Pennsylvania Traumatic Brain Injury Lawyer
Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) occur when the head suffers trauma from an accident or event and the result is damage to the brain. If you or someone close to you has suffered a traumatic brain injury while working or because of another party’s negligence, it is important to have an experienced lawyer by your side working hard to protect your interests.
At Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C., we have extensive experience helping people who have suffered brain injuries in Pennsylvania. Our attorneys have in-depth knowledge of this area of the law, and we are focused on helping you obtain full and fair compensation for the losses you have suffered. We work closely with our clients, and we handle the entire process from start to finish, so you can concentrate on your health and recovering from your injury.
TBI cases can be complicated and challenging to pursue, because you must draw a direct connection between the injury and the negligent or reckless actions of the responsible party. We have a successful track record with these types of cases, and we routinely go up against well-funded adversaries such as insurance companies and large corporations. We are not intimidated by their vast resources, and we know what it takes to help ensure that our clients obtain maximum compensation, and that those responsible for their injuries are held fully accountable.
How Traumatic Brain Injuries Affect Patients
TBI is a contributing factor in the deaths of more than 50,000 Americans each year. In addition, approximately 2.5 million people are treated at the emergency room and nearly 300,000 are hospitalized for this condition. Overall, brain injuries are a contributing factor in nearly one-third of all injury related deaths in the US.
Traumatic brain injuries can dramatically change the life of those affected by it. People who have suffered from TBI may experience a number of symptoms, which may include:
- Dizziness/loss of balance;
- Blurred vision;
- Ringing in the ears;
- Nausea and vomiting;
- Drowsiness or fatigue;
- Memory loss;
- Sudden mood shifts;
- Feelings of depression or anxiety;
- Difficulty with focus/concentration;
- Trouble sleeping;
- Slurred speech.
Sometimes, symptoms of TBI may be temporary and last only a few days up to a week or two. Other times, the effects of this condition can go on indefinitely and severely diminish the affected person’s quality of life in addition to the lives of their family members and those who are caring for you.
Because the brain is the most complex organ in our body, when it is injured, it is hard to predict the overall effects of the injury. In this way, TBI is a very unique condition, and it manifests itself differently in each patient. This is why it is very important to listen to your doctor and carefully follow their advice. This will help mitigate the effects of the condition and put you in the best possible position to recover from it or reach maximum medical improvement (MMI).
Common Causes of Traumatic Brain Injuries
Brain injuries happen because of a blow or jolt to the head, or an object that penetrates the brain tissue (such as a bullet). There are a variety of events that can cause TBI, some of the most common include:
- Falls: Falling is the leading cause of TBI, and slips, trips, and falls account for nearly half of all cases. Brain injuries typically happen with head-first falls and/or falls in which the head slams hard against the ground or another hard surface. Young children, disabled individuals, and the elderly are the groups most susceptible to traumatic brain injuries from a fall.
- Being Struck By/Struck Against Events: Getting struck in the head or having your head thrown against a hard object or surface is the second leading cause of traumatic brain injuries. This type of event happens frequently in some workplaces, particularly construction sites, oil rigs, and other jobs where hard labor is performed repetitively and in a fast-paced environment.
- Motor Vehicle Accidents: Auto accidents are the third leading cause of TBI. Traumatic brain injuries are more common in vehicle crashes that occur at higher speeds with greater force upon impact. The impact of the crash can throw the body and head wildly, and sometimes the head hits the steering wheel, windshield, or another hard object. Pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists are at a higher risk of TBI from traffic-related accidents, because they do not have a steel cage to protect their head from hitting the pavement.
- Medical Malpractice Events: Brain damage caused by medical malpractice is usually the result of lack of oxygen to the brain, which can be caused by a medication error, or the missed or delayed diagnosis of a serious medical condition.
- Acts of Violence: Various forms of violence make up the fourth leading cause of traumatic brain injuries. Examples include assault, domestic violence, and self-inflicted wounds. Children under the age of four are at the greatest risk of TBI from a violent act.
- Other Events: Traumatic brain injuries can happen for a number of other reasons, such as explosions, high impact sports (such as football and hockey), extreme sports (such as cliff diving), and birth injuries that are often caused by some form of medical malpractice.
Traumatic Brain Injury Compensation
Victims of traumatic brain injuries may be eligible for the following types of compensation, depending on the nature of the accident or event that caused the injury:
If a traumatic brain injury is work-related, your first recourse would be to file a workers’ compensation claim with your employer’s insurer. Workers’ comp is a no-fault system, meaning you do not have to prove that the employer was responsible for your injury in order to be eligible for benefits.
Workers’ compensation benefits are more limited than what can be recovered through a personal injury lawsuit. Coverage is available for necessary medical treatment, a percentage of lost wages for the time missed from work (because of the injury), rehabilitation, retraining for a new position if you are unable to return to your old one, and permanent disability. If an employer has workers’ comp coverage, they are generally immune from a lawsuit unless it can be clearly shown that your injury was a result of their deliberate actions.
If you suffered a TBI outside of work, or your work-related injury was caused by a party other than your employer, you may be able to bring a personal injury action against the party that was responsible. This could be the driver of a vehicle that causes an auto accident, the owner or proprietor of a store where you slipped and fell and hit your head, the manufacturer or distributor of a faulty piece of machinery that malfunctioned at work, a medical provider that makes a mistake while providing care, or any number of other potential parties.
In a personal injury lawsuit, you may be able to recover compensation not only for direct economic losses such as medical expenses and lost wages, but also for noneconomic losses such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and diminished quality of life, as well as the loss of services to your spouse and children as a result of your brain injury. In some limited cases in which the actions of the party responsible for your injuries were especially egregious, punitive damages may also be available as “punishment” for their wrongdoing.
Social Security Disability
More moderate to severe forms of TBI may qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. There are certain criteria you must meet to qualify for benefits, and because the application process is complex and confusing, a large percentage of claimants are denied after filing their initial application. We will assist you in filing your initial application which may increase the likelihood of getting your benefits approved at the early stages of the administrative process.
Our lawyers can handle all of these types of cases, and we will explore every potential legal avenue toward recovering the just compensation you deserve. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding your traumatic brain injury, we are prepared to fight for your rights.
Care Giving for a Loved One with TBI
Here are some important tips to help caregivers who have a loved one with a TBI:
Patience is a word you will be hearing a lot in the days to come. Those who have been through the experience of caring for a loved one with TBI will tell you that infinite patience is required. Some days will be good, and some not so good. Some days, it will seem like your loved one is improving, then the next day, they seem to take a step backwards. Prepare yourself mentally for the ups and downs of this journey and do your best to try to take it day by day.
Get Plenty of Rest and Relief
Being a caregiver for a TBI sufferer is draining both physically and emotionally. To take on this role, you will need to get plenty of rest. This might mean taking time off from work, which you are allowed to do (unpaid at least) for up to 12 weeks under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Some organizations provide paid family leave, and if you are fortunate enough to work for one of these, be sure to make use of your paid leave during this difficult time.
Another way you can help ensure you get the rest you need is by enlisting the help of others. Caregiving is a monumental task, especially for someone who does not have a healthcare background and is not experienced with this type of work. You should not have to do this alone, and you should be able to draw on your support network of family and friends to help you through it.
Ask others who are close to you if they can help with the caregiving duties, so you can have a break. And if you cannot find anyone in your own circle to help you, consider hiring an in-home care agency to provide a professional caregiver for even just a few hours a week to help out.
Follow Doctor’s Orders
Because of the uniqueness of TBI, the path to recovery is far less predictable than with most other conditions. This makes it extremely essential that your loved one follows your doctor’s advice to the letter. The doctor will most likely advise that your loved one gets plenty of rest, refrain from using alcohol and tobacco, and create a more simplified routine to help them get through the day. Depending on the situation, they may also advise that they wait a certain amount of time before going back to work and resuming other activities. Your loved one’s doctor is the person who knows more about their specific condition, symptoms, etc. than anyone else, so you will need to rely heavily on their guidance.
Talk to Young Family Members about the Situation
When someone in the family suffers a traumatic brain injury, everyone in the household deals with the situation in a different way. For example, children often have a hard time accepting what has happened, and they might be holding these feelings inside in order to “stay strong”. Do not automatically assume that being silent means your children are doing okay with everything. Talk to them, ask them how they feel about it, what questions they have, etc. In some cases, it might also be good for them to get some outside help to cope with the situation.
Find Out if you Qualify for a Medicaid Waiver Program
In many states, those who suffer from more severe cases of TBI are eligible for a Medicaid waiver. This means that they can receive medical help for the condition through Medicaid even if their household income would normally be too high to qualify for the program. In Pennsylvania, this is known as the COMMCARE waiver program.
Obtain Strong Legal Guidance
If your loved one suffered a traumatic brain injury because of someone else’s negligence or reckless actions, they may be entitled to compensation. This could include damages not only for direct economic losses such as medical bills, lost earnings, and loss of future earning capacity, but also for noneconomic losses such as pain-and-suffering, emotional distress, and diminished quality of life. To find out your legal rights and options, it is best to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible after the injury.
Contact Our Experienced and Compassionate Traumatic Brain Injury Attorneys Today
At Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C., we understand the major physical, emotional, and financial toll TBIs have on victims and their families, and we do everything possible to make the legal process smooth and stress-free.
Have you or has someone close to you suffered a serious brain injury? Contact us today online or by telephone at 412-391-9860 or toll free at 866-466-5789 to speak with an experienced Pittsburgh traumatic brain injury attorney. Initial consultations are free and confidential.