A driver, who caused permanent brain injury to his passenger when he crashed his vehicle into a fountain in front of Texarkana’s downtown federal building in July 2016, was recently found guilty of intoxication assault and sentenced to five years in prison. The victim, Donnie Joe Smith, survived but suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI), bleeding in his brain and respiratory failure.
According to a probable cause affidavit, Terry, 54, told investigators that he and Smith, 62, had consumed “a few 12 packs of beer,” at a local bar before the one-vehicle crash. A blood sample collected from Terry at St. Michael’s Hospital in Texarkana following the collision allegedly showed a blood alcohol level of .239, well above the legal limit of 0.08.
So why am I writing about this? Car accidents are one of the leading causes of TBI. I have handled personal injury cases where the victims suffered a traumatic brain injury and, unfortunately, many are never the same again. I want to point out the dangers of driving recklessly, distractedly or under the influence of drugs or alcohol, as well as explain the nature of traumatic brain injuries.
What is a TBI?
A TBI is a dysfunction of the brain. When a person experiences a sudden jolt, a violent blow to the head, or an object penetrates the brain, TBI can result. Not all traumatic brain injuries are severe. A full recovery is possible for someone who has a mild TBI. He or she will only experience temporary brain dysfunction. However, those with a severe TBI can experience long-term complications or death.
Three main causes of TBI
There are three main causes of TBIs.
- Open Head Injuries: There is penetration through the skull, like a bullet wound.
- Closed Head Injuries: There is no penetration through the skull and the injury occurs in a specific location. Can occur as a result of a motor vehicle accident, a sports injury, a slip and fall, etc.
- Sudden Deceleration Injuries: These occur when a person is subjected to a sudden slowing down of their body. In a car accident like the one described above, the skull moves through space and when there is a sudden discontinuation of this movement, it causes the brain to move inside the skull. The skull is hard and the brain is soft, so a traumatic brain injury occurs when the brain hits the skull. The injuries can occur in several different parts of the brain.
How TBI can affect the victim
There are three general types of problems that can happen when a person experiences a TBI: physical, cognitive and emotional/behavioral problems. It is impossible to tell early on which specific problems a person will have. A lot depends on what part of the brain was injured. Problems typically improve as the person recovers, but this may take weeks or months. With some severe injuries changes can take many years, or may never occur.
Physical Problems: TBI can affect a person’s ability to walk or use their hands, reduce coordination, produce weakness and fatigue, and cause problems with balance.
Cognitive Problems: Individuals with a moderate-to-severe brain injury often have problems in basic cognitive (thinking) skills such as paying attention, concentrating, and remembering new information and events. They may think slowly, speak slowly and solve problems slowly. They may become confused easily when normal routines are changed or when things become too noisy or hectic around them. They may have speech and language problems, such as trouble finding the right word or understanding others.
Emotional/Behavioral Problems: Behavioral and emotional difficulties are common. Changes can come directly from damage to brain tissue. This is especially true for injuries to the frontal lobe, which controls emotion and behavior. Also, cognitive problems may lead to emotional changes or make them worse. For example, a person who cannot pay attention well enough to follow a conversation may become very frustrated and upset in those situations. In addition, many with TBI have understandably strong emotional reactions to major life changes caused by the injury (loss of job, income, independent living, etc.).
Brain injury can bring on disturbing new behaviors or change a person’s personality, such as restlessness, mood swings, irritability, aggression, lethargy, inappropriate behaviors, and lack of self-awareness of what really happened.
What should you do if you suspect a TBI?
TBI can be devastating to its victims and their families, so a quick diagnosis is essential. Even a mild brain concussion can lead to a serious medical condition. A timely diagnosis may prevent further brain injury.
Please. Let’s keep each other safe out there. Please drive safely.
I would appreciate it if you would share this article so that others can benefit from the information. Thank you.
For other areas of personal injury law, please see my other articles at http://blog.petermillerlaw.com
If you have any questions about this article or any area of personal injury law, please refer to the contact info below.
The Law Offices of Peter Miller
1601 S. Broadway
Little Rock, AR 72206
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