It is always a tragedy when a beloved celebrity dies unexpectedly. Bob Saget was only 65 years old when he was found dead in his hotel room on January 9th of this year. No one could understand what had happened to the seemingly healthy man; but when the coroner gave his report, the reason for his death was ruled to be blunt head trauma. Mr. Saget had suffered a traumatic brain injury that he seemingly did not think worth worrying about before going to sleep the night before his death. While the story is a sad one, it reminds us how even small bumps to the head should not be ignored.
What is a traumatic brain injury?
We have all probably hit our head at some point. Maybe it was off a low-hanging eave, on an open cabinet door, or after slipping on some ice. Perhaps it was more severe than that: a car accident or an assault. Whether the injury to your head was severe or moderate, it is important that you be mindful of your head and go to the hospital if necessary.
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is caused by a hit to the head, not limited to only car crashes, but any sort of strike to the head whether that’s from falling or a traffic accident. Oftentimes, the symptoms are difficult to pin down or notice (hence the assumption of Bob Saget’s cause of death), and so those who suffer from them should be extra cautious and pay extra attention to any symptoms they may be experiencing.
The New York Times reports:
Brain injury experts said on Thursday that Mr. Saget’s case was relatively uncommon: People with serious head trauma would be expected to have noticeable symptoms, like a headache, nausea, or confusion. And they can generally be saved by surgeons opening their skull and relieving pressure on the brain from bleeding.
Unfortunately, Mr. Saget had been alone that night, which was a contributing factor to his death as people who experience head injuries alone are apt to be confused, unable to make correct decisions, and extraordinarily sleepy due to their injury.
Dr. Gavin Brtiz, who is the chair of neurosurgery at Houston Methodist, emphasizes that “if you have a head injury, you never — and I mean never — be by yourself for the first 24 hours.” Even if you merely suffered a small bump to the head, you should never ignore it.
What about concussions?
Concussions are a type of traumatic brain injury that are quite common among sports players such as football or hockey, or people who suffer a fall. While we think of them as not so serious, the truth of the matter is that they can be quite serious especially with repeated concussions. When you suffer a concussion, your brain can bruise and swell, causing a lack of blood and oxygen to the brain that is necessary for everyday function. If you neglect to get this checked out by a medical professional, the concussion/s can damage the brain over time.
Symptoms of a concussion include:
- Slurred speech
- Blurred vision
What are the symptoms of a TBI?
While the signs of a TBI often include those of a concussion, more severe TBIs have additional and significantly worse symptoms:
- Memory loss
- Difficulty maintaining balance
- Emotional instability
- Disorientation and confusion
- Blurred vision
Commonly, for minor or mild TBIs, symptoms begin to fade after a few days or weeks, but with more severe TBIs, the effects can be life-long. Some studies even show that a TBI can be a factor in Alzheimer’s later in life.
Communication Pathologist and Neuroscientist Dr. Caroline Leaf states,
Extended periods of inflammation are key factors in TBI. This happens when microglial cells (aka immune cells in the brain) increase in response to the injury. This inflammatory response is initially good, but if the injury is extensive, it will lead to an overabundance of microglia, and brain tissue can become damaged. This results in reduced activity in different parts of the brain—even mild brain injuries can cause sustained cognitive and psychiatric problems.
Do I need a lawyer for my Nashville brain injury?
If you suffered a TBI due to another’s negligence (perhaps you slipped on some ice outside the local grocery shop), then it’s very likely that you have a viable case and will be able to recover compensatory damages. These damages include any medical expenses, lost wages from missing work due to your injury, and replacing any property that was lost or damaged. Often, damages suffered from pain and suffering are included as well.
You may also be able to recover punitive damages, but such damages have limits and to receive an award for these damages depends on proving that the defendant showed outrageous behavior.
If Bob Saget had noticed his TBI symptoms or had someone been there with him to notice them for him, perhaps he would still be with us today. I take traumatic brain injuries seriously. Far too often in a TBI case in Tennessee, insurance companies look for any way they can to try to prove that you are faking your symptoms, and they will investigate you and your accident thoroughly. This includes things such as your work history or your school records. It’s not fair, but it’s true, and that’s why you should seek out legal counsel. It is important to come up with a good strategy.
The Rocky McElhaney Law Firm is here to fight for you when you are harmed by the actions of another. If you have suffered from a traumatic brain injury, call us at 615-425-2500 or you can fill out our contact form, if that’s easier for you. We’d love to set up a free consultation with you at one of our offices in Nashville, Hendersonville, or Clarksville.