Traumatic Brain Injury

 

In the 2008 trial, Sandu v. Wellington Place Apartments, the jury awarded the parents of Harvinder Sandhu $14.2 million in damages, finding negligence on the part of the landlord of Wellington Place Apartments in contributing to Harvinder’s fall. When the then two-year old boy fell five stores from a damaged window, his fall caused multiple fractures and a permanent frontal lobe injury to Harvinder’s brain. According to the medical experts consulted for his care, as a result of his injuries, Harvinder will require 24-hour care for the rest of his life and will never function beyond the level of a 12-year old child.

Brain injury refer to any damage or injuries that occur in the brain. There are four common terms associated with brain injury: brain damage, traumatic brain injury, stroke and acquired brain injury. Brain damage refers to the destruction or degeneration of brain cells over time, and may occur before birth. Traumatic brain injury refers to damage that occurs when an outside force traumatically injures the brain, such as when an individual is struck in the head. A stroke occurs in the heart but often causes damage to the brain when the heart loses its ability to effectively pump blood and oxygen to the brain. Acquired brain injury involves any damage that occurs to the brain after birth. When an accident results in serious brain injury, the injury is commonly referred to as traumatic brain injury (which is also a form of acquired brain injury).

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when an external force causes trauma to the brain. It is typically the result of a violent blow or jolt to the head, for example, when a person slips, falls and cracks their head on pavement or ice. Traumatic brain injury is a complex condition with broad symptomatology and the same injury may result in different consequences and symptoms for different people. What is common in cases of TBI is that it often has a significant and devastating impact on the injured person as well as their loved ones.

Traumatic brain injury can be categorized as primary or secondary. Primary TBI results immediately from the trauma and often occurs at the moment of the event. Primary traumatic brain injury can later lead to secondary TBI. Secondary TBI is an indirect result of the injury and often results from processes initiated by the trauma and complications of the injury.

Causes

The leading causes of traumatic brain injury are motor vehicle collisions, slip, trip and fall accidents, physical assaults and sports-related injuries. For Ontario residents, collisions and falls are responsible for most traumatic brain injury incidents. Motor vehicle collisions refers to any collision involving a motorized vehicle, which includes pedestrian and cycling accidents, car and truck collisions, boating accidents, and accidents involving recreational vehicles such as ATV’s and snowmobiles. All motor vehicle accidents have common causal factors; these collisions are often the result of impaired driving, speeding or reckless driving, and distracted driving. Slip, trip and fall accidents often result from unsafe conditions on a property, such as ice, debris or uneven surfaces.

Signs and Symptoms of TBI

The signs and symptoms of traumatic brain injury may vary depending on the severity of the injury and can generally be categorized into physical symptoms and cognitive/mental symptoms. The following are some of the symptoms of a mild traumatic brain injury.

Physical Symptoms

  • Headaches
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Feeling confused or disorientated
  • Loss of consciousness for a few seconds, up to 10 Minutes
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Sensitivity to sound or light
  • Blurred vision

Mental/Cognitive Symptoms

  • Difficulty with memory and concentration
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Moodiness

Moderate to severe traumatic brain injury typically includes many of the same signs and symptoms of mild traumatic brain injury, but symptoms may be more severe and there may be additional symptoms as well.

Physical Symptoms

  • Longer loss of consciousness, generally more than 30 Minutes
  • Loss of coordination
  • Convulsions or Seizures
  • Repeated vomiting or nausea
  • Inability to wake from sleep
  • Weakness or numbness in fingers and toes
  • Persistent headaches and/or severe headaches
  • Vision problems
  • Slurred speech
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of function of legs and/or arms

Mental/Cognitive Symptoms

  • Agitation and anxiety
  • Difficulty remembering, concentrating, multi-tasking
  • Profound Confusion
  • Combative or inappropriate behaviour
  • Amnesia
  • Coma

Click here for more information about traumatic brain injuries.

Medical technology and knowledge have advanced significantly in terms of being able to respond to life-threatening injuries and alleviate and repair some of the physical damage resulting from a brain injury, such as relieving intracranial pressure from the fluid surrounding the brain. This has reduced the number of deaths resulting from brain injury but nevertheless, brain injury still continues to be the leading direct cause of death in a fatal accident. Also, it is not uncommon for a serious brain injury to go unrecognized or undiagnosed in an initial hospital visit following an accident such as a slip and fall, but the injured person may experience serious symptoms even resulting in death, days after an accident.

Health care specialists are still unable to fully understand and ‘fix’ many of the symptoms that may result from a brain injury, which means that accident victims may have to find ways to cope with their injuries for many years and sometimes for the rest of their lives. Symptoms of traumatic brain injury, such as difficulty thinking and concentrating as well as personality changes often impact the injured person’s marital relationship, friendships and their ability to work.

Avoiding accidents that may result in TBI

Sometimes, innocent accident victims suffer TBI as a result of a single negligent action taken by a reckless driver. Such incidents are heartbreaking in terms of their devastating affect on the life of the injured person and also because we have little or no control over these events. However, on a personal basis, individuals can have some impact on the incidence of brain injury by taking actions that reduce the likelihood of experiencing injury in a motor vehicle accident.

  1. Never drive while impaired driving or get into a car with an impaired driver. Impaired driving, including driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, remains one of the leading causes of road accidents and fatalities.
  2. Always wear a seatbelt and make sure that any children in the vehicle are safely and properly buckled in an appropriate child safety seat.
  3. Always wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle, bicycle, ATV or snowmobile.
  4. Keep your attention on the road at all times while driving. Be careful to not distract the driver if you are a passenger.
  5. Property maintain your vehicle. Take precautions such as installing winter tires.

The following actions may prevent serious injury from a slip, trip and fall accident.

  1. Wear appropriate footwear, particularly during winter weather conditions
  2. Watch where you are stepping
  3. Keep stairs and floors clear of any clutter
  4. Install handrails on stairways and in tubs/showers
  5. Ensure walkways and stairs are well lit
  6. Get regular vision checkups
  7. Maintain flooring that does not promote slipping

Traumatic brain injury, even when considered to be mild, is a serious injury that can significantly disrupt an individual’s life and leave them unable to perform everyday functions and interact normally with other people. At Kotak Personal Injury Law, our compassionate team of personal injury lawyers have vast experience in successfully representing individuals who suffered serious injuries such as TBI, due to another person’s negligence.

Through interacting and helping accident victims and their families, we understand how stressful and draining the recovery process can be. This is particularly true when someone is suffering from TBI because the symptoms can affect every aspect of the victim’s life and treatment does not follow a direct and clear path, as it more often does for other physical injuries. Also, traumatic brain injury is often not visible in a traditional medical procedure such as a CT scan or MRI.

Accident victims who suffer a serious injury such as TBI are entitled to make a claim for compensation for their losses, such as lost income, medical costs, and pain and suffering. If you or someone you love suffered traumatic brain injury or another serious injury resulting from an accident, call Kotak Law to find out how we can help.

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