Traumatic Brain Injuries are a silent epidemic in the Yakima Valley, throughout the state, and across the nation. As March is Brain Injury Awareness Month, we at Abeyta Nelson Injury Law want to spotlight this “silent injury” by raising public awareness of an injury which much of the time goes undetected and untreated.
An estimated 1.7 million people sustain a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) annually. Of them, 52,000 die, 275,000 are hospitalized, and about 80 percent are treated and released from an emergency department. TBIs can range in scope from mild to severe. Some people make rather quick recoveries over a few weeks or months. Unfortunately, others may suffer lifelong consequences such as difficulty with attention, concentration, distractibility, memory, confusion, perseveration (repeating things previously said), impulsiveness, anger, chronic headaches, blurred or double vision, decreased hearing, ringing in ears and loss or diminished sense of smell.
At Abeyta Nelson Injury Law, we represent clients with TBIs most commonly resulting from falls at construction and other work sites, falls from elevators, vehicular collisions, and slips, trips, and falls on uneven, deteriorating or icy and slippery sidewalks, stairs, and parking lots. We’ve helped many people who have suffered TBIs in one of these ways.
Surprisingly, studies show that as many as 60% of mild TBIs go undetected. A common misconception is that a TBI requires a loss of consciousness. While an indicator of a TBI, there doesn’t have to be a loss of consciousness for a person to suffer a brain injury.
Although physical injuries may be minor, problems with memory after a trauma when there weren’t any before, and personality changes—including anger, confusion, frustration, and impulsive behavior—are warning signs of a TBI. Think of the brain as the computer or operating system that controls the entire body. What happens to a laptop when you drop it or when there’s a power surge? It might look fine on the outside, but have substantial and irreparable changes on the inside. The brain is traumatized by being thrown violently around in the skull.
Standard testing like X-Ray, CT, and MRI scans show only skull fractures and blood, swelling, and shifts of the brain. They alone don’t rule out a brain injury. Specialized testing by a neuropsychologist is needed to make a definitive diagnosis. From our interviews with clients and family, we can usually tell whether further investigation of a TBI should be made and then make accommodations for proper testing.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the signs and symptoms of a concussion or TBI can range from mild – lasting a few weeks to several months – to severe disruptions in ability to function, maintain emotional stability, and changes in personality that can last years or even a lifetime.
Fair compensation for a TBI can range from tens of thousands of dollars to millions depending on the extent to which the person is impacted, their age, the amount of medical and other treatment expenses past and future, loss of income, whether the person is able to eventually return to work, and necessary services to adequately care for the person at home or in a facility.
In one case, we represented a five-month-old child who fell through an unguarded opening in an older set of high school bleachers. The bleachers were required by building code to have been retro-fitted to eliminate the gap in order to avoid precisely this kind of event, but, with tragic consequences, the bleachers weren’t fixed. Our young client suffered a fractured skull which left her with a permanent brain injury and loss of use of her arm and leg on one side. After a long legal battle lasting more than four years, the insurance company for the school district paid a settlement in the millions of dollars so her future needs could be covered and she could lead as normal a life as possible.
Abeyta Nelson Injury Law is proud of our advocacy for TBI clients and their families: we are their voice. We’re also proud to be members of the Brain Injury Alliance of Washington. Our firm is a major sponsor of the Walk, Roll, and Stroll event here in Yakima to support people with disabilities, including brain injuries.
Brain Injury Awareness Month is meant to educate the public about the incidence of brain injury and the needs of people with brain injuries and their families, de-stigmatize brain injury, empower those who have survived brain injury and their caregivers, and promote the many kinds of support available to people living with brain injuries. For more information and resources available go to www.biawa.org.
If you or a loved one needs help on a brain injury case as a result of a vehicle crash or a fall due to unsafe conditions, call Abeyta Nelson Injury Law at (509) 575-1588 to schedule a no-charge consultation with our Washington injury attorneys, or visit our website at abeytanelson.com for information about how we can help.
-blog written by Attorney Terry Abeyta, Abeyta Nelson Injury Law