What you need to know about Colorado injury law and serious head injuries
A traumatic brain injury can cause a host of problems and last a lifetime. If the injury was caused by a car accident or workplace incident, the claimant might be able to recover compensation. An attorney will be able to review the facts and ascertain whether the TBI was caused by negligence.
What you think is just a hit to the head can leave behind serious problems: paralysis, blindness, personality changes or even death.
The problem with head injuries is that we can’t always immediately see what is going on inside the skull.
If someone gets into a car accident or a biker gets clipped by a passing vehicle in Colorado, they might seem all right at first glance – heck, they might even be talking normally – but as time passes, you notice that their eyes take on a glassy sheen and their speech pattern becomes more and more difficult to understand.
Sometimes it takes days or weeks for these injuries to manifest.
A traumatic brain injury can take many forms, and some require many years of rehabilitation. If your injury was caused by a car accident or an accident at work, you might be able to receive compensation.
How to spot a head injury
Head injuries are sneaky by nature.
Some of the symptoms look like a rude teenager who doesn’t want to talk to you. Others manifest as an approximation of the flu.
Take into account what has happened in recent days – were you in an accident? Did you hit your head on anything? Did you slip and fall on the floor? That event accompanied with these symptoms will start to make more sense.
- Difficulty speaking
- Depression or irritability
- Changes in personality
- Numbness in body parts
- Losing consciousness
If you notice these symptoms and can trace them back to an injurious event, you should speak with a doctor right away. Brain injuries are very dangerous, and if left untreated can leave behind a host of permanent problems.
What sorts of accidents cause a traumatic brain injury?
Your brain is very fragile and sits in a pool of intracranial fluid.
When it gets jostled about, there is the potential of the brain hitting the front of the skull, which is called a coup. Then, physical force pushes it to the back of the skull, which is called a countercoup. This can cause a loss of consciousness, intense headaches, impaired cognition and a host of other symptoms.
High-impact sports like football and rugby can cause concussions and contusions.
Car accidents are notorious for causing these sorts of injuries as well, since whiplash is a very common occurrence. Technically, however, any blow to the head – a punch, a fall, even a well-placed slap by a very strong person – could cause a concussion. Your brain is a delicate organ protected by a shell that can be penetrated by anything pointy enough to pierce bone and skin; it’s not like your skull is a football helmet.
Who is liable for this sort of accident?
As with any injury, negligence must be established in order to sue for damages. If you have medical bills in relation to your traumatic brain injury, look to see if someone violated a duty of care that directly resulted in your damages.
For instance, if you slipped and fell in a grocery store and hit your head on the floor, an employee was likely responsible for cleaning the floor. If he or she did not clean the floor but was supposed to, that employee violated a duty of care, which directly resulted in your accident. This would be a classic case of negligence.
What types of compensation can I receive for a traumatic brain injury?
Head and brain injuries are often lifelong conditions that require intensive care. This means that a higher compensation amount would be required to cover the various damages.
In Colorado, damages are divided into economic and non-economic categories. Economic damages don’t have a cap and are associated with monetary losses or expenses. Some examples are:
- Lost wages
- Current or future medical expenses
- Property damage
- Funeral costs in the case of wrongful death
Non-economic damages refer to losses for things like pain and suffering, emotional trauma, loss of companionship and loss of quality of life. Colorado has damage caps for non-economic damages.
- For accidents before January 1, 1998: $250,000, which may be increased to $500,000 if there is clear and convincing evidence justifying an increase
- For accidents between January 1, 1998 and January 1, 2008: $366,250, which may be increased to $732,500 upon a showing of clear and convincing evidence justifying the increase
- For accidents after January 1, 2008: $468,010, which may be increased to $936,030 by the court upon a showing of clear and convincing evidence justifying the increase.
How do I know if I need an attorney?
Traumatic brain injuries are, by definition, traumatic. Medical costs for such injuries are likely to be high, and the day-to-day struggles can be debilitating. It is hard to handle the case on your own.
Building a strong case for compensation will include establishing proof of injuries, which can be hard because traumatic brain injuries are “invisible.” The accompanying emotional injuries will also be difficult to show to a jury.
You will need expert testimony, medical evidence and independent medical exams.
An attorney will be able to help you with all of this while you just focus on getting better. Consider speaking with an Enjuris listing Colorado law firm, and also take a look at our brain injury resource center. It can help to speak with others going through the same experience.
Colorado TBI resources
Brain Injury Alliance of Colorado - The Brain Injury Alliance of Colorado is a resource for help and services for survivors of an injury to the brain, their families and providers. (Includes support group directory.)
Colorado Brain Injury Program - The Brain Injury Program is part of the Colorado Department of Human Services, Office of Community Access and Independence. Funds for services, education and research are generated via the Colorado Traumatic Brain Injury Trust Fund.
Colorado Kids with Brain Injury - Contains a manual, waiver, case management guidance for educators, and other resources, including a concussion group, pediatric stroke support group, and resources for parents.