What Are Average Settlement Amounts for Traumatic Brain Injuries

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When a work-related accident, motor vehicle accident, motorcycle accident, etc., happens, those involved would suffer a minor injury or a severe injury. But there is a third injury class referred to as catastrophic injuries. A catastrophic injury happens suddenly and has life-lasting implications. 

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) falls under the latter category. Amongst all the injuries sustained by accident victims, a TBI is one of the worst. Not only does it negatively affect a person’s life, the medical bills accrued while getting treatment can leave a person in a financial mess. Thankfully, a victim with TBI can receive financial compensation with the help of a personal injury lawyer. 

This article looks at the average settlement amounts brain injury victims can receive. If you have a traumatic brain injury case, our personal injury attorneys at McDonald Worley can help you get fair compensation. In addition, we offer excellent advice and legal representation to injury victims. 

What Is a Traumatic Brain Injury 

A traumatic brain injury is not the same as a head injury. The latter is any head trauma that affects that skull but doesn’t get to the brain. A TBI, on the other hand, is an injury that affects the brain. It happens when a sudden, external physical assault damages the brain. According to John Hopkins Medical, a TBI is one of the most common causes of disability and death in adults. 

TBI is a broad term for describing any injury to the brain. The damage can be confined to one part of the brain (focal) or in more than one area (diffuse). Furthermore, the severity of this injury can be mild, like a concussion, or severe, like a tear or bleeding that results in coma or death. 

Types of Traumatic Brain Injury

Trauma to the brain are of two broad types: 

  • Closed Brain Injury: This happens when there is a non-penetrating injury to the brain with no break in the skull. It results from rapid forward or backward movement and shaking of the brain inside the bony skull, causing bruising and tearing of brain tissue and blood vessels. Closed brain injury is common in commercial vehicle accidents, falls, and sports. Shaking an infant can also result in this injury type (the shaken baby syndrome).
  • Penetrating Brain Injury: Otherwise referred to as an open brain injury, this wound happens when there’s a break in the skull. For example, when a bullet pierces the skull. 

Symptoms of a Brain Injury 

A brain injury victim’s symptoms depend on whether they have a mild, moderate, or severe TBI. Generally, the three cover: 

  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fatigue or drowsiness
  • Difficulty concentrating 
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Convulsion or seizure 
  • Loss of coordination
  • Confusion
  • Slurred speech 
  • Light sensitivity
  • Coma and other disorders of consciousness, etc.

What Are the Effects of a Traumatic Brain Injury? 

A mild TBI might disappear over time with the right medical care and adequate rest. However, more severe TBIs may result in a permanent disability. The long-term effects or permanent results might require post-injury treatment or life-long rehabilitation. A person may need cognitive therapy, physical therapy, or occupational therapy to return to normal functioning.

A TBI might result in one or more of the undermentioned defects:

  • Cognitive deficit (e.g., coma, confusion, shortened attention span, memory problems, amnesia, decreased awareness of self and others, etc.)
  • Motor deficits (e.g., paralysis or weakness, poor coordination, decreased endurance, spasticity, tremors, etc.)
  • Perceptual or sensory deficits ( e.g., vision problems, changes in hearing, vision, taste, smell, touch, loss of sensation or heightened sensation in parts of the body, etc.)
  • Communication and language deficits (e.g., aphasia, agraphia, alexia, apraxia, etc.)
  • Functional deficits
  • Social difficulties 
  • Regulatory disturbances 
  • Personality or psychiatry changes 
  • Traumatic epilepsy 

What Is the Average Settlement for a Traumatic Brain Injury?

A TBI comes under personal injury or tort law. Under this law, a person who suffers injuries from another person’s negligence is entitled to financial compensation. This compensation often covers what the law refers to as economic damages and non-economic damages. If there’s evidence of gross or egregious conduct, the victim might get awarded punitive damages in a personal injury lawsuit.  

Economic and non-economic losses covers:

  • Medical bills 
  • Loss of  income
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Cost of rehabilitation services 
  • Loss of consortium 
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Cost of medical equipment or assistive devices
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Cost of future care, etc. 

Average TBI Settlements

Since a brain injury leaves people with significant financial burdens, most people find themselves asking what the average traumatic brain injury settlement is. 

The first thing to note is that no two cases are the same. What one person gets as compensation may differ from what another person receives. Also, personal injury claims rarely get resolved immediately. Usually, after you file an insurance claim with the fault party’s insurance company, they investigate before starting settlement negotiations. This prolongs the settlement process. 

One thing that prolongs the settlement process is the back and forth arguments between your traumatic brain injury lawyer and the insurance company. These arguments are on how much you should get as compensation. If it’s a personal injury lawsuit, the case will last as long as the trial persists, after which a jury decides on the settlement sum. What’s different here is that the jury verdict is not subject to negotiation. Only the presiding judge has the power to reduce the amount awarded. 

The average traumatic brain injury settlements are between hundreds of thousands of dollars to millions. For example, if the injury results in a lifestyle change and affects your job, you can receive over $200,000. In addition, the settlement sum might get to $500,000 if you suffer other physical disabilities from the accident aside from the TBI. 

Some TBI victims have gotten compensation as high as $26 million. While there is no clear-cut average, you can expect a severe brain injury claim to deliver six or seven-figure settlements to you. What matters in these cases is the severity of the wound โ€” whether it’s a mild brain injury or severe โ€” and its impact on the victim’s life. 

What Factors Affect a Traumatic Brain Injury Compensation? 

Again, settlements vary from case to case, largely due to the factors present in each case. Below, we discuss some of the factors that affect traumatic brain injury lawsuit settlements. 

  • Liability: Where the fault for the underlying accident is clear, the settlement sum would be higher. Where the fault is disputed, the defendant will likely not make a reasonable settlement offer. Also, the doctrine of contributory or comparative negligence of different states affects compensation. In states that practice contributory negligence, a victim with even 1% fault will not get compensation. Conversely, in comparative negligence states, victims have their settlement reduced by their fault percentage. So if your liability percentage is 20%, you’ll only get 80% compensation. 
  • Multiple Defendants: If several parties were responsible for the underlying accident and represented by different insurance companies, it affects the settlement sum. This is because an issue would likely arise as to how much each defendant should pay. 
  • The Characteristics of the Victim: The victim’s age, occupation, likeability, and prior medical history affect the settlement value. 
  • The Location of the Trial: Some trail locations are more conservative than others. As such, they may award a smaller settlement sum than juries in more populated, urban communities. Insurance adjusters always keep an eye on this factor if the case goes to court. 
  • Egregious Conduct by Defendant: As mentioned earlier, one compensation you can receive is punitive damages. However, it is not a compensatory award โ€” the law designed punitive damages to punish the defender for egregious conduct. While you may not ask for punitive damages during an insurance claim, you can use the possibility as leverage during insurance settlement negotiations. 
  • Mitigating Damages: Damages must be mitigated or kept to a minimum by the victim when it is reasonably possible. So, suppose you chose not to receive treatment after the accident, and your injuries worsened as a result. Such failure to mitigate would cause the insurance company or the jury to award a lesser amount. 

What Evidence Do You Need in a Traumatic Brain Injury Case? 

Like in all personal injury claims, you need to prove that the accident you were involved in caused your TBI. So, whether you were in a car accident, work-related accident, or slip and fall accident, you should get the following evidence:

  • Witness statements
  • Photograph and video evidence of the accident  
  • Police report
  • Medical record

The last piece of evidence is crucial as it shows the extent of the brain injury. Some specific medical evidence necessary in a TBI case include:

  • Diagnosis from an emergency room doctor or neurologist
  • Medical documentation of the wound like an MRI scan or CT scan
  • Cognitive evaluation from a neuropsychologist

It would help if you also got an expert witness to testify on your behalf. In addition, if the injury would require future medical care, add evidence of the future expenses. This usually covers medical equipment, assistive care, future surgery, etc. Again, a brain injury lawyer can help you put together the evidence you need. 

Let McDonald Worley Help You!

At McDonald Worley,  we are experts in personal injury law and have decades of experience helping injury victims get compensation. We will do the same for you and ensure you get the maximum compensation. Contact us today for a free initial consultation. We charge no upfront fees.