A brain injury can occur when an outside force is applied to the head. This can be caused by anything from a blow to the head or even where there is no impact to the head as happens in a whiplash type force.
Severity of the injury
After a brain injury, whether or not you lose consciousness, you may seem to be aware of things around you but are confused and disorientated. You might struggle to remember day to day activities or conversations and may say or do bizarre things. You might have Post- Traumatic Amnesia (PTA) where you have no clear memory for a time after the injury.
There are 3 levels of severity of head injuries:
Minor head injury
A minor head injury might involve a brief period of unconsciousness and make you to feel sick and dizzy. These injuries could occur from banging your head by falling over on the street or by playing sport or being assaulted. The effects of a minor head injury can be anything but minor to the person affected. Symptoms can include:
- Extreme tiredness
- Intolerance to light and noise
Persistent problems from a minor head injury are uncommon but often can be misunderstood, sometimes being considered as hypochondria on the part of the patient who outwardly seems uninjured.
Moderate head injury
This has been defined as a loss of consciousness of 15 minutes or more or a period of Post-Traumatic Amnesia of around 24 hours. Moderate head injuries are likely to leave residual symptoms the most commonly reported of which are:
- Difficulties in thinking
- Attention problems
- Planning and organising difficulties
- Concentration and word-finding problems
For the majority of patients these symptoms gradually improve, but it can often take up to a year.
Severe head injury
A severe head injury has been defined as being unconscious for hours or even days in some cases or a period of Post-Traumatic Amnesia of more than 24 hours. If you suffer a severe head injury, you will be hospitalised and receive rehabilitation once the critical stage has passed. Much support will be needed from family members as head injury patients often “drop out of the system” as they may not remember appointments or be able to get to them alone. If you do not attend as little as two appointments, the hospital could discharge you, leaving you with no rehabilitation or support.
Further injury occurrence
If injuries causing blood loss have been suffered this can affect blood flow to the brain leading to the brain being starved of oxygen. Often, a head injury only becomes apparent some time after the initial trauma. This can be a result of a slow bleed on the brain following bruising. This can cause swelling on the brain which is very serious as the skull is a fixed space with no ability to allow the brain to expand. Part of the skull may have to be removed to release pressure on a swelling brain.
Injury to the brain can have a huge impact on brain function. Different parts of the brain control different functions so for example the right side or hemisphere controls the left side of the body and vice versa. The left hemisphere controls speech, writing and comprehension whereas the right controls skill such as artistic or musical ability. Injury to the front of the brain called the frontal lobe can be particularly difficult as this is the area of the brain which controls personality, behaviour and emotions.
Early rehabilitation after a brain injury is of vital importance in trying to regain loss of function or compensate for such loss if it cannot be regained. The aim is for the person to achieve optimum levels of physical, cognitive and social capability. The greatest visible progress happens in the early stages, usually the first 6 months. However, it is important to remember that progress does not stop there and can continue albeit slowly for years after a head injury.
Early rehabilitation will be by medical and other professionals in a hospital or specialist rehabilitation centre but the much longer job is for the months and sometimes years afterwards for family and carers working together to maintain the early improvement.
Making a brain injury claim
To claim for your injuries you will need to show that another person was at least partly to blame for causing them. You should seek advice from a solicitor who is experienced in and specialises in brain injury cases. They will be able to give you advice on whether you have grounds for compensation and how much you might be able to claim.
The amount of compensation you will be able to claim will depend on the severity of the injury and any past and future financial consequences, including:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of amenity (able to carry out daily activities)
- Loss of earnings
- Loss of pension
- Cost of care
- Adaptations to the home
- Specialist equipment
- Specialist treatment
How long a claim will take varies. Often, a brain injury case can take from 3+ years. This is due to the fact that brain injuries need to be thoroughly assessed to determine how it is going to affect the individual’s future and their future needs. Carrying out these assessments too quickly risks some of the consequences being missed. If a child has a brain injury their claim should normally not be settled until they are almost an adult because the brain continues to develop until then and only as it does so will any affects become apparent.
Usually, claims must be started within 3 years of the date of an accident. A child has until their 21st birthday at least to start court action. If a person is unable to manage their own affairs by reason of a mental disability there may be no time limit to start a claim.
Contact our Personal Injury Team
If you have suffered a head injury contact our specialist personal injury lawyers. Bray & Bray have three main offices across Leicestershire, feel free to phone or pop in to talk to our solicitors.