Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are severe cases of brain injury caused by blunt, physical force to the head—mostly caused due to motor vehicle accidents, slips, or falls. This kind of injuries impacts the victim’s physiological function in a drastic way, impairing not only the victim’s motor and cognitive skills but also affecting his or her speech and communication skills. TBIs can lead to mental and behavioral changes, sometimes even resulting in permanent nerve damage.
No wonder TBI cases are high value cases where the quantum of compensation almost always exceeds $100,000 but can sometimes even touch millions. Case in point is that of an Illinois businessman who, in 2015, won a whopping $21.5 million in damages for getting hit by a sliding glass door on a cruise ship years ago.
So, how do you quantify the damages in a TBI case?
Damages awarded in brain injury cases broadly fall into these four categories—economic, non-economic, compensatory, and punitive damages.
There are a number of factors taken into account to determine the severity of a brain injury claim:
- Special damages that include current and future medical expenses (includes caregiver costs in some cases), loss of earnings and impaired future earning capacity, and total or partial disability resulting from the injury;
- The intensity of the injury and the extent to which it has impacted the victim’s physical, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral well-being;
- The plaintiff’s characteristics—age, occupation, past medical history, etc.;
- General damages, which take into account the pain and suffering, humiliation, loss of reputation, anguish, and even loss of consortium faced by the plaintiff;
- Liability of the defendant, which, if proved, can lead to a higher settlement value;
- Negligence, if any, on the part of the victim; and
- Insurance coverage available for both the victim and the party liable for the injury.
How to ensure damages are appropriately quantified
There are numerous expenses covered in a TBI case, ranging from fees expended on medical bills, records, statement of medical and damage experts, court fees, interviewing witnesses, and so on. Add to these the expenses of the plaintiff’s attorney (even when he is working on a contingent basis), and the plaintiff is certain to realize that a $100,000 or even $200,000 settlement value is actually of little long-term significance since he is left with only part of that amount.
The worst thing to do in a TBI case would be to hire an inexperienced lawyer who may settle for far less than is necessary to ensure financial stability and overall lifelong security for the client.
It is therefore necessary that the plaintiff hire an experienced lawyer who understands brain injury well, who knows that not all brain injury symptoms are visible and obvious at the very outset. Sometimes conclusive results pop up only in later diagnoses, and even seemingly minor accidents lead to concussions and reduced verbal and physical movements, which may not be discovered early on. What may seem to the victim and his or her family as a lack of focus, chronic fatigue, mood swings, or depression might actually be the result of the TBI.
An experienced lawyer would not only insist you get second opinions on all relevant medical tests but also interview you and your family at length to properly understand the extent to which the injury has truly affected you.
Your lawyer will insist you visit a neuropsychiatrist/neuropsychologist and undergo a full range of tests, the cost of which can be several thousand dollars. If significant problems appear, your lawyer will bring in experts to deal with your case effectively so the right amount is awarded to you.
It is therefore essential that you do not make a hasty decision when looking to settle a brain injury claim. The right guidance can not only significantly change the outcome of your case but a major chunk of your life as well.
If you or a family member suffered a TBI due to the fault of another, contact us at the Alexander Law Group, LLP or call 888.777.1776. You may be entitled to money damages, and we will help you collect every penny you deserve. All calls are free and confidential.