Traumatic Brain Injury Attorneys In Durham, NC
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Durham Brain Injury Lawyers
Representing Victims of Traumatic Brain Injuries in Durham, North Carolina
Few injuries pose greater threats to a person’s physical, financial, and emotional well-being than those involving the brain, especially traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) that can be caused by preventable accidents, or the result of medical negligence.
As a firm with a proven success record in brain injury cases across Durham and the state of North Carolina, our TBI attorneys at Edwards Kirby know these injuries can result in profound and permanent consequences for victims and their loved ones, if not death. This is the reason why our Durham traumatic brain injury attorneys are dedicated to helping clients navigate their legal journeys toward the financial recovery they deserve.
What Causes Brain Injuries?
Brain injuries can occur in different ways, including:
- Oxygen Deprivation: Brain injuries caused by oxygen deprivation, known as anoxic brain injuries, are characteristic of swimming or diving accidents, medical negligence (including surgical errors and anesthesia errors), and birth injuries such as cerebral palsy.
- Trauma: Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are a form of acquired brain injuries, meaning they are not hereditary or present at birth. Most TBIs result from blunt force trauma to the head, such as head injuries in motor vehicle or motorcycle accidents, truck collisions, construction or workplace accidents, and falls.
- Non-Impact Injuries: Though many TBIs result from blunt force trauma, they can also occur without any direct impact to the head; sudden force that causes the brain to accelerate and decelerate within the skull can be enough to damage brain tissue. Non-impact brain injuries are common in auto accidents where victims suffer whiplash, as well as industrial accidents involving explosions.
- Exposure to Toxic Substances or Electricity: Brain injuries can be caused by exposure to toxic substances, including environmental or workplace exposure, defective products, and unsafe medications. In some cases, electric shock and electrocution can cause neurologic and neuropsychological symptoms or fatal brain damage, particularly if a victim also suffered from oxygen deprivation.
Types of Traumatic Brain Injuries
Traumatic brain injuries are divided into two primary categories: open-head and closed-head.
A brain injury is classified as open-head if the skull has been fractured or the membranes surrounding the brain have been broken due to the force of impact. If a foreign object enters the skull, this is further classified as a penetrating head injury. These injuries can result in damaged cognitive function, loss of coordination, vision and hearing loss or abnormalities, and depression or other mood issues.
Closed-head injuries do not involve skull fracturing but can be just as serious. Concussions are the most common type of closed-head injury. Should a blow to the head cause the brain to forcefully move back and forth against the skull, temporary chemical changes and bruising can occur to the brain. Those with concussions can develop post-concussion syndrome and experience headaches, dizziness, irritability, difficulty thinking, and concentration and memory issues.
- Intracerebral Hemorrhage
- Subarachnoid Hemorrhage
- Diffuse Injuries
- Diffuse Axonal Injury
- Skull Fractures
Hematomas are blood clots inside the brain or on the brain’s surface. A hematoma can occur anywhere inside a human brain. For example, an epidural hematoma refers to a blood pool between the brain’s protective covering (or dura mater) and the inside of the skull. Subdural hematomas occur when blood pools between the dura mater and the brain’s arachnoid layer, which is situated on the brain’s surface.
Cerebral contusions refer to bruising of the brain’s tissue. Under a microscope, cerebral contusions appear similar to bruises on other body parts. Contusions are composed of areas of swollen or injured brain matter mixed with blood that has emerged from arteries, capillaries, or veins. Contusions most commonly occur at the base in front of the brain, but they can happen anywhere.
Intracerebral hemorrhages, or ICHs, refer to bleeding inside the brain’s tissue. This bleeding may be related to other brain injuries, most often contusions. Intracerebral hemorrhages can sometimes be removed surgically, depending on where they are situated.
Subarachnoid hemorrhages occur when blood seeps into the subarachnoid space. Most SAHs appear as diffuse blood thinly spreads over the brain’s surface, most commonly after TBI. While many cases of subarachnoid hemorrhaging are mild, hydrocephalus may result from severe cases.
Traumatic brain injuries can create microscopic changes within the brain that fail to appear on CT scans. These injuries are scattered throughout the brain and can be challenging to identify. These brain injuries are called diffuse injuries and can occur with or without an associated mass lesion.
Diffuse Axonal Injury
Impaired function and gradual loss of axons in the brain are axonal injuries. Axons are extensions of nerve cells that enable them to communicate with one another. Axonal injuries can impair the ability of nerve cells to communicate and carry out their regular functions. This type of injury can leave a patient with life-altering disabilities.
Ischemia refers to diffuse injuries that occur when certain parts of the brain only have access to a limited blood supply. An insufficient blood supply to the brain can happen after a traumatic brain injury. Changes in blood pressure immediately after a TBI can also have an adverse effect on the patient.
Skull fractures refer to breaks and cracks within the skull following a TBI. Forces that are strong enough to crack the human skull can also damage the brain. Fractures at the base of the skull can also lead to nerve damage and injuries to arteries and other critical structures in the body. Skull fractures that extend into a patient’s sinus can cause a leakage of cerebrospinal fluid from the ears or the nose. Skull fractures where the bone presses into the brain, or depressed skull fractures, can also occur following a traumatic brain injury.
How Are Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) Classified?
Brain injuries can be generally classified into one of three categories: mild, moderate, and severe. While such terms may cause a person to believe a “mild” TBI will result in less severe symptoms, that is not always the case.
When used to describe TBI, the words “mild,” “moderate,” and “severe” refer to the severity of the initial injury, rather than the resulting symptoms. Because brain injuries are notoriously unpredictable and affect people differently, even “mild” TBIs can have serious and lasting effects.
- Mild TBI: Mild TBIs (commonly known as “concussions”) are the most common form of brain injuries, and are typically diagnosed in individuals who experience loss of consciousness for less than 30 minutes, and amnesia / memory loss for less than 24 hours. Still, mTBIs can occur with no loss of consciousness (LOC), post-traumatic amnesia (PTA), or immediate symptoms.
- Moderate TBI: Traumatic brain injuries classified as “moderate” involve loss of consciousness for at least 30 minutes, but less than 24 hours, and post-traumatic amnesia for less than 7 days. Moderate TBIs can also be identified by transient changes in the brain visible in imaging tests such as CT scans and MRIs.
- Severe TBI: Severe TBIs are those where victims suffer loss of consciousness for more than 24 hours, post-traumatic amnesia for more than seven days, and positive, lasting abnormalities visible in brain imaging tests. Severe TBI victims have lower scores on the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS), a TBI severity classification system which grades a person’s level of consciousness on a scale of 3-15. Severe TBIs can be caused by impact or non-impact injuries, and penetration injuries, and may result in profound disabilities, coma / vegetative state, or death.
Brain Injury Symptoms & Damages
Regardless of their classification, all brain injuries have the potential to change the brain in unpredictable ways, and result in long-term or permanent symptoms that inhibit a victim’s ability to perform daily tasks or live an independent life. Though symptoms vary widely from case to case, brain injury victims can experience many different cognitive, emotional, and physical symptoms.
- Cognitive / Mental: Confusion or disorientation, decreased executive function (i.e. problem solving, organization), decreased awareness and processing abilities, and problems with concentration or memory.
- Emotional / Psychological: Mood and behavioral changes, apathy (decreased motivation), impulsiveness, dependent behavior, anxiety, anger, depression, and PTSD.
- Physical / Sensory: Paralysis and weakness, balance problems, headaches, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, fatigue or drowsiness, sleeping difficulties, increased sensitivity to light or sound, and changes to hearing, vision, or smell – including blurred or double vision, total vision loss, visual field loss (hemianopia), diminished sense of taste or smell (anosmia), ringing in the ears (tinnitus), and problems with speech (aphasia).
While brain injuries can affect victims in radically different ways, many of the symptoms associated with TBI can and often do affect entire families who must bear additional burdens, financial expenses, and emotional suffering. Helping victims and their loved ones cope with life after a preventable brain injury – and providing justice to families who have suffered due to a loved one’s wrongful death – demands full and fair compensation from at-fault parties.
CONTACT OUR DURHAM TBI LAWYERS FOR A FREE REVIEW OF YOUR CASE
Traumatic Brain injuries cases can be challenging to litigate, as can the accurate assessment of injury severity treatment options, long-term prognosis, and impact on the quality of life for the victim and their family. Despite these challenges, Edwards Kirby has demonstrated an ability to help plaintiffs in complex brain injury and brain damage cases prevail against the negligent parties who caused them harm.
Much of our success in this arena is owed to the extensive experience of our award-winning legal team, as well as our deep resources and professional connections with medical experts and staff who help diagnose victims, evaluate their prognoses and future needs, and testify on industry-specific standards when claims allege deviations in the standard of care. Our team of traumatic brain injury lawyers in Durham also works closely with economists, rehabilitation therapists, and nursing / medical professionals to determine future medical needs and expenses.
FAQs About Traumatic Brain Injuries
What should I do after a traumatic brain injury?
Whether you suspect your or another’s brain injury to be mild or severe, always seek immediate medical care to make official determinations and get treatment. The injured should be closely monitored for any changes in behavior, speech, mood, or other common symptoms. All medical visits, medications taken, time missed from work, and witness statements should be documented. If the injury is a result of negligence, contact a TBI attorney for assistance filing a claim.
What are some examples of traumatic brain injuries?
Open-head brain injuries and closed-head brain injuries, such as concussions, can occur as the result of a fall, blunt force, an explosion, a car accident, medical negligence, oxygen deprivation, toxic exposure, or a penetrating object, such as a bullet or nail. This is not a complete list. See more about the different types of traumatic brain injuries in our dedicated section above.
How long do I have to file a traumatic brain injury lawsuit?
The statute of limitations varies by state. In North Carolina, the injured typically have three years from the date of injury to file a claim based on negligence. There are exceptions, however, such as some forms of medical malpractice, wrongful death, and if the victim is a minor.
What if my insurance claims that my TBI is minor or doesn’t exist?
Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for insurers to push back on claims. Insurance adjusters may claim that medical testing is inconclusive and that victims do not have an officially established TBI. Our traumatic brain injury lawyers know how to navigate insurer push back and work with reputable neurologists to prove the validity of brain injuries and get victims the money they’re owed.
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Call 919-780-5400 or fill out our online form to request a free consultation. You won’t pay unless we win!