Economic Losses in TBI Cases: Brain Injury Attorneys
If you or a family member has sustained a traumatic brain injury, the
chances are you already have first hand experience of the overwhelming
financial burden that these injuries cause.
The following two case scenarios demonstrate
damages sustained in a so-called "mild" traumatic brain injury case, as
well as a “moderate” to “severe” traumatic brain injury case.
Case No. 1:
A seventeen-year-old young lady is driving home
from her evening class at a local college when a car operated by
another individual swerves across the center divider and hits her
straight on. She is evacuated by helicopter to the closest trauma
hospital whereupon a craniotomy is performed in order to release the
pressure resulting from multiple subdural hematomas. Additionally, as a
result of spinal cord injury, the young lady is rendered quadriplegic.
The catastrophic injuries are apparent to all. The victim's brain
damage renders her a functional five-year-old in mental development.
She is fed through a gastrostomy, and will require attendant care the
rest of her life.
Case No. 2:
A forty-two-year-old working mother of three is
stopped before a crosswalk allowing an elderly pedestrian to cross the
street with her walker when her car is suddenly and unexpectedly
rear-ended. She keeps her foot on the brake in order her vehicle is not
pushed into the crosswalk thereby striking the pedestrian. The force of
impact appears to have been fairly minor. There is approximately $1,200
damage done to her car. She does not lose consciousness. Other than a
diagnosed cervical "strain", CT scans and other neurologic testing are
without adverse finding. Within several months, however, thevictim's
family notices a marked change. She expressed difficulty with attention
and concentration and ultimately loses her job. Her life spirals in
denial, confusion and discomposure. Finally, a treating health care
provider concedes that she sustained a so-called "mild" traumatic brain
The above two case scenarios are a mixture of facts
involved in actual cases brought within the court system in the State
of California. The effects of brain injury were profound on both
victims, although due to the extent of those injuries, their damages
were somewhat different.
In a case involving catastrophic injury, the failure
to obtain adequate compensation will deprive the victim of the very
funds he/she may need in order to survive. Often times, and especially
where the victim's injury dictates on-going medical care, the future
economic loss may be staggering.
Contrast the catastrophic injury case with a "mild"
TBI case. Often overlooked or misunderstood, a case involving so-called
"mild" traumatic brain injury, with corresponding cognitive deficits,
will cause a devastating impact on the vocational abilities of the
victim, not to mention the impairment to quality of life.
Perplexity and distractibility are among the most
common problems associated with brain injury. Any cognitive deficit,
including impairment to attention and concentration, will have a
devastating impact on an individual's ability to work and perform
properly on the job. Necessarily, the quality of life is deeply
Areas of financial responsibility will generally
fall into the following categories: (1) past, present and future
medical bills; and (2) past, present and future lost wages and earning
capacity. Obviously, the victim has also sustained compensable damages
relating to pain and suffering and emotional distress, although those
damages are not discussed herein.
The good news is that even if you are without insurance, when you are
transported from an accident scene, or place of injury, to a trauma
facility, you will not be turned away. Even comatose individuals
without insurance will initially be treated by a trauma facility.
However, the length of treatment, quality of treatment and treatment
options may be curtailed in individuals without appropriate coverage.
If another person's negligent or intentional acts
cause the infliction of traumatic brain injury, there is no reason why
that individual should not be held responsible for payment of your
medical expenses. After all, if your own insurance is not sufficient to
cover the losses, then the taxpayers will be left with the burden of
funding whatever treatment you receive. The allocation of financial
burden between the taxpayers and a negligent or intentionally wrongful
actor should be an easy decision.
To give you an idea of the staggering health care
costs involved in a typical catastrophic case, once again turn to Case
Scenario No. 1, above. In a 1995 case, proceeding to trial in
California, the health care costs of a spastic quadriplegic brain
injured young lady were estimated at $106,000 per year through age 45
and then, when her parents die the costs were estimated to increase to
$303,000 per year. The total future lifetime costs, assuming a below
historically based medical inflation rate of 5%, is over $166,000,000.
When reduced to present cash value (using a historic U.S. Government
bond rate), the cost is still $14,000,000.
Obviously medical expenses incurred in the "mild"
traumatic brain injury case are considerably less. Life care plans
developed for victims of "mild" traumatic brain injury do not typically
include ongoing orthopedic care, ongoing neurologic care, round the
clock therapist care, and other expenses more commonly required in the
catastrophic case. However, emergency room bills were likely incurred,
and they are never cheap. Radiological studies, including CT scans or
MRI may have been ordered. If properly followed, a neuropsychological
assessment has been incurred, and rehabilitative training follows. With
today's health care costs, the price tag for such treatment is not
In a catastrophic injury case, the victim may never be able to hold a
job again. Where the victim is an adult parent, children and other
dependents are left without any meaningful source of support.
Obviously, a life is shattered. The loss represents the entire earning
capacity of that adult from the time of injury through his/her work
life expectancy. Often times this amounts to over a million dollars
even when relegated to present value.
In a case involving "mild" traumatic brain injury,
earning capacity is also dramatically impaired. Virtually all tasks
performed in the vocational setting require concentration and
attention. Where a victim of mild traumatic brain injury has incurred
attention and concentration deficits, job performance is adversely
affected or outright prohibited. In many instances, the victim will
require complete vocational rehabilitation training. Simply put, the
victim will be unable to return to his/her former line of work.
Obviously, chances for job advancement are greatly curtailed.
In the litigation arena, it is your lawyer's job to present your
damages in order you be compensated for your injuries. In the
catastrophic case, the presentation of such damage figures becomes an
art unto itself. Jury alienation is always a concern, even where such
damage figures are reduced to present value.
In the "mild" TBI case, the jury must be made to
understand that the cognitive deficits affecting this
outwardly-appearing "normal" human being will have a devastating impact
on that individual's ability to work and perform properly on the job.
In most instances, in addition to the testimony of
treating physicians, life care plan specialists, vocational
rehabilitation specialists, and forensic economists will be employed.
By using these specialists, a jury is given the entire "needs"
framework of the traumatic brain injury victim. The care given in the
past, and the reason for that care is explained. Future care needs are
likewise explained and all care costs are quantified and relegated to
present value. Similarly, earning capacity is explained and mitigating
income is taken into account. In all, the jury is left with a thorough
understanding of the severity of economic needs of a victim with
traumatic brain injury.
If you or someone you know has been injured
or suffered Traumatic Brain Injury or TBI,
you need the assistance of The Scarlett Law Group.
today to speak with a California Personal Injury Attorney.