Q. What is a traumatic brain injury or acquired brain injury?
A. A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is an injury caused to the brain by a sudden physical external shock. A sudden impact can cause the brain to knock against the inside of the skull, causing bruising or tearing of brain tissue. Such injuries are often classed as a mild brain injury, moderate brain injury or severe traumatic brain injury.
An acquired brain injury (ABI) is an injury caused to the brain since birth and includes traumatic brain injury but also non traumatic injury. Non traumatic brain injury is an injury acquired from either an internal or external source such as a stroke, brain tumour, untreated/mistreated infection, blood poisoning, hypoxia, ischemia or encephalopathy.
Examples of acquired brain injury claims that we have successfully settled for our clients include oxygen deprivation at birth, the delayed treatment of meningitis in a 3 year old and a baby who suffered kernicterus after a failure to treat his jaundice.
Examples of traumatic brain injury claims that we have successfully settled for our clients include a young boy involved in a road traffic accident, a young man injured on a theme park ride and a victim of a dangerous driver.
Q. What are the main causes of a brain injury?
A. Traumatic brain injury may have been caused by a road traffic accident whether as a driver, passenger or pedestrian, an accident at work (particularly a fall from height) or as a result of a violent assault.
Many acquired brain injuries are caused though medical negligence. A lack of oxygen to the brain at the time of birth (hypoxia) or as a consequence of a blood clot or arterial or venous dissection can cause a brain injury. Meningitis, surgical errors, failure to prescribe or maintain anticoagulation and failure to treat subarachnoid haemorhages or subdural haematomas can also cause brain injury.
At Boyes Turner we have worked throughout the last 25 years with clients whose brain injuries have been caused in these ways so understand the specific needs and requirements of brain injury sufferers and their families.
Q. What are the effects of a brain injury?
The effects of a brain injury will depend on the severity and location of the injury. Whilst the majority of people make a good physical recovery after a brain injury some are left with long lasting physical problems which can have a significant impact on everyday life. These can include:
Movement, balance and coordination
Common where there has been damage to the motor cortex, brain stem, cerebellum and vestibular system.
Loss of senses
Damage to the sensory cortex can lead to loss of sight, smell (anosmia), taste and hearing. Gradual recovery is possible but damage can be permanent. Damage to the occipital lobe can result in full or partial blindness.
This is most likely where there has been an open or penetrating brain injury. Seizures can occur within a week or two of an injury, but often they do not occur until much later.
This can often be the most debilitating of symptoms of head injury because it affects almost every area of life.
- Speech problems
This can occur when where there has been damage to the cranial nerves. The muscles that control our speech can become weak and uncoordinated, and lead to speech becoming slurred or slower than normal (dysarthria). Similarly, damage to this area can cause problems with chewing and/or swallowing (dysphalgia).
Loss of memory (amnesia) can be either post-traumatic amnesia (PTA) or retrograde amnesia.
Difficulty with concentration and attention can be a very common problem following a brain injury caused by damage to the frontal lobe. Those with damage to this area can find that they have reduced attention spans, are easily distracted by noise and have difficulty planning and organising things.
The emotional and behavioural effects of a brain injury can often be the most difficult of symptoms to deal with, both for the individual and the family. Challenges can include:
- Lack of awareness and insight into their condition
- Impulsiveness and disinhibition
- Sexual problems with loss or increased sex drive
- Emotional lability
- Apathy or lack of motivation
Q. What is the treatment for a brain injury?
A. Whilst damaged brain cells do not regenerate, recovery can still occur. The brain can reorganise itself so that other parts of the brain take over the activities from the damaged areas.
Brain injury rehabilitation tries to help the brain learn these different ways of working in order to reduce the full impact of the injury.
Q. What is brain injury rehabilitation?
A. Rehabilitation also aims to help the injured person and his or her family in moving forward. We strive to ensure, wherever possible, that there is a continuity of care for all our clients throughout their claims, to help maximise upon their recovery, their independence and to assist in rebuilding their lives.
Rehabilitation can involve neuropsychologists, physiotherapists, speech and language therapists and occupational therapists.
Rehabilitation usually takes one of the following forms:
- In-patient - involving intensive specialist rehabilitation following discharge from hospital.
- Out-patient - if the injured person is well enough to return home following discharge from hospital and treatment can be provided as an out-patient at local hospitals or rehabilitation centres.
- Community - for example therapists or outreach workers coming into your home to provide assistance.
Many of our clients require rehabilitation in a specialist unit and we are able to arrange this if instructed whilst the injured person is in hospital and are able to obtain interim funding from insurers.
Q. Is recovery from a brain injury possible?
A. Recovery from a brain injury can be a slow process and may take many months or years. It could also be at least a year after an accident before the extent of potential recovery becomes clear, at least physically; psychological recovery may take a little longer.
Q. Why should I make a claim for brain injury compensation?
A. If the injury was caused by the fault of another person or organisation then it may be possible to obtain financial compensation for the injured person. In this situation, making a claim will ensure accountability of the person or organisation responsible for the injury and may help stop the same mistake from happening again.
Making a claim will also secure payment of compensation which is important, especially in brain injury cases, where long term specialist care and assistance may be required and the injured person may not be able to return in the same capacity or at all.
Our expert brain injury lawyers aim to improve the quality of life of our clients by focusing on early rehabilitation and training. We have access to case managers to ensure that practical assistance is given as soon as possible and we can arrange for interim payments to be made to deal with any pressing financial needs or purchase any equipment or care that is necessary.
We consider the Rehabilitation Code of Conduct in every case – this means that as a priority we aim to assess your immediate rehabilitation needs by instructing a case manager who will provide recommendations to maximise your recovery. We then seek to interim payments to fund the cost of this.
Q. Why should I choose Boyes Turner?
A. Brain injury claims are complicated, and often involve different considerations to other sorts of claim. It is important that your solicitor fully understands the nature of your injury and the consequences it will have for you and your family now, and in the future.
Our lawyers are members of the Headway Personal Injury List and have been for many years. This means that we have agreed to work within the Headway Personal Injury Lawyers Code of Conduct, which means in turn that you can have confidence in the quality and experience of our firm and our commitment to addressing your particular needs and circumstances.
Q. How will I fund my claim?
A. We work on a no win, no fee basis.