New York Brain Injury Accident
Statistics report that up to 1.7 million people in the U.S. are involved in accidents that result in a serious brain damage. According to the Centers for Disease Control 52,000 of these people die; 275,000 are hospitalized for long periods of time; and 1.365 million suffer injuries which require emergency room treatment. Most victims of brain injuries are in the following age groups: under 4 years old, 15-19 years old, or over 65 years old. Victims of construction accidents, slip and fall accidents, and car accidents can suffer a variety of serious injuries such as back injuries, broken bones, and internal bleeding. However, a severe traumatic brain injury is one of the most serious. Traumatic brain injuries can lead to lifelong problems such as dementia, chronic headaches, memory loss, sleeplessness, and personality changes. Such an injury can also be fatal. Victims are faced with extended recovery times. Many have to miss a substantial amount of work. This means that both the victims and their families face financial challenges. If you or a loved one has sustained a brain injury as the result of an accident, it is important to speak with an experienced New York brain injury lawyer as you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.Common causes of brain injuries
Most brain injuries are caused by negligent or intentional acts.
- Falls. Falls are the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries. While in some cases the victim falls from a high elevation such as a balcony or a ladder, in many cases high elevation is not a factor. For example, slipping on a wet floor or on ice can cause the victim to hit his or her head on a hard floor or cement surface. As a result the victim may suffer a serious brain injury in addition to other injuries. If the owner of the premises was negligent, then the victim would be entitled to damages.
- Car, SUV, truck and minivan accidents. Vehicle accidents are another leading cause of head injuries. This is particularly the case where a victim is ejected from the vehicle, or where the vehicle rolled over. In fact, in SUV rollover accidents victims are at an increased risk of suffering a traumatic brain injury as SUV roofs have a history of collapsing, resulting serious head, neck, and back injuries to the occupants.
- Blows to the heads or falling against a hard surface such as a wall. Serious injuries to the head are often caused by falling objects. An example of this would be accidents that occur during sporting events when a ball traveling at high speed hits a fan in the head, or when an object falls from a store shelf. The results can be serious damage to the brain of the victim.
Example. While shopping at Big Store, Katie asked for assistance reaching a can of paint that was located on a top shelf. A Big Store employee attempted to grab a can. However, several cans ended up falling from the shelf onto Katie’s head. The blow to her head caused Katie to lose consciousness. She was rushed to the hospital with a traumatic brain injury. With the help of a New York brain injury lawyer Katie sued Big Store. Big Store denied fault. Unable to reach an acceptable settlement, the case went to trial. At trial, Katie presented evidence that she suffered a traumatic brain injury causing significant cognitive dysfunction, memory and concentration problems as well chronic headaches, and cervical pain. Katie presented evidence that because of her brain injury she was not able to work. The jury awarded Katie damages for her past and future medical expenses, lost wages, loss of future earning ability, and pain and suffering.
- Criminal assaults. Violence is a significant cause of injuries to the brain. The injury can be the result of a gunshot wound, punch to the head or face, blow to the head with an object, or injury to the head as a result of being thrown to the ground. Such violence can happen during a fight, sexual assault, domestic violence, or other violent crimes. As an experienced brain injury attorney in New York will explain, if the brain injury was the result of an intentional act of violence, in addition to facing criminal charges, the victim has the right to seek civil damages as well.
- Sports and recreation. Head injuries from sports and recreational activities are not uncommon. While football is often cited as putting players at risk for concussions, head injuries are a problem in several other sports as well including soccer, gymnastics, skateboarding, cycling, skiing, baseball/softball, diving and other water sports, hockey, and horseback riding. In fact, reports indicate that in the United States cycling is the number one sport or recreational activity when it comes to head injuries.
Traumatic brain injuries can be mild, moderate or severe. There are a variety of symptoms that may signal that you have a brain injury. Some symptoms are physical while others are cognitive or behavioral. Victims may suffer only a few of the symptoms or several. Different symptoms may appear at different times. Examples of symptoms include headache, blurred vision, double vision or pupil dilation, slurred speech, hearing loss, ringing in ears, trouble with memory or concentration, feelings of being light-headed or dizzy, forgetfulness, prolonged headaches, numb or weak extremities, prone to anger, and impulsive behavior.Recovering compensation
A brain injury not only affects your heath, but will also affect your ability to work and your general quality of life. In addition, it can have a devastating effect on the finances of you and your family. Because damage from a brain injury is often severe and permanent, you may be faced with a lifetime of medical expenses.
The lifetime costs for treating a severe brain injury vary from victim to victim, and depend on a variety of factors. Costs to treat traumatic brain injuries can easily reach well into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, particularly if rehabilitation or continued medical care is required. While most of the costs associated with a brain injury are the expenses related to hospitalization and other types of medical care, there are other long-term costs as well. For example, those with brain injuries tend to miss work more often than prior to the injury. This means that the victim has to use sick and vacation days. In many cases the victim will not get paid for the time missed or will end up losing his (or her) job because of the frequent absences. Missed work or loss of work will have a long-term impact on both the victim and his family in terms of inability to pay bills and pay for necessities.
In addition, another family member may have to assume the role of caregiver for the victim either temporarily or long-term. As a result, the caregiver-family member loses out on opportunities to earn income.
- Medical expenses: With a brain injury, the medical expenses can easily top $100,000 and $1,000,000. The more severe the injury, the higher the medical costs. If the brain injury is severe, the medical costs could continue for the rest of the victim’s life. Victims with severe brain injuries often end up in hospital intensive care units. They sometime fall into comas or suffer paralysis. Specialized equipment such as a ventilator must be used. In addition, surgery may be required such as a craniotomy. Medication may be necessary to reduce pain, sedate, prevent seizures, and to control intracranial pressure. Short or long-term therapy may be required.
- Lost wages: You are entitled to recovery for lost wages. While lost wages certainly includes missed paychecks, it is much more than that. Lost wages also includes lost benefits. For example, if you used sick days and vacation days while recovering, then you would be entitled to compensation for the value of the vacation and sick days that you no longer have them to use. A victim who misses work because of a brain injury may also miss bonuses. For example, some employers offer their employees bonuses based on meeting specific performance goals over a period of time. If the victim was out of work during part of the performance period and he (or she) was meeting performance targets prior to the accident, he may demand compensation for the lost opportunity to meet the performance goals and earn a bonus. Other lost compensation may include loss of company perks such as a company car, company housing, and club memberships.
In order to prove lost wages, you may need to show paycheck check stubs, tax returns, documentation of direct deposit amounts, employment letters, and bank statements.
- Loss of future earning capacity. You can demand from the at-fault person compensation to make up for the decrease in your ability to earn income because of the brain injury. For example, if your brain injury caused you to suffer from sensitivity to light and migraines such that you can only work ½ days, then you could make a strong case that your ability to earn income has decreased. Some victim’s injuries are so severe that the cognitive impairment leaves them unable to work at all. Similarly, if the brain injury leaves the victim paralyzed or blind, for example, he or she may not be able to return to work at all. In order to prove loss of earning capacity, you may need to show evidence related to your skills, talent, training, and experience. As an experienced New York brain injury lawyer will explain, it may be necessary to hire an expert medical witness to provide testimony regarding how your brain injury has impacted your future work performance.
- Pain and suffering. In a brain injury case, pain and suffering refers to the physical pain and mental anguish suffered by the victim because of the negligence of another person. Mental anguish is typically evidenced by depression, loss of sleep, anxiety, and other symptoms that tend to show the mental and emotional distress that accompany serious physical injuries. In determining the amount to award for pain and suffering, the court might consider such factors as how much the victim’s daily routine has changed. For example, if the brain injury results in the victim requiring a wheelchair or a walker due to paralysis or balance problems, then the victim’s daily routine would have been impacted significantly. The court may also consider the extent the victim’s relationships at home or work were impacted. An example of this would be a victim no longer being able to be intimate with his or her partner. The court will award more damages for pain and suffering in cases where the impact of the brain injury on the victim’s life is expected to be long-term.
- Wrongful death: If the victim passed away as a result of the brain injury, his or her family can pursue a wrongful death claim against the negligent party and demand payment for the funeral expenses, loss of support, and conscious pain and suffering of the victim.
If your brain injury occurred in the workplace, you may be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits including medical benefits, lost wages, vocational training. If a family member died as a result of a workplace brain injury, then workers’ compensation death benefits may be available to the victim’s family.Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates
If you or a loved one was injured in an accident that resulted in a brain injury, contact an experienced brain injury attorney serving New York who understands both the legal issues associated with personal injury cases as well as the medical and emotional issues associated with traumatic brain injuries. The staff at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates is experienced in handling personal injury and wrongful death cases stemming from auto, truck, motorcycle, boat, and construction accidents. Contact us at 1-800-NY-NY-LAW (1-800-696-9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the following locations: Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, Staten Island, Suffolk County, Westchester County, Bronx, and Queens.