A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can be life-changing, causing physical and emotional pain and financial strain. Do not disregard a car accident head injury—even a seemingly minor one. Your brain injury could be significantly more serious than you realize.
You may have a legal right to compensation if you suffer a traumatic brain injury from a car accident caused by someone else. Generally, you must prove the other person was at fault and file a claim with an insurance company or a lawsuit to get compensation for a brain injury caused by a car accident. Compensation may include ongoing treatment and rehabilitation. If someone else’s actions led to your California car accident TBI, please contact GJEL Accident Attorneys today.
Proving Negligence in a Brain Injury Case
Before you receive any compensation for your brain injury, you must prove who was at fault for the accident. If you cannot prove liability, you will not receive compensation. Most car accident claims involve negligence. Negligence is the legal term for someone’s failure to exercise the same due care that another reasonably prudent person would if faced with a similar situation.
In a car accident case, some common examples of driver negligence include:
- Distracted driving, such as texting while driving;
- Failing to yield the right of way;
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs; and
- Failing to maintain a safe following distance.
Generally, if the driver was not following the law and that caused your accident and injury, you’ll likely be able to prove their liability. Your personal injury attorney will work with you to gather evidence and build a solid case to prove the other party’s negligence and confirm the extent of your damages.
The Role of Comparative Negligence in California
California has pure comparative negligence. This can significantly impact your compensation. You can collect damages if you are partially responsible for your accident. However, your payment is reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, if a jury finds you 20% at fault, you will receive 80% of your damages. If you’re 60% at fault, you’ll receive 40%.
Comparative negligence is one reason why narrowing down an average settlement for a traumatic brain injury claim is difficult. You could have two similar brain injuries but vastly different liability scenarios. Our attorneys can help you determine how comparative negligence may affect your compensation claim.
Types of Damages Generally Available in a Brain Injury Claim
In a brain injury case, you may be entitled to several types of damages. Generally, these damages fall within two main categories: economic and non-economic.
Economic damages are those with a clear monetary value, such as:
- Medical expenses—including emergency care costs, hospitalization, surgeries, medications, and other necessary treatments for your brain injury;
- Future medical expenses—occupational or speech therapy and ongoing medical assistance if your brain injury is long-lasting;
- Lost wages—if you can’t work, either temporarily or permanently; and
- Loss of earning capacity—if you cannot earn a living in the future.
Although highly individualized, economic damages are generally relatively easy to quantify.
Non-economic damages don’t have a clear monetary value but still impact your quality of life. They are more subjective, making them harder to calculate. Examples include:
- Pain and suffering—the physical and emotional pain you’ve experienced as a result of your brain injury;
- Loss of enjoyment of life—if your brain injury has diminished your ability to enjoy life or participate in activities you once enjoyed;
- Emotional distress compensation—this addresses the psychological impact of your brain injury, such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); and
- Loss of consortium—for the harmful effect the brain injury has on your relationship with your significant other or family, including loss of emotional support and intimacy.
Non-economic damages are relatively subjective and depend on the injured person’s specific experience.
In rare cases, you might be eligible for punitive damages. Courts only award punitive damages in cases where you can prove malice, fraud, or oppression on the part of the responsible party, which generally means that they had a conscious disregard for the safety of others. The purpose of punitive damages is to punish the actor rather than compensate the victim.
How the California Claims Process Works
The claims process in California typically begins with filing a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company. The insurance company will review your claim and possibly respond with a settlement offer or denial letter. You should only agree to settle after first speaking to an attorney. You must ensure the offer is fair and adequate to cover all your damages, including future expected costs. Unfortunately, most initial offers are low and do not adequately compensate brain injury victims.
Your attorney might recommend filing a lawsuit if you cannot reach a settlement agreement. You may have to file a lawsuit during negotiations if the deadline for filing a lawsuit is approaching. In California, you generally have two years from the accident date to file a lawsuit.
What to Do Following a Brain Injury from a Car Accident
One of the most important steps after any car accident is to seek immediate medical attention. Symptoms of a brain injury may not always be apparent immediately after the accident, and delaying treatment can have serious consequences. If you don’t require emergency transportation from the accident scene, you should still visit a medical doctor as soon as possible. Documenting your injuries by a medical professional will also be crucial in building a solid personal injury claim.
In cases involving brain injuries, we highly recommend that you consult a skilled personal injury attorney with experience successfully resolving brain injury cases. When you hire an attorney like those at GJEL, they will gather and preserve evidence supporting your compensation claim. Some of the most important pieces of evidence include the following:
- Medical records and bills,
- Police reports,
- Witness statements,
- Photographs of the accident scene, and
- Industry expert reports or testimony.
The stronger evidence you have, the better your chances are for proving liability against all responsible parties.
Our attorneys at GJEL have helped many people through the claims process when they’ve suffered severe injuries because of someone else’s actions. We understand the complexities of brain injuries and how they can impact your life. We can help you navigate the complex claims process to maximize your potential settlement.
Contact a California Brain Injury Attorney
A brain injury from a car accident can be a devastating experience, so it’s essential to understand your legal rights and options for seeking compensation. Rather than try and navigate the complex legal system independently, hire an experienced brain injury lawyer at GJEL Accident Attorneys. We have years of experience assisting injured victims of car accidents. We know what it takes to build a solid case for negligence in California.
Please schedule an initial consultation with our office today to learn more. In addition to fighting your case, we can help you find doctors, arrange medical treatment, and otherwise take some of the stress of the accident off your shoulders. Contact us today.
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