Motor Vehicle Accidents in Baltimore and Traumatic Brain Injuries
Traumatic brain injury, or TBI, kills around 50,000 people annually in the US. That’s approximately 30 percent of all deaths due to injury. Those who are hospitalized with TBI add up to roughly 230,000 people, while 80,000 to 90,000 are left with long-term disability as a result of brain injury. Over five million persons currently live with disabilities caused by a TBI.
Auto accidents are a leading cause of injury and death in the U.S., so it makes sense that such accidents are the second-most-common cause of TBIs. In the US, greater than 1 in 6, or 17.3 percent, of all TBIs are caused by car accidents, surpassed only by falls (35.2 percent).
Levels of Brain Injury
TBIs can be closed-head or open-head. In a closed-head injury, the brain collides with the skull, damaging it either in a specific area or throughout the brain. In an open-head injury, damage tends to be localized and limited to a specific area, though the injury can be quite severe. Open-head injury usually involves a projectile, such as a bullet, invading the brain. Most TBIs due to car accidents are of the closed-head kind.
- Mild TBI usually involves little to no loss of consciousness, and a score on the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) of 13 to 15, 15 being the least severe. Keep in mind, however, that “mild” does not necessarily mean that the brain injury is inconsequential.
- Moderate TBI involves a loss of consciousness of several minutes to a few hours, with confusion and other brain impairment lasting days to weeks. Sometimes the person is left with permanent damage. The GCS score is 8 to 12.
- Severe TBI means a GCS of less than 8, with a prolonged loss of consciousness or coma lasting days, weeks, or months. Any kind of coma, vegetative state, or Locked-In Syndrome (conscious but paralyzed and voiceless) can indicate severe TBI.
Brain Injuries Resulting from Car Accidents in Maryland
Motor vehicle accidents provide ample opportunities for brain injuries because of the forces that arise from the collision of the vehicles involved and the possible impact of a person’s head with objects inside the car. Although there may be little external evidence of damage, the following kinds of TBI are common in auto accidents:
- Concussions are often classified as mild injuries and can arise from the head’s striking something, or from acceleration/deceleration injuries such as whiplash, where the brain moves suddenly, striking the skull in reaction to external forces. (Acceleration injuries result from being in a stationary car that is struck; deceleration injuries happen when the moving vehicle hits something stationary.) Healing can take from weeks to months. A concussion is the most commonly occurring TBI and involves the whole brain.
- Diffuse axonal injury. Shaking or strong rotational forces are responsible for diffuse axonal injury, where the brain’s movement lags behind the skull’s movement, causing tearing of nerve tissue in the brain. It is a shearing force injury, meaning that tissue is stretched until it tears because of the forces exerted. Permanent, widespread, and severe damage can occur with this kind of TBI. It can also cause death.
- The direct impact of the head with another object, such as the steering wheel or the door frame, can cause a contusion, which is a bruise to a specific brain area. A contusion can be a coup or contrecoup injury. Coup injuries occur when the area of the brain directly under the impact is injured. In a contrecoup injury, the side of the brain opposite the impact is hurt from striking the inside of the skull. Contusions can cause bleeding in the brain. If a brain bleed results in a blood clot, known as a hematoma, surgery can sometimes be required to remove it if the clot is large.
If you have been in a motor vehicle accident and have sustained a TBI, even a mild one, use the following suggestions to aid your recovery:
- Rest is crucial. Don’t rush back into normal activities like work, school, or anything stressful.
- Avoid any activity, such as a sport, that could result in another blow to the head.
- Rely on health professionals for advice on when it would be safe to resume driving a car, riding a bike, or using heavy equipment. Your reactions may not be normal for a while.
- Avoid alcohol and take only those medications that your health professional has recommended or prescribed.
- If your memory is giving you problems, write things down.
- If you have lost skills, you may require help to relearn them. Ask for professional help and recommendations.
If the accident was not minor and was not your fault, you may want to obtain legal advice. Recovery from TBI can take a significant amount of time and personal resources.
How Can “The Injury Lawyer” Help You?
It can be difficult for victims and their families to negotiate the confusing emotional and legal territory of a brain injury. The victim may experience fundamental shifts in ability or personality that can affect day-to-day life, ability to work and earn money, and capacity to participate in family and friend relationships. The costs of brain trauma can be crushing and affect an entire family’s finances and peace of mind.
At the Law Offices of Steven H. Heisler, we understand how challenging a brain injury can be for both the injured person and for his or her family. In our work to help victims of TBI recover compensation from drunk drivers and other parties at fault in motor vehicle accidents, we’ve become aware of the complexity of issues surrounding brain injuries in Maryland.
If you or a family member has been the victim of a brain injury caused by a motor vehicle accident, call Baltimore personal injury attorney Steve Heisler. Keep in mind, however, that there is a statute of limitations – or a time limit – for filing personal injury claims. If you have been injured in an accident or have otherwise incurred a personal injury, you should not delay. Contact the Law Offices of Steven H. Heisler of Baltimore, Maryland, for a free initial consultation by calling (410) 625-4878 today.
$5,500,000.00 - Steve represented a 33-year-old single mother of one whose vehicle was struck head-on by a construction truck in 2002. The client suffered life threatening injuries and was in a coma for six weeks. She required two months of brain injury rehabilitation. The client currently has serious permanent disabilities as a result of the accident including short term memory loss, impaired speech, double vision, and right side paralysis.
She is unable to return to her occupation as a dental hygienist or any other occupation. Steve Heisler and his associate Keith Kauffman negotiated a $5.5 million structured settlement at mediation. Should the client reach her life expectancy the payout increases to $9.5 million.
$250,000 - Steve represented the family of a 15 year old Anne Arundel County boy who was killed when the vehicle he was a passenger in failed to negotiate a curve and struck a tree. The defendant driver was also killed. Another passenger survived the crash. The defendant driver had a $300,000.00 liability policy. Steve negotiated a $250,000.00 settlement for the family. The remaining $50,000.00 was tendered to the surviving passenger.
$800,000 - Steve represented the estate and family of a 45 year old man who was killed when the motorcycle he was riding struck a guardrail and he was catapulted down an embankment. The estate and family alleged that a vehicle in the lane to the immediate left of the man swerved into his lane and caused a collision. The defendant strongly denied any wrong doing. The case was settled at a settlement conference for $800,000.00.
$325,000 - Steve’s client, a 45 year old Sr. Program Manager, was struck by a work vehicle that failed to yield the right of way while turning left in front of the victim in St. Mary’s County, Maryland. Steve’s client was thrown from his Harley Davidson and suffered multiple injuries resulting in two surgeries. Suit was filed and the case settled for $325,000.00.
$200,000 - Steve’s client, an elderly lady from West Virginia, was seriously injured when the car she was traveling in was struck by a negligent driver in Garrett County, Maryland. The lady suffered a broken back and detached retina. Steve negotiated a $100,000.00 settlement with the defendant driver’s insurance company and was successful in getting his client’s West Virginia insurance company to “stack” an additional $100,000.00 for a total settlement of $200,000.00.
$100,000 - Steve represented a five year old Eastern Shore boy who was struck by a vehicle driving on the wrong side of the road while the boy was riding his bike. Steve's client suffered a traumatic brain injury and serious fractures which required him to spend an extended period of time in a rehabilitation center. The boy now has permanent brain damage. The case settled for the driver's policy limits of $100,000.00.
$95,000 - Steve represented a 36-year-old Cecil County man who was rear ended while stopped at a red light. The force of the impact was severe and his client’s vehicle was totaled. Steve’s client suffered a cerebral concussion, a C5-6 disc herniation, and a L2-3 disc protrusion. He received a 30% whole-body permanent disability rating. Steve settled the case with the insurance company for $95,000.00.