- April 8, 2022
- Sumwalt Anderson
- Personal Injury
Head injuries can vary from minor concussions to catastrophic penetrating injuries. All head injuries, even minor concussions, could cause issues immediately or later in life. An accident victim could suffer from a closed or open head injury. Types of closed injuries include concussions, bruising and bleeding.
Open injuries are penetrating injuries caused by something entering the brain, such as a bullet or a piece of skull from an accident that crushed or broke part of the skull. Some brain injuries, usually mild and severe concussions, could cause chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) later in life. So, what is the average payout for a head injury? The short answer is, it depends on several factors.
How Head Injuries Happen
Head injuries could happen in any type of accident. Some common causes of traumatic brain injuries include:
- Slip and fall accidents
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Blast injuries
- Sports injuries
- Child abuse
- Being struck by an object, such as in an act of violence or at a construction site.
In some cases, a person could acquire a brain injury from an illness, medical malpractice, intentional negligence, or negligence. Acquired brain injuries are in a different category than traumatic brain injuries, and common reasons to acquire them include:
- Infection caused by the patient ignoring an issue or by a medical professional’s negligence
- Poisoning, which could be intentional or accidental
- Heart attacks and strokes
- Drug abuse
- Neurological illnesses.
If another person’s or entity’s actions or inactions, whether intentional or not, caused a brain injury, you might have a personal injury case against that person or entity. The average settlement amount for a head injury depends on why a person suffered a head injury – intentional actions or inactions, gross negligence, or negligence. It also depends on the severity of the head injury.
Symptoms and Consequences of Head Injuries
Brain injuries usually have severe consequences. Depending on the type of brain injury, the injured person might suffer from additional disabilities and the need for additional surgery(ies). If the injury victim does not fully recover from a brain injury, he or she might require life-long medical attention and care.
Symptoms of Brain Injuries
Brain injuries cause four types of symptoms, including cognitive, physical, perceptual, and behavioral symptoms.
The victim might require cognitive therapy if a brain injury causes cognitive symptoms. Even with therapy, a victim might never fully recover. Cognitive symptoms include:
- Memory loss
- The inability to make decisions
- Poor attention span
- The inability to grasp abstract concepts
- Inability or difficulty processing information
- Unable to understand others
- Difficulty or inability to express thoughts.
An accident victim’s head injury could cause physical problems, including:
- Constant headaches
- Light sensitivity
- Mental fatigue
- Physical fatigue
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Slurred speech
Changes in how you feel are perceptual symptoms. These changes could happen over time or immediately upon suffering a brain injury. Perceptual symptoms include:
- Spatial disorientation
- Changes in your hearing and/or vision
- Loss of or enhanced sense of touch
- Loss of or enhanced ability to taste and/or smell
- Difficulty or inability to sense time
- Becoming more pain-sensitive
- Having a difficult time balancing.
Emotional and/or Behavioral Symptoms
Probably the least noticeable symptoms include behavioral and emotional symptoms. The victim is less likely to recognize these symptoms, and unless a family member who lives with the accident victim picks up on it, others might not. Emotional and/or behavioral symptoms include:
- Becoming more irritable
- Losing patience with people and things
- Feeling sluggish
- The accident victim denies the disability
- Increased or lowered reactions and/or emotions
- Becoming more aggressive.
Any of these symptoms could be a permanent part of life after an accident. Additionally, head injury victims might require additional surgeries and various therapies throughout their lives. Some may lapse into a coma, and some might develop issues later in life, such as CTE, which doctors believe is caused by repeated concussions.
Recovering Damages for a Head Injury
Head injury lawyers work to recover fair and reasonable compensation for those who suffered a brain injury because of another person’s negligence or intentional behavior. It is impossible to determine the payout for a head injury without looking at the medical expenses incurred by the injured and the circumstances that caused the head injury.
The victim of an intentional tort, motor vehicle accident, medical malpractice, and other types of negligence could recover compensatory damages and punitive damages. The court orders compensatory damages in an attempt to make the victim whole again. The money does not remove the psychological and physical effects of a head injury, but it significantly reduces the stress of having less income coming into the household. On the other hand, the court orders a defendant to pay punitive damages as a punishment for his or her grossly negligent or intentional behavior.
Special damages, often referred to as economic damages, have a monetary value and include:
- Medical expenses. Because brain injuries are often permanent, medical expenses are often very high. In addition to surgeries and follow-up appointments, an injured victim might require physical therapy, cognitive therapy, occupational therapy, psychological therapy, home healthcare, or even long-term specialized care in a rehabilitation center. Other medical expenses include prescriptions, hand controls for a vehicle, and upgrades to the home to make it more accessible, including ramps, widened halls and doorways, and grab bars.
- Loss of future earning capacity. Brain injuries often prevent the victim from working – or at least working full-time or in the same capacity as prior to the accident. Regardless of the situation, you could recover the difference in wages up until your regular retirement age.
- Replacement or repair of personal property.
- Death-related expenses, including funeral, burial, and cremation expenses. You could also recover certain other expenses, such as probate attorney’s fees and probate court filing fee expenses.
General damages, otherwise known as non-economic damages, do not have an easily calculated monetary value and include:
- Pain and suffering and emotional distress
- Loss of quality of life
- Loss of companionship and/or consortium
- Loss of use of a body part or bodily function
- Inconvenience if you have to hire someone to take care of the chores you usually do, including house cleaning and grocery shopping.
An experienced head injury lawyer will review the evidence, your medical records, and other documents to determine a fair and reasonable amount to cover all of your damages. Make sure you give your attorney all documents related to your medical history from the time of the accident. Additionally, if you suffered a concussion and this is not your first concussion, let your attorney know. If possible, provide medical records for any previous concussions.
When you want to ask for punitive damages for a head injury, you have to take the extra steps to litigate the case. You cannot include punitive damages in a settlement for a head injury as the court or jury must review the evidence and rule as to whether the defendant’s actions or inactions were grossly negligent or intentional. Because the court orders punitive damages as a punishment, the defendant’s behavior must be egregious. However, in extreme cases, taking the extra steps to obtain punitive damages is worth it.
If you suffered traumatic brain injuries or other head injuries because of the actions or inactions of someone, contact Sumwalt Anderson at (704) 377-3770 for a free case evaluation.