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Boston Personal Injury Cases involving Brain Injury

Personal injury lawsuits in Boston can involve many different types of physical and emotional damages, but those involving traumatic brain injury (TBI) are often among the most serious. In some ways, such claims are comparable to wrongful death cases because survivors find life will never be the same.

Boston personal injurySome traumatic brain injury patients  will no longer be able to speak, walk or take care of themselves in any significant way.  We have adults that are basically reduced to the functional capacity of infants, requiring a lifetime of care and adaptation to a new way of life for the plaintiff and his or her family members.  In some cases, the plaintiff will be able to make a partial or complete recovery, but even that will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars if not upwards of a million dollars.

Due to the extreme monetary consequences and devastating emotional damages, plaintiffs in traumatic brain injury litigation should make sure they have an experienced Boston brain injury lawyer who has dealt with similar cases in the past and will fight for plaintiff’s right to a full an appropriate financial recovery. Defendants in these cases may be eager to settle before claimants can understand the full scope of injuries and costs. That’s why it’s imperative to speak to a dedicated injury attorney first.

Brain injury typically occurs when there is an impact to the skull, or the brain hits the inside of the skull.  This can cause intracranial bruising, which can result in pressure.  Due to the skull, the pressure and swelling has nowhere to go so it can cut-off the flow of blood to various type structures in the brain and that lead to permanent damage. There are of course injuries where an object actually punctures the brain, but this is something seen more from bomb blasts or billets and other shrapnel in war.  In the context of a Boston personal injury case, we are typically dealing with a blunt impact to the head. In some cases, it is not necessary for the skull to actually fracture and these are known as closed head wounds.  The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that each day in the U.S. alone, 153 people will die from a traumatic brain injury. Many thousands are injured. Many of these injuries are the result of negligent accidents that are the basis for filing a personal injury lawsuit.

According to a recent news article from WBT News Charlotte, a mother who suffered a very serious traumatic brain injury made a very unexpected recovery. The reason for this was because her skull was actually severely damaged in the accident.  While this may seem strange to say, the way in which the skull was fractured in some many places allowed the swelling to dissipate. That mean there was not the normal buildup of pressure we seen in typical traumatic brain injury cases.

When the injury first happened in late summer of 2017 following a slip-and-fall injury, doctors painted a bleak picture.  They told loved ones she was only alive because she was on life support and that without a ventilator, she would not be able to breathe on her own.  After they had done what they could to keep her comfortable, the family decided that it was time to take her off the ventilator and let her go peacefully.

However, when the doctors turned off the ventilator and extubated her, she took to breaths and to the astonishment of everyone, grabbed her daughter’s hand and squeezed it.  After another week, she had been able to open her eyes and tried to speak though she was only able to mumble.  This inability to speak is normal for anyone who has had a breathing tube in their throat for several months. She does not remember the accident, but retrograde amnesia is also common for those who suffer a traumatic brain injury.

When doctors tried to figure out what happened, they concluded she had suffered what they refer to as a complete skull fracture during her accident including the bones in her ear allowing the excess pressure and blood to flow out though there ears and this why she did not suffer permanent brain damage. At first the family was upset with the trauma surgeon for saying she was in a persistent vegetative state (brain dead), but soon learned that any competent doctor would likely have reached the same conclusion with the medical evidence at hand.

While this patient and her family was very fortunate, these type of recoveries are coined “miraculous” for a reason. They are few and far between.  Many more patients who suffer a traumatic brain injury will not be so fortunate, and if they do survive will need a lifetime of care as discussed above.

One other interesting point brought upon in this woman’s story deals with the standard of care in medical malpractice cases.  In order to prove a medical malpractice case, including those that involve a Boston brain injury, it is necessary to establish the doctor or other medical professional failed adhere to the local and national standards of care.  In an ordinary negligence case, plaintiff must establish the defendant failed to act as an ordinary and prudent person in the same or similar circumstances.  One example of this standard can be found in Chapter 231, Section 85 of the Massachusetts General Laws (M.G.L.).

In some cases, traumatic brain injuries may be exacerbated when a physician fails to abide the applicable standard of care. When we are dealing with a medical malpractice case, the defendant is held to a higher standard of care because the ordinary and prudent person does not have the training and experience to perform brain surgery for example. In these cases, we must look at what a reasonable and prudent brain surgeon would have done in the same or similar circumstances as the defendant.  If all other surgeons in the defendant’s position would have done the same, there is not likely a valid claim for medical malpractice.

If you are injured in Boston, call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment — 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:

Family celebrates mom’s recovery from brain injury, January 7, 2018, WBT News Charlotte

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Summer Swimming Pool Safety in New England, May 15, 2014, Boston Personal Injury Lawyer Blog