Traumatic Brain Injuries, Big and Small

by | Apr 6, 2023

Imagine This: You are on your way to work. Today is just like any other day. You turn on your favorite music or podcast and take the same route you have taken hundreds of times to get to work.

You pull up to a stop sign, look, and proceed when it’s your turn. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a truck comes flying into the intersection in front of you. 

BANG! You run directly into the truck. 

Your airbags blast out of the steering wheel, and you feel a sharp pain in your head. 

You’re dazed but thankful to be alive.

Fast forward a few days. Your spouse says to you, “Are you sure you’re feeling okay?” with a look of concern on his face, “You have been acting different since the accident, and you keep forgetting things you usually remember. Maybe you should go back to the doctor. I’m worried.”

Traumatic Brain Injuries — TBI

Brain injuries can range from a mild “concussion” to injury causing death. All such injuries are called “TBI,” traumatic brain injury

A “concussion” is a type of traumatic brain injury—or TBI—caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head. Or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth.  

A “TBI” occurs when a sudden trauma causes damage to the brain. 

TBI can result when the head suddenly and violently hits an object or when an object pierces the skull and enters brain tissue. “TBI” is just a broader category than “concussion.”

Close up of a man's hands on a steering wheel appear to swerve to avoid an accident

Brain trauma is a common accident injury. 

Depending on the severity of the injury, a brain injury could result in permanent physical, cognitive, and emotional impairments. Seeking prompt medical care can help reduce the risk of developing permanent brain damage after an accident.

Medical providers base the severity level of a brain injury on the person’s Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score, memory loss, and consciousness. 

However, other factors may play a role in diagnosing the severity of a brain injury.

Three Levels of Traumatic Brain Injuries

There are three levels of severity of traumatic brain injury – mild TBI, moderate TBI, and severe TBI. 

Mild TBI

A mild TBI generally does not cause a loss of consciousness. If a person loses consciousness, it is for less than 30 minutes.  Other symptoms include:

  • Vomiting or nausea
  • Vision problems
  • Trouble thinking clearly
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Balance problems
  • Problems sleeping or sleeping more than usual
  • Sensitive to light or sound
  • Problems with attention and concentration
  • Anxiety, irritability, and feeling more emotional
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Bad taste in the mouth

Memory loss lasts less than 24 hours, and the GCS score is between 13 to 15. A mild TBI usually heals within a few weeks with time and rest.

Moderate TBI

Symptoms of a moderate TBI include the symptoms of a mild TBI. Additional symptoms that indicate the brain injury is more severe than a mild case include:

  • Headaches that get worse or won’t go away
  • Seizures or convulsions
  • Numbness or weakness in the legs and arms
  • Repeated bouts of nausea or vomiting
  • Unable to wake up from sleep
  • Slurred speech
  • Larger than normal pupils in one or both eyes
  • Increased restlessness, confusion, or agitation
  • Loss of coordination
  • Memory loss lasts between 24 hours to seven days. The GSC score is between 9 to 12. Prompt medical attention is required with a mild TBI.

Severe TBI

A severe TBI can result in a loss of consciousness for more than 24 hours. The GSC score is eight or lower. Memory loss lasts for more than seven days. 

The symptoms of a severe TBI can be the same as a mild TBI and moderate TBI. However, the symptoms may be more severe, and the person could have several symptoms. Immediate medical attention is required for a severe TBI.

The Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) scale is set out below:

Eye Opening Response

  • Spontaneous–open with blinking at baseline 4 points
  • To verbal stimuli, command, speech 3 points
  • To pain only (not applied to face) 2 points
  • No response 1 point

Verbal Response

  • Oriented 5 points
  • Confused conversation, but able to answer questions 4 points
  • Inappropriate words 3 points
  • Incomprehensible speech 2 points
  • No response 1 point

Motor Response

  • Obeys commands for movement 6 points
  • Purposeful movement to painful stimulus 5 points
  • Withdraws in response to pain 4 points
  • Flexion in response to pain (decorticate posturing) 3 points
  • Extension response in response to pain (decerebrate posturing) 2 points
  • No response 1 point
For vehicle from New York smashed on one side after a traumatic car accident

If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident and you received Traumatic Brain Injuries, what is your injury worth in monetary damages?

The answer depends on the level of your traumatic brain injuries and the symptoms and duration of symptoms you have experienced. 

The most important thing to understand is that every brain injury is different. The medical profession likes to categorize various maladies. Still, the truth is that what one person experiences from a TBI will be quite different from what someone else experiences from a similar TBI.

Insurance companies tend to pigeonhole traumatic brain injuries much like the medical profession does. 

To maximize the recovery for traumatic brain injuries, your personal injury lawyer should be able to tell you what steps to take to document both the level of TBI and the specific symptoms diagnosed that support that rating. 

This is critical because there are a lot of symptoms that won’t show up on a diagnostic test.  Getting any visual evidence on an X-ray, CT scan, or MRI is very helpful in increasing the damages an insurance company is willing to pay.  The symptoms not explained by such tests must be supported in other ways.

Neuropsychological Tests Document Physiological and Behavioral Changes

This test takes a few hours to administer at a doctor’s office. It will result in a written report that can be used as evidence to support the claim of TBI.

A neuropsychological evaluation is a test to measure how well a person’s brain is working. The abilities tested include reading, language usage, attention, learning, processing speed, reasoning, remembering, problem-solving, mood and personality, and more.

Neuropsychological tests evaluate functioning in a number of areas, including intelligence, executive functions (such as planning, abstraction, conceptualization), attention, memory, language, perception, sensorimotor functions, motivation, mood state and emotion, quality of life, and personality styles.

How is a neuropsychological test performed?  

Neuropsychology looks at how the health of your brain affects your thinking skills and behavior. These tests are usually done with a pencil and paper in a doctor’s office. They may also be done on a computer. Or a neuropsychologist may just ask you a series of questions that you answer orally.

In addition to determining the correct diagnosis, neuropsychological testing can determine the specific ‘flavor’ of an anxiety disorder that you or a loved one suffers from, allowing for precise treatment plans to be developed.

Okay, enough of all the medical, technical stuff that most folks don’t understand.

What You Need To Know If You Or A Loved One Exhibits Brain Dysfunction After an Accident

You need to seek professional help. 

If this traumatic brain injury is caused by an accident, the fault of which was by someone else, then one professional you can start with is a lawyer who has experience handling TBI cases. 

No, the lawyer can’t treat you, but the lawyer can guide you to the right medical discipline to help you, assuming you have not found such a doctor on your own.

We at Garrison Law Firm have the experience to both raise the question of a TBI and to refer you for treatment. Most importantly, we have vast experience in valuing TBI claims and in supporting those claims with the proper medical documentation and research.

Back to Our Opening Story

The story we opened this post with is a dramatization of what happened to a real client we served.

We recently had a case where the driver of a car was T-boned in an intersection by a truck that had pulled out in front of her against our client’s right-of-way. She hit the truck at moderate speed, her airbags deployed, and she hit her head on a hard object in her car.  

Shortly following the accident, she and her family noticed that she was behaving erratically and suffering a loss of memory. This condition persisted and seemed permanent.  

Although the client only had about $15,000 in paid medical expenses, we could support the claim well enough to get a six-figure offer of settlement, which is unusual for such low medical expenses.

Call Our Traumatic Brain Injuries Lawyers

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident and you believe a traumatic brain injury has occurred, call us at Garrison Law Firm right away to learn your rights and to have us help you preserve those rights so you can receive the compensation you deserve. 

Call us at 317-842-8283.