Injuries to the head can have a direct effect on the brain and can seriously impact a person’s health and livelihood. Whether you injured your head alone or sustained other bodily injuries, you can opt for litigation to be compensated for the loss incurred.
Brain injuries can be easily detected if there are visible bumps or open wounds on the head, but internal damage can be completely invisible to the naked eye. These injuries may also be accompanied by damage to the brain, such as cognitive impairments, memory loss, and behavioral changes that might significantly hamper your lifestyle.
If you have sustained a head injury in an accident, you can consider accepting a settlement claim from the person responsible for it. For severe injury, calculating damages for the victim’s settlement can be difficult. Hence, it’s best to opt for an experienced attorney. Opting for a voluntary settlement approach for mild brain injury settlements can be beneficial to you and the defendant as it can save the time and cost of litigation.
Usually, settlements in brain injury lawsuits depend on several factors, including severity of damages, long term impact on the victim, and compensation for pain and suffering.
Here are a few factors that can impact your brain injury settlement lawsuit:
1. Severity of Injuries Sustained
In all personal injury lawsuits, the severity of your injuries plays a significant role in determining the value of your settlement. Plaintiffs who suffered serious or life-threatening injuries, like traumatic brain injuries, are likely to be entitled to large settlement amount, when compared to those who recover spontaneously.
In the United States, the Glasgow Coma Scale is widely used as a method to determine the severity of a head injury. The scale measures the neurological abnormalities in the patient’s brain with the help of a 15-point test that monitors his/her motor response, verbal response and eye opening. Several brain injuries score within the range of 13-15 on the scale and are reported as mild traumatic brain injuries, which primarily include concussions. The score on the scale drops with more severe injuries, and may entitle you to a higher compensatory amount.
2. Relevance of Evidence Submitted
One of the primary tasks for a brain injury attorney is to present convincing evidence to the judge/jurors. There is a lesser chance of the court allowing you to receive a huge sum if you can’t prove the severity of your brain injuries. However, if your attorney has a collection of undisputed evidence, the other party may settle for a higher sum.
On the medical front, it is relatively easier if the patient exhibits some form of abnormal motor movements, faulty speech orunusual behavioral pattern. It can be challenging for the attorney to highlight the impact of the injuries, if the plaintiff seems to be behaving normally. In such a situation, settling the case can help you avoid the uncertainties and costs of going to trial.
3. Life Care Costs and Medical Bills
One of the primary reasons to file a lawsuit for your brain injuries is to recover your out-of-pocket expenses. Accidents are expensive matters as you will have to pay for reparation for collateral damages and for your medical treatment. For many head injuries, treatment and aftercare continue for a long time and the funding for those expenses also need to be included in the settlement.
If you are required to be admitted to the hospital, then there will be a subsequent rise in medical costs. Your attorney can help you with the final settlement amount which covers the costs of the current medical bills and rehabilitation to address the disabilities (if any).
4. Lost Wages and Loss of Income
In many instances, brain injury victims are unable to return to work permanently or for extended periods of time. This directly impacts their source of income and results in loss of wages worth tens of thousands of dollars.
Victims of brain injury are also susceptible to develop permanent cognitive and neurological injuries. This can lead to serious repercussions as you may be deprived of the ability to properly function in a workplace environment. In that case, the court will assess the value of the monetary loss faced by you, along with the loss of future incomes due to your inability to work.
5. Compensation for Punitive Damages
In few cases, victims of brain injury have the right to collect compensation for punitive damages from the defendant. This amount is awarded in addition to the actual damages paid to the victim. This is done not to award a plaintiff for damages, but to punish defendants so that they refrain from negligent behavior in the future. Punitive damages are granted when the actions of the defendant pose as either an intent to cause harm or reckless endangerment for the lives of others. You need not add punitive damages to your settlement value, but rather use it to lessen the chances of negotiation on the value of your damages.
6. Pain and Suffering Experienced after Brain Injury
Brain injuries can lead to permanent medical conditions among the victims, but enduring the pain and suffering are the most significant aftereffects of such an injury. Pain and suffering damages are also the hardest to evaluate and money may not be able to fill the gaps created by such losses. Loss of livelihood after brain injury is traumatic for the victim and can cause psychological, emotional and behavioral problems for the survivor and his/her family.
When you sue for brain injury, you are not just seeking settlement for your pain and suffering, or the expensive medical treatment. You are also suing for the loss of your earning potential, livelihood and ability to provide for your family. Opting for legal aid can be a great idea as your attorney’s professional skills can help increase the potential value of a settlement.
Contributed by: Matt Conner
Matt Conner is an associate attorney at Brett McCandlis Brown Law Firm. Matt has undergraduate degree from from Willamette University in Salem in mathematics and economics. Matt likes playing soccer, fishing, skiing and camping.