Brain injuries affect a significant number of people. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2.5 million people sought treatment for traumatic brain injuries in U.S emergency rooms in 2010. It is estimated that 5.3 million Americans are living with a traumatic brain injury disability. No one is immune from this type of injury. Due to the fragile nature of the head, an accident does not have to be severe for a brain injury to be sustained.
The CDC lists these events as the most common causes of traumatic brain injuries:
● Falls (40%). Falls leading to a brain injury could take place at a location that is not well cared for, such a business with trash or liquid on the ground or at a place where handrails are missing. Falls could also take place at a nursing home that does not have adequate staffing.
● Struck by/against an object (15.5%). Brain injuries sustained after being struck by something could happen while playing contact sports such as football or boxing. Workplace and military accidents could also involve being struck.
● Motor vehicle accidents (14.3%). Car accidents are another common way a person’s brain becomes injured. Whiplash, which involves a severe jerk to the head, can cause a traumatic brain injury. Another way a brain injury might occur is if the head hits the steering wheel, dashboard, or airbag.
● Assaults (10.7%). The last category of common cause of brain injury is assaults. This would occur during some type of physical attack. Domestic abuse is included in this category as is shaken baby syndrome.
The remaining 19 percent of TBIs are attributed to unknown or “other” causes.
Additionally, some people are at a greater risk for sustaining a traumatic brain injury because of activities they participate in or because of their physical health. Of deaths related to traumatic brain injuries in the past few years, men died at nearly three times the rate of women. Those aged 19 to 24 are at a higher risk for such an injury because of participation in activities such as snowboarding and hockey. The elderly are more likely to sustain a traumatic brain injury, which is probably due to their increased risk of falling. Children also are at an increased risk. Typically, children are more vulnerable to increased injury with more complications than an adult who has gone through the same accident.
As you can see, some of these causes are preventable. For example, proper protective clothing should be worn when participating in contact activities or while bicycling, horseback riding, and skiing. Wearing a seat belt and placing children in proper car seats is also a way to minimize risk. Having adequate handrails and keeping areas of the home clear are critical for the elderly to avoid falls. Similarly, practicing gun safety can limit the risk of a brain injury.
Brain Injuries Caused by Negligence Can Entitle Victims to Compensation
While traumatic brain injuries can be caused by a wide variety of incidents, they all share one thing in common: when they are caused by negligence, victims are entitled to financial compensation.
Negligence occurs when a person fails to use the degree of care that would ordinarily be exercised by a reasonable person in the same or similar circumstances. There are many examples of everyday negligence that have the potential to result in a TBI-causing accident. Some of the more common include the following:
- Driving faster than the posted speed limit
- Failing to clean up liquid spills
- Impaired driving
- Improper storage of hazardous materials
- Failing to properly maintain a pool deck
- Failure to adequately maintain walkways and stairs
- Negligent hiring of personnel
Because negligence can be hard for the untrained eye to spot, you should always have your case reviewed by an experienced lawyer after sustaining a TBI in an accident. When you meet with a lawyer, he or she will evaluate your case and determine whether you may have a claim. In some cases, your lawyer may obtain evidence establishing negligence, such as surveillance footage, maintenance records and reports, toxicology results, eyewitness testimony, vehicle computer data, internal documents, or expert opinion regarding the standard of care that should have been exercised in a given scenario.