While any accident has the potential to seriously change your life, few types of accidents are as serious as those involving brain injuries. However, brain injuries are unusual in that accident victims may not immediately realize they’ve suffered a serious injury.
Often, traumatic brain injury symptoms take weeks, months, or even longer to develop.
Complicating this delayed manifestation of the traumatic brain injury symptoms, traumatic brain injury accident victims must file a brain injury claim within the applicable statute of limitations for the court to hear the case.
Thus, to protect their rights, accident victims suffering from brain injuries should reach out to an experienced traumatic brain injury attorney as soon as possible by calling 707-302-6088 to discuss their case.
Types of Brain Injuries
While there are various types of brain injuries, many brain injuries stemming from accidents are traumatic brain injuries. The traumatic brain injury definition is simply a sudden injury that causes damage to the brain.
Traumatic brain injuries can be “open” or “closed.” An open brain injury is one in which something penetrates the skull.
On the other hand, a closed brain injury occurs as a result of a bump, blow, or jolt to the head—more along the lines of what we think of as concussion. Closed brain injuries are the type that tends to go unnoticed for obvious reasons.
The most common traumatic brain injury symptoms include:
- Agitation or combativeness;
- Loss of coordination;
- Memory loss;
- Repeated nausea or vomiting;
- Ringing in the ears;
- Slurred speech; and
- Trouble sleeping, including being unable to wake up.
However, it is common for those suffering from a TBI to experience only mild symptoms at first. This can make it challenging to know the severity of a head injury following an accident.
Other common types of brain injuries include:
Hematomas (i.e., bad bruise, pooling of blood), and
No matter the type of brain injury, you may be entitled to compensation.
How to File a Brain Injury Lawsuit
Whether you suffered a brain injury due to someone’s negligence or to medical malpractice, there are specific steps to follow. Remember, every situation is unique, and the following is only meant to serve as general guidance. Filing a brain injury lawsuit in your case may look drastically different from someone else.
Receive and Continue all Necessary Medical Treatment
Whether dealing with a minor brain injury or a catastrophic one, you will inevitably be under medical care. It is imperative to follow through with all recommended medical treatments and interventions, including primary care visits, physical and occupational therapy, surgery, and more. Brain injuries can be challenging to diagnose and treat, so staying on top of all medical treatments is crucial.
Gather Documentation & Evidence
If you are contemplating filing a lawsuit, gathering documentation and evidence in one organized place is a good idea. You should collect all medical records, bills, contact information, pictures, videos, notes, and anything else about your injury and store them safely and in an organized manner. Even if you think you won’t need it, keep it anyway. You never know what might become important in a lawsuit.
Consult a California Brain Injury Attorney
Brain injuries are some of the most complex that a person can suffer. Brain injury lawsuits often require medical experts, a ton of discovery, litigation practice, and strict adherence to rules and procedures. It is best to consult an experienced brain injury attorney before proceeding independently.
Make a Settlement Demand
Once you have completed the three steps above, it is time to make a settlement demand. You and your attorney will discuss your injuries and anticipated damages and devise a settlement demand to send to the defendant and their insurance company. A settlement demand is typically a starting number rather than ultimately where the case will settle.
Initiate a Lawsuit and Continue Settlement Negotiations
While most lawsuits settle outside of court, they do not usually settle right after making a settlement demand. Assuming this is true for your case, you and your attorney may consider filing a lawsuit. Initiating a lawsuit will begin the discovery process and formal settlement negotiations. If your case settles, great. You will wait for your settlement check, and the case is concluded.
Proceed to Trial
If your case does not settle, you will likely proceed to a trial in which you, as the plaintiff, have the burden of proving your case. If you are successful, you will likely be awarded damages.
Keep in mind this process can take many months or even years from inception to conclusion. Your attorney will be able to give you a more accurate time frame based on the circumstances of your case.
Average Settlement for Traumatic Brain Injury
Providing an average settlement for a TBI is complicated for many reasons, but mainly because every case will have varying degrees of injury and damage.
Additionally, most settlements outside of court are kept confidential and private, making it challenging to determine an accurate average. However, given the severe nature of TBIs, cases often settle for significant sums. Your attorney can provide more insights into the compensation you can expect from your case.
Many factors will be taken into account when negotiating a settlement or seeking a jury award for damages. As a plaintiff, if you successfully prove your case, you may be entitled to compensation for economic and noneconomic damages, including:
- Past and anticipated future medical expenses,
- Past and future lost wages,
- Pain and suffering,
- Mental distress,
- Loss of consortium, and
- Loss of enjoyment of life.
In certain instances where the defendant’s conduct was grossly negligent, you may be entitled to seek punitive damages. These are meant as a form of punishment for defendants for their conduct.
How Long Do You Have to Bring a Personal Injury Case After Suffering a Traumatic Brain Injury?
The statute of limitations for brain injury cases, including traumatic brain injury claims, is two years. However, brain injuries resulting from medical malpractice have a one-year statute of limitations.
Thus, in most cases, an accident victim has one or two years from the date of the accident to file a brain injury claim. However, there is an important exception that applies in many brain injury cases.
If your case is against any government entity like a city, a county, a school, or a water district, then you only have 6 months from the date of the injury to file a claim with that agency. Once they deny that claim, you will only have 6 months to file a lawsuit.
Under California law, the statute of limitations doesn’t begin until an accident victim “discovers” that they were injured or may have a claim. Thus, an accident victim who does not learn that they suffered a TBI until years later may still be able to bring a brain injury claim.
Of course, the at-fault party will likely argue that, given the circumstances, a diligent accident victim would have learned of their injuries.
There are often many pitfalls for the unwary when it comes to the statute of limitations. This is where the assistance of an experienced California personal injury attorney can help.
Are You Experiencing Brain Injury Symptoms?
If you were involved in an accident—even if it was years ago—and are experiencing traumatic brain injury symptoms, reach out to the traumatic brain injury attorneys at Wells Call Injury Lawyers.
Our California personal injury law firm can help you pursue compensation for your injuries. To learn more and to schedule a free consultation, give us a call at 707-302-6088 today. You can also reach us through our online contact form.