Brain Injury Claim Information:
What is a brain injury?
The brain passes messages within itself by means of trillions of neurones. When the brain is injured it is these message pathways which are inhibited or damaged causing problems with everyday functionality.
Primary Injury - this is caused when at the moment of impact the brain may tear or rip or bruising may occur where the brain is crushed against the hard and bony ridges inside the skull.
Secondary injury – Brain swelling, reducing the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain cells. Breathing Problems (anoxia) causes reduction in oxygen supply to the brain if other body parts central to the breathing process are injured i.e. heart and lungs.
What is an Acquired Brain Injury (ABI)?
An acquired brain injury (ABI) is brain damage caused by events after birth, rather than as part of a genetic or congenital disorder such as fetal alcohol syndrome, perinatal illness or perinatal hypoxia. ABI can result in cognitive, physical, emotional, or behavioural impairments that lead to permanent or temporary changes in functioning. These impairments result from either traumatic brain injury (e.g. physical trauma due to accidents, assaults, neurosurgery, head injury etc.) or non-traumatic injury derived from either an internal or external source (e.g. stroke, brain tumors, infection, poisoning, hypoxia, ischemia, encephalopathy or substance abuse). ABI does not include damage to the brain resulting from neurodegenerative disorders.
What is an Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)?
Traumatic Brain Injury(TBI) is damage incurred as a direct result of impact to the head. Most commonly as a result of Road Traffic Accidents (RTAs), physical assaults, or any sudden impact to the head. TBI can cause a host of physical, cognitive, social, emotional, and behavioral effects, and outcome can range from complete recovery to permanent disability.
Some of the main causes of brain injury as a result of clinical negligence are:
Birth Asphyxiation – Cerebral Palsy is caused by oxygen starvation during birth. Common problems include difficulty using and controlling muscles, walking, writing, eating, talking and dressing. Problems occur with balance and coordination, posture, hearing, learning and epilepsy.
Brain Damage caused during surgery – If the head or brain is being operated on, there is always a chance that damage can be caused to the brain itself. It is also possible that when another part of the body is being operated upon under a general anaesthetic, the patient could receive insufficient oxygen to the brain and then suffer brain damage. The lack of oxygen could be caused by a problem with the oxygen supply to the patient or by the patient experiencing a cardiac arrest.
Misdiagnosis or delayed treatment of a medical condition – Some medical conditions require urgent treatment to prevent complications and further injuries occurring. For instance, a misdiagnosed or untreated brain tumour, brain haemorrhage, stroke, epilepsy, meningitis or encephalitis can cause permanent brain damage.
Overdose of medication – Some types of medication, prescribed in doses which are too high can cause swelling to the brain which can result in permanent brain damage.
“The effects of brain injury can vary dramatically, from catastrophic physical and cognitive disabilities to more subtle problems that are less obvious but that have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life.”
Understanding the Claim Process
Once you have decided which solicitor best suits your particular needs, and submitted the quick enquiry form:
- You will be contacted by the most appropriate person in their practice who will clarify the information you provided in your enquiry form
- They will schedule an initial consultation, either over the phone or face to face to determine whether your case is eligible for pursuit
- At initial consultation, if acceptable you should be offered a NO WIN NO FEE arrangement or Legal Expense Insurance and given an idea of the level of compensation and subsequent care/professional services you are likely to achieve
- The solicitor will then document your claim, interpreting and understanding the information you provided in your initial consultation, before meeting with you again, or corresponding remotely, for you to read through and agree with the contents prior to this being issued to the defendant.
- Subsequent meetings between you and your solicitor will cover medical evidence, in most cases an independent medical assessment is required, but this is at no cost to you. You will also have to sign to give permission for your solicitor to access your medical records.
- At this point you should also consider what losses this negligence has had on you financially, emotionally as well as physically whilst also considering its direct impacts including:
- Pain and suffering
- Ongoing treatment
- If you cannot carry out certain activities or hobbies
- Loss of earnings
- The cost of any extra care or equipment you may require
- The cost of adapting your home
- Psychiatric or psychological injury
Typically these processes can take between 6-18 months to pursue and settlement achieved, with the majority of claims being settled out of court.
LIMITATION OF ACTIONS – ACT SOONER RATHER THAN LATER!
The time limit for bringing legal proceedings for clinical negligence resulting in physical or psychiatric injury is three years, although this can be extended under certain exceptional circumstances. The time runs from the date of the negligence or from the date that the injured person has knowledge of certain factors which make up the claim. These are set out in the Limitation Act 1980. The three-year limit does not apply in specific circumstances. For children, time starts to run from their eighteenth birthday. For those unable to administer their affairs by reason of mental disorder or lack of capacity, time does not begin to run until they regain capacity. In addition, the court has a general discretion to allow a claim to proceed even if the time limit has expired, although it will only do this if there are good reasons for the delay.
Whenever possible it is always best to approach a solicitor long before the end of the three year period. This will give the solicitor time to investigate the potential claim and prepare the case fully before the claim must be issued. Also, the sooner the claim is investigated the more likely it is that documents will still exist, and that those involved will be able to remember more accurately what actually happened.