Experienced Brain Injury Lawyers in Florida
Have you suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) following an accident? If so, you may be entitled to compensation. At Searcy Denney, our knowledgeable brain injury lawyers in Florida fight for your right to damages.
Our personal injury law firm is comprised of attorneys with more than 40 years of experience. We focus on this area of law so that we can provide unparalleled dedication of resources, experience and attention to personal injury recovery. We handle high-stakes, complex personal injury claims, including class action, multi-district litigation (MDL) and mass tort claims. We understand the intricacies of such complicated medical conditions as brain injuries and have refined our processes for investigation, preparation and proof of these claims. Our team regularly takes on big corporations, including hospital conglomerates, products manufacturers, large corporate retail stores and other negligent parties.
Let us help you obtain justice. Contact us today to discuss your rights and legal options during a free, confidential consultation.
Causes of Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)
Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) contribute to nearly one-third of injury fatalities. TBIs can occur at your home, workplace, car and in public places, such as retail stores, office buildings, sports arenas or your child’s school. In addition, brain damage may result from a defective product, a medical mistake, an unsafe premise, or an act of violence.
Searcy Denney can investigate the cause of your TBI and pursue damages from the individual or corporation that is responsible. Our Florida personal injury lawyers draw on 40 years of experience, our extensive resources and our substantial network of experts to prove the cause of your head injury and recover the damages to which you are entitled.
A trip to the hospital may result in brain injury because of negligence, including:
- Anesthesia errors. Anesthesia is a powerful drug that keeps you still during surgery, eliminates pain and erases all memory of the traumatic event. This miracle drug, however, can cause severe brain damage if the anesthesiologist injects too much, uses the wrong type or is negligent in the management of the patient.
- Childbirth errors. Oxygen asphyxia may occur if the placenta becomes pinched or if the baby becomes trapped in the birth canal during a difficult vaginal delivery. The lack of oxygen may be responsible for brain damage to an otherwise healthy baby.
- Falls in hospitals. Patients may be weak, dizzy and impaired by medication, which can affect balance, coordination, vision and awareness and hence contribute to a hospital fall. Hospitals have a duty to minimize risks factors to safeguard patients against falls.
- Medication errors. When prescribing medication, a doctor has the duty to consider the patient’s weight, current health and drug interactions. Failure to do so can result in medication overdose, dangerous drug combination or inappropriate pharmaceutical type.
Motor Vehicle Accident
Traffic crashes are responsible for more than 14 percent of brain injury cases. Pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists are particularly vulnerable to brain damage when hit by a car or truck. Wearing a helmet can protect the head, but may not fully prevent TBI during a bicycle or motorcycle traffic crash. Likewise, seat belts and airbags minimize incidents of head injuries, and yet, traffic accidents remain a top five leading causes of TBI.
According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), assault causes almost 11 percent of head injuries. A sharp blow to the head with a fist, foot or a blunt object can cause a closed head injury. The victim may also strike his or her head on pavement or furniture when pushed. Additionally, the victim may suffer brain damage if a gunshot or knife penetrates the skull.
Falls and Strikes
The leading known cause of head injuries is falls, followed by being struck by an object. The CDC reports that falls account for more than 40 percent of head injuries. A fall may happen because of:
- A defective ladder
- A broken platform railing
- An object encumbering a store aisle
- A slippery floor or stairway
- Spilled liquid
- Uneven or broken pavement
- A poorly designed childproof gate
- Unsupervised playground equipment
According to the CDC, more than 15 percent of head injuries occur when something falls onto a person’s head or something strikes his or her head. Common scenarios include:
- An object falls from an overstocked shelf
- An object is dropped from an upper floor of a building
- Furniture or equipment topples over
- A tool falls through out of code construction scaffolding
Elements of a Florida Brain Injury Claim
Florida statutes and tort laws establish the elements of a personal injury claim. To recover damages at trial, you must prove each element by a preponderance of the evidence, meaning it is more likely than not.
Searcy Denney was founded more than 40 years ago to help injured people throughout Florida recover damages. Our Florida brain injury lawyers have the knowledge and resources to recover the maximum possible damages in your brain injury claim.
The defendant’s liability may be based on a number of theories in which a clear duty of the corporation or professional exists, such as:
- Premises liability. The commercial property owner had a duty to inspect the premises, repair defects, and warn you of dangers. The owner may be held liable for injuries you sustained as a result of a perilous property condition for which you were not warned.
- Products liability. The manufacturer had a duty to design and make a safe product that is free from defects, and to provide you with appropriate warnings and instructions for use. The corporation may be held liable for injuries you sustained while using the product as intended.
- Medical malpractice. Your doctor had a duty to provide you with a reasonable standard of care expected of a similarly situated professional. She or he may be held liable for an act or omission that deviated from the expected standard of care.
Florida’s no-fault auto insurance law requires your insurance company to pay for some amount of your medical care after a car crash. You are entitled, therefore, to compensation without proving liability of another party. The amount provided by most insurance policies is small and would not pay for any significant amount. That is why you have the right to sue a negligent driver for additional damages not covered by your insurance policy.
Causation refers to the link between a corporation or an individual’s actions and your injuries. The defendant may only be held liable for injuries it caused. A defendant that is partly at fault is liable for the percentage of its liability under Florida comparative negligence doctrine.
Common defense strategies include putting the blame on you for your injuries, or on a third party. The defendant may claim you had a pre-existing head injury before the accident or that your negligence caused or exacerbated your injuries.
To counter these tactics, our plaintiffs’ team gathers evidence of your pre-accident health and creates a timeline of your TBI from the date of the accident through recovery. Our Florida brain injury lawyers carefully construct a causation argument that clearly reflects the correlation between the defendants and your head injury.
Damages refer to your losses. Economic damages may be actual out-of-pocket financial losses, such as lost wages, medical bills and expenses related to your injury, and may be anticipated financial losses, such as future medical care and diminished earning capacity. Noneconomic damages are “human damages from pain, suffering, disability, loss of consortium and other similar damages.”
Florida comparative negligence laws assign percentage of damages according to each party’s liability. For example, if a negligent property owner is found to be 90 percent liable for a dangerous condition that contributed to your fall, the company owes 90 percent of the total damages. In the case of a $100,000 claim, the company would owe you $90,000.
No Recovery, No Fee When You Hire Our Florida Brain Injury Lawyers
Learn what you need to prove to recover compensation from the corporation or the individual responsible for your head injuries. Schedule a free, no-risk consultation with our experienced Florida brain injury attorneys at Searcy Denney. Because we handle your TBI claim on contingency, you do not owe us anything until we recover damages.
Diagnosing Brain Injuries
Diagnosis for TBI consists of determining the severity and location of damage to the brain and resulting symptoms and disabilities. To do so, doctors may prescribe these common TBI analyses and tests:
- Physical examination of the patient and understanding of the underlying accident
- Examination of physical, speech, visual, movement and occupational impairments
- CAT scan, MRI and PET scan that produce images of the brain
- Cognitive and neuropsychological examination by trained specialists
- Glasgow Coma Scale, Ranchos Los Amigos Scale, Loss of Consciousness, Posttraumatic Amnesia, Disability Rating Scale, Functional Independence Measure and other diagnostic scaling systems
Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS)
The GCS encompasses several diagnostic tests medical professionals use to measure brain damage, including motor response, verbal response and eye opening. In each category, the doctor records a number with 1 indicating no response no sounds and no eye opening respectively.
- Vegetative state, persistent vegetative state and brain death measure 3 or less points out of a possible 15.
- Coma or severe disability, in which there is no response and no voluntary activity, equals 3 to 8 points out of a possible 15.
- A patient with a score of 9 to 12 has a moderate disability that may benefit from rehabilitation.
- A score of 13 to 15 (out of a possible 15) corresponds with mild brain damage.
Loss of Consciousness (LOC)
The longer a patient remains unconscious following a head injury, the more likely he or she sustained more serious brain damage, according to researchers. Loss of consciousness or mental status change equal to half an hour is considered mild, whereas between 30 minutes and six hours is moderate, and more than six hours is severe.
Posttraumatic Amnesia (PTA)
Posttraumatic amnesia is common after a head injury. Patients who sustain moderate to severe brain damage may never fully regain memory. However, patients with mild brain damage do typically recover memory over time. The PTA examination measures the time between the injury and when a patient begins to understand what is happening.
Disability Rating Scale (DRS)
The DRS is used to determine improvements or decline of function throughout TBI recovery. The lower the score, the less of a disability the head injury is at the time of assessment. A progressively declining score is a good sign that the patient is improving. Zero to one point indicates no to mild disability. By comparison, 22 to 29 points means the patient is in a vegetative or extreme vegetative state.
Functional Independence Measure (FIM)
The FIM offers another disability rating system that doctors use to assess disability resulting from TBI. However, on the FIM scale, a high score indicates milder disability, with seven showing complete independence and one the need for total assistance. A progressively escalating score is a positive sign for patient recovery.
What Are the Consequences of a Brain Injury?
Brain injury is a leading cause of disabilities and fatalities nationwide, accounting for almost one-third of all injury-related deaths. Approximately 2.5 million people sustain a head injury every year in the United States, resulting in about 50,000 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). About 5.3 million people currently live with a brain injury-related disability.
Survivors of TBI often have serious disabilities that require extensive treatment, rehabilitation and assistive care. Severe TBIs may result in lifelong serious impairment to cognition, judgment, memory, physical function and behavior. In the worst cases, patients may be brain dead, in a vegetative state or a coma.
Medically mild TBIs may cause temporary disabilities and can result in serious complications, especially in individuals who sustain repeated concussions or successive concussions. Overall, the costs of treating and caring for TBI survivors are high, typically ranging from a low of $600,000 to as much as $40 million or more. The emotional costs are even greater.
Minor Head Injuries
At first, you may believe the blow to your head is no big deal. You may feel no or only minor symptoms initially. You may not even know you sustained brain damage until others begin to notice the subtle changes in your mood, judgment, thinking and memory. Only then do the sudden headaches, depression, sensory disturbances, agitation and insomnia begin to make sense. This scenario describes a common result of minor head injury. Despite its medical reference as mild, a “minor head injury” can have serious consequences on your life.
Searcy Denney has helped victims of head injuries for 40 years. Our Florida brain injury lawyers recognize the pattern associated with TBI all too well. We have handled numerous cases in which no outward sign of trauma exists. The damage is hidden underneath the skull and manifests in mysterious complex ways that can have devastating consequences.
Diagnosing Minor Head Trauma
Often the first indication of head trauma is the accident itself, whether you fell or received a violent jolt to the body, or something landed on your head. Trauma may have occurred in an auto accident, an assault, or a fall from a height. Even a relatively light force can cause damage to your brain.
Your doctor may send you for tests, including MRI, CAT scan, PET scan and other diagnostics. These tests are not only valuable tools for treating your medical condition, but are also vital to your legal case.
Medical Classification of Mild TBI
Most traumatic brain injuries are classified as medically mild. To properly classify your injury, your doctor typically performs a series of diagnostic tests and assessments. Your doctor may classify your TBI as mild if:
- The Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) estimates are within the range of 13 to 15 points
- Unconsciousness lasts for less than 30 minutes
- Posttraumatic amnesia (PTA) improves
- Disability Rating Scale (DRS) score is low
- Functional Independence Measure (FIM) is high
Proving Mild Head Injury Damages
The lack of outward signs of trauma can complicate head injury claims. Evidence Searcy Denney may use to prove your claim include:
- Diagnostic imaging and lab results that show the area of brain damage
- Results of diagnostic analyses for traumatic brain injury and disability as described above
- Accident reconstruction to show that your injuries are consistent with the accident
- Witnesses to testify about your behavioral, cognitive, memory and emotional changes since the accident
- Your personal experiences with pain, physical limitations and cognitive impairment since the accident.
A concussion is a medical term that describes a traumatic head injury that is often mild and temporary. Mild only refers relatively to the level of brain damage. All brain damage is serious and can carry substantial long-term repercussions.
Our Florida brain injury lawyers have the knowledge and experience to prove the devastating consequences of your concussive brain injuries. We often consult with our team of medical experts who can explain the anatomy and the long-term complications arising from your concussion. We build a strong case for your financial, emotional and physical losses to recover the maximum possible compensation.
In some cases, concussion results in immediate amnesia, loss of consciousness, sensory impairment, vomiting, confusion and dizziness. However, the symptoms of a concussion may not appear right away, but may take days or weeks to manifest as a result of changes in brain chemistry. Symptoms of a concussion are often subtle, but indicate a much more serious underlying problem.
You may feel and appear like you are recovering from your concussion, but actually have long-term damage. A concussion can result in such serious complications as:
- Epilepsy. A concussion doubles the risk that a person will develop epilepsy within five years.
- Post-concussion syndrome. Headaches, dizziness, poor attention, loss of memory, cognitive impairment and other symptoms may appear days after the concussive injury and continue for months.
- Post-traumatic headaches. Severe headaches may start a week or many months after the concussion.
- Post-traumatic vertigo. Dizziness and imbalance may manifest within days or many months.
- Cumulative brain damage. Multiple concussions may result in permanent, progressive impairment.
- Second impact syndrome. A second concussion that occurs before the previous concussion has healed can cause rapid, fatal swelling of the brain.
Risk of Multiple Concussions
Repeated concussions add to the risk of serious chronic brain disease. The individual concussions may be minor, but the cumulative effect can cause dementia, aggression, behavior changes and reduced mental functioning that alters your life forever.
Additionally, successive concussions may be fatal. If you still have symptoms of a concussion when you receive a second concussive injury, your brain may swell, which is an urgent, life-threatening condition.
Athletes in contact sports risk repetitive concussion, as do workers in high-risk industries who might have a second on-the-job accident and drivers who might be in a second auto crash.
TBI Liability and Damages
In order to prevail on a TBI claim, you must prove each element of your claim. Searcy Denney fully investigates what happened, who is liable, what injuries you sustained, and how much damages you are entitled to.
Our Florida brain injury lawyers gather crucial evidence as to the cause of your TBI and the liability of the negligent individual or corporation, including for an auto accident, premises liability, defective product or violence accident. We have access to top brain injury experts who consult on diagnoses and the immediate symptoms and long-term disabilities caused by your TBI.
We pursue damages for brain injury treatment, lost income, disabilities, TBI-related expenses, pain, suffering and emotional distress. If your loved one sustained a severe brain injury, we pursue damages you sustained as well as those of your family member.
Our goal is to help you recover the funds you need to obtain quality medical treatment and rehabilitation and to improve your quality of life as much as possible.
Learn More About Recovering Damages From Our Florida Brain Injury Lawyers
Searcy Denney has represented Florida accident victims in complex cases involving brain injuries for more than four decades. Learn how we can help you recover damages from the person or corporation that caused your brain injuries. Your first consultation is free and our law firm takes your claim on contingency, which means you do not owe us lawyers’ fees or costs until we have successfully recovered damages for you through a settlement or a trial verdict. Call our Florida personal injury lawyers today at (800) 780-8607 or contact us online to schedule a case evaluation.