June 1, 2023

What is a Traumatic Brain Injury?

Traumatic brain injury, TBI, is unlike most other injuries. Sometimes a person doesn’t even notice that they have suffered a brain injury, other times the effects are immediate. Each and every brain injury has a different recovery potential and time frame. This makes brain injury litigation and settlements one of the most difficult areas to assess. There is potential that with the right medical resources someone will recover in 6 months or someone may have permanent effects.

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords suffered a brain injury earlier this year, but the exact status and timeline of her recovery is still unknown. Albeit Giffords has received intensive physical therapy and has regained some speaking, writing, and mobility, it is unclear whether she will fully recover, much like other brain injury patients.

There are two categories of traumatic brain injuries: mild and severe. Mild brain injuries are identified by a person losing consciousness, having confusion or having disorientation for thirty minutes or less. Effects of mild traumatic brain injuries include: headaches, loss of memory, mood swings, and attention deficits.

Severe brain injuries occur when a person loses consciousness for more than 30 minutes and memory loss lasts longer 24 hours. Effects of severe brain injuries vary from comatose states, limited function of their limbs, loss of cognitive ability, emotional problems or abnormal language or speech.

The effects of TBI are often extensive. Some individuals that suffer severe traumatic brain injuries are left in unresponsive states for months, years, even decades. For people like Congresswoman Giffords, sufferers of severe traumatic brain injuries, long-term rehabilitation is often needed to maximize independence and motor function. Settlements of these cases can range from a few thousand to millions. For instance, a recent case in Cook County, Estate of Shamiran David v. Rush Northshore Medical Center, et al., No. 07 L 8444, settled for $5 million dollars.

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