Montana Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Explainer
One of the most common injury suffered by motor vehicle victims in Montana is a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). A Traumatic Brain Injury is a broad category of injuries to the brain which can cause damage to a variety of regions, such as those controlling vision, hearing, or even basic motor functions. How and where the injury occurred will likely determine the damage and symptoms inflicted upon the victim, not to mention the length of their recovery period. With the help of an experienced brain injury attorney, victims could very well have legal standing to file an injury claim against the person responsible for their injuries as well as their insurance provider.
If you have suffered a traumatic brain injury in the state of Montana caused by a car accident or another type of incident, this guide has all the answers you need about your injury, potential recovery, and your legal options going forward.
What is a Traumatic Brain Injury?
The term Traumatic Brain Injury describes a broad class of injuries to the brain. Generally speaking, any injury caused to the brain which you were not born with or is not the result of a degenerative disease is considered to be a TBI.
Most TBI’s are caused by a sudden blow or strike to the head or body by an outside force. Such an injury can even be caused by an object penetrating the skull or it can even be completely contained with the cranial cavity.
Traumatic brain injuries range from mild, such as a minor concussion, to gravely serious. More severe TBI’s can result in paralysis, cognitive impairment, or even death. Traumatic brain injuries are serious injuries and should be treated as such since they can have a lasting impact on a victim’s life.
Montana TBI Statistics
Every year upwards of 1.7 million TBI’s occur in the United States, with 20% of these injuries caused by some form of motor vehicle accident. TBI’s are especially common in Montana. Currently, Montana ranks 3rd for TBI-related fatalities in the U.S. Below are additional statistics related to traumatic brain injuries for Montana and the entire country:
- Close to 5,000 TBI’s occur every day in the United States
- One person sustains a brain injury every 10 seconds
- Falls are the leading cause of TBI’s with auto accidents being the second
- Brain injuries are the second most reported disability
- Men make up the majority of TBI victims at a incredible rate of 80% of victims
- Over 50,000 people die each year from traumatic brain injuries
- Close to 300,000 people are hospitalized each year for TBI’s
- TBI’s cost the U.S. economy up to an estimated $60 billion dollars annually
Such statistics offer a sobering view of the lasting impact a traumatic brain injury can have on the lives of victims. But these statistics merely offer a brief glimpse of the painful reality TBI victims and their families face in their daily lives. Due to the brain’s incredible complexity, no two traumatic brain injuries are rarely the same.
Anatomy of the Brain and Injury Locations
Different parts of the brain control various functions throughout the body. Therefore, the exact location of a brain injury will determine not only what types of complications may arise but the method of treatment for a victim. Every area of the brain functions on such a minute scale even a change of a mere inch or two could completely change the nature and severity of an injury.
For example, an injury to the frontal lobe, found at the front of the skull, can dramatically affect functions involving memory, attention, and basic problem solving. The frontal lobe regulates a person’s judgement, emotions, social behavior, and even impulse control. An injury to this part of the brain, as seen in an even minor crash like a fender-bender, can cause drastic problems for victims. More specifically, there is even a difference between an injury to the left and right frontal lobes. The right frontal lobe controls non-verbal communication while the left lobe regulates general language skills and abilities. Unfortunately, the massive size of the frontal lobe lends itself easily to injury.
Another area of the brain susceptible to injury are those of the temporal lobes. Both lobes are situated on level with the ears at the side of the brain. These areas of the brain help maintain memory, both long and short-term. The left temporal lobe relates to verbal memory often used in the construction and use of language. The right lobe, however, deals more with visual memory and our ability to easily recognize and differentiate objects from one another. Both lobes, also, assist in the interpretation of emotions in other people. An injury to the temporal lobes can have a dramatic impact on memory and our ability to effectively communicate.
The occipital lobe is located in the back of the brain and processes all visual information captured by the eyes. The occipital lobe is responsible for our ability to recognize shapes and to understand just exactly what our eyes are focused on. Suffering an injury to this area might leave a victim blind or without the ability to identify size or shape.
The parietal lobe is also located at the back of the brain just above the occipital lobe. The parietal lobe manages movement, our sense of touch, and integrates signals from other parts of the brain which perceive and make sense of the reality around us. An injury to the parietal lobe may affect spatial awareness and how information produced by the primary senses is processed.
Located above the brain stem is the cerebellum which is positioned near the back of the skull. The placement of the cerebellum provides far more protection from trauma than the other lobes. The cerebellum helps coordinate movement, balance, and equilibrium. Suffering a cerebellum injury can affect a victim’s ability to walk, stand still, or the use of their hands.
The brain stem is located at the lower middle of the brain. The brain stem is a vital area attached to the spinal cord. It serves as a sort of conduit which coordinates the various signals exchanged between the body and the brain. The brain stem is also responsible for regulating our autonomic functions which keep us alive, such as breathing, our heartbeat, and digestion. While injuries to the brain stem do not typically result in cognitive difficulties, they do have detrimental affects and can prove serious and even life-threatening.
Brain Injury Complications and Symptoms
Traumatic brain injuries can cause a number of complications and symptoms which can make treatment and recovery difficult if not impossible. Below are the most common injury complications caused by traumatic brain injuries.
Seizures: Seizures are the sudden, uncontrolled electrical disturbances in the brain. Seizures can last for mere seconds or for longer periods of time with the victim losing total consciousness and suffering from jerking arms and legs. If a seizure lasts up to five minutes it is considered an acute emergency and should be treated by a medical professional immediately. Post-traumatic epilepsy is when a person suffers multiple seizures for more than a week following the initial injury.
Meningitis: Meningitis is the inflammation of the membranes and fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Most instances of meningitis are caused by a viral infection. In the case of TBI’s, meningitis can be caused by bacteria introduced into the body potentially causing a rather serious condition. Bacterial meningitis should be immediately treated with an aggressive dose of antibiotics or it could prove fatal within a few days.
Altered States of Consciousness: Traumatic brain injuries may cause a number of altered states of consciousness in victims. Victims may find themselves in a minimally conscious state, where they have limited aware of their surroundings, or they may even fall into a vegetative state which leaves them completely unaware or responsive to their surroundings beyond basic reflex responses or unresponsive alertness. One of the most serious altered state of consciousness is a full-blown coma. In a coma, a victim is unable to respond to any external stimuli and is completely unaware of their surroundings. The most severe state of consciousness is when there is absolutely no brain functions to measure and the victim is effectively brain dead.
Hydrocephalus: This is a condition where excess fluid amasses in the ventricles deep inside of the brain. Such a dangerous build-up of fluid puts enormous pressure on the brain and if left untreated can cause severe damage and possibly impairment. More serious cases require a shunt to be inserted into the brain in order to allow the excess cerebrospinal fluid to drain. The shunt is typically permanent and will require continued checkups by a doctor for the remainder of a victim’s life.
TBI Litigation in Montana
Due to the lengthy recovery period required for most traumatic brain injuries, litigating a TBI injury claim can pose a host of unique challenges. Even a mild concussion can cause a number of symptoms and difficulties for victims. Considering the hidden nature of TBI’s, with most of the damage being inside of the skull, proving the injury can be a tough task in a court of law. Only a skilled injury attorney can conclusively prove an injury was caused beyond actual medical evidence such as a brain scan or other diagnostic imaging. Without a jury being able to view an actual injury, such as a broken arm, they may find it hard to grasp the true connection between the injury and its impact on the victim’s life. The attorney’s job at this point will be to show the burden the victim has suffered by providing sufficient evidence and expert testimony.
Expert witnesses are the most effective way to prove the effects of a traumatic brain injury. An attorney will call medical professionals to the stand to better interpret health reports so the jury can fully understand them. Family members and personal acquaintances may provide testimony as well about the dramatic changes to the victim’s behavior and lifestyle. Injury claims involving TBI’s can quickly become complicated and in order for a victim to receive maximum compensation for the total amount of their losses, an experienced attorney is absolutely necessary.
Since 1993, The Advocates have built a reputation as one of the top personal injury law firms in the United States. Our experience representing victims of TBI’s is unparalleled. Our attorneys know what it takes to build you an iron-clad case for your injuries and losses. The Advocates can help you win maximum compensation for your traumatic brain injury. Don’t wait to contact one of our attorneys for free evaluation of your case. You can call our office today at (406) 719-1836, by filling out the form below, or you can chat with a live attorney right now from the bottom of your screen. You deserve an Advocate!