Returning to School can be Difficult after a Traumatic Brain Injury
According to the Florida Department of Health, traumatic brain injuries were responsible for nearly four thousand deaths in Florida in 2013 alone. Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) caused another nineteen thousand hospitalizations that year. The brain – a highly sensitive and critical organ – is particularly susceptible to injury, and TBIs can have life-altering consequences. Motor deficits, personality changes, decreased attention span, and other serious symptoms can cause permanent changes to a victim’s life. For child TBI victims, there is also the added burden of returning to school with cognitive deficits.
If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury, you have legal rights which must be aggressively defended. Car accidents, workplace accidents, slips and falls, medical malpractice, and many other types of personal injury can cause TBIs which may lead to permanent brain damage. The experienced personal injury attorneys at the Dolman Law Group fight for their clients’ rights to be compensated for their injuries. For child TBI victims, this can include compensation for the increased difficulty in returning to school after suffering a traumatic brain injury.
Why TBIs are so Dangerous for Children
The Brain Injury Association of America reports that TBIs are the leading cause of death and disability for children and adolescents in the United States. Even when a victim survives the initial injury itself, he or she is more likely to later die from secondary illnesses. The Centers for Disease Control reports that – compared to the general population – TBI victims are:
- Fifty times more likely to die from seizures
- Eleven times more likely to die from unintentional drug poisoning
- Nine times more likely to die from infections
- Six times more likely to die from pneumonia
Furthermore, the frontal lobe is particularly susceptible to the effects of brain trauma. This results in deficits in executive cognitive functioning. Executive functioning covers basic cognitive processes such as control of attention, inhibition of thoughts and behaviors, working memory, and cognitive flexibility (the ability to move between concepts or think about multiple concepts at the same time). Such a deficit in executive functioning can be a permanent impairment which affects all aspects of a child’s life.
Children’s bodies tend to be resilient, and some children demonstrate a remarkable ability to ward off secondary symptoms much better than adults. Of course, overcoming physical symptoms is only the child’s first step on the long road to recovery.
The Specific Challenges of Returning to School
The most pressing challenge for any child TBI victim returning to school is the cognitive deficits he or she experiences as a result of the injury. These can result in a shorter attention span, poor short-term memory, slower processing speed, impaired executive functioning, and other specific symptoms which make learning more difficult than it was before the injury. Parents, too, face the ongoing challenge of identifying these specific symptoms and finding appropriate methods of addressing them. Special education services, tutors, speech and language therapists, and other professionals must be consulted and managed as a cohesive team in order to best meet the child’s needs.
But a child returning to school faces secondary complications which can be even more difficult to manage than his or her cognitive deficits. Such children will often remember their learning process before the injury. Realizing that learning is now slower and more painstaking than before, children with TBIs often become frustrated at the new obstacles they face. This frustration can be exacerbated by personality changes which accompanied the TBI itself.
Another difficulty for child TBI victims is the continued development of their brains after an injury. This can lead to better outcomes in the long term, as some children are better able to recover from TBIs than adults, but it can also make it difficult to adapt to the continued changes in the brain. This can make it difficult for parents, educators, and doctors to find the best methods of managing the child’s symptoms.
The Many Compensable Legal Losses of a Traumatic Brain Injury
Any personal injury – whether a car accident, a slip and fall accident, workplace injuries or medical malpractice – causes the victim to become legally entitled to compensation for his or her losses by the person who caused the injury. These losses (known as “legal damages”) can cover a wide variety of expenses resulting from the accident. Some losses – such as pain and suffering – do not have a clear reimbursement value, but they are nonetheless compensable in a personal injury award.
When a child returns to school after suffering a TBI, he or she may have added expenses and difficulties which are compensable as part of a personal injury award. These can include:
- Fees for tutors, teacher’s aides, and other assistants
- Speech or language therapy
- Individual or group therapy to address the frustration of the TBI
- An increased pain and suffering award for the added time and difficulty the child faces in learning
- An increased pain and suffering award for physical symptoms (such as headaches)
- Lost wages for additional time the child spent in school (for example, if the child had to repeat a grade as a result of the accident)
- Decreased future earning potential
- Compensation for permanent injuries or symptoms (such as impaired executive functioning)
It can be difficult – if not impossible – to place a dollar value upon such widespread and permanent losses. This is why it is so important for TBI victims to have experienced legal representation from an attorney who knows the value of such losses.
The Right Legal Representation for your Personal Injury Claim
The Dolman Law Group has over forty-six years of experience in protecting the rights of injury victims in and around Tampa Bay. Whether your traumatic brain injury was caused by a car accident, workplace accident, medical malpractice, or other factors, our experienced, aggressive attorneys will ensure that you are fairly compensated for your losses. Call (727) 451-6900 to schedule your free consultation with a personal injury attorney today. We offer extensive legal expertise and superior customer service so that you can focus on your recovery.