Articles Posted in Brain Injury

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iStock_000009748780XSmall-300x199A new study published in the Neurology medical journey indicates that more educated people have a significantly higher likelihood of making a complete recovery after suffering a traumatic brain injury. However, TBI is a catastrophic injury no matter how much schooling a person has received. Don’t delay pursuing financial compensation that can ease your recovery; Oceanside personal injury lawyer Zev Rubinstein can build a strong brain injury claim on your behalf.

Trauma to the brain can lead to serious consequences, from decreased mobility to intense mood swings. Many brain injury patients experience physical, mental, and behavioral symptoms that make everyday activities that used to come easily more of a challenge.

Recovering from such a serious injury can take a long time, and many patients suffer lifelong symptoms of TBI. A brain injury victim might face hardships including:

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JG_Crash321561xx001_1_t620.jpgSan Diego Union Tribune’s Debbie Baker and Susan Shroder reported that several members of a family were injured, one fatally in a car accident on April 25, 2012. The tragic auto accident happened at around 6:30 a.m. on Interstate 805 in Sorrento Valley as the Thomas family was on their way to Disneyland. According to CHP Officer Art Athans, an unnamed woman driving a Nissan Altima stated that the driver of a Honda sedan cut her off and as she swerved to avoid it, she hit the Thomas’ Toyota Rav4 causing it to roll several times and come to rest hanging 30 feet above a Caltrans work site.

The Rav4 driver, 43-year-old Brian Thomas sustained multiple cuts, bruises and broken ribs. His wife Rebecca, 42, who was sitting in the front seat, was also injured. Their 22-year-old daughter Daniesha and 8-year-old son, who were in the back seat, received multiple injuries including cuts and bruises. However, their 66-year-old grandmother suffered a major traumatic brain injury. The family was rescued by construction workers and taken to a local hospital, where the grandmother later died from her injuries.

Our sympathy goes out to the Thomas family for their loss.

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San-Diego-Accident-Lawyers.jpgSan Diego Union Tribune reported that 20-year-old Landen Swanson of Vista was taken off life support from injuries he sustained in an auto accident on January 9, 2012. Swanson suffered a brain injury resulting from head trauma when he was struck by a hit-and-run driver while skateboarding on Alamitos Way and Orlando Avenue in San Marcos, on his way home from work. According to sheriff’s Sgt. Stephanie Guerra, the driver of the vehicle that hit him fled the scene, but later called police and told them he was involved in the incident. He was later arrested and criminal charges are pending.

Applicable California Law

The driver of the hit-and-run vehicle will face felony criminal charges for leaving the scene of an accident resulting in injury or death (see my prior Blog post on Hit-And Run law in California). Furthermore, he will be subject to civil claims by the Swanson family for the wrongful death of Landen (see my prior Blog post on California Wrongful Law And Survivor Actions). As always, whenever there is a fatality or catastrophic injuries, the adequacy of the responsible parties’ insurance and assets are at issue (see my prior Blog post on California Uninsured And Underinsured Law).

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A study in the Emergency Medicine Journal substantiates the fact that there is a significant impact on children who sustain whiplash injuries. There has been a long standing debate among different medical practitioners as to the affects and consequences of these injuries on children. This controversy was due to many factors, but most prominently the lack of any significant studies on these types of injuries in children. In the past, cases involving whiplash injuries in children were overlooked in part because children either lack the ability to effectively communicate their problems or do not appreciate the nature and extent of their injuries. This lack of attention would often result in them not receiving the medical attention they needed and in some cases would result in long lasting consequences. These types of spine injuries can result from a number of different types of incidents, but in many instances are caused by auto accidents.

The study by Boyd, Massey, Duane & Yates entitled Whiplash associated disorder in children attending the emergency department followed 105 children who had been involved in auto accidents during an eight-month-period. The subjects, ages four to sixteen, had data collected at 5, 14,28, and 56 days after their auto accidents. Nine of them complained of pain on motion on physical exam, 47% showed pain on motion but no pain on physical exam. 60% of the subjects with whiplash injuries reported pain immediately after the crash, with 40% reporting the onset of symptoms the following day. Those who sustained even minor whiplash injuries were symptomatic for 2-18 days, and those with more significant injuries 2-62 days. This does not even address the psychological trauma as the study reveals “Recent work has shown that children are susceptible to and do experience significant psychological trauma after being involved in a car crash.”

Parents and adults should take action when a child has sustained a whiplash or other spine injury. Auto accidents, bicycle accidents, or slip and fall accidents can result in significant spine injuries or brain injuries. If your child or someone you know has sustained a serious whiplash or other injury, seek immediate medial attention and talk to an experienced personal injury attorney.

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pedestrian-injuries.jpgSIGNON SAN DIEGO Susan Shroder reported that Sharlotte Kingston a 36-year-old Poway woman, was struck by a pickup truck while walking her dog on September 13, 2011. The truck accident happened on Valley Verde Road and Dorset Way at around 11 a.m. According to Sheriff’s Sgt. Daniel Vengler, a 58-year-old Poway man allegedly lost control of his truck, hit a street sign, and then the woman. She sustained multiple injuries, including a head injury and was transported to Palomar Medical Center in Escondido in critical condition.

Applicable California Law

The pickup truck driver will be liable for the woman’s personal injuries and for violation of Vehicle Code 21658, which requires drivers to stay within their lane unless any movement can be made safely. The woman’s claims would include economic damages such as medical expenses, lost earnings and earning capacity. In addition, there would be damages for pain and suffering, to include past and future physical pain, mental suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, physical impairment, inconvenience, grief, anxiety, humiliation, and emotional distress. Given a significant head injury, her damages will be significant and hopefully the truck driver has enough assets and or insurance coverage to adequately compensate the victim for her injuries (see my prior Blog post Uninsured / Under-insured Auto and General Accident Guide).

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4e45f5b5cf967_preview-300North County Times Teri Figueroa and Morgan Cook reported that San Marcos Sheriff’s deputy Dustin Lopez was injured in a three-car collision on August 12, 2011 at around 10 a.m.. The auto accident happened as Lopez, traveling southbound on Rancho Santa Fe in an unmarked police vehicle, hit a Honda van and a Mercedes, which were heading northbound and turning left onto westbound La Costa. According to witnesses Lopez ran the red light; however, the incident is still under investigation by the Carlsbad police. Lopez was transported to Palomar Medical Center in Escondido. The driver of the Mercedes, Christine Stanley, 60, of Carlsbad was taken to Scripps Memorial Hospital in Encinitas. Both drivers were treated for multiple injuries including head injuries. Lopez was on his way to a detail in Encinitas when the accident occurred.

Applicable California Law

If the witnesses account are correct, Lopez violated California Vehicle Code 21453, which requires a driver approaching a red light to stop and yield to opposing traffic. However, if Stanley or the driver of the Honda saw Lopez approaching and knew he was not going to stop they could be partially at fault for violating Vehicle Code 21801 failure to yield to an oncoming vehicle which is close enough to constitute a hazard. Lopez can pursue a workers compensation claim and possibly a personal injury claim(see my prior Blog post San Diego EMT Fatally Injured In Multi Vehicle Auto Accident for California work injuries and liability claims). Stanley and the driver of the van or any other injured person can pursue claims for property damage to their vehicles as well as personal injury claims after they comply with the claims reporting requirements (see my prior blog post San Diego Fire Crewman Killed in Car Accident Near Gorman Government claims reporting requirements).

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brain-injury2Sign on San Diego Kristine Davis reported that Jessica Bloom, 21, of Rancho Bernardo pled not guilty to felony hit-and-run drunk driving on August 3, 2011. The charges arose out of auto accident on July 31, 2011 at around 12:30 p.m. when she rear-ended Sgt. David Smith, 34, a career Marine originally from Texas. Smith was stopped at a traffic light at Bernardo Center Drive near West Bernardo Drive on his motorcycle when he was hit and sustained a serious head injury. Witnesses saw Bloom hit Smith and flee the scene, she was later arrested. Deputy Attorney Matthew Williams said Bloom’s blood-alcohol level was .37, four times the legal limit. Smith was taken to Palomar Medical Center in Escondido where he remains in a medically induced coma. Smith’s fiancée, Vanessa Potts, said “It’s unfair, we’ve been through a lot this past couple years and he’s been through a lot in his military career, surviving an IED explosion. How do you come home and get hurt doing something that you love? I mean, he genuinely loves riding. That day, the last message I got from him was how beautiful the day was, and how he wished he could ride all day.”

Applicable California Law

Bloom faces felony hit-and-run and drunk driving charges (see my prior Blog post San Diego Hit-And-Run Auto Accident Causes Severe Brain Injury on Hit-and-Run and DUI Law in California). In addition, Smith will have claims for his personal injury; however, it is doubtful that Bloom carries enough insurance coverage to adequately compensate Smith for his injuries. Being put into an induced coma for any length of time will result in tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical costs and most likely lifelong consequences. Hopefully Smith has the benefit of substantial uninsured/underinsured coverage of his ownown (see my prior Blog post Uninsured / Under-insured Auto and General Accident Guide)

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pedestrian-accidentSan Diego Union Tribune Pauline Repard reported that 71-year-old Jan Chizer-Williams of San Diego lost control of her PT Cruiser, struck, and fatally injured a woman and seriously injured her boyfriend and son on June 3, 2011. The auto accident occurred on University Avenue and Euclid Avenue in City Heights while the three victims were waiting at a bus bench. According to police investigator, officer Dan Wall, the driver suffered a severe low-blood sugar diabetic episode causing her to loose control of her vehicle, jump the curb, heading straight for the bus bench striking the victims and running into a building. Police and paramedics responded, Wall reported that the 10 year-old-boy was knocked unconscious, suffered a broken arm, multiple cuts and was transported to Rady hospital. His 25-year-old mother was taken to Scripps Mercy Hospital where she later died. Her 28-year-old boyfriend was taken to UCSD Medical Center with multiple fractures to his leg and feet.

Our sympathy goes out to the boy, his family and friends of the deceased.

Applicable California Law

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wallis_t593SAN DIEGO UNION TRIBUNE Elizabeth Aguilera reported that Izaiah Wallis of Vista was released from Rady Children’s Hospital on May 17, 2011 after being hospitalized for seven months. Izaiah and his grandfather were on there way to a park in Oceanside when they were struck by a 17-year-old drunk driver on October 18, 2010. The toddler was thrown from his stroller and was left paralyzed and partially blind as a result of a brain injury when his head was severed from his spine. His parents were quoted as saying, “It’s going to be a bumpy road, but with all the help and support we can get through this,” said Jacob Wallis, Izaiah’s father. “It’s like bringing a newborn baby home for the first time. Lucy and I have waiting for this day to come,” said Wallis, referring to his fiancé, who is also Izaiah’s mother. The driver who hit them was sentenced to 480 days in custody.

Applicable California Law

The teenage driver was convicted of driving under the influence resulting in bodily injury (see my prior Blog post on California DUI Law). Furthermore, Izaiah and his grandfather will have claims for personal injury. However, there is a question as to the amount of insurance or other assets of the responsible parties to adequately compensate the victims, which is usually the case in accidents involving catastrophic injuries(see my prior Blog post on UM/UIM Coverage). Given the catastrophic nature of Izaiah’s injuries and the cost of future care it is doubtful that the defendants have adequate assets. California has various assistance programs, such as the fund for victims of violent crimes. Fortunately, San Diego has exceptional facilities to help brain injury victims such as Brain Tek Institute and the rehabilitation center at Scripps Memorial Hospital in Encinitas (see my prior Blog post on Traumatic Brain Injury).

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Bicycle-Accident-LawyerSan Diego Union Tribune, Debbie Baker reported that an unnamed 46-year-old man riding a bicycle sustained a life-threatening head injury on April 25, 2011. The bicycle accident happened around 5 p.m. in North Park when the bicyclist, who was riding east on University Avenue near Arizona Street, was knocked to the ground. According to police, as he rode passed a parked vehicle the 22-year-old woman driver opened the car door striking the bicyclist, who suffered a life-threatening skull fracture when he fell and hit his head on the ground. Traffic division officers are still investigating the matter.

Applicable California law

The bicyclist will have claims for any damage to his personal property as well as his personal injuries due to the driver’s inattention when opening her car door. These damages include medical bills, lost earnings and earning capacity in addition to compensation for pain and suffering. However, it is not clear if the bicyclist was wearing a helmet since he sustained a skull fracture. Furthermore, he has the same obligations as other vehicles on the road to exercise due care. If he failed to do so and this contributed to the causing his own injuries, his claims would be reduced proportionately (see my prior Blog post on California Bike Law). Head injuries such as skull fractures can cause permanent consequences (see my prior Blog post on Brain Injuries and resources), which leads to the question as to whether the driver has adequate insurance coverage (see my prior Blog post on California Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Law). If the cyclist was wearing a helmet and it was defective, which contributed to his injuries, he could potentially pursue a products liability claim (see my prior Blog post on California Products Liability Law).