Pittsburgh Traumatic Brain Injury Attorneys
There were over 64,000 traumatic brain injury-related deaths in the United States in 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That amounts to about 176 TBI-related deaths every day.
The Pennsylvania Traumatic Brain Injury Advisory Board reports that in the state of Pennsylvania, 138,600 adults and children sustain a brain injury every year, while 1,980 people die of them. Over 209,000 live with brain injury-related disabilities in the state.
People most commonly suffer from TBIs after a fall, firearm-related injury, motor vehicle crash, or assault. Those with mild forms of the injuries typically recover safely at home, but those with moderate to severe forms may suffer from substantial disabilities, cognitive effects, and sometimes, death.
If you or someone you love suffered a brain injury due to negligence, the Pittsburgh brain injury attorneys at Chaffin Luhana may be able to help you seek compensation for your injuries. To learn more, call today to schedule a complimentary consultation at 1-888-480-1123.
Types of Brain Injuries in Pittsburgh
Brain injuries can vary depending on the severity and type of impact inside the skull.
This is the most common type of TBI. When a strong force strikes the head, the brain moves in the direction of the force until it collides with the skull. This causes damage. Symptoms can range from mild to severe. In some cases, they can cause life-long difficulties.
This is a bruise on the brain. It is a mild form of bleeding and often occurs together with a concussion. If it doesn’t heal on its own, it can turn into a hematoma (below).
This refers to uncontrolled bleeding on the surface of the brain or within the brain tissue. There are two types of brain hemorrhages:
- Subarachnoid hemorrhage: bleeding that occurs in the space surrounding the brain.
- Intracerebral hemorrhage: bleeding that originates in the cerebral matter.
A hematoma is a collection of blood outside of the blood vessels. It’s usually caused by broken blood vessels. You can also think of it as a bad bruise. The blood pools together which can put pressure on the brain.
This is a serious type of TBI. “Coup” and “contrecoup” are French terms for “blow” and “counterblow.” That means that the brain sustained damage on both sides. It hit one side of the skull, then ricocheted to hit the other. Or the same thing may occur if the brain hits the front of the skull, then strikes the back. The first injury (coup) occurs directly under the point of impact. The second (contrecoup) occurs on the opposite side.
Diffuse Axonal Injury (DAI)
This is one of the most serious types of TBIs. It occurs when the brain is shaken or twisted inside the skull. This causes the fibers in the brain to tear. That can result in disruptions in the brain’s messaging system and loss of brain function. The severity of the injury depends on how large the tears are and where they are located.
Penetrating Brain Injury
This occurs when an object penetrates the skull and brain. Most commonly, this injury is caused by a gunshot wound. It may also occur when some form of impact breaks the skull, and pieces of bone or another foreign object enters the skull cavity and damages the brain. This is a severe injury and typically requires brain surgery.
Second Impact Syndrome
If you suffer a TBI, and then a short time later suffer another, this is considered second impact syndrome. The second injury often causes more severe damage than the first one.
Common Causes of Traumatic Brain Injuries in Pittsburgh
Among the many possible causes of brain injuries are the following:
The CDC reports that falls lead to nearly half of TBI-related hospitalizations, and are the second leading cause of TBI-related deaths. After analyzing deaths caused by unintentional falls among U.S residents between 2008 and 2017, they found that the rate of fall-related TBI deaths increased by 17 percent. The most notable increases occurred among those 75 years of age and older.
Motor Vehicle Accidents
Motor vehicle crashes are another frequent cause of TBIs. Between 2018 and 2019, they were the most common cause of TBI-related deaths among children from birth to 17 years. Unintentional motor vehicle crashes accounted for about 17 percent of all TBI-related deaths during that period.
The impact forces in a vehicle collision can create a violent blow or jolt to the head. This may lead to brain injury. Those involved in accidents with cars, trucks, SUVs, and motorcycles may be at risk.
Pedestrian and Bicycle Accidents
The CDC reports that bicycle-related deaths increased between 2009 and 2018, primarily among adults. There were nearly 597,000 bicycle-related TBIs treated in hospital emergency departments in the U.S. during that time.
Pedestrians are also at risk. If a vehicle collides with a pedestrian, the pedestrian’s head may be struck or hit the hard pavement. Researchers reported in a 2019 study that head injury “is one of the most common injury types in vehicle-to-pedestrian collisions, which leads to death and long-term disabilities.”
An estimated 1.6 to 3.8 million sports-related TBIs occur every year. These numbers are likely to be low because many head injuries in sports are not reported. Most heal on their own within a few weeks. But there is growing evidence that even minor impacts may lead to more problems down the road.
A newborn infant may suffer a TBI during the process of childbirth. This may occur when some physical force from the outside strikes or puts pressure on the head. If the baby is stuck in the birth canal, for instance, or the doctor uses a tool like forceps with too much force on the baby’s head, the baby may suffer a TBI.
One of the most disturbing causes of brain injury is assault. This is where one person deliberately harms another. If a person is punched in the head, hit with an object, or shot, it can cause a TBI.
The American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) notes that gunshot wounds to the head have become a leading cause of TBI in many urban areas in the U.S. This is due, in part, to a surge in gang violence and overall homicide rates. Other causes include suicide and unintentional accidents.
Shaken Baby Syndrome
Shaken baby syndrome is a serious form of child abuse. Someone vigorously shakes an infant while holding him or her by the arms, legs, or shoulders. A baby has weak neck muscles and a large heavy head. This type of shaking can lead to whiplash and related head trauma.
Some jobs are inherently dangerous and can lead to TBIs. Researchers reported in 2015 that an estimated 586,600 work-related TBIs were reported between 1998 and 2007. Ten percent of those were hospitalized. The researchers noted that non-fatal work-related TBIs were much more likely to result in hospitalization compared to other types of injuries.
In a later 2019 study, scientists found that the vast majority (80 percent) of injured workers considered their work-related TBI to be preventable.
Signs of Traumatic Brain Injury
Possible symptoms of a traumatic brain injury often vary depending on the severity of the injury.
- Dizziness and lightheadedness
- Blurred vision
- Fatigue, no energy
- Nausea or vomiting
- Trouble thinking clearly
- Attention or concentration problems
- Anxiety or nervousness
- Sleeping more or less than usual
Moderate to Severe TBI
- Loss of consciousness from several minutes to hours
- Persistent headache
- Repeated vomiting or nausea
- Hearing and vision problems
- Convulsions or seizures
- Weakness or numbness in fingers and toes
- Inability to awaken from sleep
- Loss of coordination
- Profound confusion
- Agitation or combativeness
- Personality changes
- Slurred speech
How to Select a Traumatic Brain Injury Attorney in Pittsburgh
It’s best to choose a traumatic brain injury attorney who has experience with your type of case. Ideally, you want to find one who has fought for other TBI victims and helped them win compensation. An experienced TBI attorney will know how much compensation you should expect from the insurance company. They can help advise you on whether to accept a settlement offer.
An experienced TBI attorney will also have experience in the courtroom and be able to take your case to trial if necessary. Do your research online and carefully read reviews. Sites like Avvo offer legal directories filled with information about law firms in your area. You can also do a simple Google search and see what you find about the lawyers you’re considering.
Keep in mind that anyone can leave a review and some may come from competitors or disgruntled opponents. But a top-notch law firm should have a mostly positive reputation online. Next, check out not only the individual lawyer you may be working with but his or her team as well. Most law firms have several different members working on any one case. It can help to meet these other people and make sure you feel comfortable with them.
Finally, consider how the traumatic brain injury attorney communicates with you, particularly during your complimentary consultation (which most attorneys will offer). Feel free to ask questions about how the firm communicates (text, phone, email) and how often. Ask the lawyer questions about how he or she will handle your case, and what they think about your ability to win compensation.
Finding the right traumatic brain injury attorney can help you make the claim process much easier and more likely to succeed.
What Our Clients Have to Say About Chaffin Luhana
Below is a small sampling of the testimonials we have received from our clients:
$1.7 Million Recovery
“I am glad that I have retained your services. I am also glad that you are there to help me, my family, and other families who may be going through the same issues that I am… And from the bottom of my heart, I want to thank you for everything.”
– Anonymous., Consumer Client
Auto Personal Injury Recovery
“It’s a shame that the insurance companies put you through this…I’m glad there are people like you out there because the insurance companies would walk all over victims otherwise.”
– Mark S., Personal Injury Client
Automobile Accident Victim
“This is the first time I’ve ever had to deal with anything like this. In my 70 years, I’ve never had to deal with anything legal. There’s no possible way I could have done it myself.”
– Timothy B., Personal Injury Client
Here are some recent reviews from our clients.
Find more testimonials here.
Dedication to Community
Law partners Eric Chaffin and Roopal Luhana, along with their families, established The Chaffin Luhana Foundation in 2010.
A not-for-profit organization, the Foundation encourages the development of human potential and supports community empowerment through the following activities:
- Scholarships: Chaffin Luhana Foundation awards an annual scholarship to a student who helps us in the fight against distracted driving by submitting an inspiring personal essay.
- Financial gifts: The Foundation awards periodic financial gifts to institutions of higher learning to support scientific research and funds educational scholarships to students.
- Stephanie Victor Legacy Award: The Chaffin Luhana Foundation awards an annual financial gift to one deserving individual who overcame significant challenges and achieved great milestones in his or her life or career.
- Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation: Chaffin Luhana has partnered with this organization to benefit those living with spinal cord injuries and paralysis.
- Najee Harris Partnership: We have partnered with Pittsburgh Running Back, Najee Harris, and his Da’ Bigger Picture Foundation to support those in need in the Greater Pittsburgh area.
The founding partners of Chaffin Luhana have extensive experience in fighting for plaintiffs’ rights:
- Founder Eric Chaffin: Mr. Chaffin has handled a wide array of cases against various types of manufacturers, with dozens of multimillion-dollar recoveries.
- Founder Roopal Luhana: Ms. Luhana manages the firm’s mass torts division. Throughout her career, she has served on committees in MDLs involving over-the-counter consumer products and defective pharmaceuticals and medical devices.
- Partner Patrick Booth: Mr. Booth enjoys using his knowledge and experience to help his clients obtain the best results possible in their personal injury cases.
Chaffin Luhana lawyers have also been named to the prestigious “Super Lawyers” list several years in a row.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
A severe brain injury occurs when an outside force disrupts the brain’s normal function. The damage to the brain is so significant that the victim is often left with serious mental and physical disabilities.
If you’re involved in an accident or assault and you suffered a severe TBI, you are likely to go through a period of unconsciousness. More than six hours qualifies as a severe TBI. Often victims go into a coma. Brain scans will show clear signs of the injury.
The effects of a severe TBI can be long-lasting and even permanent. These may include problems with:
- Memory and attention
- Coordination and balance
- Language and communication skills
- Hearing, vision, touch, smell, and taste
- Emotions (resulting in anxiety and depression, aggression, and/or personality changes)
Recovery and rehabilitation may be possible. But victims may face permanent physical or mental disabilities.
The lasting effects of a TBI depend on its severity. Victims of mild TBIs typically recover quickly. It is important to know, however, that damaged brain cells can’t regenerate or repair themselves. That means the brain has to “rewire” itself to use other cells for daily function.
The brain is good at doing this and is usually successful after a mild TBI. That's because there are fewer cells damaged, and more healthy cells to take over. Those with moderate to severe TBIs may experience more long-term effects. The brain is extremely adaptive, however, and can regain function even years after injury. Treatment and therapy can help victims gradually get better.
If someone else was at fault for causing your TBI, you may be able to file a compensation claim. You will have to prove negligence on the other party’s part. Perhaps you suffered an accident at work, and you can prove that your employer was negligent in creating a safe workspace. Or you may have been in a car accident caused by a drunk driver or someone who was speeding.
To succeed with a claim for your injury, you’ll have to show that:
- the other party owed you a duty of care
- they failed to act with reasonable care toward you
- their action was the cause of your injury
- you suffered losses that are measurable under the law
The best way to find out if you can seek compensation for your TBI is to talk to your brain injury attorney. He or she can examine the facts of your case and help guide you in filing a claim.
You stand a much better chance of recovering damages for your TBI if you have an experienced attorney on your side. They know about the complex legal issues involved and know what you are entitled to. They can also help calculate damages in your case that you may not have thought about, such as lost wages, future medical treatments, pain and suffering, and loss of consortium or companionship.
A traumatic brain injury attorney will also have experience working with insurance companies. These companies are not on your side. They are interested in protecting their bottom lines. They may offer you a settlement that is not adequate for your injury. Having a TBI lawyer fighting for you will help you recover a fair settlement.
How long it takes to recover after a TBI depends on the severity of the injury. Recovery from a mild one will take a week to a month or so. Moderate to severe types will take longer. It will also depend on the person’s prior health, access to healthcare and rehabilitation, and family support.
According to a 2005 study, the vast majority of recovery after a TBI takes place in the two years after the injury. After that, the future is uncertain. Many patients, however, continue to improve. Some are still getting better 5-10 years after the injury.
Though workers on construction sites or assembly lines may be more at risk for TBIs, even those in the office may trip on loose carpeting or suffer a struck-by injury to the head.
If you suffer from a TBI while at work, notify your supervisor immediately and seek treatment. Return to work only when your doctor clears you to do so. Meanwhile, talk to your TBI attorney. If your injury happened while you were on the job, your workers’ compensation insurance should provide coverage for your medical expenses and lost income.
A traumatic brain injury attorney can help make sure you get the benefits you deserve from workers' compensation and can help you navigate the complexities of filing a claim.