Traumatic Brain Injuries Can Result in a Coma
Before discussing traumatic brain injuries and their effects, it is important to answer the question on everyone’s mind: What is a “traumatic brain injury,” and is there such a thing as a non-traumatic brain injury? According to the Mayo Clinic, a “traumatic brain injury” is an injury to your brain and/or head as the result of a traumatic event, such as hitting your head or having an object, such as a bullet, penetrate your skull. There are three medical types of traumatic brain injuries:
- Closed Traumatic Brain Injuries: When your skull itself is the vessel by which the brain is damaged, such as in shaken baby syndrome or a car accident, when your head snaps back and forth and damages brain tissues or nerve endings.
- Open Traumatic Brain Injuries: Occur when an object, such as a bullet or piece of glass, penetrates the skull and injures the brain directly, and
- Acquired Traumatic Brain Injuries: This is the general term for any brain injury that occurs by unnatural means, but it cannot necessarily be defined as closed, opened, or traumatic. For example, if you lose oxygen for a period of time it can cut off essential supplies to your brain, resulting in brain damage and death.
There is also something called a “non-traumatic brain injury,” which is a type of acquired brain injury that is not the result of a traumatic event, examples of non-traumatic brain injuries include the following:
- Brain tumors and cancer
- Aneurysm, or
Although non-traumatic brain injuries, if left untreated, can eventually result in a coma, most patients find themselves in a non-medically induced coma as the result of a severe traumatic brain injury.
Common Causes of Traumatic Brain Injuries
Did you know that traumatic brain injuries contribute to about 30% of all deaths as a result of injuries in the United States? Falls are considered the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries in the United States, both in children and elderly individuals, with intentional self-harm the second most common cause, and car accidents the third most common cause. Motor vehicle accidents, however, were the leading cause of hospitalization as related to traumatic brain injuries in the United States, and if the injury is severe, its consequences can be life-changing.
Coma as the Result of Traumatic Brain Injuries
A coma is defined as “a state of prolonged unconsciousness” that is traditionally caused by either a traumatic or non-traumatic brain injury. Although a “concussion” is also a type of unconsciousness caused by a traumatic brain injury, concussions typically last only from a few seconds to an hour, while anything longer than that would likely be considered a coma. The following are signs and symptoms of a coma:
- Reduced brainstem reflexes
- Closed eyes and pupils that do not respond to light
- No ability to move arms or legs other than basic reflexes
- No general response to pain, and
- Irregular breathing.
Comas typically last only a few weeks, and many patients wake up from comas when their brains begin to recover. However, if a coma lasts more than a few weeks, it is likely that your loved one has fallen into a vegetative state. It is reported that there is little hope that a patient who has been in a vegetative state for more than a year will awaken, but it is not impossible. When it comes to family members caring for these patients, however, the expenses can be insurmountable. If you or your loved one’s coma was the result of a car accident, trip and fall, work-related accident, or a physical altercation, there is hope for financial recovery.
Costs of Treating a Coma Patient and Recovering Compensation
While the costs of treating a coma patient for a week can be high because it requires overnight hospital care, the estimated cost of caring for patients in vegetative states is nearly $150,000 per year. This likely does not include medications, lost wages, second opinions, private physicians, and specialized medical equipment. If that is multiplied by the average life expectancy of those in such a state, which can range from 1-10 years, it can result in millions of dollars in future expenses that you may not anticipate when speaking with an insurance company about your claim.
If you were injured in a Florida car accident, you can avail yourself to Florida no-fault benefits, which can cover some initial emergency expenses. It is seldom the case, however, that the other driver’s insurance company will be able to cover all of your expenses. In this case, you may be able to seek compensation from your own insurance company if the other driver was underinsured in relation to the injuries sustained. Still, this will likely not be enough.
Your Florida personal injury attorney, however, may be able to help you find avenues of compensation that you didn’t know existed. For example, were there other cars involved in the accident? Did a pothole that the state knew about but didn’t fix cause the accident? What about the vehicle itself, did it malfunction or did the airbags not deploy as they should have? You are even permitted to go after the liable driver’s personal assets if you believe they would be sufficient to help offset your medical costs. Your Florida traumatic brain injury attorney can bring in an expert economist to calculate and testify about your past losses and future needs. While we have to trust the doctors to care for your loved one, a personal injury attorney can help give you the peace of mind needed to ensure that your family is provided for and you are entitled to the compensation you deserve.
Contact a Clearwater Brain and Head Injury Attorney Today
If you or a loved one has suffered from a traumatic brain injury resulting in a coma, the Dolman Law Group may be able to help you get the compensation you deserve to care for your loved one and his family. Their attorneys are your premier traumatic brain injury lawyers in the greater Tampa Bay area, and they are here to fight for your rights. Contact them today at (727) 451-6900 for a free, no-risk consultation.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765