brain injuries

Overview

Accidents, illnesses and environmental issues result in over 16,000 Ontarians sustaining brain injuries every year.

Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) describes various forms of damage to the brain sustained postnatal (after birth). Typically, ABI is defined as damage to the brain as a result of trauma, stroke, post-surgical complications, or certain illnesses. Impairments due to degenerative and congenital diseases such as Dementia, Multiple Sclerosis, Huntington’s, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and prenatal illness do not fall under the ABI umbrella.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Non- Traumatic Brain Injury are subcategories of ABI. TBI occurs when an external force causes damage to the brain. Slips and falls, car accidents or physical assaults to the head can cause this type of ABI. Non-Traumatic Brain Injuries are a result of damage caused by a metabolic disruption (e.g., hypoglycemia), hypoxia and anoxia (i.e., loss of oxygen to the brain), brain lesions or tumours, toxins, and illness (e.g., meningitis).

Since the brain controls emotional, behavioural and cognitive abilities, when damage occurs, it affects the way a person thinks, feels and acts. A brain injury not only impacts the individual diagnosed, but their loved ones as well, especially if long term care is required. The cost associated with treating a brain injury can be significant. The expense reaches one billion dollars annually in Ontario alone.

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brain injuries

Common Injuries

While serious injuries to the head do not always result in damage to the brain, it’s important to note the most common forms of head trauma that can cause Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) include:

Skull Fracture

Cracks or breaks in the skull that can result in damage to the area of the brain below the fracture site.

Concussion

A mild concussion may involve no loss of consciousness (feeling “dazed”) or a very brief loss of consciousness (being “knocked out”). A severe concussion may involve prolonged loss of consciousness with a delayed return to normal.

Cerebral Contusion

Cerebral contusion is a bruising of the brain caused by direct blows to the skull or by acceleration deceleration forces.

Subdural Hematoma

When bleeding under the dura occurs, it can cause a blood clot to form, which can put pressure on the brain.

Epidural Hematoma

When bleeding occurs between the dura and the skull, it can cause a blood clot to form, which can put pressure on the brain.

Intracerebral Hemorrhage

When blood vessels deep within in the brain are injured, they can cause bleeding that occurs inside brain tissue.

Swelling of the Brain

When a TBI occurs, the brain is compressed within the skull which can cause damage. There is also the potential for decreased blood flow to the brain.

brain injuries

Causes and Symptoms

The most common causes of Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) are:

  • Motor Vehicle Accidents such as: car accidents, motorcycle accidents, trucking accidents, boating accidents, cycling accidents and pedestrian accidents.
  • Slips and falls
  • Sporting accidents
  • Physical attacks (e.g., fights or assaults)
  • Gunshot wounds

Brain injuries can result in bruising, open wounds, bleeding and even swelling of the brain. These injuries can be very serious as they can affect the way a person thinks, feels or behaves.

Survivors who suffer the effects of a brain injury can experience:

Confusion and Memory Loss

Individuals who have sustained an Acquired Brain Injury may be confused about the events leading up to the injury. This confusion may be temporary or permanent. Serious injury to the brain may result in short or long term memory loss. Individuals may not recall events that just happened (e.g., eating lunch, turning on the stove, etc.) or may not remember anything about their life or their loved ones at all.

A Loss of Physical and Cognitive Abilities

Brain injuries can also result in paralysis of limbs and loss of speech, sight, smell, taste or hearing. Cognitive skills can also be affected. Individuals may lose the ability to learn new tasks or have impaired reasoning skills. Others may suffer from chronic headaches and even seizures.

Changes in Emotions and Behaviour

Since the brain controls emotions and behaviours as well as cognition, brain injuries can affect the way a person feels and acts. However, changes in behaviour or emotion can also be due to frustration, depression, or anger about the injury.

Social Difficulties

Individuals may struggle with initiating and maintaining friendships after sustaining a brain injury. These difficulties may be due to communication impairments (e.g., loss of speech, hearing, vision, etc.), changes in cognitive ability (e.g., long and short term memory loss), diminished social skills and self-esteem, or loss of physical abilities (e.g., paralysis, ability to drive, etc.).  

brain injuries

Treatment and Prognosis

A Computed Tomography (CT) scan and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) are the most common ways doctors detect brain injuries. Recovery and the rate of healing depend upon a person’s age, their overall health prior to the injury and the extent of the damage.

Statistics show that 80% of people who sustain a mild brain injury fully recover. However, those who sustained a more severe injury may have permanent physical, cognitive and emotional impairments.

The course and type of treatment also depends on the injury. A comprehensive treatment plan includes both physical therapy and cognitive therapy.

A complete rehabilitation program should focus on the following areas:

  • Physical
  • Cognitive
  • Behavioural
  • Vocational
  • Educational
  • Community Re-entry
  • Recreational

An individual’s social network—friends and family—are also a key component in the healing process. Their support and compassion not only ease a patient’s worries and burdens, but can also speed up the recovery process.

The rate of recovery from a brain injury is as unique as the individuals who sustain them. No two people will recover the same way or in the same amount of time. However, it’s important that individuals remain positive, flexible and open to all forms of treatment. Seek support from family, friends, other patients and healthcare professionals.

brain injuries

Legal Considerations

Survivors of serious brain injuries often require a high level of care for the rest of their lives, income support, significant vocational assistance if you are able to return to the workforce at all, and a need to develop new interests and activities. All of these life-changing aspects should be compensated. Getting you the compensation is our Toronto brain injury lawyer’s job.

At Carranza our brain injury lawyers have years of experience acting for people who have suffered brain injuries. We strive to fully understand you and how your and your family’s lifestyle is affected by your serious injury and your rehabilitation. We start to work immediately to maximize your personal recovery by ensuring you get the treatment and assistance you require to return to as many social, family, and leisure activities as soon as possible. At the same time, we gather evidence to quantify every aspect of your losses to maximize your financial recovery.

Brain injury survivors who are key witnesses to the accident may not remember particular details about the event and insurance companies and/or defendants may deny that a brain injury has ever occurred. It is imperative to understand the seriousness of brain injuries and to obtain qualified legal advice.

brain injuries

Cultural Perspective

Not only can the personal injury lawyers and staff members at Carranza help overcome the language barrier, we can also assist with any cultural issues that may arise, including:

  • Traditional versus modern medicine and conflicts about medications
  • Informing loved ones of medical issues and facilitating discussions between rehab teams and key decision makers in the family
  • Explaining body language and how its interpretation might affect your care
  • The impact of religion on care, treatment and recovery
  • Cultural stigmas surrounding shame, depression and isolation
  • The importance of nutrition, diet and the use of herbal remedies
  • How brain injuries affect the family, their social status and future possibilities
  • Bridging the gap between a family’s beliefs and the Canadian healthcare system

real examples of cultural issues in a case

At Carranza, we understand how difficult it can be when English is not your first language. Cultural differences can often affect your case. Having the right representation can make a big difference.

views of authority

One of our clients grew up in a country where the police were corrupt and violent. He learned early in life to fear and obey the police without question.

In Canada, he was involved in a car accident. He was issued a traffic ticket at the scene for making an improper turn, even though the other vehicle had run a red light. The officer told him to pay the ticket, and the client obeyed even though he did not believe the accident was his fault.

In the resulting civil action for damages, the insurance lawyer argued that our client’s payment of the ticket meant that our client admitted responsibility for making an improper turn and causing the accident. Since we were aware of our client’s previous experience with police in his home country, we were able to demonstrate his deference to police and were able to settle the claim on the basis that the other driver was 100% at fault.

brain injuries

How we can help

Families are often surprised and overwhelmed by how much an injury can impact their lives and their financial situation. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you understand your current situation better and explain your legal entitlements.

At Carranza, our involvement begins the moment we meet you. Through every interaction, we strive to make you feel comfortable, safe and supported to the best of our abilities.

We are so committed to ensuring we consistently meet you and your family’s needs, Carranza has become the only ISO certified personal injury law firm in Canada.

This ISO certification ensures that our firm is held to the highest standard of client service, that we continually improve our communication, our training and our procedures. We did this, because you are the focus of all we do. We did this, because you are important.

At Carranza, our job is more than helping you through litigation; it is also our responsibility to ensure you have the right resources for your rehabilitation. Your medical and rehab teams work hard to help you recover. They will address your physical, emotional, mental and social needs. We will work closely with them, so you and your family do not have to worry about the additional costs of rehab treatments and assistive devices.

Take care of you.

We'll take care of the rest.

brain injuries

Your options for compensation

If you are involved in a vehicle accident there is help available.

You are entitled to:

accident benefits

Whether or not you were at fault for the accident, all Ontario auto insurance policies provide compulsory benefits outlined in the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule (SABS).

Your family members and dependents may also be entitled to some benefits even though they were not involved in the accident. Accident Benefits can be claimed no matter what your legal residence status is in this country.

disability insurance

Short-Term or Long-Term disability benefits available from your job or a private policy must be applied for immediately. These benefits are always primary. Your car insurance will only cover what your private disability policy will not cover.

fault-based lawsuits

In addition to the Accident Benefits claim, you may also sue the person or people responsible for the accident.

This type of claim, called a tort claim, seeks compensation for:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Economic losses (e.g. present and future income losses)
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • The cost of future medical treatment and care
  • The cost of future attendant care
  • The cost of housekeeping and care giving needs
  • Out of pocket expenses
  • Loss of shared family income
  • Loss of care, guidance and companionship suffered by your immediate family
  • Economic losses of family members incurred due to the accident

Once we have a firm understanding of the particulars of your case, we can provide you with an estimate of what you can expect to recover. We look at every means of compensation available to you. We know how important every dollar recovered is to you and your family.

With significant changes made to the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule as of September 1st, 2010, it is imperative that you consult a lawyer to find out what you may be entitled to. For a printable overview of what you may be entitled to, click here.

brain injuries

Time Limits

Insurance companies will generally only pay for any treatment or expense after you apply for the corresponding benefit, so it is important that you apply for all the benefits you will need as soon as possible. Strict time limits apply. We will meet these deadlines for you, so you can focus on your recovery.

Some of the key limits to keep in mind:

7 Days – you must inform the Accident Benefits insurance company of the accident and that you were hurt.

30 Days – you must complete and send the Accident Benefits application within 30 days of it being provided to you by the insurance company. If you take longer, the insurance company can delay your benefits 45 days and may be able to deny you benefits altogether.

120 Days – you need to give written notice of your intention to sue the at-fault parties.

2 Years – to commence a lawsuit against an at-fault driver or your own insurance company if your benefits are denied.

You must provide the insurance company all the information it needs to determine your entitlement. You have 10 business days after it requests such information to provide it, or it can suspend or deny your benefits.

brain injuries

Disclaimer

This website is meant as a general reference for injured persons and their families. The medical and legal information contained in this manual is not intended to offer legal or medical advice. The content of this website is for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the professional judgment of a legal and/or healthcare professional, and you should not rely upon any material or statements made on this website for legal or medical advice. It is not intended to create a solicitor-client relationship. It is recommended that you review any medical information carefully with your doctor or healthcare professional before making any decisions regarding your health or recommended medical treatment.

While reasonable attempts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information on this website, our firm cannot make express or implied representations or warranties about the accuracy or completeness of the information. Each person's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Please contact an Ontario Personal Injury lawyer for a consultation on your particular personal injury matter.