Whether you live and work in the Orlando area, or it is a dream vacation destination, there is plenty to see and do here. Local and tourist favorites include the area’s theme parks, an aquarium, zip line experiences, and even skydiving. However, with all the adventures Orlando can provide, there are just as many ways a person can become injured.
Acquired brain injuries are among the most serious injuries a person can suffer, as they often result in permanent deficits that affect every part of life—from the physical, mental, and emotional impacts to the sometimes overwhelming financial consequences.
If you or your loved one have suffered a brain injury in Orlando that was the result of someone else’s careless or negligent actions, you may seek compensation for your injury through a brain injury lawsuit. An experienced Orlando personal injury lawyer, like those at Michael T. Gibson, P.A, can assist you in understanding this legal process.
Understanding Brain Injuries
The brain is one of the most important organs of the body, helping to make up the central nervous system that controls all the body’s voluntary and involuntary responses. An acquired brain injury is one that is neither hereditary, congenital, degenerative, and it is not caused by birth trauma. Instead, it is damage to the brain caused by either an injury or an internal factor.
There are two types of brain injuries:
- Traumatic brain injuries: This type of injury is a result of a violent blow or jolt to the head or body such as that experienced by a motor vehicle accident, fall, assault including domestic violence or child abuse, sports and recreation activities, or military combat injuries including those caused by bullets, shrapnel, or explosive blasts.
- Non-traumatic brain injuries: These brain injuries are caused by internal factors such as oxygen deprivation occurring in a near-drowning or near-suffocation; and exposure to toxic substances or neurotoxic poisoning from carbon monoxide or lead exposure, a drug overdose, an electric shock, seizure, or an infectious disease.
The brain consists of several sections, known as lobes, and each lobe controls different functions of the body. Because the brain has only a limited ability to heal itself from an injury, the damage sustained in any particular lobe can create permanent deficits.
A glimpse of each lobe’s functions and the deficits caused by injuries to them includes:
- Frontal lobe: The frontal lobe controls such functions as attention, concentration, the ability to speak, awareness of abilities and limitations, personality, inhibition of behavior, emotions, planning, and judgment. Injuries to this part of the brain result in difficulties speaking, recalling events, and controlling behavior, emotions, or impulses.
- Temporal lobe: The ability to understand spoken language is one of the functions of the temporal lobe. Others include memory, sequencing, hearing, and organization. Temporal lobe injuries result in deficits such as difficulty with communication or memory.
- Occipital lobe: The occipital lobe’s function is entirely focused on vision. An injury to the occipital lobe of the brain often creates difficulties with an individual’s ability to see and perceive the size and shape of objects.
- Parietal lobe: The parietal lobe’s functions involve the primary senses, including depth perception, the identification of sizes, shapes, and colors, and the sense of touch. If an injury occurs to this part of the brain, an individual will experience difficulties with his or her five senses of vision, hearing, smell, taste, and touch.
- Cerebellum: The cerebellum is the lobe that controls balance and coordinated movement. An injury to this area of the brain will cause mobility problems due to affected balance and coordination.
- Brain stem: Involuntary responses such as breathing, heart rate, consciousness, and sleep/wake cycles are all controlled by the brain stem. Injuries to this portion of the brain are generally fatal, as the body can’t sustain life without these voluntary responses. In fact, brain death occurs when all activity of the brain and brain stem has ceased.
It is worth noting that, while physicians categorize brain injuries as mild, moderate, or severe, there is nothing “mild” about a brain injury. A concussion—which is a term used to describe a “mild” traumatic brain injury—can result in permanent deficits and even post-concussion syndrome, which is a group of complications that include chronic headaches, loss of memory, depression, and other life-altering problems.
Orlando Traumatic Brain Injury FAQ
Very few people think about hiring an attorney unless they need one. Those who have suffered a brain injury in an accident in Orlando should consider working with an attorney.
If you or your loved one acquired a brain injury as the result of someone else’s carelessness or recklessness, you likely have a lot of questions about how to deal with expenses and impacts of the injury. This can be complex because of the permanency of the deficits created by damage to the brain, the high likelihood of complications that require further medical treatment, and the extraordinary impacts that this type of injury has on every aspect of a person’s life.
How can I obtain compensation for my brain injury?
Those who suffer a traumatic brain injury as a result of the careless or reckless actions of another person or entity can recover damages through a personal injury lawsuit, a type of personal injury claim filed in civil court. The two aspects of the case that must be satisfied to have a successful outcome to this type of case are liability and damages.
You can prove liability by showing:
- The at-fault party owed you a duty of care. This duty of care depends on how your accident occurred and what the at-fault party’s role in the accident was. For example, in a car accident case, an at-fault driver’s duty of care to you would have been to operate his or her motor vehicle safely and legally.
- There was a breach in the duty of care. The breach refers to the action that the at-fault party took that was contrary to the duty of care that was owed to you. Using the car accident scenario, the breach would have been the unsafe or illegal action that the at-fault party took that resulted in the accident.
- This breach in care resulted in the accident, which caused your injury and subsequent expenses and life impacts, also known as damages.
What types of accidents are eligible for Orlando brain injury lawsuits?
Most types of accidents in which a person or entity is responsible for someone’s experiencing a brain injury are eligible for an Orlando brain injury lawsuit.
Some of the more common types of accidents in these cases include:
- Motor vehicle accidents, including those that involve passenger vehicles, commercial trucks, rideshares, taxis, motorcycles, ATVs, pedestrians, bicycles, aircraft, or watercraft.
- Premises liability cases, involving slip/trip and falls, swimming pool accidents, theme park accidents, negligent security, and elevator or escalator accidents.
- Product liability cases involving defective products such as auto parts, appliances, food or medication, or toys.
How long do I have to file an Orlando brain injury lawsuit?
Different states have different statutes of limitations—in Florida, for example, the statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits is four years from the date of the injury for most cases. However, this time limit can be shorter or longer in certain cases. For example, cases involving city, state, or federal agencies require a shorter time to file, while cases involving minor children can allow additional time in some circumstances. Your attorney will advise you if your case has a different time limit.
What damages can I recover through an Orlando brain injury lawsuit?
Those seeking compensation after suffering a traumatic brain injury through an Orlando brain injury lawsuit can recover damages such as:
- Medical expenses, including emergency treatment at the scene of the accident or in the emergency department, transport to the hospital by ambulance or aircraft, hospitalization, diagnostic testing, physician and surgical services, prescription medication, physical therapy, and rehabilitation.
- Lost wages due to being too injured to work or missing work to attend injury-related medical appointments.
- Loss of future earning capacity, if the injury results in permanent disabilities that prevent you from working.
- Property damage sustained in the accident, such as the cost of replacing or repairing your vehicle after a car accident.
- Physical pain and suffering.
- Emotional distress.
- Lost enjoyment of life.
- Loss of consortium, which is a claim made on behalf of the injured person’s spouse due to the loss of intimacy and companionship frequently suffered as a result of this type of injury.
How are non-economic damages calculated in Orlando brain injury cases?
Non-economic damages refer to the impact that the injury and the functional deficits have on the person’s life. Brain injuries impact nearly every aspect of a person’s life and often feature this type of damage that cannot be easily proven through a medical bill or proof of income and the hours of work that were missed while recovering from injury.
Typically, non-economic damages are calculated by first adding up the cost of economic damages such as medical bills and lost wages. This total amount is then multiplied by a number between 1.5 and 5. The more severe and permanent the injury is and the more impacts the injury has on the person’s life, the higher the multiplier that is used. The sum of the economic damages and the multiplier is the value of the non-economic damages in your case.
If I file an Orlando brain injury settlement to recover damages from my accident, do I have to go to court?
Not necessarily. In fact, the vast majority of Orlando brain injury lawsuits are settled outside the courtroom. Hire an attorney to assist you with your case that is comfortable and confident with obtaining compensation on your behalf through either the settlement process or litigation.
My traumatic brain injury occurred at an Orlando theme park. Can I sue?
Your ability to sue in any accident depends on your ability to prove that someone else was liable for your accident, and the presence of an applicable insurance policy for the liable party that can be used for compensation. That said, if your injury was the result of a hazardous property feature at the theme park that you were not warned about through prominent signage, or the carelessness or recklessness of a ride operator, you can seek to obtain compensation from the park through an Orlando brain injury lawsuit.
What is the average settlement in an Orlando brain injury case?
Each brain injury is unique, and each case involving a brain injury is also unique. Because damage recovery involves the expenses incurred in a specific case, there are no “average” settlements.
However, some things can increase or decrease the value of your case, including:
- The amount of insurance the liable party has. Insurance is how damage awards or settlements are generally paid, as most individuals do not have the money to pay for the significant costs of brain injuries out-of-pocket. While it is possible to sue an uninsured person, it is often very difficult to collect any damages awarded.
- The severity of your injury. More severe injuries often require more expensive treatments and often result in more expansive impacts on your life.
- Your age, education level, and income at the time of the accident. Individuals who are in the middle of their career may often claim a higher amount of damages in certain categories, such as lost wages and loss of future earning capacity as they are likely earning more money than a young person who has not worked or is just starting a career, or a retired person who is no longer collecting wages and has no future earning capacity from being unable to work.
- Your overall health at the time of the accident. If you have pre-existing conditions, insurance companies will often attempt to reduce the liability of their insured by stating that some of your medical expenses and impacts were a result of that pre-existing condition rather than the careless or reckless actions of their insured.
- The clarity of liability. If you were partially responsible for the accident that caused your injury, you often can still file a brain injury lawsuit against other liable parties. However, your claim will be reduced in proportion to your liability and the at-fault party’s insurance company will likely try to place all liability on you.
- Your patience. Negotiating a settlement takes time. Often the highest settlement is not offered until just before the case goes to trial, when the insurance company is faced with the additional expense of litigation and the prospect of losing the case.
My injury was the result of an Orlando car accident. Can PIP cover it?
The $10,000 personal injury protection policy that the state required you to purchase when you registered your car in Florida covers a portion of your medical expenses, lost wages, and the cost of hiring someone to perform household tasks that you can no longer do yourself as a result of your injury. While this policy can provide some assistance in the early days of your injury, you will likely reach your policy limit quickly due to the extreme medical intervention required after a traumatic brain injury.
I feel like no one I know understands my injury. Is this normal?
Yes. Although an estimated 5.3 million adults and children in the U.S. are living with permanent disabilities as a result of a traumatic brain injury, each injury is unique in the deficits it creates. Many traumatic brain injuries result in issues with behavior or impulse control, while others result in an inability to remember, difficulty communicating, and physical complications such as problems with movement or coordination.
Any of these self-isolating issues can prevent the injured person, and his or her family, from participating in social events. Friends who once shared common interests with the injured person can find that the person no longer has the ability or interest in the activities once enjoyed. All of these experiences lead to the feeling of being alone or the feeling that no one understands.
What is the serious injury threshold in Orlando? Does my brain injury qualify?
While personal injury protection insurance policies are required by all registered drivers in Florida, those who suffer injuries in a car accident meet the serious injury threshold are permitted to bypass the PIP process and, instead, file a brain injury lawsuit against the at-fault party in their case.
Injuries that meet the serious injury threshold include:
- Those that result in the significant and permanent loss of a bodily function
- Injuries that are deemed permanent to a reasonable degree of medical probability
- Significant and permanent scarring and disfigurement
- Injuries that result in death
Because traumatic brain injuries result in permanent damage to the brain and permanent deficits that depend on the area of the brain that suffered the damage, they generally meet the serious injury threshold.
After my accident, I was quickly offered a settlement. Should I accept it?
Not without speaking to an attorney first. In cases where a clear liability exists on the part of their insured, insurance companies will often offer a quick and low settlement to minimize their expenses. The problem with these settlements is that they do not take into consideration the full extent of the expenses that the injured person faces or the impacts that the injury will have on the person’s life. If you accept a quick settlement offer and then later realize that your expenses were greater than the amount you accepted, you cannot go back and ask for more money.
Determining such injury costs is something that takes time. An experienced brain injury lawyer will look at all of your expenses and all of the impacts your injury has on your life to properly value your case and help to ensure that the settlement you accept is enough to cover your damages.
Why do I need an Orlando brain injury attorney for my case?
Brain injury lawyers spend years on education and training to understand not only the legal process of an Orlando brain injury lawsuit, but the medical considerations and life impacts that are faced by individuals with this type of injury. This knowledge helps to ensure that your case is properly valued, all liable parties and insurance resources are identified, and that any tactics used by the insurance companies, to avoid paying for injuries caused by their insured, do not prevent you from receiving damages, and that the evidence needed to prove your case is collected.
Let an experienced Orlando brain injury lawyer help you further understand the legal process. For a free case evaluation, contact a brain injury attorney at our law offices today.
Complications of the Condition
Early treatment of brain injuries is focused on controlling certain bodily responses to the injury to avoid complications that can result in further damage.
Some of the most common complications suffered after a brain injury include:
- Infection: Infections are common after penetrating brain injuries—which involve penetration of an object through the skull—due to the introduction of bacteria into the protective tissue surrounding the brain. Lack of mobility and chemical changes in the body that are a response to the injury are also culprits of infections that can involve other parts of the body, including the urinary tract or the lungs.
- Fevers: Fevers are generally the first sign that a brain-injured individual has an infection. However, while infections are often suspected first when a brain-injured person suffers a fever, there are other causes for this condition including damage to the part of the brain that controls the body’s ability to regulate temperature.
- Blood clots: Also known as Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), blood clots can occur in the deep veins in the arms and legs due to lack of mobility after a brain injury. These clots can break free and travel through the bloodstream to the lung, creating a potentially fatal condition known as a pulmonary embolism.
- Seizures: Approximately five percent of the individuals who suffer a closed-head brain injury, as well as about half of those experiencing penetrating brain injuries, will have seizures as a result. These seizures often occur in the early hours or days after the injury. However, they can become chronic and recurrent. Those suffering recurrent brain injuries are considered to have post-traumatic epilepsy.
- Hydrocephalus: This condition involves a buildup of cerebral spinal fluid in the brain as a response to the injury. This fluid build-up, if not addressed, can create an increase in pressure in the brain and can result in further damage. Hydrocephalus is often treated by surgically placing a drain—known as a shunt—in the brain.
- Heterotopic ossification: Up to 20 percent of brain-injured individuals will experience the formation of new bone material in the body. This material often forms in jointed areas of the body, such as the bone or shoulder and can cause inflammation, swelling, pain, and loss of range of motion in the affected limb.
- Muscle disorders: Brain injured people can experience issues with either spasticity—an involuntary tightening of the muscles—or flaccidity, which is a loss of muscle tone.
The Enormous Expenses an Orlando Brain Injury Will Cost You
As many as 5.3 million adults and children in the U.S. are living with permanent disabilities as a result of brain injuries. Brain injuries are extraordinarily expensive, with the lifetime costs of medical treatment alone estimated to be between $85,000 to $3 million.
These costs are further complicated by the fact that many individuals can’t return to work for a long time after the injury, and some will never enjoy any sort of gainful employment after the injury. The unemployment rate for adults with brain injuries two years after the injury occurred is around 60 percent (many times higher than the unemployment rate for uninjured adults).
The permanency of the disabilities created by brain injuries, along with the loss of income and subsequent loss for some of the health care benefits provided by their employer can lead to disastrous consequences, including homelessness. It is estimated that more than half of all homeless individuals in the U.S. are living with a brain injury, though it is unclear as to how many of these injuries were suffered due to the unsafe conditions frequently experienced by the homeless population and how many of the injuries were actually the catalyst for homelessness.
Brain Injuries Affect Every Part of Your Life
Between permanent disabilities that can create difficulties with physical and cognitive functions and the financial strain of the injury and its related complications, brain injuries impact every aspect of a person’s life.
Some of the common impacts resulting from this type of injury include:
- Difficulties at home. The family members of the injured person often find that their relationship with their loved one is forever changed by the injury. Children and spouses are often expected to take on the role of caregivers. Spouses can suffer a loss of intimacy and physical companionship due to hormonal changes after the injury, as well as changes in interest, sexual preferences, or self-image that the injured person suffers. The household finances can create a tremendous strain, particularly if the injured person was the primary breadwinner of the family.
- Difficulties at work. As explained above, many brain-injured individuals never return to work. Those that do often require accommodations such as longer and more frequent breaks, shorter workdays, and lighter workloads to combat the fatigue and difficulty with focus that is commonly experienced by those with brain injuries.
- Difficulties at school. Contrary to popular belief, children do not fare any better with brain injuries than adults do. Instead, the true impacts of a child’s brain injury may not be realized until many years later, as the child continues to grow and develop and additional social and educational expectations are placed on him or her. Brain injured children also often require accommodations for their injury when they go to school, such as longer breaks, fewer instructional days, the use of a paraprofessional to assist the child with organization, focus, and behavioral issues; the ability to test orally or through multiple choice rather than taking essay-format tests, extra time to complete assignments, and the ability to record instructional time to aid with memory difficulties.
- Difficulties in society. Many brain-injured individuals and their families discover that the concerned friends who lined the hospital hallway in concern right after the injury occurred fade away in the months and years that follow. Brain injuries result in a person having difficulty maintaining friendships, as they no longer enjoy the same activities and may have little in common with their friends after the injury. Because of behavioral and impulse issues often suffered due to brain injuries, the individual often can no longer participate in community events or public gatherings.
Why You Want to Call Our Orlando Brain Injury Attorneys Today
If you or your loved one suffered a brain injury in Orlando, you are familiar with the expenses and impacts of your injury. You should know about the process of obtaining compensation from the individual or entity whose reckless or careless actions caused your injury.
An Orlando brain injury lawsuit can help recover both economic and non-economic damages, including:
- Past and future medical expenses related to the injury
- Lost wages due to being too injured for work or required to miss work for injury-related medical appointments
- The loss of future earning capacity for those who can’t work after their injury
- Any property damage sustained in the accident, such as repair or replacement of your car following a car accident
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Public humiliation
- Loss of the enjoyment of life
- Permanent disability
An Orlando brain injury lawyer, like those at Michael T. Gibson, P.A., could help you pursue this compensation by offering services such as:
- Information about the brain injury lawsuit process
- A valuation of your case based on the costs and life impacts you have incurred
- Determination of all sources of liability and all insurance resources that can be accessed to compensate you
- Timely filing of court-required paperwork in the proper jurisdiction
- Gathering of evidence and witness statements to support your claim
- Skilled negotiation with the at-fault party’s insurance provider in an attempt to obtain a fair settlement offer
- Representation at all court-required conferences and hearings
- Guidance on the pros and cons of accepting any settlement offer
- Assistance with collecting your settlement or award
- Continued representation if the defendant files an appeal
Let us help you understand the legal options that are available to you. For a free case evaluation, contact Michael T. Gibson, P.A., online or by calling (407) 490-1271.
Michael T. Gibson, P.A., Auto Justice Attorney
2420 S. Lakemont Avenue
Orlando, FL 32814
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
“My attorney Amit was absolutely amazing. Once the case got to him he called me on a regular basis and kept me posted on every action they were taking. Not that I want to be another accident but if I do I know who’s taking care of me.” -Heather B.