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Public Waking Up to Cost, Severity, and Frequency of Traumatic Brain Injuries

The Bradenton Herald had yet another story this week that explores the surge in publicity around traumatic brain injuries. Interestingly, while noting the rising attention to the problem, the editorial also argues that there still remains a huge disconnect between the actual scope of the problem at the seriousness with which community members are taking it. Each Chicago brain injury lawyer at our firm spends significant time understanding these injuries and their consequences. The argument for lack of awareness, according to the California Independent Living Council which wrote the editorial, essentially breaks down into a lack of public appreciation of three things: the (1) frequency of the injuries; (2) their severity; and (3) the cost.

According to the Brain Injury Association, every year more than 1.7 million Americans suffer a traumatic brain injury. That breaks down to one of these injuries occurring every 21 seconds. Perhaps just as significantly, a large number of the victims of these injuries are children and adolescents. More than 500,000 youngsters under the age of fifteen suffer a traumatic brain injury each year. These are far from trivial numbers and suggest a problem with a considerable breadth.

In the past many of these injuries were assumed to be relatively mild, with few to no symptoms and little risk of long-term harm. Medical researchers are continuing to learn that the consequences of even a single seemingly mild traumatic brain injury can be significant. Of course, this doesn’t even account for the more serious TBIs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explain the “public health burden of traumatic brain injuries in the United States annually represents 52,000 deaths, 275,000 hospitalizations, and 1,365,000 emergency room visits. Those figures don’t’ even account for the 20% of returning U.S. service members who suffer some form of TBI.

Our Illinois brain injury attorneys appreciate that essentially as a result of the amount of injuries and their severity, the annual cost on the public is tremendous. When accounting for both direct and indirect costs, the CDC estimates that these brain injuries cost about $76.3 billion annually. This figure was reached using comprehensive assessments of all the costs that befall these victims. For example, acute care in hospitals can cost as much as $8,000 per day. Post-acute care can cost anywhere from $850 to $2,500 daily. Beyond that even day treatment programs (without room and board) average $600 to $1,000 for a four hour session.

As one brain advocacy group council member summarizes, “The cost for institutional-based health care services is extraordinarily expensive, but more importantly, people with brain injuries want and have the right to live independently in their communities.”

These high costs are what occasionally results in seemingly high jury verdicts following a brain injury lawsuit. When the injury is caused by the misconduct of another, it is only reasonable for that negligent party to pay for the care needed so that the one hurt can get their lives back to normal as much as possible. In many cases, the individual with the TBI can never fully recover, but at the very least, they deserve the chance to live as fully as possible-particularly when their injury was entirely the fault of another.

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