The Merriam Webster dictionary provides three definitions of trauma. First it defines trauma as “an injury (such as a wound) to living tissue caused by an extrinsic agent.” Second, “a disordered psychic or behavioral state resulting from severe mental or emotional stress or physical injury.” Third, ‘an agent, force or mechanism that causes trauma.”
Types of Trauma
Generally speaking, there are two types of trauma: physical trauma and psychological trauma.
- Psychological Trauma. Injuries of the mind, those that are emotional or non-physical, and have been caused by an event or a series of events, are classified as psychological trauma. One of the most well known examples of psychological trauma is that of a veteran returning from war who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The sound of a car backfiring or fireworks, which sound like gunshots, could lead to extreme stress in a veteran.
- Physical Trauma. Physical trauma can be broken down into “blunt force trauma” and “penetrating trauma.” Blunt force trauma happens when something, or someone, hits somebody. Blunt force trauma injuries include concussions, broken bones, cuts and bruises. Penetrating traumas happen when something breaks through a body or skin. An example of penetrating trauma would be falling on a pole where the pole pierces the body or skin.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Traumatic brain injuries happen when some type of trauma injures the head resulting in damage to the brain. There are any number of scenarios in which a traumatic brain injury can occur. A simple fall while in the shower, getting out of bed, or going up or down stairs can lead to traumatic brain injuries. Car accidents can lead to traumatic brain injuries, a traumatic brain injury could occur when the driver of a car hits his/her head violently on the side window causing damage to the brain. It could also occur if something flew through the windshield, pierced the driver’s head and lodged in the brain tissue. The two most common causes of traumatic brain injuries are falls and car accidents.
Injuries from traumatic brain issues can range from mild to severe, and be physical or emotional or both. In the case of a slip and fall or a car accident, physical symptoms of mild traumatic brain injuries might include blurry vision, dizziness or a mild concussion. Emotional injuries could include mild depression, mood swings, and anxiety. In the case of a moderate or severe traumatic brain injury, physical injuries might include a headache that will not go away, slurred speech, balance issues, confusions, facial paralysis, memory loss, trouble concentrating and seizures. Emotional injuries might include severe depression, anger, difficulty engaging in conversations with others, and the inability to make decisions.
Unlike other injuries that may be able to be fixed, like a broken arm, traumatic brain injuries can have long-term effects.
Legal Claims for Traumatic Brain Injuries
As stated above, slip and falls are one of the most common causes of traumatic brain injuries. If you suffered a traumatic brain injury because you slipped and fell coming down the stairs in your own home, or getting out of the shower, there is likely no one at fault and no one against whom you can recover damages.
However, if you were injured after slipping and falling while at the store because the floor was wet, then you may have a claim against the store. Property owners have a duty of care to their customers and employees to provide a safe environment and to warn if a hazard is present. If the store knew the floor was wet and did not warn customers, then the store might be liable for damages. If the store knew the floor was wet and put out a sign warning customers that the floor was wet, but you walked through it anyway, the store might not be liable.
Accidents are the second leading cause of traumatic brain injuries. Accidents include: car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, bus accidents, boating accidents and pedestrian accidents. In cases where the other driver was at fault, you might have a claim if you were injured and suffered a traumatic brain injury.
Unique Issues in Traumatic Brain Injury Cases
Traumatic brain injuries can be hard to prove. They are generally not as apparent as other injuries. A person with a broken leg or arm who is in a cast has obvious injuries. As does a person in a wheelchair or with a facial disfigurement. A person whose injuries manifest as depression, trouble concentrating or trouble engaging in conversations may have a hard time proving those injuries to a judge or jury. Therefore testimony by the injured party’s doctor and those closest to them will become extremely important.
In addition, the defense might try to argue that the asserted injuries are actually the result of some other trauma or a pre-existing condition. They might try to argue that the injuries are less serious than asserted. Medical records will become important in a traumatic brain injury case.
Liability in Charlotte and North Carolina
North Carolina is an “at-fault state,” meaning that the person who caused the injury is “at-fault” and may be liable for any damages. However, North Carolina is also a “contributory negligence” state. Under the contributory negligence theory, if the injured person was even partially at-fault for the injury, the person who caused the accident that led to the traumatic brain injury might be able to avoid liability. In the case of a car accident, for example, if the injured driver could have done something to avoid getting hit, then the driver who caused the accident might be able to avoid liability.
Assuming that you can prove liability, you may be able to recover damages from the person who caused the traumatic brain injury. Damages available include:
- Medical Costs. This includes doctor and hospital costs, prescriptions, rehabilitation, and other costs necessary to recover physically.
- Lost Wages. As a result of your injuries you may need time off from work to recover or for doctor’s appointments.
- Emotional distress, often referred to as pain and suffering. In the case of a car accident, it could include the fear that arises every time you have to get in a car.
- Loss of enjoyment. This includes not being able to do things that you used to do frequently and enjoy, like gardening or going to sporting events.
- Loss of consortium, or loss of companionship.
Discuss Your Traumatic Brain Injury Case with Our Charlotte, North Carolina Attorneys
A claim for damages resulting from a traumatic brain injury can be extremely hard to prove. The Charlotte, NC lawyers at Rosensteel Fleishman, PLLC are experienced traumatic brain injury lawyers. They are available to discuss your traumatic brain injury with you and help you navigate the legal process if there is a legal claim. Please contact our office at 704-714-1450. There is no fee for an initial consultation.