One of the most significant injuries a person can get from a Michigan car accident or Michigan truck accident is a traumatic brain injury (TBI). This injury is also known as a closed-head injury.
These injuries can change the entire course of an individual’s life and their family’s life.
According to the Brain Injury Association of America, more than 2.8 million Americans sustain a traumatic brain injury each year.13% of these come from car accidents. Most are mild traumatic brain injuries, with recovery occurring in a few weeks. However, many are long lasting and cause significant problems for everyone involved, including memory loss, trouble speaking, nausea, headaches and other ailments.
A Michigan law firm that specializes in handling traumatic brain injuries can help put the pieces back together. Michigan auto accident lawyers that have represented closed-head injury victims know to present the medical evidence and show to a judge or jury the significant change that has occurred since the car accident or trauma occurred.
What Causes a Traumatic Brain Injury?
Traumatic brain injury, also called TBI, occurs when the brain is injured by a sudden force or trauma. The brain can be driven into the side of the skull by a sudden blow, or by the force of shaking or whiplash. When this occurs, the brain can suffer bruising and swelling, and in some cases the impact will be sufficient to tear blood vessels in the brain, causing intracranial bleeding.
If the trauma results in damage to the skull itself, such as a crack or break, the trauma is considered a penetrating head injury. More difficult to diagnose are closed head injuries, in which the brain is injured but the skull remains undamaged. This can occur from a blow or impact, or from severe back-and-forth shaking, such as whiplash.
Car Accidents are one of the leading causes of traumatic brain injuries. However, other causes include slip-and-fall, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, falls from an elevated height like a nursing bed or construction site, as well as sports related activities.
How Does a Doctor Check For a Traumatic Brain Injury?
Following a Detroit car accident, a doctor can use different methods to check for traumatic brain injury. There are numerous diagnostic tests available to determine the severity of TBI. These tests include electroencephalogram (EEG), SPECT scan, PET scan, MRI and CT scans. A new test, called magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS), detects the intra-cellular relationship of brain metabolites. This test can help “objectify” a brain injury.
In all cases involving closed head injury or TBI, it is necessary to study the symptoms that follow the accident in order to diagnose the condition. Anyone who has sustained a blow to the head or experienced whiplash-like injuries should be evaluated by a medical professional to determine if TBI has taken place.
In many cases, the symptoms may be so slight as to escape the victim’s notice, but if treatment is not available, further injury can develop. Often the symptoms may be delayed for many hours, until swelling in the brain reaches a point that it affects the victim.
What Are Symptoms of a Traumatic Brain Injury?
Although each injury and case is different, the symptoms of a TBI are fairly consistent. They usually include the following:
- Headaches, often severe
- Nausea or vomiting
- Feeling like you are in a daze
- Fatigue and drowsiness
- Loss of balance
- Problems with speech
More severe traumatic brain injury victims have these symptoms but also suffer from additional problems. These problems can range from cognitive problems, short-term and long-term memory, trouble with concentration, depression and anxiety, and trouble sleeping.
If a person is experiencing these symptoms following a Detroit car crash, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. An emergency room doctor can help quickly evaluate the patient and do appropriate testing. In addition, a referral to a neurologist should be made. A neurologist is a doctor who specializes in the study of disease to the nervous system. Many neurologist focus on treating brain injury victims.
Who Pays for a Traumatic Brain Injury from a Michigan Car Crash?
There are different ways to get benefits and compensation for a closed-head injury or brain injury following a Detroit car accident.
First, if another person was at least 50% at-fault for causing the accident, the driver and owner must pay for the pain and suffering incurred. This is a standard negligence case against the at-fault driver. It is also known as a third-party case.
For example, a person blows a red light and causes a horrible car crash on Grand River in Detroit. The passenger in the other vehicle sustains a bad head injury. She loses consciousness at the accident scene and has months of headaches, neck pain, memory loss, vertigo and dizziness. She can sue the driver that ran the stop sign as well as the vehicle owner for the pain, suffering, and emotional distress she is going through.
In the same example, this person can also make a claim for Michigan no-fault benefits. These benefits are also known as first-party benefits, or PIP benefits. PIP benefits include the payment of lost wage for 3 years, the payment of all medical expenses not covered by health insurance up to the PIP coverage limit and payment for prescriptions.
Replacement Services and Attendant Care from a Traumatic Brain Injury Accident:
In addition to the benefits just mentioned, if a person with a traumatic brain injury from a Michigan car wreck needs assistance at home, then those individuals can get paid for their work. This includes family and friends. If they are doing household chores that the injured person was doing before, this is called replacement services. A person can receive $20 per day for up to 3 years for replacement services.
Family and friends can also receive payment for attendant care. Attendant care is more personal care and involves activities like helping a person get dressed, eat, change bandages, take medication and overall supervision. Individuals can receive an hourly wage for this work.
Outside companies can also provide attendant care to a person with a traumatic brain injury. For those individuals’ wheelchair bound and with severe brain damage, outside nursing care companies are often the only option.
Which Car Insurance Company Pays the Michigan PIP No-Fault Benefits?
Going back to the above example, if the passenger in the car accident had car insurance with State Farm, then State Farm would be responsible for paying her PIP benefits. You always start with your own car insurance first. That has been the law for 50 years.
If you don’t have car insurance, then the car insurance of a resident relative must pay the clam. Resident relatives are people like spouses, siblings, parents, children and other blood related family members.
If there is no car insurance in the household, then in almost all situations the injured person get the Michigan Assigned Claims Plan (MACP) involved. An Application for Benefits must be submitted with supporting documentation to the MACP. The organization, which is state managed organization actually run by the auto insurance industry, will then assign an insurance company to pay the claim, such as Farm Bureau or Allstate Insurance.
How Much In PIP Does the Auto Insurance Company Have to Pay?
The amount of PIP benefits that must be paid depends on the policy coverage and who is paying. The MACP only has to pay up to $250,000 in PIP medical benefits. For individuals with their own policies, the amount of PIP coverage purchased will dictate how much in payments must be made.
Some folks still have unlimited coverage. This means the auto carrier must pay all medical expenses related to the Michigan crash. This is a great thing to have for individuals with traumatic brain injury. TBI treatment is very expensive. Between occupational rehabilitation, physical therapy, speech therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and other treatment the cost can really add up.
However, most policies now only have $250,000 in PIP coverage. Some folks have no PIP coverage at all. I strongly urge against opting-out of payment for any PIP coverage if you are eligible for this. For example, Medicare does not pay for many treatments needed after a TBI from a car accident.
A Detroit car accident lawyer who specializes in traumatic brain injury cases can make sure you get these benefits and compensation.
Michigan Traumatic Brain Injury Lawyers
TBI can cause serious, life-threatening events and result in permanent irreversible damage to the brain. It can lead to seizures, memory loss, impaired communication skills, emotional instability, and many other disabilities. Symptoms may be as obvious as a coma or as subtle as a change in emotional behavior.
Traumatic brain injury can have a profound effect on the quality of life, including the inability to work, inability to interact appropriately with friends and family, loss of normal body skills and function, as well as other ailments and problems.
For over 40 years, the Lee Steinberg Law Firm, P.C. has helped Michigan traumatic brain injury victims win their case and collect the compensation they deserve.
Please call Lee Free and Michigan traumatic brain injury lawyers at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733) or fill out the Free Case Evaluation Form so we can answer any questions you may have about traumatic brain injury.
You pay nothing until we settle your Michigan personal injury case. Let us help you today.