Of the many different types of personal injuries suffered by Americans each year, acquired brain injuries (ABIs) are among the most serious. These brain injuries are defined by a post-natal cause, distinct from those that people are born with or those which are inherited. According to the Brain Trauma Foundation, ABIs are the second most prevalent disability in the U.S., with 13.5 million Americans affected.
ABIs are caused by accidents, strokes, tumors and infections, and can be either traumatic or non-traumatic. They can affect people both mentally and physically, and can incur tremendous costs in treatment, lost earnings and emotional trauma.
What is an Acquired Brain Injury?
The term acquired brain injury is defined by the Brain Injury Association of America as a brain injury which has occurred after birth and is “not hereditary, congenital, degenerative or induced by birth trauma.”
Non-traumatic ABIs are caused by the brain receiving too little oxygen — hypoxia — or none at all — anoxia. The following injuries can lead to a deprivation of oxygen which causes ABIs:
- Exposure to toxic substances: Toxic exposure can come from defective products and workplace exposure.
- Medication errors: Medication-related injuries can be termed medical malpractice, as in the case of the 800,000 medication-related injuries that occur in nursing homes each year.
- Near-drowning accidents: Near-drowning is the stage before a drowning death, and could be due to negligence of the property owner.
- Hospital-acquired infections: Hundreds of thousands of people per year visit hospitals and end up sicker than they started — and some hospital-acquired infections like meningitis can even cause brain damage.
- Stroke: When doctors fail to correctly diagnose stroke or catch its warning signs, they may be consigning their patients to death or severe impairment.
What Causes Traumatic Brain Injuries?
Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are a type of ABI induced by trauma. According to the CDC, about 2.9 million Americans suffer frm TBIs each year, leading to around 55,000 deaths. These brain injuries are most often caused by head trauma and resulting impact damage.
The most common causes of TBIs are:
- Birth injury: Forceps injuries, delayed C-sections and the failure to diagnose or treat high-risk pregnancy issues can all lead to lifelong brain injury.
- Physical assaults: Assault accounts for 10 percent of all TBI cases.
- Slip-and-falls: Falling is the biggest category of TBI causes at 35.2 percent of the total — their causes may be a matter of premises and workplace liability or nursing home neglect.
- Sports and other physical activities: New revelations are coming up every year about the impact that sports can have on the brain — one 2018 study found that 5 percent of all youth football players suffer concussions at some point in their playing career.
- Traffic accidents: Car, motorcycle and truck accidents account for 17.3 percent of TBIs according to the CDC, but bicycle and transit accidents can be as damaging.
What Are the Symptoms of an Acquired Brain Injury?
Although symptoms of more minor ABIs may be difficult to detect, if you suspect a brain injury may have occurred you should pay close attention to:
- Inability to process information at pre-injury rates of speed
- Lack of clear judgment
- Lack of memory and recall
- Reduced level of comprehension including basic information
- Reduced sense of taste and smell
- Slurred speech and incoherent sentences
- Progressive social isolation and alienation, even from immediate family and friends
- Violent behavior
When to Consult with an Experienced Brain Injury Lawyer
While it’s possible for individuals to navigate some areas of personal injury law on their own, a brain injury lawsuit is almost always complex and will require the kind of expert and professional legal counsel that McEldrew Purtell specializes in.
Our attorneys have more than 30 years of trial experience with complex personal injury and brain injury litigation in Pennsylvania. Over the years, they have developed close working relationships with outstanding medical professionals, whose evaluation and expert conclusions about what caused the injury could become an essential feature of your claim. Don’t hesitate to contact our team of lawyers at McEldrew Purtell today by filling out our form or calling us directly at (215) 545-8800.