At Sabbeth Law, we work with clients who have suffered many types of injuries. In our experience, few injuries are as disruptive as those affecting the brain. Traumatic brain injuries can dramatically impact a victim’s life, including the lives of their family members, and medical care is often too expensive for most people to pay.

To make the difficulties resulting from brain injuries more stressful, they’re often invisible. Unlike a leg in a cast, people around you don’t actually see it, except in the symptoms. This can make the victim who suffered the brain injury feel misunderstood, which can be extremely isolating and depressing.

Contact our Vermont Brain Injury Lawyers today. Some brain injuries result from accidents caused by someone else’s negligent or wrongful conduct. If so, you and your family may have a personal injury claim and should seek compensation from the person who is at fault for your present situation. We can discuss your legal options in a free, confidential consultation.

What Is A Brain Injury?

A brain injury is any damage to the brain. Brain injuries are often traumatic, meaning they are caused by an external force. Others are caused by a disruption in the flow of oxygen and are called anoxic or hypoxic injuries.

The brain is very complicated. Any disruption in the brain can be immediately felt by the victim. Many people think of a bullet to the brain as the most serious type of brain injury. However, even so-called mild traumatic brain injuries are often just as serious, with long-lasting complications.

Brain injuries can be open or closed:

  • An open brain injury penetrates the skull. A bullet or ice pick could crack the skull.
  • A closed brain injury is non-penetrative. This is the most common type of brain injury.

Closed brain injuries are often difficult to identify because a doctor does not see anything wrong when she looks at a patient. Some brain injuries do not even show up on imaging tests, so months can pass without the patient receiving a brain injury diagnosis.

Traumatic Brain Injury Cases in Vermont

Traumatic brain injuries are caused by external forces. Some blows to the head cause the brain to slide around inside the skull, or a blow to the body causes the head to snap back and forth, leading to the same problem. Traumatic brain injuries (called TBIs) alter how a brain typically functions. Traumatic brain injuries can be open or closed, but most are probably closed. All head injuries should be considered serious and examined by a doctor.

Doctors classify traumatic brain injuries as mild, moderate, or severe:

  • Mild TBIs may or may not result in unconsciousness. If they do, it is usually for less than a half hour. Most memory loss is temporary and gets better within a day. Patients usually do not need medical care other than rest. A concussion is a type of mild TBI. This type of TBI often, though not always, heals within a couple of months.
  • Moderate TBIs usually cause unconsciousness, typically for more than a half hour. Memory loss usually lasts longer than a day. A patient will need treatment at the hospital, such as mechanical ventilation. Medical staff will also monitor the patient’s vital signs. A moderate TBI can require rehabilitation if the patient suffers from disabilities.
  • Severe TBIs cause unconsciousness for hours and require significant medical care. The risk of fatality is much higher, as is the risk of permanent disability. Those who survive a severe TBI often need at-home assistance and could require years of rehab.

Common Causes and Types of Brain Injuries

common causes of brain injuries

Many different accidents can lead to traumatic and anoxic brain injuries.

Traumatic brain injury stems from a blow to the body or head, usually caused by:

  • Car accidents—A motorist’s head can snap back and forth, shaking the brain and disrupting its normal functioning, or else a motorist can slam their head on the steering wheel.
  • Falls—A person can strike their head when they fall, such as slipping and falling or falling off a ladder.
  • Sports injuries—Contact sports can lead to concussions, which are common head injuries in football and soccer. Even someone playing baseball or volleyball can be struck in the head during the course of play.
  • Violent attacks—An attacker can punch, hit, or shoot a victim. Many domestic violence victims suffer brain injuries when they are attacked.
  • Workplace injuries—Many people are injured at work in falls, explosions, or falling objects. Construction workers wear hard hats for a reason.

Anoxic-hypoxic brain injuries stem from the disruption of oxygen to the brain. A medical emergency could cause this type of injury, such as a stroke. Other causes include:

  • Near-drowning accidents. An adult or child could suffer an anoxic injury when almost drowning in a swimming pool or on open water.
  • Defective products. A baby could almost choke to death from defective clothing or cribs, which cause restriction at the neck.
  • Medical errors. A patient could be deprived of oxygen when not properly monitored during surgery or because of a birthing error affecting a baby.

These are some of the most common brain injuries in Vermont. Many of them stem from errors or negligence on the part of someone else. You should consider whether you can recover compensation by meeting with our legal team and speaking to a personal injury attorney.

What Happens When The Brain Is Injured?

Several different things can happen. For example, brain tissue can die immediately in a penetrating (open) brain injury.

Other brain cells might die if oxygen is cut off for more than a couple of minutes. When cells die, they do not regenerate, so impairments are usually permanent.

Still, other brain injuries cause bleeding inside the skull, often as a bruise (called a contusion). Bleeding in the skull is very dangerous. If you bleed from your elbow, the blood goes over the ground. But there’s nowhere for it to go inside the skull. Ultimately, pooling blood can put pressure on the brain. This pressure can cut off oxygen to certain areas of the brain, leading to death.

Other injuries are less dramatic but still cause complications. For example, hard shaking can stretch and tear neurons and axons in the brain. Neurons will misfire, and the ability of your brain to communicate is impaired, so you see impairments in speech, movement, and memory. Neurons can repair themselves, but it takes time and energy, which is why many brain injury victims can’t focus or feel fatigued.

How Brain Injury Impacts Daily Life

The brain is involved in all aspects of a person’s daily life. Consequently, any injury can cause dramatic upheaval and emotional distress. We have noticed some of the most common changes:

  • Difficulty concentrating. Most brain injury victims report difficulty concentrating on tasks, such as reading or adding numbers. Many cannot work as a result.
  • Impaired memory. They might also struggle to remember things, especially in the short term, like doctor’s appointments. Memory loss can make getting better much more difficult.
  • Behavioral changes. Brain injury victims can experience mood swings, depression, and irritability. These changes take a toll on families.
  • Physical impairment. The brain is involved in moving limbs. Any brain injury can reduce coordination or balance. Impairments might be so serious a person needs physical therapy to relearn how to grasp objects or walk.
  • Sleep disruption. Some people end up sleeping more after a brain injury, whereas others sleep less. This disrupted sleep schedule worsens other symptoms, such as memory loss or mood changes.
  • Speech problems. More serious brain injuries can impair a person’s ability to speak, although it might not affect their comprehension of what other people are saying.

If a brain injury is mild, then a person might need to miss work and stay home for several months but can otherwise look after themselves. Moderate or severe brain injuries could result in a person needing at-home assistance. They might also need to be admitted to a nursing home. Severe brain injuries often leave victims in a vegetative state indefinitely.

Frequently Asked Questions About Brain Injury Cases

We receive many questions about brain injuries, below are answers to some of the most common questions people ask.

What is the most common long-lasting effect of brain injury?

If you suffered a moderate to severe brain injury, then the most common long-lasting effect is a disability. The Centers for Disease Control found that 57% of people suffered from a physical disability five years after their brain injury. Another 55% struggled with unemployment.

What is the most traumatic brain injury?

The most traumatic brain injury would be a severe injury that penetrates the skull. This type of injury directly destroys brain tissue, and you could suffer other complications. This type of injury is fortunately very rare.

What is considered a major brain injury?

A major brain injury is a severe traumatic brain injury that can leave a person with permanent disabilities. Severe TBIs have a high fatality rate. Based on CDC data, there are more than 64,000 deaths related to TBI in 2020. Even if patients do not die or slip into a vegetative state, they can struggle to take care of themselves.

How much compensation can I get for a brain injury?

The compensation you receive depends on the severity of the injury, as well as how much money it costs you. For example, most brain injury victims need to visit the doctor, have tests, and take prescription medication. If a brain injury is life-threatening, you might need one or more surgeries, as well as recovery time in the hospital. For moderate or severe brain injuries, you might need to undergo physical therapy, occupational therapy, or speech therapy. Serious injuries can require years of therapy, all of which adds up.

In addition to medical expenses, you probably missed work while recovering. Our clients seek compensation for any lost income.

You should also receive compensation for less tangible harms like depression, anxiety, disability, disfigurement, pain, and suffering. We will analyze the facts to determine a fair settlement amount.

How long do I have to file a traumatic brain injury lawsuit in Vermont?

Under the Vermont statute of limitations, you have three years to file a lawsuit. This might seem like a sufficient amount of time, but in reality, it will pass quickly. You will probably try to negotiate a settlement before filing a lawsuit, which can also take months. You should meet with an attorney as soon as possible after the accident. If you go over the limitations period, you can lose the ability to sue for compensation.

How do you prove negligence in a brain injury case?

You need evidence to establish four elements:

  • Duty. The defendant must have owed you a duty of care when you were injured.
  • Breach. The defendant failed to fulfill their duty of care. In other words, they breached it when they were careless.
  • Causation. The defendant must cause your brain injury. If it was caused by something else—such as a brain infection—then you can’t sue the defendant for it.
  • Damages. You qualify for damages when you suffer financial and non-financial losses due to brain injury. The cost of medical care or lost wages would be examples.

The evidence we use will depend on your accident. For example, let’s say you slip and fall in a business parking lot because the owners did not clear the snow. The fact that the store is open is proof that they owe you a duty of care since you are a customer. We also would like evidence there was snow on the ground, such as a photograph or witness testimony. Then we consider whether the property owner made any attempt to clear the snow and how long it was on the ground. We can then use medical records to show the injuries you suffered in a fall.

Other accidents will have other evidence. An injured person should meet with an attorney as soon as possible after a head injury resulting from a serious accident. Seeking medical treatment will also confirm a TBI and establish a record connecting the brain damage to the incident.

Injured? Contact Our Brain Injury Lawyer in Vermont

Sabbeth Law helps brain injury victims and their families seek compensation when they are hurt in a variety of accidents. These are expensive injuries. Even mild concussions can cost our clients thousands of dollars, especially with lost income. If you or a loved one suffered moderate or severe traumatic brain injury, then the expenses could be too much to bear.

Fortunately, Vermont law allows you to sue someone when they negligently or intentionally hurt you. We know how to bring these lawsuits, and we can negotiate with the defendant or their insurer. Contact our Vermont personal injury attorney to get started.