To understand why legal representation is necessary for a person affected by brain injuries, it first helps to know what one is. The Brain Injury Association of America describes a traumatic brain injury as "a blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the function of the brain.
However, the BIA notes that not all blows or jolts to the head cause TBI and, much like other injuries and afflictions, there are different grades of TBI, based on the severity, ranging from "mild" to "severe."
The Mayo Clinic maintains a list of symptoms of each grade. Mild brain injuries can result in brief loss of consciousness, amnesia for events that occurred immediately before or after the injury was sustained, headaches, confusion, dizziness or loss of balance, sensory problems like blurry vision, ringing in the ears, or a bad taste in the mouth, mood swings, and/or problems remembering or concentrating. Severe brain injuries can cause persistent headaches, nausea or repeated vomiting, convulsions or seizures, inability to wake one's self from sleep, dilated pupils, slurring of the speech, weak or numb extremities, lost coordination, profound confusion, and/or agitation and combativeness.
The BIA says that 1.4 million people in the U.S. suffer a traumatic brain injury each year. Of those 1.4 million, 50,000 die, 235,000 require hospitalization, and 1.1 million are treated and released from hospitals. Those figures don't include the unknown number of people who suffer a TBI and do not seek medical attention.
The BIA cites estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that highlight another reason to seek legal representation: the long-term effects. The CDC says that at least 3.17 million Americans currently require long-term or lifelong assistance in performing activities of daily living. And not all of these needs can be met. The CDC says that that approximately 40 percent of people who visit the hospital have at least one unmet need a year later, with the most frequent unmet needs being improving memory and problem solving, managing stress and emotional upsets, controlling the temper, and improving job skills.
Many times these needs are unmet due to another reason one should seek legal representation: monetary expenses. The BIA says that in the U.S. in the year 1995, the estimated total for direct medical expenses and indirect costs like lost productivity was $60 billion.
The Brain Injury Resource Center cites a National Institutes of Health study that reported 85 percent of brain injury patients not receiving any treatment or counseling concerning the long-term complications. In that same study, it was discovered that the high cost of rehab services has placed them out of the reach of many people who would otherwise seek their aid.
Finally, another major reason to seek legal representation is the vulnerability of you and your loved ones after suffering a brain injury. The Brain Injury Resource Center says that an investigation conducted by the Justice Department discovered that several patients had been taken advantage of by several leading head injury rehab facilities.
So why should someone who suffers a brain injury seek legal representation? Because the injury itself can have long-term, possibly permanent effects, to recover the costly expenses of treatment, care and rehabilitation, and because you and your family may be left vulnerable and it helps to know you have someone on your side.