Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

By: LawInfo

Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are responsible for nearly a third of all injury deaths in the United States, and they accounted for roughly 2.5 million hospital visits in 2010 alone. This potentially life-threatening condition may result from a severe blow to the head, a penetrating brain injury or even from medical negligence. When an injury of this nature results from the reckless, malicious, or negligent actions of another person or organization, a qualified personal injury attorney can help the victim to better understand his or her legal options.

A traumatic brain injury can result in substantial financial hardship in the form of medical bills, lost wages and even loss of employment. The most severe injuries may further result in hardships that transcend the financial, including loss of autonomy, lifelong disability and even death. If a direct or indirect link is established between the injury and the actions of another party, that party may be held liable for some or all of the damages resulting from the injury.

Causes of Traumatic Brain Injury

Common causes of TBI include falls, motor vehicle crashes and assaults. Sports and recreation injuries also account for thousands of injury cases every year, many involving victims under the age of 19. Concussion is the most common type of TBI. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classifies it as a mild form of brain injury, a concussion can have long-term and even life-threatening effects -- especially for those with multiple concussions. For example, in rare instances, a concussion may result in a dangerous blood clot forming in the brain.

TBI and Medical Malpractice

A TBI legal claim may be filed against a medical provider if the injury, or the extent of the injury, is believed to have resulted from medical negligence. In legal terms, negligence is a failure to provide the same level of care that a reasonable person would have provided under the same conditions. It can also be characterized by improper actions or omissions.

For instance, negligence may be a factor when a patient suffers cognitive impairment after brain surgery. It may also be a factor when brain damage results from an undiagnosed aneurysm or stroke. The brain surgery example describes a direct action, and the undiagnosed aneurysm describes an oversight or omission. But they both could theoretically rise to the level of negligence.

A claim for medical negligence might arise from acts like:

  • failing to diagnose a brain injury,
  • overly prescribing medication that results in neurological damage, or
  • improperly administering anesthesia.

Medical malpractice claims

Medical malpractice is a separate legal claim to medical negligence. The difference between the two causes of action can sometimes be confusing. But in medical malpractice cases, both the medical provider and the health care facility that employs the provider can be defendants.

Medical malpractice claims commonly have a shorter statute of limitations than other personal injury claims. For example, California typically allows a 2-year window for personal injury claims as indicated by California Code of Civil Procedure section 335.1. However, Sec. 340.5 stipulates that plaintiffs must file a malpractice claim within one year of discovering the injury. Similarly, New York allows 3 years for general personal injury claims under N.Y. Civil Practice Law and Rules section 214, but only 2 years and 6 months are permitted for malpractice claims (214-a).

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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