Frequently Asked Questions About Brain Injuries | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

 You no doubt understand that a traumatic brain injury (TBI) can result in permanent disabilities and make life difficult for both the brain injury victim and their family. As Virginia personal injury attorneys, my colleagues and I make securing fair insurance settlements and jury awards for TBI sufferers.

We also take every effort to educate our clients about their condition. Below, we share brief versions of our responses to the questions about TBIs that we hear most often.


What Is a Traumatic Brain Injury?

A TBI can occur in multiple ways. The most common situations in which people suffer traumatic brain injuries are when

  • An impact to the head or body causes the brain to slam into the inside of the intact skull. This can be what happens in a car or truck crash, or when an object falls onto a person’s head.
  • An object fractures or penetrates the skull and physically damages the brain, as when a motorcycle rider is knocked off their bike and lands head-first on the road.
  • The flow of oxygen to the brain is restricted or cut off entirely for an extended period. Near-drownings and anesthesia errors during surgery can induce hypoxic injuries.

Health care professionals categorize TBIs as mild, moderate or severe depending on the degree to which a brain injury impairs the person’s physical, cognitive or emotional functioning. Mild TBIs tend to resolve after a few days or weeks, but the headaches, dizziness, nausea and other symptoms can be quite debilitating over the short term. Severe TBIs leave people in need of assistance with the basic activities of daily living, such as dressing, eating and bathing.

What if the Brain Injury Victim Never Went Unconscious?

This will not prevent an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit.

Most people do not fully lose consciousness after an accident. Going into shock—appearing to be awake while not fully registering everything that has happened—is much more common.

Another concern is that the worst and longest-lasting symptoms of a traumatic brain injury rarely manifest themselves immediately. Functional deficits may not be clearly visible to everyone.

For instance, many TBI suffers find it difficult to retrieve certain words while engaged in normal conversation. Many lose their ability to do math quickly in their heads. Such seemingly minor issues can become huge challenges for someone who is trying to hold a job or live independently. None of this will be apparent in the minutes or days after a serious crash or fall.

How Can I Prove I Suffered a TBI?

Diagnoses and assessments from doctors, mental health professionals and occupational specialists carry a lot of weight in traumatic brain injury cases. Testimony from family members, friends and coworkers will also help. Firsthand descriptions of how the TBI changed the victim’s mood, thinking, behavior and ability to work make a strong impression on jury members.