As an Oklahoma driver, you know that vehicle crashes are an all too common occurrence. But what you may not know is that auto accidents are a significant cause of traumatic brain injuries. These devastating injuries can result in long-term or even permanent brain dysfunction. Many TBI victims faced ongoing medical, rehabilitation and assisted living costs that are as catastrophic as the injury itself.
Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 2 million Americans receive a TBI annually, 14.3 percent of which are caused by traffic accidents. This translates to 286,000 people each year suffering a crash-related TBI. As alarming as this statistic is, however, it may be only the tip of the iceberg. TBI symptoms often do not appear until days or even weeks after the auto accident. In addition, each TBI is unique in terms of the precise brain damage it causes. Symptoms can vary from victim to victim.
If you and/or your loved one gets a "bump on the head" during a vehicle crash, you should seek immediate medical attention. Just because the collision was minor does not mean that your head injuries are. Only a trauma physician knows exactly what to look for and understands what tests to run to determine if you indeed suffered a TBI.
Even if your initial medical evaluation comes back positive, be on the lookout for the following TBI symptoms in the following days and weeks:
- Headaches, nausea and/or vomiting
- Disorientation and/or confusion
- Dizziness and/or balance problems
- Blurred vision and/or ringing in your ears
- Sensitivity to light and/or noise
- Changes in your sleep patterns leading to constant fatigue and/or drowsiness
In addition, you or your loved one could experience mood changes such as irritability, anxiety and depression. If you notice any of these symptoms or anything else that is out of the ordinary, go back to the doctor for further tests and a diagnosis. The sooner your health care provider knows that he or she is dealing with a TBI, the sooner you can receive appropriate treatment to lessen its long-term effects.
Also be aware that a TBI diagnosis will become valuable evidence should you decide to file a personal injury lawsuit against the person who caused the auto accident. Your medical records will serve as compelling evidence when the opposing insurance company tries to downplay the damages.
Personal injury lawsuit
In Oklahoma, you have only two years from the date of your accident to file a personal injury lawsuit. Therefore you may wish to consult with an experienced and knowledgeable personal injury attorney once you receive your TBI diagnosis.
Should you decide to file suit, you can seek compensation for the following things:
- Your ambulance bills
- Your initial and ongoing medical bills
- Your costs for pain medications and other prescription drugs
- Your physical and/or occupational therapy expenses
- Your wage losses
- Your retraining expenses if you can no longer perform the job you had before your accident
You also can recover damages for pain and suffering, although in Oklahoma the maximum amount you can receive for this is $350,000.
While a settlement or jury award cannot fully compensate you or your loved one for the radical changes a traumatic brain injury can bring to your life, it can help relieve the crushing expenses you may well be facing.