout his or her life. One result from such assessments will be an estimate of the cost of lifetime care, and that dollar amount will be included with demands for compensation and monetary damages.
How serious is a concussion as a brain injury?
Health care professionals currently have little ability to predict how serious a concussion will turn out to be. While everyone should now understand that a concussion is more than “getting your bell rung,” few recognize that the headaches, dizziness, slowed thinking and poor sleep a concussion produces can last for months or years. Further, suffering one concussion puts a person at increased risk for suffering another one whose debilitating symptoms stick around longer and disrupt everyday activities to an even greater extent.
As Virginia personal injury lawyers, my law firm colleagues and I advise every client who believes he or she has suffered a concussion to see a brain injury specialist and to follow through on any recommendations for therapy or follow-up visits. This is essential because the long-term effects of a concussion that seemed to have cleared up quickly can persist and worsen if left unaddressed.
My child suffered brain damage after falling into my neighbor’s pool. Can I sue?
As a Virginia personal injury lawyer, I’m tempted to answer this question with several technical terms like “negligence per se” and “premises liability.” The less legalistic response is that kids are drawn to pools and pool owners must take steps to limit kids’ unsupervised access to their pools.
Complying with building codes and, for places like hotels and rec centers, posting lifeguards go far toward meeting the duties to protect children from nearly drowning and suffering brain damage from lack of oxygen. But parents who see their child almost die and never fully recover from falling into a pool that lacks proper fencing or a cover in the winter definitely have grounds for filing a personal injury lawsuit.
Succeeding with a lawsuit involving a pool accident can require doing extensive research on what local ordinances require of pool owners, as well as investigating the activities of everyone who could have kept the child away from the pool. Partnering with a Virginia plaintiff’s attorney will ensure that the necessary answers are found.
How Do I Recognize Whether My Loved One Suffered a Traumatic Brain injury (TBI)?
Noticing a brain injury isn't very easy. The signs of a traumatic brain injury are, quite often, subtle and vary from person to person. To matters more diffucult, the symptoms may not appear right away and can surface weeks or months after an accidnet. The following are common symptoms of a TBI that you should be on the look out for:
- Difficulty remembering, concentrating, or making decisions;
- Difficulty in forming thoughts, speaking, acting, or reading;
- Getting easily confused or forgetting certain locations (e.g. your home, your place of employment, etc.);
- Changes in mood (e.g., suddenly feeling depressed or angry);
- Increased sensitivity to lights, sounds, or distractions;
- Blurred vision; and
- Ringing in the ears.
Can an individual with a traumatic brain injury be required to undergo an examination by an employer to whom they are applying for a job?
Not until the individual has been offered employment. Once a job has been offered, an individual may be required to undergo a medical examination if it is job related and relates to the activities of the business.
Are people with traumatic brain injuries required to disclose their disabilities to employers to whom they are applying for a job or with whom they have a job?
Employees only need to disclose a disability if they need an accommodation to perform an essential function of their job. Applicants don’t have to disclose a disability on an application or in an interview unless they need accommodation to assist them in the application or the interview.