I. What is a TBI?

A blow to the head or severe injury that results in damage to the brain is commonly called a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).  TBIs can result in bruised brain tissue, bleeding inside the brain, lacerations of the brain, and nerve damage due to shearing forces. The brain can also swell resulting in the need for immediate action to relieve the pressure.  TBI victims may also experience fever, seizures, or an imbalance of neurological chemicals.

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a catastrophic injury that alters one’s life in a way that is similar to 3rd degree burns, amputations, or serious spinal cord injuries. It can disrupt life on many different levels including physical, emotional, psychological, and social levels. A brain injury may result in impairments to cognition, communication, memory, attention, concentration, reasoning, abstract thinking, loss of physical functions and diminished information processing.  Brain injuries can disrupt and slow down skills that are essential for daily living.  For instance, it may prevent such basic tasks as cooking, household chores, and the ability to sign legal documents or write checks.    In short, a TBI can change the very essence of the person, much like Alzheimer’s disease.  Often times, a brain injury is a life changing injury that is devastating not only for the victim but also for their family and friends.

II. Causes of a TBI

Brain injuries are often caused by a blow to the head resulting from automobile accidents, motorcycle or bicycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, sports related injuries.  These injuries are sometimes temporary but many severe brain injuries leave victims with permanent impairments.

  • Legal Issues for Victims of Traumatic Brain Injuries in Missouri

If a loved one suffers a traumatic brain injury, there are many decisions that may need to be made almost immediately.  The first consideration is whether the injured person is disabled mentally, physically and legally incapacitated. Under Missouri law, “an incapacitated person is one who is unable by reason of any physical or mental condition to receive and evaluate information or to communicate decisions to such an extent that he [or she] lacks capacity to meet essential requirements for food, clothing, shelter, safety or other care such that serious physical injury, illness, or disease is likely to occur.” R.S.Mo 475.010.  Similarly, a disabled person is one who is “unable by reason of any physical or mental condition to re­ceive and evaluate information or to communicate decisions to such an extent that the person lacks ability to manage his [or her] financial resources.” Id.

A traumatic brain injury may result in having a guardian appointed to handle the duties relating to the care, custody, and control of the person.  Similarly, a conservator may be appointed to handle legal issues such as personal and business financial matters. This begs the question of whether an attorney is needed after a traumatic brain injury is sustained.

III. Steps to take to Protect Victims of TBIs

If the brain injury is from an injury caused by someone else’s negligence such as in an automobile accident, bicycle accident, slip/trip and fall accident, semi-truck accident, or other type of accident, the services of an attorney are often critical and immediate. The more seriously injured one is, the greater the need for legal representation.  A guardianship/conservatorship or power of attorney will need to be set up often times while the injured victim is still hospitalized.  The families of victims with traumatic brain injuries in Missouri should also consult an attorney before any money is received as a Special Needs Trust may have to be set up to protect the ability of the injured person to continue to get much needed services and medical care.  If the injury leave the victim unable to work and provide for himself/herself, services such as Social Security Disability, Medicare or Medicaid may be required.  These often times come with complex restrictions that should be discussed with an attorney.  Any and all legal documents an insurance company requests to be signed should be reviewed by an attorney.

In addition to the physical needs of the victim, one of the most vital time periods an attorney is needed is immediately after an accident to preserve evidence such as skid marks, crash debris and other evidence (such as cell phones, drug/alcohol usage of defendant driver) at the scene of an accident that may disappear just a few days after the accident.  Further, witnesses should be interviewed by a private investigator while memories are fresh.  Photos of injuries and property damage should also be taken.

However, not every attorney has the knowledge or expertise to provide the appropriate or best legal advice after a catastrophic injury or severe accident.  Choosing the correct attorney with years of experience who only handles traumatic brain injuries in
Missouri is critical as getting access to adequate medical care and the other necessities of life after an injury can depend upon  the quality of the attorney’s advice. Not all attorneys have the same level of expertise in handling personal injury claims. The trial skills of attorneys vary greatly. If possible, choose an attorney that limits his/her practice to personal injury cases. Don’t be afraid to ask about the attorney’s experience in handling similar cases and the results they have obtained.

The Griggs Injury Law trial attorneys have years of experience handling cases of traumatic brain injuries in Missouri and helping victims and their families cope with the devastating results of the injuries.  Further, Annette Griggs is one of the few female attorneys in the States of Missouri and Kansas who only represents injured victims, including those with brain injuries.  Annette Griggs is licensed in multiple states and can help victims of personal injuries in the Kansas City metro area and all across the states of Missouri and Kansas and surrounding areas.  For an appointment, please call 816-474-0202 to speak with Annette Griggs about your case.