Articles Posted in Brain trauma from car accidents

Automobiles are a staple of American society. All across the country, people rely on their cars to keep their lives moving and handle their respective responsibilities. To promote auto safety, drivers and passengers depend on seat belts to protect them in the event of an accident. When these vital safety devices malfunction, death and injuries (like brain damage) can result. The victims of these occurrences deserve reimbursement for the pain and suffering that the product failure causes. Though automobile companies often try to mitigate the problem with massive recalls, legal actions are sometimes necessary to secure adequate compensation.

Recent Safety Belt Recalls

According to a recent report by MSN News, General Motors (GM) recently recalled more than 40,000 vehicles due to defective safety belts. This latest recall adds to the more than sixty recalls from GM in the last few years. The report explains that there is inadequate tension in the front seat belts, creating extra slack in the event of an accident. The belts were designed to tighten during a crash, in order to hold the driver and passengers firmly in place. Without proper tension, the belts are not as useful during an automobile accident. The company reportedly claims that the defect was discovered during crash testing.
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Picture this: A high-powered business executive and his assistant have just arrived in Chicago for a conference. They rent a car at O’Hare and head down the highway toward their downtown hotel. The pair cruise down I-94 at a good speed because traffic is relatively light. Then, out of nowhere a taxi cab slams into the side of their rental car. The pair’s vehicle is thrown hard right and collides nearly head-on with the concrete side wall on the highway.

Investigations show that the taxi driver was obviously negligent. He attempted to change lanes without paying attention, swerving without realizing that the pair’s car was next to his.

The executive and his assistant suffer very serious traumatic brain injuries in the car accident. Their airbags deployed, but that did not prevent their heads from colliding with the hard interior of the car. Both will requires month of surgery and rehabilitation, and their ultimate ability to regain full functioning is unclear.

What do brain injury lawsuits, marriage, and the U.S. Supreme Court have in common?

More than you think.

Last week was an important one for those who support the rights of all couples under the law, regardless of sexual orientation. That is because the U.S. Supreme Court issued its opinion in two hotly contested cases related to marriage rights for same sex couples. In one of those cases (U.S. v Windsor), the Court struck down the critical portion of a law known as the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). DOMA was the law passed in 1996 which forbid the federal government from recognizing same sex couples as married, regardless of whether those couples were lawfully married by their own state.

As we often point out, the single most common way that residents in Chicago and throughout Illinois suffer a traumatic brain injury is when they are caught in the middle of a traffic accident. Considering that TBIs are spurred by significant contact between the head and a hard surface. In an auto accident, the body is jostled around very quickly. Even when seat belts are worn, it is very difficult to prevent the head from making contact with the dashboard, side window, or even back of the seat. Obviously much depends on the speed of the vehicle during the collision and the angle of the contact, but hard knocks on the head are incredibly common.

With that in mind, all those working to address the TBI problem frequently place focus on minimizing car accidents. Similarly, lawyers who work on traumatic brain injury cases usually need to be well versed in the legalities associated with car accidents in order to help clients who suffer a TBI receive fair compensation for their injuries. Insurance companies are usually at the heart of these legal matters. As most know, the law requires Illinois drivers to have auto insurance coverage. But the scope of that coverage varies. Sometimes, those who suffer a serious injury may not actually receive nearly as much as they are owed because of minimal insurance coverage (either their own or the provider of another involved in the accident).

Illinois Car Insurance Requirements

The Center for Justice & Democracy recently released a white paper on the sad state of class action lawsuits–as big companies have engaged in many attempts to undermine the critical legal tool. The increased difficulty in using class action lawsuits may have implications on some cases where brain injuries are involved. As with anything connected to the civil justice system, the weakening of citizen rights usually coincides with decreased protection and accountability of those whose negligence causes harm.

Understanding Class Actions

Most understand that class action lawsuits refer to special cases when a few plaintiffs are in court to represent themselves and many others (perhaps thousands) who were similarly harmed by some action. This is practicality tool, as it is often far more convenient (and less expensive) to adjudicate a matter once than thousands of times individually.

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.

Automobile accidents are likely the single biggest cause of traumatic brain injury. Thousands of accidents strike across the country virtually every day–from fender benders to deadly multi-car collisions. Anytime you are involved in a car accident there is a chance that the force from the incident will cause head contact to a hard surface. These brain injuries can range from concussions to permanent, life-altering brain trauma. No matter what the severity, it is critical to take these head injuries seriously. Every day medical experts are learning more and more about the long-term harm that comes from even seemingly “minor” TBIs. There is no point risking anything, so be sure to visit medical professionals for guidance.

If you are involved in a car accident, chances are you will deal with an insurance company–either yours, that of other drivers, or both. It is absolutely essential not to deal with these businesses on your own. Never forget that following an accident it is in the insurance company’s best interest to pay out as little as possible on a claim. That means that there is a good chance they will offer you less than your full damages. The offer often come right away with the goal of having you accept it without fully thinking through the matter or consulting legal advice. You should fight the temptation every time.

Insurance Software Under Scrutiny

When community members hear the words “tort reform” they usually think of one thing: medical malpractice. It is true that much focus on limiting the right of community members deals with insulating big medical companies (and their insurers) from being fully accountable for the consequences for their errors. But it is far too limiting to assume that these “reform” efforts are limited only to medical negligence. The truth is that big business of all stripes are constantly looking for various ways to insulate themselves from being held accountable for their errors.

This includes a wide-range of situations where brain injuries are implicated. For example, car and truck accidents are the leading casue of traumatic brain injury. But what happens if the accident itself was casued in whole or in part by something that was defective in the vehicle? As readers know, this happens all the time, and automative recalls are incredibly common. Under the civil law, those hurt in the accident may be able to hold the companies responsible for the defect accountable. But, there are efforts made all the time to slowly cut away at those rights, by making it harder to file suit, place limits on recovery, and otherwise throw more roadblocks in the way of residents seeking full accountability.

Not only do we need to correct all of the mistatements made by those pushing for these changes. But we need to fight back and actively protect all community members from the dangerous efforts being spearheaded by big business.

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), as the name makes clear, are caused by “trauma”–hard/fast contact between the head and another object. Traveling accidents are the most common cause. Car, truck, pedestrian, and bike collisions often result in one’s head hitting another surface (the car, sidewalk, etc.) with considerable speed and considerable force. For this reason, serious efforts at curbing TBIs usually involve efforts to curb auto accidents.

One problem with car accident safety efforts, however, is that most people already know the dangers. You really aren’t sharing any new information with people if you say that you should not drink and drive, go too fast for conditions, follow too closely, or fail to look carefully when making turns. Most people understand these risks.

The same goes for the dangers of distracted driving. Talking on a cell phone or texting while behind the wheel is widely known to pose serious risks. Many states and cities have passed laws prohibiting some of this conducts (including Chicago & Illinois). However, tens of thousands of drivers still engage in it. Serious injuries (like brain damage) and death often follow.

Football receives the most attention when it comes to head injuries and sports. But many other events present incredibly high head injury risks as well–including many “extreme” sports that have grown in popularity quickly over the last decade and a half. Lawyers working on brain injury cases in Chicago, Illinois, and throughout the country appreciate that it is critical for reasonable steps to be taken to keep all of these athletes safe.

For example, ESPN reported last week on the latest developments in the case of DK Bicycles BMX professional athlete Brett Branasiewicz. The 17-year old athlete suffered a traumatic brain injury during a crash at a bike contest last month. He has been hospitalized for three weeks following the accident, though his family is hopeful that he’ll be moved to a inpatient traumatic brain injury rehab facility this week.

The Athlete Recovery Fund reported that Brett recently had a feeding tube removed. However, he still is unable to speak and there are concerns about an infection that he may have developed during his recovery.

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