Brain injuries from automobile accidents is a leading cause of death and serious injury.
The destruction caused by brain injuries in car accidents is a surprise to no one. Our brain is the center of our body's neurological function. Our brain controls and coordinates all of our body's essential actions and reactions.
This includes so many things we take for granted every day like the nerves and nerve impulses from our brain that tell us to move, eat, breathe, and maintain normal cardiac function. When this is disturbed by a TBI or other brain insult, the results can be catastrophic.
Our law firm has handled scores of brain injury car and truck accident cases. This page discusses these claims and our view on how they should be handled.Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Claims
Symptoms of a traumatic brain injury can be mild, moderate, or severe, depending on the extent of the damage to the brain. Some symptoms appear immediately while others do not surface until some time after the accident. A person with a mild traumatic brain injury may also feel dazed or out of sorts for days or even weeks after the initial injury.
Other symptoms of a mild brain injury include a headache, light-headedness, mild confusion or memory loss, dizziness, blurred vision or tired eyes, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, and mood or behavioral changes.
The problem with the phrase mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) is that these injuries can sometimes be anything but mild. You have to remember that the brain is not much harder than Jell-O. The brain is 70-80% water.
In a crash, it moves within the skull, bouncing off the hard and sharp bony ridges on the base the skull. The patient's brain injury is often caused by the movement of the patient's brain inside the skull. So when an acceleration and deceleration happens quickly, our brain is shaking in your head such that the front of your brain hits the skull, and then the back of your brain hits the skull.
That can cause a real injury. Early MTBI symptoms may at first appear mild - we have clients that do not know that they are badly hurt - but lead to significant, life-long impairment in a person physically, cognitively, and psychologically.
It is not a lawyer generated theory that mild traumatic brain injuries can cause permanent injury. It is a medical fact that it occurs in approximately 15% of MTBI cases. But the medical definition of mild is different from the ones we use as lay people.Defining Mild Traumatic Brain Injury for a Jury
Plaintiff goes first by giving an opening statement. It is critical that the jury is fully prepared for the fact that the definition of a mild traumatic brain injury - according to all of the experts that will testify on both sides - can include injuries that can shatter a person's life.
It sets the jury straight and embarrasses the defense lawyer into not trying to overplay the word "mild" when describing the injury. You need to give them one more fact to put MTBI in context: mild traumatic brain injuries cost the country $17 billion each year.Severe Traumatic Brain Injury
A person that has suffered a more serious traumatic brain injury typically presents with more immediate symptoms, including memory loss, seizures, slurred speech, loss of consciousness, coordination deficiencies, and erratic emotions or mood swings.
Because head injuries are the most serious injuries you can suffer in an automobile accident, any suspicion of a brain injury necessitates emergency medical care.
Serious traumatic brain injury car and truck accident cases are more likely to cause lifelong harm than MTBI accident claims. Victims are more at risk for future complications such as a stroke. Why do we spend more time talking about these "mild" brain injuries as opposed to the more severe? With a more severe injury, there are fewer insane arguments from defense lawyers.
These cases are still a complex challenge to piece together. But you do start off settlement negotiations or jury trials in serious TBI cases with a presumption from the insurance adjuster or jury that this is a serious problem that can have life-altering consequences.Brain Injuries in Car and Truck Accidents
According to the Brain Injury Association of Maryland, 40% of over 5,000 traumatic brain injuries in Maryland every year are from auto, truck, and bike accidents. Women bear the brunt of these injuries more often then men. A brain injury in a car crash typically occurs from a violent blow to the head when the driver or a passenger's head collides with an inflexible object, usually the steering wheel, side door or window, or windshield of the car.
As you might expect, brain injuries are more common in head-on or side-impact car accidents than in rear-end auto accidents.
In litigation, the defense lawyers generally push the argument that the brain injury is not as serious is the plaintiff's attorney is arguing. One big weapon they are often given in these cases to push this narrative is the fact that the brain injury was not immediately diagnosed.
But delayed diagnosis does not mean the patient does not have a brain injury. There are many explanations as to why a brain injury may not be immediately diagnosed. Often, the patient's symptoms are not noticed or do not become manifest until well after the crash, particularly in closed head injury cases where the victim suffered other injuries that may be more readily apparent.
Why is this? Often, the doctors are dialed in on other more obvious injuries. Often these patients are giving pain medication which doctors misattribute to the drug's effects. Most commonly, the onset of brain injury symptoms is delayed and later the patient symptoms such as seizures, loss of memory, and sleep or learning issues.
Defense attorneys also jump on a brain injury plaintiff's good days. In other words, the lawyer will seek to get the jury to judge the victim by her best day. The reality is -- and there is a lot of science to back this up -- daily variability in functioning and symptom severity is common following traumatic brain injury. So some days will be good days.Other Issues Dealing with Brain Injury Claims
For personal injury lawyers in Maryland handling serious brain injury cases, there are practical litigation issues that also need to be considered in these cases. Often, the injured victim needs a next friend or guardian, usually a parent, spouse, or adult child to act on their behalf with a limited or durable power of attorney.
This is because the brain injury patient may have the ability to reason or make judgments regarding the administration of their personal injury case and more fundamental details of personal financial decisions and management. (This is also true in medical malpractice cases for birth injuries - particularly CP - not caused by trauma.)
Our attorneys assist our clients not only in dealing with their personal injury case against the negligent driver but also in the helping the victim and their family with the legal and administrative details they will certainly face.Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Settlements
In Maryland, there have been a few recent verdicts with favorable outcomes for plaintiffs. Keep in mind that the only settlements on here are ours. Most of the good cases settle long before trial.
- 2020, Maryland: $75,125 Verdict. A 41-year-old pedestrian was struck at a Bethesda intersection. She suffered a concussion, spinal sprains and strains, and right-sided bruising. The woman underwent physical therapy for her right-sided bruising and chiropractic therapy for her spinal injuries. Her symptoms resolved after four months. However, the woman’s neck and back pain returned several months later. She underwent chiropractic treatments and spinal injections. The woman also underwent a neck ablation. Her chiropractor testified that her injuries were permanent. The woman alleged that the at-fault driver’s negligence caused them. A Montgomery County jury awarded her a $75,125 verdict.
- 2019, Maryland: $271,000 Verdict. A man was rear-ended on I-270. He suffered a mild traumatic brain injury, a concussion, and spinal injuries. He developed post-traumatic headaches. The man alleged that the at-fault driver’s negligence caused his severe injuries. He claimed he failed to pay attention to the road and control his vehicle. The defense admitted liability. However, they also disputed the man’s injuries. A Montgomery County jury awarded $271,000.
- 2018, Maryland: $3,852,192 Verdict. A man parked on the shoulder of I-695 to repair a flat tire. He was struck by a tractor-trailer. The man suffered a traumatic brain injury, head lacerations, a left heel fracture, a left big toe fracture, and road rash. He developed cognitive impairments. The man now required lifelong medical treatments. He alleged that the truck driver’s negligence caused his injuries. The man also alleged that the truck driver’s employer negligently allowed their employee to drive while fatigued. The defense admitted liability but disputed the injury claims. A Baltimore City jury awarded $3,852,192.
- 2017, Maryland: $315,560 Verdict. A 69-year-old passenger was rear-ended on I-195. She suffered a contrecoup temporal lobe injury, intracerebral hemorrhaging, a vertex injury, T9 and L3 fractures, an L1-L3 herniation, an L4-5 facet injury, contusions, and muscle bruises and strains. The woman was left with permanent brain damage and left-handed flexion deformities. She alleged that the at-fault driver’s negligent lane change caused her permanent injuries. The woman also made a UIM claim against Safeco. A jury awarded her $315,560.
- 2016, Maryland: $1,883,383 Verdict. A 19-year-old man was involved in a chain-reaction collision. He suffered a traumatic brain injury, facial lacerations, laryngeal abrasions, and the aggravation of his pre-existing lumbar injury. The man also developed a cognitive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, mood disorder, and post-traumatic headaches. He underwent physical therapy, chiropractic treatments, lumbar rhizotomies, and psychotherapy. The man alleged that the at-fault driver’s negligence caused his permanent injuries. The defense disputed liability. A Prince George’s County jury awarded $1,883,383.
- 2014: Jury Verdict in Maryland for $340,000. Plaintiff suffered a mild TBI closed head injury. He largely walked away from the accident but later had problems with his memory. GEICO denied he had any brain injury at all and argued the guy was faking the whole thing. The pre-trial offer was $0. Miller & Zois handled this case.
- 2012, Maryland: $257,002 Verdict. A motorist receives a mild traumatic brain injury in a crash, as well as a few broken ribs and back pain. The defendant, the uninsured motorist insurer, admitted coverage and liability but disputed the extent of brain injury.
- 2010, Maryland: $295,156 Verdict. A Baltimore County jury returned a verdict for a driver who was rear-ended at a stop light. He received a mild traumatic brain injury and an exacerbation of his attention deficit disorder.
- 2010, Maryland: $300,000 Verdict. An MRI revealed that an auto accident victim suffered a mild traumatic brain injury. Plaintiff proved her condition using expert testimony, and a Prince George’s County jury awarded her past and future medical bills and permanent pain and suffering.
One thing is for sure. Hiring a lawyer for a brain injury case is different from hiring a lawyer for a general, garden variety personal injury case. You need a law firm that has handled these claims and has tried those cases - preferably successfully - to a verdict. Miller & Zois is that firm.
If you have a case in Maryland and you want a brain injury lawyer who knows the science of these cases and how to take them to trial, call 800-553-8082 or get a free online consultation here.Brain Injury Information and Cases Our Lawyers Handle
- Sample opening statement in traumatic brain injury case: we are not just talking about brain injury cases - we are trying them
- Direct examination of a neurologist in car accident claim
- Brain injuries from birth
- CSF leak brain injury cases
- Facial bone fractures: a brain injury marker
- Shaken baby syndrome
- Difficult delivery claims
- Brain injury medical malpractice cases
- Diffuse Axonal Brain Injuries