At Greene Broillet & Wheeler, our seasoned team of professionals have over 100 years of combined legal experience handling complex legal matters.
Los Angeles Brain Injury Attorneys
Helping Victims of Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs)
The brain controls your thoughts, memories, speech, movement, and breathing. A major injury to that vital organ can, literally, damage every part of your functioning and your life. Even a seemingly minor brain injury can do lasting harm.
When someone else’s negligence or wrongful conduct results in an injury to your brain, the law may entitle you to compensation to pay for medical bills, lost wages, and support to help you live as normally as possible. Depending on the circumstances in which you were injured, you may also recover compensation for your physical or mental suffering or other non-economic damages.
At Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, our compassionate brain injury lawyers in Los Angeles have decades of experience representing people with severe head and brain injuries. We have obtained significant verdicts and settlements in brain injury claims. Our legal team has experience in dealing with the type of medical and rehabilitative help you need, and we excel in providing the aggressive legal representation seriously injured people require.
What Is a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)?
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a type of injury that occurs when an external force causes damage to the brain. TBIs can vary in severity, ranging from mild concussions to severe injuries that can have long-lasting or even permanent effects on a person's physical, cognitive, emotional, and behavioral functions. These injuries can result from various causes, including accidents, falls, sports-related injuries, violence, or other traumatic events.
Common types of traumatic brain injuries include:
- Concussion: A concussion is a mild TBI that typically occurs due to a blow or jolt to the head. It can cause temporary disruptions in brain function, leading to symptoms such as headache, confusion, dizziness, and memory problems. Most people recover from concussions with rest and time.
- Contusion: A brain contusion is a bruise on the brain's surface caused by a direct impact to the head. It can lead to localized bleeding and damage to brain tissue, potentially resulting in neurological deficits.
- Penetrating Injury: Penetrating TBIs occur when a foreign object, such as a bullet or a sharp object, penetrates the skull and enters the brain. These injuries can be severe and are often associated with significant complications.
- Diffuse Axonal Injury (DAI): DAI is a type of TBI that occurs when the brain rapidly shifts inside the skull, causing damage to nerve cells and their connections (axons). This type of injury is often caused by high-speed acceleration or deceleration, such as in car accidents or shaken baby syndrome.
- Coup-Contrecoup Injury: This type of TBI occurs when there are contusions on both the impact site (coup) and the opposite side of the brain (contrecoup). It happens when the force of the injury causes the brain to move back and forth inside the skull, leading to damage on both sides.
- Hematoma: Hematomas are collections of blood that accumulate within the brain or in the space between the brain and the skull. There are different types of hematomas, including epidural hematoma, subdural hematoma, and intracerebral hematoma. These can cause increased intracranial pressure and require urgent medical attention.
- Shaken Baby Syndrome: This type of TBI occurs in infants and young children when they are forcefully shaken, leading to severe brain injuries. The violent shaking can cause DAI and other forms of brain damage.
- Second Impact Syndrome: Second impact syndrome is a rare but potentially life-threatening condition that can occur when a person sustains a second head injury before fully recovering from a previous TBI. It can lead to rapid brain swelling and neurological deterioration.
TBIs can prove devastating in their severity. Patients with even mild injuries may suffer permanent impairments. Each year, about 30 percent of all injury deaths and more than 2.5 million hospital emergency room visits result from TBIs.
Top Causes of Traumatic Brain Injuries
Slip and fall accidents are the leading cause of TBIs in the United States, accounting for 47 percent of all such injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The most susceptible populations for falls are children younger than 14 and adults older than 65. The second leading cause of TBIs is getting struck by a heavy object, and this is the most common cause of TBI in children younger than 15.
TBI occurs when a person slips, trips, or falls due to hazardous conditions, such as wet or uneven surfaces. Head injuries can occur when the individual's head makes direct contact with the ground or another object.
Other causes of TBIs can include:
- Motor vehicle accidents: Motor vehicle accidents, including car, motorcycle, and truck collisions, are a major cause of TBIs. In these accidents, the rapid deceleration or impact can cause the head to strike hard surfaces, leading to head injuries. Rollover accidents, as well as accidents involving SUVs and pickup trucks, can be particularly severe.
- Bicycle accidents: Cyclists are vulnerable to TBIs in accidents, especially if they are not wearing helmets. A fall from a bicycle or a collision with a vehicle can result in head injuries.
- Contact sports accidents: Sports like football, soccer, and boxing carry a risk of head injuries due to collisions, tackles, and blows to the head. Repeated head trauma in contact sports can lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain condition.
- Falls from ladders and scaffolding: Construction workers and individuals working at heights are at risk of falling from ladders, scaffolding, or elevated platforms. These falls can result in severe TBIs if the head is injured upon impact with the ground or other surfaces.
- Blasts and explosions: Military personnel, as well as civilians in areas prone to explosions, may suffer TBIs from the shockwaves and debris generated by blasts. The force of the blast can cause the brain to move rapidly within the skull, leading to injuries.
- Sexual and physical assaults: Physical violence, including sexual and physical assaults, can lead to TBIs if the victim is struck or forcefully shaken. This type of injury is often associated with shaken baby syndrome in infants.
- Rollover car accidents: Rollover car accidents involve the vehicle turning over onto its side or roof. These accidents can lead to head injuries as passengers are jolted and may make contact with the vehicle's interior or the ground.
- SUV and pickup truck accidents: Accidents involving larger vehicles like SUVs and pickup trucks can be particularly severe due to their higher mass and potential for causing more significant impacts and damage, increasing the risk of TBIs.
Brain Injuries: Going Beyond the Numbers
About 1.5 million people in America suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI) every year, according to the Brain Injury Association of America. That’s more than six times the number of people who are diagnosed with breast cancer, HIV/AIDS, spinal cord injuries, and multiple sclerosis combined. Additionally, about 50,000 people die of a traumatic brain injury annually and another 5.3 million people are currently living with a disability due to a TBI.
Yet few members of the public are aware of the significant number of people living with permanent, disabling brain injuries. One of the cruel ironies of brain injuries is that many victims can walk, talk, and appear to be just fine. Unfortunately, they have a profoundly disabling brain injury that results in memory loss, cognitive impairments, and emotional and behavioral changes that leave them unable to earn a living or, in some cases, unable to accomplish the routine tasks of daily life.
When a patient initially suffers head trauma, early symptoms could include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Ringing in the ears
- Hypersensitivity to light, noise, touch, smell or taste
Brain injuries can also cause lasting physical and personality changes, including:
- Sensitivity to crowds
- Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping
- Changes to sex drive
People who have sustained brain injuries may feel more sensitive to sensory stimuli and more likely to make impulsive or poor decisions. They are more likely to use drugs and alcohol or engage in inappropriate sexual activity, as some brain injuries can lower inhibitions. Patients may not even notice the changes, but close friends and family members can see a definite shift in personality. Seizures can also plague some people with brain injuries.
Who Is Legally Responsible for a Traumatic Brain Injury?
Anyone who failed to reasonably inform others of a hazard or who created a hazard that led to a traumatic brain injury may face liability. Likewise, anyone who causes a motor vehicle accident by failing to obey traffic laws or engaging in negligent behaviors like distracted driving or driving under the influence may bear responsibility for the resulting injuries.
Sometimes, poor design or product defects can cause a traumatic brain injury. At Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, our Los Angeles injury lawyers have successfully fought against vehicle manufacturers and tire makers when their products’ flaws caused or contributed to an accident.
What Compensation Can I Recover for TBI?
If you or your loved one was injured as a result of someone’s negligence, you could possibly recover the following damages:
- Medical expenses. Traumatic brain injuries are expensive to treat, and TBIs often require one or more surgeries to alleviate pressure in the skull. Ongoing therapies can add to the cost. As a result, medical bills can total millions of dollars during the patient’s lifetime.
- Physical pain and suffering. Ongoing physical problems, including demonstrable cognitive impairments that impair the patient’s ability to lead a normal life, can influence the amount of a settlement.
- Mental suffering. Many patients with brain injuries can no longer work or participate in activities they once enjoyed. Sometimes, personality changes can damage relationships and even put the patient in risky or dangerous situations.
- Lost wages. While getting treatment for brain injuries, patients are sometimes unable to work. Many brain injuries could prevent a patient from resuming a career at all.
- Loss of companionship. Spouses and children could recover damages as well if their loved one is unable to resume normal operation of the household after sustaining an injury.
Issues in Brain Injury Diagnosis
Brain injuries are often just one of many catastrophic injuries that can be caused by a serious accident. Unless symptoms are clear and obvious, doctors and nurses who are focused on other, more life-threatening injuries can easily overlook a mild brain injury. When you choose to work with our firm, we can assist you in finding respected medical experts who specialize in the diagnosis of brain injury.
Our experts will use a variety of tools to demonstrate the extent of your injury and pursue all compensation you are entitled to:
- Neurological workup – If doctors do suspect a head injury, you will most likely be given an initial neurological exam in the emergency room or doctor’s office. You’ll be rated according to the Glasgow Coma Scale on your ability to open your eyes, speak, and respond to verbal and physical stimulus.
- Imaging tests – Your doctor may order an imaging test, like an MRI or CT scan, to determine if there are skull fractures, tumors, a subdural hematoma, penetrating injuries or other observable injuries to the brain. However, no imaging test can accurately pinpoint all types of injury to the brain. This lack of objective documentation can make it difficult to prove the extent of injury-related damages.
- Neuropsychological testing – Neuropsychological testing can help pinpoint specific deficits that may be caused by a brain injury. Even these, however, are not infallible. People with extremely high intellectual capabilities will still fall within the normal range on a neuropsychological test even though they are experiencing significant deficits due to a brain injury. Neuropsychological testing is most accurate when a baseline test of the individual’s capabilities occurred before the accident.
- Personal observations – The observations of friends, co-workers, and family members can help diagnose a brain injury and the personality disorders that sometimes go with it. A physiatrist, a specialist in rehabilitative medicine, will interview people who knew the individual before and after the injury about the differences they have seen in the person’s abilities and behavior. These interviews may reveal changes in personality and show the degree of the injury in better detail.
Who Treats Brain Injuries?
Many head injuries necessitate a trip to the hospital emergency room to treat immediate swelling and brain damage. Doctors may need to send patients to surgery or acute care to prevent TBIs from worsening.
Following immediate emergency care, doctors may treat TBI symptoms that cause issues in the patient’s life with medication and rehabilitation. These injuries may result in an inability to perform daily tasks. A patient may need to relearn these skills through physical and occupational therapy, or may need around-the-clock inpatient care or a personal care assistant to provide supervision.
According to the Brain Injury Association of America, the rehabilitation team may include:
- Patient and patient’s family
- General practitioner
- Rehabilitation medicine physician
- Rehabilitation nurse
- Allied health professionals: physiotherapist, occupational therapist, speech pathologist, social worker
- Neuropsychologist, clinical psychologist
- Vocational rehabilitation services and counselors
- Other medical specialties: neurosurgery, orthopedic surgery
New Insights Into Brain Injury Rehabilitation
Until fairly recently, little was known about brain injury rehabilitation. Some believed that rest, time, and luck were the only essential components for recovery. Today, however, analysis of numerous studies has shown that a program of brain injury rehabilitation can help people maximize their recovery from traumatic brain injuries.
Researchers at the University of South Alabama and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte analyzed results of several hundred studies of cognitive brain injury rehabilitation. They found that just as physical therapy enhances recovery from physical trauma, cognitive rehabilitation can increase positive outcomes after a traumatic brain injury. That means patient outcomes are best when the rehab program is begun early.
Finding the Right Brain Injury Law Firm in California
IIn lawsuits involving a TBI, attorneys often work on a contingent fee basis in which clients pay no fees or expenses up front. The law firm’s compensation consists of a percentage of any monies recovered for the client. At Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, we offer a free consultation to potential clients, at which we typically discuss the facts of their case. If we agree to representation, we discuss the appropriate fee arrangement.
When you’re injured, you want to focus all of your attention on getting better. You don’t want the hassle of legal proceedings to cause you stress or anxiety. You want the right personal injury law firm to handle your traumatic brain injury case. You need a reliable and compassionate partner who knows how to achieve the best possible outcome from a terrible situation. Our Los Angeles attorneys have experience in managing traumatic brain injury cases and helping patients and their families make the best decisions.
Named in U.S. News - Best Lawyers® "Best Law Firms,” Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP ranks as Tier 1 Personal Injury firm in Los Angeles.
Founding partners Browne Greene and Bruce A. Broillet are both members of the exclusive invite-only Inner Circle of Advocates, as two of the top 100 plaintiff trial lawyers in America.
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Many firm members have been honored by the Consumer Attorneys of California, including Browne Greene, Christine Spagnoli, and Bruce Broillet, recipients of the Marvin E. Lewis Award. In addition, attorneys Bruce Broillet, Scott Carr, Molly McKibben, and Tobin Lanzetta has been honored with the Consumer Attorney of the Year Award.
All 15 of our attorneys have been selected to Best Lawyers® after an extensive peer review process.
Our attorneys were featured in TopVerdict for having one of the Top 10 Wrongful Death Verdicts in California in 2019, with $15 million won for the plaintiff in Keck v. Bel-Air Bay Club.
Our firm has more attorneys on the Super Lawyers® and Rising Stars lists than any other law firm in Southern California, with 15 members selected.
Several partners are active members in the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles, with attorneys Browne Greene, Bruce Broillet, and Christine Spagnoli named “Trial Lawyer of the Year."
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