Articles Posted in Brain injuries from falls

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In a CDC report released in mid-March, the government organization revealed that the number of reported brain injuries has increased dramatically since 2007. Brain injuries have been frequently studied and reported on in the news and medical community, with brain injuries in professional athletes and youths taking center stage. In 2015, Will Smith starred as pathologist Dr. Bennett Omalu, who, after examining a deceased NFL player, discovers he had suffered from severe neurological trauma and disease. Dr. Omalu became the face and voice against football-related brain injuries after realizing many other former professional players suffered from the same symptoms. Also in 2015, the mother of a former youth athlete sued her son’s football program after he commit suicide and was found to have serious brain injuries resulting from repeated concussions.  Nevertheless, despite headlines about professional athletes and youth football players, the driving force behind this spike in brain injuries is surprisingly a result of the increasing occurrence of elderly falls.

Latest Statistics about Brain Injuries

The CDC found that suicide, suicide attempts, and falls were all contributors to the increase in traumatic brain injuries. The number of brain injuries as a result of car accidents has actually decreased in recent years.

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Head injuries incurred from sports-related activities are on of the fastest growing health insurance claims, according to a recent report from CNBC. The report notes that recent high-profile sports-related lawsuits over brain injuries sustained as a result of engaging in various athletic activities have highlighted the severity of such injuries, and have encouraged more people to report them and seek appropriate medical treatment. Two of the most notable cases that have received extensive media coverage include a class-action settlement last year between the National Football League and thousands of former players from that league as well as a more recent class-action lawsuit filed by more than 50 former professional wrestlers against a major wrestling entertainment company.

The momentum that both of these cases have achieved may be a catalyst in encouraging other professional and amateur players engaged in sports where they wear protective headgear to follow suit and seek compensation from entities such as athletic leagues, schools, helmet manufacturers, and retailers that sell safety equipment.

Basis of Legal Claims

Standard & Poor’s, an international company that provides credit ratings and market insight based on research, was the author of the information used in the article. It paints similarities between sports-related neurological claims and asbestos-related claims, both in the United States and the United Kingdom. Specifically, both injuries sustained as a result of an activity are latent injuries. This means they could take weeks, months, years, or even decades to manifest after an incident that may trigger them.

It is often difficult in both cases to assert a successful initial claim that is comprehensive enough to cover potential damages sustained as a result of related activities, which is why it may have taken so long for former professional football players and retired wrestlers to realize the full effect brain injuries may have had on them. As a result, Standard & Poor’s notes that many insurance companies are actually capping payouts on concussion lawsuits and including exclusion clauses in policies for concussion-related injuries.

While each legal action is unique, recent actions concerning sports-related head injuries have primarily focused on professional athletic groups’ negligence in informing members of the potential severity of such injuries. In other words, many lawsuits attempt to demonstrate that the agency charged with governing a certain sport or group of athletes was aware of the potential risk of such injuries but did not inform players, did not enact measures to prevent such injuries, and/or allowed activities that could cause such injuries to continue.
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Almost every time that someone gets hit in the head, either by an object or another person, there is some type of injury that occurs. With just a slight bump, perhaps caused by hitting the temple of your head against an open cupboard, there will likely be a cut followed by some swelling and a bruise. In other cases of more severe head trauma, a person may be rendered unconscious by being hit in the head. In these cases, a person will likely face some swelling, bruising, and a concussion. A concussion is a term that means temporary unconsciousness caused by a blow to the head, but it is often used to describe the period of time after the concussion in which medical care and observation is needed.

However, while many people believe these types of injuries to be minor, they may actually be very serious traumatic brain injuries. Concussions that are shorter in length, usually under 20-30 minutes, can also be classified as mild traumatic brain injuries. From that point, there are moderate and severe brain injuries. Generally, a person suffering a concussion is observed for a period of time and then given a clean bill of health. Sometimes CAT scans or MRIs are involved in ensuring that no additional damage has been done, depending on the severity of the injury. However, sometimes serious traumatic brain injuries resulting from what appear to be mild concussions are misdiagnosed. When this happens, a person is at increased risk of prolonged neurological damage that may have a profound effect on that person’s well-being and ability to thrive as a human being. Some symptoms of traumatic brain injury that are often overlooked are discussed below.

Symptoms of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

When a person is taken to the hospital after a bump on the head, especially after loss of consciousness, it is not uncommon for medical providers to perform CAT scans and MRIs to determine the extent of any damage that may have been done to the brain
. Often times, such tests may show that no visible damage has occurred. However, some signs and symptoms that minor traumatic brain injury has in fact occurred include but are not limited to:

· Fatigue;
· Headaches;
· Memory loss;
· Sleep disturbances;
· Feelings of depression;
· Loss of sense of smell;
· Nausea;
· Confusion; and
· Seizures.
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In 2011, a homeowner filed a lawsuit against a homebuilder because a retaining wall failed causing the collapse of a large patio at the home. According to the Cook County Record, the homeowner was the second owner of this particular property having purchased it from the original owner. The original owner had purchased the property from a now defunct homebuilding company, and the state’s highest court’s decision turned on an action taken by the original homeowner during the original purchase. According to the article’s information regarding the allegations in the lawsuit, the plaintiff in this case attempted to secure compensation for the thousands of dollars of damage caused by the patio’s collapse based on an implied warranty of habitability. The original trial court that heard the case ruled in favor of the homebuilder based on the fact that the original owner of the home had purchased the property opting for an express warranty and waiving their rights to an implied warranty. When the new homeowner appealed the decision, the appellate court ruled in favor of the homeowner and reversed the decision of the lower court. Eventually, the case was appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court, who ultimately ruled in favor of the homebuilder once again.

Understanding Express and Implied Warranty

Most products that consumers purchase, including houses and other large consumer goods, are protected by a warranty. However, that warranty is not always specifically stated or set forth. The two main types of warranties for consumer goods are express warranties and implied warranties. An express warranty is a product warranty that is clearly stated, often in writing when the value of the product is as substantial as that of a house. Express warranties can also be verbal in some instances, though the existence of a verbal express warranty can be difficult to prove. The express warranty is basically a guarantee by the seller of a product that the product will meet certain expectations, and that the seller will be responsible for costs associated with such products if they do not meet those express guarantees.
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It is no secret that traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can turn one’s life upside down. That is true even in cases that, at first, seem “minor.” Concussions are frequently still viewed as less serious head injuries, and some still shake them off as temporary ailments that will not have any long-term consequences. This is a mistake. The brain is so complex that scientists have yet to fully grasp how it all works. Many unanswered questions remain. But what is not in dispute is that all sorts of head injuries can alter virtually any aspect of one’s life.

It is for that reason that, when negligence is at the root of the injury, it is critical for families to consider their legal options. Brain injury lawsuits ensure that, of all the other challenges facing an injured party, finances will be handled. Money is often an additional burden on families in the aftermath of these accidents. For example, if a family breadwinner is injured and unable to work, it may be difficult for a spouse and children to pay bills and time and simply put food on the table.

Far-Reaching TBI Consequences

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Brain injury prevention is a complex task, because the injuries are caused in so many different ways. There is no single solution to the problem. Minimizing the toll that these harms take requires appreciating the seriousness of the consequences and understanding the situations that often cause them.

So what causes brain injuries?

Reports indicate that the single largest cause of all such injuries are falls. From toddlers to the elderly, falling and hitting one’s head on a solid object can occur virtually anywhere. That contact can prove damaging, leading to concussions or more severe forms of brain damage.

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We frequently report on the many different investigations currently underway to better understand how the brain works and figure out ways to prevent and treat brain injuries. The studies are often very diverse, because, after all, the brain is the most complex organ in the body. In fact, it is safe to say that the human brain is one of the most complex single machines on the planet. Research will naturally be similarly complicated and divergent, with researchers each tackling small pieces of the puzzle.

In this way we have learned much, from the general idea of neuroplasticity and the “cascading” effect of traumatic brain injuries to the harm caused by tau protein build-up. We have come a long way, but significant work remains before much of this new knowledge is transformed into concrete treatment options. That is not to say that medical experts are not on the case, from “cooling” techniques to prevent cascading to electrical stimuli on the tongue to stimulate regeneration of brain connections, there are some exciting prospects on the horizon that may result in real benefits for those suffering from all types of brain injuries, TBIs, degenerative injuries (i.e. dementia), and even those brain injuries that develop at birth.

The Promise of Stem Cells

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Medical researchers working on every injury always have the ultimate hope that there will be a “magic bullet” cure which will return patients to normal. History shows that, at times, this actual bears fruit. Diseases and ailments of the past have occasionally been completely eradicated thanks to simple cures or preventative tools that were discovered.

However, it would be naive to suggest that something so complex as a traumatic brain injury will have a simple fix in the form of a pill or a shot. After all, the brain is, by far, the most complex organ in the body. There is still so much that we do not know about the brain, how it works, how it heals, and how it is damaged.

The complexity of the task does not necessarily mean that there is no hope for medical researchers to find some treatment options that can bring significant improvements for brain injury victims in simple ways. In fact, some researchers are suggesting that they may have done just that. As reported in a recent story on their work, experts out of Duke University believe that a simple hormone may prove to be immensely beneficial for those head injury sufferers.

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One of the challenges associated with working on traumatic brain injury cases is conveying the full scope of the injury to those who may not have first-hand experience with these accidents. Brain injuries are very diverse, but in many cases the consequences are hard to grasp because there may be less outward physical harm. A juror intuitively know what it might be like to lose a limb, for example. But it is another matter entirely to understand how brain damage would alter an individual life.

Beyond that, it is hard to explain how these injuries affect much more than just the actual person harmed. Entire families often have their lives turned on their head following a TBI. Raising awareness of the comprehensive nature of the harm and the breadth of people affected is an important goal to spur changes that might spare TBI victims.

Skateboard Accident

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Most traumatic brain injury cases stem from high impact incidents like car and truck accidents. However, falls are also a common source of these injuries. You do not have to be going 50 miles per hour upon impact to cause head trauma–even short falls, if they involve contact with a hard surface–can prove deadly.

Sadly, that is what happened to a local nursing home resident. In a case that recently went to trial, our attorneys represented a family whose loved one died a few months after suffering severe head damage in a nursing home fall. Following the incident the resident was diagnosed as suffering a subdural hematoma. This is a serious injury where there is bleeding on the surface of the brain.

The 81-year old male resident was at the Imperial Grove Pavilion in Chicago when the incident happened. As is common in these situations when a vulnerable resident suffers an injury, the harm lingered. Eventually, about nine months after the fall, the senior passed away. It was determined that the man’s death was connected to the injuries he sustained in the accident.