Roughly 35,000 people in South Carolina sustain a head injury each year. Though a majority of these people make a full recovery, an experienced South Carolina personal injury lawyer mentions that others are left with permanent effects to their thinking, emotions, and speech. In my countless meetings with brain injury survivors and their families, they almost say it is as if one person existed before the injury, and another person existed after. The adjustment to a new life, thought processes, or even personality, can be extremely challenging and costly.
We are here to guide people with TBIs toward justice while ensuring that all costs - past, present, and future - associated with the head injury are covered by the at-fault party's insurance company. I accept brain injury cases in Myrtle Beach, Florence, and across our state, and am glad to answer any legal questions you have about TBIs.
- Traumatic Brain Injury Facts and Statistics
- Open vs. Closed Head Injuries and How It May Affect Your Legal Case
- Long-Term Effects of a TBI and How a Lawyer Can Help Secure Recovery for Future Costs
- Damages in a Myrtle Beach Brain Injury Case
- Get Help from a Myrtle Beach Brain Injury Attorney
Following a traumatic brain injury —whether it has affected you or someone you love—it's not uncommon to wonder how many other people are dealing with the same thing. Arming yourself with some statistics about TBI can help empower you and understand that you are not alone.
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these are a few key statistics about traumatic brain injuries in the United States:
- Approximately 1.7 million people sustain a TBI every year. Of those people, 52,000 die, 275,000 are hospitalized, and the other 80 percent are treated and released from an emergency room.
- The age groups most likely to sustain a TBI are children ages up to four years old, older teens aged 15 to 19 years, and adults aged 65 years and older.
- TBI rates are higher for males than females in every single age group.
- Falls are the overall leading cause of TBI, but motor vehicle collisions is the leading cause of TBI-related death.
- TBI is a contributing factor in one-third of all injury-related deaths in the country
- The silver lining in all of these statistics is that about 75 percent of TBIs that occur every year are mild forms of traumatic brain injury. While no one would certainly ever want even a mild TBI, it gives many victims hope of recovery and returning to a life that's as close to "normal" as possible.
There are two broad categories of TBI – open and closed head injuries.
Open Head Injuries
Open TBI is another name for a skull fracture caused by a foreign object striking the head. These penetrating injuries cause localized damage to tissue. Effects often include bruising, swelling, and internal bleeding. Because each part of the brain is responsible for different functions, and due to the fact that this type of injury is generally concentrated to one specific area, symptoms of an open TBI vary drastically. For example, an injury to the frontal lobe may affect memory and impulse control while damage to the occipital lobe could impair vision.
Closed Head Injuries
Closed TBI – which is far more common – occurs when the head is struck but the skull remains intact. This most frequently occurs in car accidents when the head hits the steering wheel, windshield, or headrest. People who sustain closed head injuries often experience headaches, dizziness, and nausea in the days and weeks following the trauma. When someone sustains a closed TBI, the harm can range from mild to severe and symptoms vary depending on the type of injury they experienced. Proper diagnosis and treatment often lead to a full recovery, but in some instances the damage is permanent.
Outcomes of Brain Injury Cases
The outcome of your legal case will not depend on whether you sustained an open or closed head injury, but rather on how your injury has impacted your life. Although closed head injuries may be invisible to the eye, it does not make this type of injury any less severe. Both open and closed head injuries can have lasting effects that drastically change the survivor’s quality of life. In a legal case, we learn about how your head injury has affected your life financially, emotionally, and physically, and use that to determine what should be demanded from the at fault party and their insurance company.
The long-term effects of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) can be extensive and far-reaching.
If you are reading this article, you likely know that long term complications of TBI may include:
- cognitive problems (e.g., difficulty with memory, reasoning, problem solving, decision making, attention, etc.);
- communication challenges (e.g., difficulty speaking, writing, picking up non-verbal cues, following conversations, etc.);
- emotional issues (e.g., depression, anxiety, mood swings, irritability, anger, etc.);
- disinhibition and impulsivity;
- ringing in the ears;
- loss of smell;
- impaired vision; and
- balance issues.
This list is unsettling, though far from complete. According to the Mayo Clinic, a traumatic brain injury also increases the risk of ailments usually brought on by aging, such as:
- Alzheimer's disease;
- Parkinson's disease; and
How a Myrtle Beach TBI Attorney Can Help
The long-term challenges and complications brought on by head trauma require help. Fortunately, there are resources in South Carolina to assist survivors and families. Cognitive, speech, occupational, and physical therapists can make a huge difference after a TBI. Likewise, neuropsychologists, counselors, support groups, and brain injury associations will provide guidance and empathy.
While an attorney is certainly not your first need, a lawyer can help you hold the responsible party accountable and secure a fair recovery to ensure you receive the treatment and support you need now and in the future. If you want justice from our legal system after a brain injury, I strongly recommend setting up a free consultation with a qualified brain injury attorney. As a member of the American Association for Justice's Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, as well as a sponsor of the Brain Injury Association of South Carolina, I assure you that I place special emphasis on TBI cases. Along with compensation for past medical expenses, I will work to ensure all future costs - including those to personality and quality of life - are paid for by the negligent party's insurance company.
TBIs can cost survivors far more than medical care. From marriage to friendships to employability, permanent brain injuries rarely leave any part of life untouched. Too often I have seen families and savings destroyed by these injuries.
On the one hand, a survivor's cognitive deficits and mood swings can make it difficult to keep a job. On the other hand, they require medical treatment, therapy, and medications. Thus, without the means to pay for necessary care and counseling, TBI victims often spiral downward. The financial stress, coupled with the depressive anxiety brought on by head trauma, can be too much for a family to bear. Spouses, siblings, parents, and friends need to understand what victims are experiencing, not only to help the survivor, but to maintain their own wellbeing.
If you sustained a brain injury due to another person or entity’s recklessness, legally, the negligent party’s insurance company is required to compensate you for the damages you’ve incurred, including both economic damages and non-economic damages, like the ones listed above.
To secure a fair and full recovery, a brain injury attorney will learn about all the ways your injury has affected your life and submit a demand to the insurance company, requesting compensation for damages, such as:
- health care costs – both present and future medical bills;
- lost income and earning capacity;
- pain, physical suffering and mental anguish; and
- lost quality of life or enjoyment of life.
This is not a complete list of damages that may be recovered, and much will depend on the circumstances of each individual case. For instance, you may be due punitive damages if the at-fault driver was particularly reckless or careless in causing your accident. These damages are intended to punish the driver for his or her behavior and to discourage future events.