An Introduction to Your Legal Options after a TBI

Categories: Personal Injury

brain injury

Knowledgeable Lawyers Serving Washington’s Personal Injury Victims

One prevalent and severe injury people suffer in an accident is a traumatic brain injury (TBI). TBIs can be overlooked by the victim or even a treating physician because they do not necessarily show symptoms immediately – and sometimes can take a few days or weeks for symptoms to manifest.

Regardless of when the symptoms start, TBIs can have a traumatic effect on a person’s life – including causing a permanent disability.

What Is a TBI and Why Is it a Catastrophic Injury?

A TBIs an injury that causes permanent or temporary damage to the brain. It can affect a person’s ability to function or even lead to death. You could injure your brain in a motor vehicle accident, slip and fall, or even during an assault.

Traumatic brain injuries occur from impacts – whether an object penetrates the skull or merely causes an excess force to the exterior of the head. And since the brain is involved the result can be catastrophic damage.

The reasons TBIs are considered severe injuries is because they can dramatically affect a person’s quality of life. Victims with severe TBIs may lose their ability to speak, move, or even breathe on their own. Other times, these injuries cause unexpected death.

Even a minor TBI can affect a victim. From temporary memory loss to chronic headaches, depression, or even vision changes, it is easy to see how even a “minor” injury to the brain can affect a person’s life.

When Negligence Causes a TBI – Can You File a Lawsuit?

TBIs caused by someone’s negligence typically qualify for compensation. However, if you understand the legal theory behind injury claims, that makes it easier for you to assess if you have a valid claim or not.

TBI Injury Cases Stem from Negligence

A negligence claim requires that you, the victim, brings a lawsuit against the at-fault party, the plaintiff.

To succeed with an injury case based on a theory of negligence you must:

  • Show the defendant owed you a duty of care. Prove that the defendant owed you a duty of care to avoid injury. For example, a motorist must obey the rules of the road to prevent causing an accident.
  • Prove the defendant breached that duty. Next, you or your attorney must show how the defendant breached the duty of care owed to you. For example, the motorist was speeding and driving recklessly; thus, they caused the accident by violating their duty to obey all traffic laws.
  • Show how the breach of duty caused your injury. A person breaching his or her duty of care is not enough. Instead, you must show how the breach correlates with your injury.
  • Prove that your injuries have caused damages. Usually, if you suffer a serious injury that qualifies for a lawsuit, you have damages. Damages are the financial losses you experience as part of your injury. For example, your TBI required an extensive hospital stay, surgeries, physical therapy, and vocational therapy. These cost money, and the money used to pay these costs would be part of your damages. Furthermore, you may have suffered damages such as emotional trauma. And while these damages are less tangible than a hospital bill, they are compensable.

Estimating Settlement Values for a TBI

Estimating the value of a TBI is not easy. It requires your attorney to investigate the effect of the injury on the rest of your life, including both the economic and non-economic factors. They must consult with physicians for your prognosis to calculate a proper settlement value. To better understand how your settlement value is estimated, you need to understand the types of damages you could receive.

Various Types of Damages

A traumatic brain injury qualifies for compensation when one party’s negligence causes the TBI. If you have sustained a severe head injury, you may be eligible for two separate categories of damages.

Special Damages – Economic Losses

Special damages are damages designed to make you financially whole again. They replace your financial losses from the accident. Out-of-pocket losses that qualify for special damages include:

  • Lost Wages – Time taken off work to recover, attend court hearings, and go to your deposition all qualify for lost wage compensation.
  • Lost Earning Capacity – If your injury affects your ability to work, such as being partially disabled, then you can receive compensation for the reduced earning capacity. Some victims of a TBI are permanently disabled and cannot work; therefore, they will receive compensation for the wages they would have earned for the remainder of their working years.
  • Medical Expenses – Medical costs associated with your accident, including hospitalizations, rehabilitation, physical therapy, and surgeries are compensable through special damages.
  • Property Damages – Includes personal property damaged in the incident.

General Damages: Non-Economic Losses

The second category is non-economic and involves damages that do not make you financially whole but compensate for the effect the injury has on your quality of life. Compensation for this category includes:

  • The physical pain and suffering that your injury causes.
  • Any emotional distress, including depression or anxiety resulting from your injury.
  • Your loss of reputation, public humiliation, or loss of companionship from the injury.
  • The shock and mental anguish the injury has caused.

Factors that Can Affect Your TBI Settlement

Even if you have a legitimate injury, specific factors affect the outcome of your case – including how much compensation you receive for your injuries.

Some factors that can influence your settlement positively or negatively include:

  • Whether you have multiple plaintiffs associated with the case. Sometimes, a case does not have a single defendant; instead, the case has numerous individuals who are legally responsible for your injury. This gives your attorney the opportunity to assess which defendant is more likely to pay a higher settlement, as well as which party they have the most substantial evidence against.
  • Contributory negligence by the defendant. The law allows you to collect compensation even if you are partially at-fault – but only if you are not more than 50 percent at-fault for the accident. And your settlement is reduced based on how much you contributed to the accident. For instance, if your injuries are worth $100,000, but you were 30% at-fault – then your settlement would be $70,000.
  • The likeability of you and the defendant. If your case is in front of a jury, would the jury trust you or sympathize with your injuries? Is the defendant equally likable? Your attorney must consider how trustworthy and likeable each party is and how that might influence a jury’s decision.

Contact a Compassionate Personal Injury Attorney for Your TBI

If you or a loved one suffered a serious TBI, contact the team at Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner, PLLC. We are here to serve as your advocates and aggressively seek compensation for our victims.

Schedule a free consultation today at 800-925-1875 or request more information online.