On a webpage titled TBI: Get the Facts, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports,” In 2014, an average of 155 people in the United States died each day from injuries that include a TBI.”
CDC experts then go on to note, “Those who survive a TBI can face effects that last a few days, or the rest of their lives. Effects of TBI can include impairments related to thinking or memory, movement, sensation (e.g., vision or hearing), or emotional functioning (e.g., personality changes, depression). These issues not only affect individuals but also can have lasting effects on families and communities.”
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As personal injury and wrongful death attorneys based in Virginia and taking cases throughout the eastern United States, my colleagues and I see each day the devasting toll traumatic brain injuries take on victims and their loved ones. One of the greatest struggles our clients face is that a TBI is often an “invisible injury.”
Experiencing a brain injury is not like losing a limb or suffering burns. Few TBI victims even have noticeable scars from what may have been quite serious skull fractures. Hair or wigs can cover up visual reminders of the crash or fall that ruined the person’s life.
As a consequence, individuals who encounter TBI victims will not always sympathize with and be ready to accommodate issues like lack of muscle coordination, chronic fatigue, difficulties retrieving words, trouble learning and retaining new information, sensitivity to bright lights and loud noises, and an inability to follow conversations in noisy places.
TBI sufferers face stigma that compounds their physical and intellectual struggles. The negative reactions of others are understandable to some degree. Imagine seeing a relative, friend or coworker undergo a sudden change in personality, a significant loss of ability and bouts of emotional instability. Not everyone in the person’s life can adjust to the new reality.
We saw this tragic scenario play out over the course of a TBI lawsuit we handled for a man in Northern Virginia. Our client was working at a gas station when a train car jumped its tracks and crushed the cashier’s booth. The man survived but was unable to return to work. His condition worsened as we fought for what would turn out to be the largest-ever Virginia jury award for a traumatic brain injury, and he now requires around-the-clock assistance.
Without the personal injury award, the train crash victim and his family would never be able to afford appropriate medical and personal care. The money will never, however, replace everything the TBI took in terms of loving, supportive relationships.