Brain injuries are among the most expensive injuries to treat, and even mild injuries can lead to lifelong challenges. Brain injuries vary in severity from mild concussions to life-threatening penetrating wounds. Some concussions heal on their own with time and rest, while others cause permanent damage. Similarly, severe traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can leave victims in a coma or a permanent vegetative state if they survive.
Life after a brain injury might mean long-term care, but it can also mean agonizing emotional struggles for the victims and their families alike. The physical pain of the injury sometimes pales in comparison to the emotional trauma and stress of coping with the loss of cognitive functions and motor skills. Additionally, brain injury victims who contributed to the household income or entirely provided for a household, sometimes cannot work. This can create a great deal of economic hardship.
After a TBI, some families end up in foreclosure, accumulate massive amounts of credit card debt, have cars repossessed, or need to file bankruptcy. In the worst cases, families struggle to pay their monthly expenses and might even have difficulty with day-to-day needs.
You don’t have to live like this. If you have recently sustained a brain injury or you are coping with a loved one who suffered a brain injury, South Carolina permits you to take legal action if the injury occurred as a result of negligence or intentional harm. Financial compensation would not erase the harm, but it could help provide funds for needed medical care and alleviate some or all of the economic stress associated with a severe injury.
An experienced South Carolina brain injury attorney who understands the complexities of brain injury claims can guide you and your family through this difficult time. Contact the legal team of South Carolina personal injury lawyers at Hughey Law Firm online or at (843) 881-8644 for a free consultation to discuss the circumstances of your brain injury and to learn about the ways we could help you move forward.
Hughey Law Firm Advocates for Brain Injury Victims
The brain injury attorneys at Hughey Law Firm have experience in the negotiation, settlement, and litigation of personal injury claims, including those involving brain injuries. The firm’s dedication to client advocacy and justice has led to the recovery of millions in damages from settlements and jury verdicts for clients over the years. We have helped clients alleviate some or all of the financial burden that is often associated with costly brain injuries.
Examples of recent case results in brain injury cases include the following settlements and jury awards:
- $500,000 for a client who suffered a brain injury when using a defective product.
- $250,000 for a client who suffered a traumatic brain injury at an assisted living facility.
- $250,000 for a client in an assisted living facility who suffered multiple falls leading to a head injury.
- $235,000 for a nursing home resident who suffered multiple falls that lead to a head injury and death.
- $225,000 for a client in a nursing home who suffered an anoxic brain injury.
- $225,000 for a client who suffered a closed head injury at an assisted living facility.
These financial outcomes serve as examples of what might be possible for your brain injury claim; however, they do not guarantee specific results for your case. Each brain injury case has distinctive circumstances that can add to or detract from its value. The dedicated legal team at Hughey Law Firm has experience and resources to investigate brain injury claims, gather relevant evidence, and build the strongest case possible against those responsible for our clients’ injuries. Contact us today to see what we can do for you.
What Are Traumatic Brain Injuries?
Brain injuries are medically referred to as traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). They include a host of injuries that occur as a result of the disruption of normal brain function caused by direct or indirect trauma to the head, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Brain injuries include concussions from car accidents, slip and fall injuries, and playing sports, but they also include penetrating brain injuries that occur in car accidents or as a result of a gunshot wound.
Even the least severe TBIs can lead to lifelong complications for patients, and untreated TBIs can be life-threatening. The CDC estimates over 2.5 million people visit emergency departments for brain-injury related treatment each year across the United States. Close to 300,000 visits lead to hospitalization, and over 55,000 people die each year from brain injuries. This also includes close to 25,000 children who needed hospitalization for a brain injury and over 2,500 who lost their lives.
A Wide Array of Accidents and Events Lead to Brain Injuries
A wide variety of accidents, events, and behaviors can cause head trauma and lead to potentially dangerous traumatic brain injuries. The CDC warns that older adults are the most vulnerable for brain injuries, followed by young children. This is because both groups struggle with mobility. Yet, anyone can suffer a brain injury.
Examples of scenarios that sometimes lead to traumatic brain injuries include:
- Car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, and other motor vehicle accidents
- Bicycle accidents and pedestrian accidents
- Swimming pool accidents
- Slip, trip, and fall accidents
- Labor and childbirth
- Using defective products
- Participating in full-contact sports
- Elder abuse, domestic abuse, and child abuse
- Physical assault
Potential Impact of Traumatic Brain Injuries
Seeking immediate medical care after head trauma can prevent further damage to the brain, but it cannot undo the damage. People who have suffered moderate to severe brain injuries face complications for the rest of their lives. Children are especially vulnerable because brain injuries slow or stop brain development.
Below are examples of common effects brain injury patients sometimes experience:
- Difficulties with thinking that can include memory and logical reasoning issues
- Loss of sensation or numbness and struggles with vision, hearing, smell, and taste
- Vertigo and other difficulties with internal balance
- Difficulties with communication including trouble speaking, trouble forming sentences, and trouble making sounds
- Struggles with expressing and comprehending ideas and emotions
- Personality changes, especially increased aggression
- Anxiety and depression
- Struggles with impulse control and behaving appropriately in social situations
- Coma or permanent vegetative state (PVS)
Brain Injuries Are Among the Most Costly Injuries
Diagnostic imaging, hospitalization, surgery, medication, and the expense of a long-term care facility are only a few of the expenses that make brain injuries among the most expensive injuries. Brain injury victims and their families often suffer economic loss and hardship in several ways.
If you have suffered a traumatic brain injury or someone you love has suffered a TBI, South Carolina law permits you to take legal action when another party caused the injury. If you reach an agreeable settlement with the insurance company, or the jury rules in your favor if you have to litigate, you might recover compensation the following brain injury-related losses:
Medical Treatment Costs
Brain injuries have several associated treatment expenses that begin with an ambulance ride and emergency room visit. Patients sometimes need to be hospitalized for weeks or months, especially if they need surgery. Other expenses include diagnostic imaging like CT scans, surgical aftercare, follow-up doctor visits, and prescription medication.
In the most severe cases, TBI patients suffer catastrophic injuries and permanent damage requiring families to help them get ongoing treatment and around-the-clock care for the rest of their lives. Long-term nursing care facilities are costly, and health insurance only covers them when someone has purchased a special policy. If a brain injury victim needs to go to a nursing home, the financial consequences can bankrupt a family.
Costs for Rehabilitation Services
Even those who suffer concussions need rehabilitation for the chance to make a full recovery; but, the more severe the brain injury, the more therapy a patient needs. Depending on the extent and location of a traumatic brain injury, patients might need specialized treatment including physical therapy, occupational therapy, counseling, speech therapy, or others.
The ultimate goal of rehabilitation is to help a TBI patient make as complete of a recovery as possible and to learn ways to cope with any permanent conditions or disabilities. Some brain injury victims must also depend on assistive devices and technology as part of their recovery including wheelchairs, computers, and canes.
After a brain injury, many who work have to take some time off for recovery. In the most severe cases, TBI patients cannot return to their job. In either situation, time away from work sometimes means disability payments. These payments only last for a limited time, and they only cover a portion of lost wages. In either situation, medical bills are rolling in while one or more working members of a household need to take time off for recovery or to care for a loved one who suffered a TBI.
For patients who suffer catastrophic TBIs, the lost wages portion of a brain injury claim also includes lost earning capacity, also referred to as lost future wages, because the patient cannot work for the rest of his or her life.
Cost of Replacement Services
Whether a traumatic brain injury patient is single, partnered up, or married with children, they had a certain amount of household tasks they were responsible for before injury. In severe TBI cases, patients cannot do yard work, repair things around the house, take care of their lawn, drive, shop for meals and other daily needs, cook, do laundry, clean, or take care of children. Sometimes victims and families need to spend money to replace that labor by hiring a lawn care service, personal assistant, nanny, handyman, or other outside help.
Brain injury victims suffer many losses that are not easy to quantify. Lawyers and insurance companies value claims and include compensation for some of the impacts that an injury has on a person’s life. Compensation for physical pain and suffering, and the emotional stress that comes with a severe injury, is typically included in brain injury claims. Examples of other non-economic damages include damage to personal relationships from the injury, such as loss of consortium with a spouse, and compensation for a decrease in a patient’s quality of life.
Fatal Traumatic Brain Injuries
Sometimes traumatic injuries lead to the sudden and tragic loss of a loved one. South Carolina law permits eligible surviving family members to seek compensation for damages by bringing a wrongful death suit against the person, business, or other entity that caused the death of a loved one. Survivors can receive some of the damages listed above as well as reimbursement for the funeral and burial costs.
Damages for non-economic losses based on the relationship with the deceased might also be included in a jury verdict or insurance settlement. Examples include loss of companionship for surviving spouses, loss of parental support for minor children, and emotional distress related to the loss of a loved one.
A South Carolina brain injury lawyer, like those at Hughey Law Firm, can answer questions about wrongful death, evaluate the viability of your claim, and advise you on the best path forward for you and your family during this difficult time.
South Carolina Brain Injury FAQ
One of the most terrifying and life-altering injuries a human can suffer is a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Many situations can cause a TBI, ranging from something as simple as a fall or as intense as a major motor vehicle accident. No matter how the victim is injured, a TBI can significantly alter the victim’s life. These injuries come with a wide range of symptoms and treatments, and the impacts on the victim’s life are often significant.
Read on for some answers to commonly asked questions from TBI victims and their loved ones. If you or a loved one has suffered a TBI in South Carolina, contact Hughey Law Firm for a free consultation.
Q: What is a traumatic brain injury?
A TBI is a disruption in the normal function of the brain that is caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury. The severity of a TBI can range from a mild concussion to a coma or brain death.
A disruption to normal brain function might cause:
- Loss of or decreased consciousness;
- Loss of memory of events—before or after the event;
- Focal neurological deficits such as muscle weakness, loss of vision, change in speech;
- Alteration in mental state, like disorientation, slow thinking, or difficulty concentrating.
An estimated 13.5 million individuals live with a TBI-related disability in the United States, and nearly 3 million cases occur each year. Children are particularly susceptible to a TBI injury, with over 837,000 cases occurring in children in a recent year. There are approximately 50,000 fatalities from TBI injuries each year in the U.S.
In South Carolina, there are 1,117 deaths, 2,800 hospital discharges, and 11,500 emergency department visits due to TBIs each year.
Q: How do traumatic brain injuries occur in South Carolina?
The leading causes of TBI injuries are motor vehicle crashes, falls, and strikes or blows to the head from or against an object.
Certain groups are at higher risk for different causes:
- Individuals over the age of 75 and children ages 4 and under most commonly suffer a TBI from falls;
- Individuals aged 5 to 14 are more likely to suffer a TBI after being struck by or against an object; and
- Individuals aged 15 to 44 most commonly suffer a TBI from motor vehicle crashes.
In addition to the above risk factors, the percentage of males suffering from a TBI is much higher than women.
Q: What symptoms do South Carolina TBI victims suffer?
The symptoms of a TBI range widely between victims based on a variety of factors, including the severity of the injury and where the blow occurred. While mild cases cause only a brief change in mental state or consciousness, severe cases can cause extended periods of unconsciousness, coma, or brain death.’
Physical, sensory, and cognitive can result.
- Physical: Loss of consciousness, feeling dazed or confused, headache, nausea or vomiting, fatigue, problems with speech, excessive sleep, convulsions or seizures, pupil dilation, clear fluid draining from ears or nose, loss of coordination, breathing problems, slow pulse, facial weakness, loss of bladder control.
- Sensory: Blurred vision, ringing in ears, bad taste in the mouth, change in the ability to smell, sensitivity to light, sensitivity to sound.
- Cognitive: Memory or concentration problems, mood changes or mood swings, depression or anxiety, agitation or combativeness, coma.
For some victims, the symptoms will dissipate over time, but others will suffer from long-term physical, intellectual, sensory, communication, emotional, and behavioral problems.
Q: What treatment options are available to South Carolina TBI victims?
A mild TBI such as a concussion may only require rest, but all instructions from a medical provider should be followed such as complete rest and avoiding activities that require significant concentration. Victims of a more severe TBI should seek immediate medical attention. Medical providers will focus on ensuring the brain gets enough oxygen, controlling blood and brain pressure, and preventing further injury. Surgery may be required to remove blood clots or pools, repair skull fractures, or to relieve pressure inside the skull.
A doctor might prescribe medication to treat symptoms related to a TBI or recommend rehabilitation therapy to help recover functions, relearn skills, and learn new ways to perform tasks and activities given their new limitations. Rehabilitation therapy includes physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, psychological counseling, vocational counseling, and cognitive therapy. The appropriate rehabilitation therapy will depend on each victim’s circumstances.
Q: Who is responsible for my South Carolina TBI injury?
If another party acted negligently or intentionally in a way that caused your accident or injury, they could be held responsible for your damages. The only exception is if your injury happened in the workplace in the scope of your duties as an employee, in which case no showing of negligence is required.
The following are common scenarios where a third party is responsible for a victim’s TBI:
- Motor vehicle accidents: If another driver acted negligently, causing a car accident, they could be held responsible for your injuries. Any action outside the normal level of responsibility required of a driver is evidence of negligence, including violation of any traffic laws or regulations including speeding, driving under the influence of alcohol, or failure to comply with a traffic signal.
- Premise liability: Property owners have a duty to visitors to their property. The level of responsibility placed on the property owner depends on whether the visitor is a business or social guest. In most instances, a property owner does not have any obligation to protect a trespasser, but there are some limited obligations to children trespassers. Many slip and fall accidents occur on someone else’s property because of a hazardous condition. Depending on the facts of the accident, the property owner may be responsible.
- Medical malpractice: Medical practitioners are held to a level of care of the same level as other practitioners dealing with a similar condition. Unfortunately, medical practitioners make mistakes. If an action by a doctor or other medical professional causes your TBI or worsens your symptoms, they could be held responsible for injuries that occur because of failure to operate under the required standard of care.
- Product liability: If your injury was caused or worsened by a defective or dangerous product, the manufacturer could be held responsible. For example, if you were in a car accident and the airbag failed to deploy, the manufacturer should be held responsible for the injuries caused by that failure.
- Workplace injury: A showing of negligence is not required for an injury that occurs on the job as long as the individual was acting in the scope of their employment at the time of the accident. Workplace injuries are handled through the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission. Workers’ compensation benefits include medical costs and some cash benefits for individuals who are temporarily or permanently disabled. Recovery through workers’ compensation is not possible if you were functioning as an independent contractor. An independent contractor must pursue recovery based on the negligence of the at-fault party.
No matter how your injury occurred, it is important to seek immediate medical attention. If you are able, it is also important to document the scene of the accident and secure witness contact information to preserve evidence of the other party’s negligence. One way to ensure that evidence is gathered and maintained is to secure a police report.
Q: What damages can I recover in a South Carolina brain injury claim?
If your injury occurred outside the workplace, the negligent party could be held responsible for all the damages you suffered as a result of your injuries.
Costs of a TBI commonly include:
- Medical expenses: The medical expenses associated with a TBI are wide-ranging, but the defendant could be held responsible for all medical expenses including hospital stays, doctors’ bills, prescription medicine, assistive devices like a wheelchair, and physical therapy. The defendant could also be held responsible for future medical costs such as those associated with rehabilitation.
- Lost wages: A TBI could cause you to temporarily miss work or to completely prohibit you from returning to work. The defendant could be held responsible for wages lost during your recovery, future lost wages, and future lost earning potential.
- Emotional distress: Emotional difficulties such as anxiety and depression are common after a TBI. The emotional distress could be an actual symptom of the TBI or a result of the changes the injury has brought to your life. Any emotional distress caused by your injuries could be the responsibility of the defendant.
- Loss of enjoyment: A TBI could limit your ability to participate in activities that previously brought you fulfillment. While difficult to quantify, you should work with your lawyer to include this loss in your damages demand.
- Punitive damages: Rather than compensating the plaintiff, punitive damages are intended to punish the defendant for particularly egregious behavior. To qualify for punitive damages in South Carolina, there must be clear and convincing evidence that the defendant’s conduct was willful, wanton, or reckless.
While a workplace injury has the benefit of recovery without proof of employer negligence, it does not provide recovery for all the above damages. Workers’ compensation would cover approved medical expenses and cash benefits if you are found temporarily or permanently disabled.
Your attorney could help you prepare a comprehensive damages demand that will be used by the jury if your case goes to trial or to analyze any settlement offer made by the defendant. Your lawyer would secure input from medical and economic experts as needed.
Q: Should I accept a settlement offer after my South Carolina brain injury?
It is tempting to immediately accept a settlement offer to quickly resolve the matter and get money in your pocket. While these are certainly benefits of a settlement offer, be sure to carefully consider any offer before accepting. The defendant and their insurance provider may attempt to resolve the lawsuit for the lowest monetary amount possible. Work with your lawyer to analyze a settlement offer against the strength of your case to make an informed decision about when to accept.
Q: How long do I have to file a South Carolina brain injury lawsuit?
States require plaintiffs to file a lawsuit within a designated deadline to resolve claims in a timely fashion and while evidence is still available. South Carolina law requires that any lawsuit for recovery after a brain injury is filed within three years of the date of the injury. The window of time to file a lawsuit will pass quickly, so be sure to engage an attorney early in the process.
For a workers’ compensation claim, you should immediately notify your employer that you sustained an injury on the job. The injury must be reported within 90 days, but you have two years to file a claim for benefits.
Q: How could a lawyer help with my South Carolina brain injury case?
A lawyer can be an important partner in pursuing recovery after suffering a TBI. Your attorney would assist you with:
- Analyzing which parties acted negligently;
- Developing a strategy for securing recovery for your damages;
- Assessing the strength of your case against the defendant and compiling supporting evidence;
- Preparing a comprehensive damages demand;
- Communicating with the defendant and any insurance providers involved in the recovery;
- Consulting on accepting any settlement offer; and
- Preparing all court documents and for trial.
Adjusting to life after a TBI and managing the financial and emotional strain is difficult, but working with an experienced lawyer can help take some of this burden off of your shoulders. The lawyers at Hughey Law Firm have a history of securing successful results for brain injury victims in South Carolina. Our team has pursued recovery for clients in numerous practice areas, and we bring the knowledge to each case that comes with the experience of handling hundreds of civil cases.
Hughey Law Firm has received multiple legal industry awards for its representation of our clients. We understand the issues faced by TBI victims, and we realize the facts of each client’s case is unique. We focus on each client as an individual to develop a case strategy to meet their goals. If you or a loved one is the victim of a TBI because of another party’s negligence in South Carolina, call Hughey Law Firm today or write us through our website for a free initial consultation.
Contact a South Carolina Brain Injury Attorney After a TBI
If you have sustained a brain injury or another member of your family has suffered one, let the legal team at Hughey Law Firm handle the details of your brain injury claim while you concentrate on healing and rehabilitation. A brain injury lawyer from our team can guide you through the claims process, investigate the circumstances of your brain injury, gather the evidence you need to support your case, and pursue the maximum compensation for your injuries.
If you or suffered a brain injury in South Carolina, contact Hughey Law Firm online or at (843) 881-8644 for a free consultation to discuss the specifics of your brain injury, the ways it has affected your life, and how we might help you move forward. The team at Hughey Law Firm wants to help you get the compensation you need for your injuries, from an insurance settlement or court-awarded damages. Contact us today for more information.
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