Traumatic brain injury: recovery often feels incredibly daunting, and dealing with a brain injury claim against the liable party can feel even more challenging. You know that you have the right to compensation for the injuries you suffered, but you may not know how to move forward with that claim.
Contacting an attorney can give you a better idea of what the legal process of filing a traumatic brain injury claim might look like and how to secure that much-needed compensation.
When Do You Have Grounds for a Traumatic Brain Injury Claim?
Any time you suffer a traumatic brain injury, it causes immense expense and complications in many areas of your life. A traumatic brain injury claim cannot eliminate the challenges ahead of you, but it can reduce some of the financial burden associated with your accident.
You have grounds for a traumatic brain injury claim if someone else’s negligence caused the accident that resulted in your traumatic brain injury.
This might include:
- A car accident
- A motorcycle accident
- A construction site accident
- A slip and fall accident
- A heavy item falling on your head
- An accident in a hospital, nursing home, or assisted living facility
To determine who bears liability for your traumatic brain injury, an attorney will start by looking at who caused your injuries and how that individual or entity violated its duty of care to you at the time of the accident.
Generally, that means an entity that behaved negligently in some way that resulted in an accident that caused serious injuries. For example, if you suffered injuries on a construction site because the manager of that site failed to properly label the construction area or failed to secure items that later fell off the roof, the construction company may bear liability for your traumatic brain injury.
Likewise, if a driver behaving negligently on the road, including texting and driving, drinking and driving, speeding, or simply ignoring the rules of the road, causes an accident that results in traumatic brain injury, that driver may bear liability for the accident.
What Should You Do If You Have Grounds for a Traumatic Brain Injury Claim?
If you have, or believe you have, grounds for a traumatic brain injury claim, make sure you take the right steps to protect yourself and your finances.
Step One: Document all the circumstances that led to your accident.
Make note of all circumstances you remember that led to your accident. If you do not remember the specific circumstances that led to your accident and your injuries, you may want to connect with witnesses.
Record a statement, either verbally or on paper, of exactly what led or contributed to your accident so that you can refer back to it later. Do not lie in that statement or make up details that you do not remember, even if you find yourself tempted to elaborate.
Step Two: Follow all instructions given by your doctors.
After a traumatic brain injury, you may struggle with the limitations your doctors issue. Not only that, you may wonder why they have required certain things or how those things pertain to your recovery. Following your doctor’s instructions, however, will help increase the odds that you will make a full recovery.
If you fail to follow your doctor’s instructions, not only can it limit your recovery and prevent you from gaining back as much ground as you might hope, it can decrease your ability to pursue compensation for your injuries.
To receive as much compensation as possible through your brain injury claim, you will need to show that you have done your part to maximize your odds of making a full recovery.
Step Three: Document the progression of your recovery.
Keep track of all records from your doctors, including any scans performed and tests that your therapist or therapists might issue. You may, in particular, want to keep track of the progress you make as you recover from your injuries.
Keep all your medical bills in one easy-to-locate spot so that you can access them when you get ready to begin your traumatic brain injury claim.
Step Four: Contact an attorney as soon after your accident as possible.
Following traumatic brain injury, many people wonder, “How long do I have to file a brain injury claim?” or, “When should I get in touch with a brain injury lawyer?” Most states have a clear statute of limitations that will determine how long you have to file a brain injury claim after any type of serious accident, including one that results in traumatic brain injury. You must begin your traumatic brain injury claim before the statute of limitations runs out so that the court will hear your claim.
Even if you think that the statute of limitations in your state may have run out, you may still have grounds to file a brain injury claim. Talk to an attorney about what exceptions you might find to the statute of limitations and how they may influence your ability to file a claim.
The fact that you have time—usually years, but in some cases, such as injuries caused by government entities, just months—to file your brain injury claim, however, does not necessarily mean that you should let the clock run out. In general, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible after your accident. Investigation into your accident may proceed much more smoothly if your attorney can find easy access to all information related to your claim, rather than having to dig extensively for that information.
Will My Attorney Advise Filing a Traumatic Brain Injury Claim Immediately?
Your brain injury may cause medical bills to start piling up fast. You may have immense expenses to deal with: not just your medical bills, but your regular bills and the other bills related to your care. Filing a brain injury claim sounds like a great way to get some of the funds you need to cover those expenses while you get back on your feet.
Your attorney, however, may advise waiting.
Healing after a brain injury proceeds slowly, and in many cases, doctors cannot fully predict your recovery. Even patients with minor traumatic brain injury may have symptoms more than a year after the initial accident. Patients with severe traumatic brain injury may spend years relearning how to perform common activities or working toward independence and emotional control.
In short, you may not know a month after your accident, or even as much as six months after your accident, what your eventual recovery will look like. That means you may not know how your traumatic brain injury will impact you long-term.
How long will you need to spend in physical or occupational therapy, relearning how to perform many of the activities that you once took for granted, and how much will it cost you? How much will your traumatic brain injury eventually impact you? Will you have to leave your job or even your current profession and pursue a different type of training in another industry as a result of your injuries? How much will your brain injury impact your relationships, including relationships with your spouse and children?
In the early days after your accident, you may not have accurate answers to those questions. Since those questions can have a substantial impact on your brain injury claim, your attorney may advise waiting until you have a better idea of how your healing will progress before filing your brain injury claim.
What Happens When I File a Brain Injury Claim?
Your brain injury claim starts with a call to an experienced brain injury attorney. An attorney brings advantages to your claim, from giving you a better idea of the compensation you really deserve for your injuries to helping to guide you through the process. Working with an experienced attorney also helps many brain injury patients increase the compensation they can receive for their injuries.
Your attorney will probably start with an investigation into your brain injury. That investigation will begin with the accident and what caused it. Your attorney may want to take a look at the security footage from the accident or go over any witness statements. In some cases, your attorney may want to visit the scene of the accident and take a closer look at any factors that may have contributed to your injuries.
Next, your attorney will want to look at information related to the severity of your injuries. He may want to take a look at your medical records or statements from your therapists that establish how your brain injury has impacted your life and how your recovery seems to have progressed.
Your attorney may also go over your medical bills from the accident or discuss how you feel your brain injury has changed your personal relationships, hobbies, or ability to work.
Your attorney may also want to take a look at the party that caused your accident. Suppose, for example, that your traumatic brain injury occurred as a result of an accident at a hotel. Has the hotel caused other accidents in the past? Does the hotel have a general disregard for the safety of its patrons?
In some cases, your attorney may uncover information that shows deliberate negligence on the part of the individual or entity that caused your accident, which may help support your claim and increase the compensation you can receive.
Putting Together a Demand Package
After taking a look at the evidence related to your brain injury claim, your attorney will help put together a demand package. Usually, the demand package for a brain injury claim will include a demand for compensation for your medical bills, your lost wages due to your injuries, and your pain and suffering as a result of the accident.
The Discovery Phase
During the discovery phase, your attorney will share information with the other party—often the insurance company that covers the party that caused your accident. In many cases, the liable party will carry insurance that offers a high degree of financial protection.
For example, most drivers carry liability insurance that offers bodily injury protection, while premises owners may carry premises liability insurance. The insurance company will have its own legal team that will investigate the accident. During the discovery phase, both sets of attorneys will share evidence and information that could change your claim.
The other party’s lawyers may also ask that you submit to an independent medical evaluation to help assess the extent of your traumatic brain injury and its impact on your life. This evaluation can help establish how much you have suffered as a result of your injuries and, therefore, how much compensation you may deserve.
Once both sides have had a chance to look at all relevant information and the other side’s insurance company has had a chance to look over your demand package, you will enter negotiations. You have already submitted a demand for compensation via your demand package.
The liable party’s insurance company has the chance to respond to that demand for compensation, either by accepting it and agreeing to a settlement or by issuing a settlement offer of its own. You can then either accept or turn down that offer. Most brain injury claims go through several rounds of negotiation before the two parties can agree.
If you cannot agree through negotiation, you may choose to pursue mediation. During mediation, you will sit down with the other party and a mediator, usually a judge or former judge, to go over your claim and your demands. The mediator will make recommendations based on the available evidence.
Most of the time, brain injury claims will not have to go to court. Sometimes, however, you may struggle to get the other party’s insurance company to agree to the compensation you deserve. If you need to go to court, both sides will have a chance to present their claims and evidence, and the judge or jury will rule on the compensation you deserve.
A brain injury lawyer can help you determine what steps you need to go through to get the compensation you deserve and undertake most of the effort for you. Under a contingency fee arrangement, brain injury lawyers will do this at no cost to you. You can call one now with no obligation and without fear of racking up yet another bill.