The trial lawyers at Passen & Powell just finished a 3-week medical malpractice trial, and therefore were not able to blog for a few weeks. We didn’t forget about National Brain Injury Awareness Month, which took place in March.
In honor of Brain Injury Awareness Month, our Chicago brain injury attorneys are taking a closer look at various aspects of brain injury. Today, we take a look at why brain injury matters – even to those whose lives have not been directly touched.
The first and most important thing to recognize is just how prevalent brain injury is in the United States. Although many people think of brain injury as a rare occurrence, 2 million Americans suffer a brain injury each year. Of these, about three-quarters, or 1.5 million Americans, have an injury severe enough to cause them to lose consciousness, but without the need for hospitalization. But an additional 300,000 Americans are hospitalized each year due to brain injury, and nearly 100,000 are left with a long-term or permanent disability as a result of that injury.
Fatalities from brain injuries are also high in the U.S. – about 56,000 Americans die from a brain injury each year. This means that nearly 35 percent of all injury-related deaths in the U.S. are associated with a brain injury.
So, what causes brain injury? The single most common cause is an automobile accident, particularly a trucking accident, or any accident involving a large commercial vehicle. These accidents account for 28 percent of all traumatic brain injuries. The second most common cause of traumatic brain injuries is sports (20 percent), followed by assaults and acts of violence (9 percent). As to traumatic brain injuries severe enough to require hospitalization, the number of such injuries attributable to auto accidents jumps to nearly 50 percent.
The costs of brain injury are also remarkably high – both for the individual victims and for society as a whole. Even when only traumatic brain injury is considered, the costs to Americans is about $50 billion dollars annually. This includes medical expenses, therapies, lost productivity, and other associated costs. When nontraumatic brain injuries are included, this cost is even higher.
Looked at solely as an expense to individual victims, the cost is also unacceptable. Sadly, the cost to the families left behind after a fatal brain injury is even higher. Back in the 1990s, the National Foundation for Brain Research estimated that for fatal brain injuries, medical expenses alone averaged $454,717. Overall, the average cost of a brain injury was about $150,000 – including increased health insurance premiums and modifications to home and vehicle. For severe non-fatal brain injuries, the total costs could reach up to $4 million over the course of a lifetime. Indeed, where extensive rehabilitation was needed, costs could reach up to $1,000 per day. Obviously, costs have only increased since then.
Indeed, support services to enable a victim to return to work can costs tens of thousands of dollars in just the first year after the injury. That is for the lucky victims who are able to return to work. Up to 80 percent of survivors of a severe traumatic brain injury are never able to do so.
That is why it is crucial for brain injury victims to obtain the services of a qualified and experienced brain injury attorney. Recovering for the injuries suffered can be tricky, but an experienced attorney can help a victim to navigate the legal system and obtain a full recovery, and justice.
For a free consultation with an experienced Chicago brain injury lawyer at Passen & Powell, call us at (312) 527-4500.