The case value of a traumatic brain injury depends on a number of factors.Damages claimed for a typical brain injury case are almost always over $100,000 and claims in the millions are not uncommon.Awards of these amounts do not mean that you will receive this amount; several expenses must be taken into account.
Generally, an attorney who specializes in brain injury cases is willing to work on a contingent fee basis—this means that the attorney will only get paid if the suit is successful and the amount awarded is actually paid.An attorney working on a contingent fee basis will advance the money to pay for medical experts and other expenses out of his or her own pocket.The preparation for a traumatic brain injury case is very expensive and naturally, lawyers on a contingent fee will take only the cases they feel have an excellent chance of being successful.
Expenses Incurred During a TBI Case
Typical expenses incurred during a TBI case include:
- Fees for independent medical experts
- Fees for damage experts
- Fees for court expenses
- Costs of interviewing all the witnesses
A lawyer experienced in dealing with traumatic brain injury cases may advance between $10,000 and $100,000 on a case before it comes to trial.Lawyers willing to advance this much have a high degree of confidence that they can successfully advocate your case and recover a large enough amount to make it worth the time and expense
Experience Brings Rewards
Because of the intricacies and expense of brain injury cases, it is important that you have an attorney who really understands brain injury.Brain injury can be obvious, but often the signs are subtle and are overlooked even by doctors.A personal injury lawyer who does not understand that you may be experiencing difficulties which do not show or may not be visible until some time down the road, may settle for a smaller settlement than will be adequate for your needs.
For example, suppose you were in a seemingly minor auto accident and did not lose consciousness. Although you are experiencing emotional swings since the accident which caused your brain injury, your doctor cannot find anything conclusive and releases you from treatment; your medical bills come to $25,000 and you have been earning $50,000 a year.A typical personal injury attorney may look at your case and decide that claim between $50,000 and $100,000 can be made.
If an award of $100,000 is settled out of court, it will break down like this:
- $33,000 attorney’s fees (33 to 40 percent is the average)
- $200to obtain medical records
- $25,000 medical bills
- $41,800 for you the client
Now this may seem pretty good, until it becomes obvious that your brain injury is impairing you more than you first thought.You are forced to slow down and finally quit work and in the meanwhile, more medical bills are piling up; the small amount awarded to you will soon be spent.
If your case had been handled by an attorney experienced in dealing with brain injury, the outcome could have been much better.An experienced TBI attorney will interview you and your family to see if you are having any problems not addressed by your doctors.TBI can cause depression, anxiety, abnormal mood swings, difficulty concentrating and a host of other problems.
If you are experiencing these problems, an experienced lawyer will make sure you are seen by doctors can understand and treat your problems more effectively.Typically you will see a neuropsychologist or neuropsychiatrist.Depending on their evaluation, this specialist may run a series of tests to determine the cause of your problems and their extent.This exam may cost between $2,000 and $ $4,000; such a test is often not covered by insurance and so the attorney will pick up the tab.
If the tests show that you have significant problems, the attorney will then hire other experts to show the court the way these problems will affect you economically. Effective damage experts show the jury how much money you will lose over the course of your life due to your injury.It is these numbers that go into determining the amount that will be awarded.
Types of Damages:
Loss of Earning Capacity:
Loss of earning capacity is the first loss that is taken into consideration in a TBI claim.A vocational expert will testify about how much of your expected lifetime earnings you will lose due to your injury.Brain injury frequently leads to trouble focusing, trouble with controlling anger, memory problems, and fatigue; these factors greatly limit the ability to work.You may not be able to work as many hours as you used to or you may have to take a lower paying position because it is less demanding; typically people with brain injury retire 10 to 15 years sooner than they ordinarily would and so this too must be taken into account. So you may lose $15,000 annually for the next 12 years and perhaps have to retire early and so lose even more income per year.Your loss of earning capacity may amount to $740,000 or more.
Life Care Costs:
In addition you will likely need physical therapy, medications, and perhaps help with your daily activities.A life care planner will assess your possible future needs and testify about them to the jury.Typically, a family member assumes responsibility for care of a brain injured individual; although this person is not being paid, the life care planner will assess what the services provided would cost the patient in other circumstances.This assessment is done both to help the family caregiver and to anticipate the need of the possibility of a future paid caregiver.
Pain and Suffering/Loss of Enjoyment of Life:
In most court districts, a damage expert on pain and suffering is not allowed to testify.Many jurisdictions do allow expert testimony on the loss of enjoyment of life; these experts, frequently called hedonic damage experts, will use economic studies to show that your quality of life has been reduced by a certain percentage.This number may be as great as the loss of earnings capacity.
Final Damages Assessed
If the vocational, life care planner, and hedonic damage experts have made a good case, you may receive a significant amount in damages.For example:
$50,000 medical costs
$740,000 earnings loss capacity
$350,000 lifetime care costs
$740,000 life enjoyment
$740,000 pain and suffering
Total damages:$ 2,960,000
A jury may or may not award this total amount, but the award will be substantially larger because of the expert testimony.Actually collecting the money also depends on the ability of the defendant to pay; obviously a large corporation or insurance company will be more able to pay, than a smaller company.
An experienced attorney will take these factors into consideration when deciding whether your case is worth pursuing or not. A responsible professional will not want to risk either their capital or your time by filing a suit that they know is not winnable.
Although the system of retaining lawyers on contingency had been much criticized, since it is seen as creating needless lawsuits, without such a system most individuals who have been injured though the neglect or carelessness of others would not be able to pursue a case.The expenses of a lawsuit are just too great for the majority of people to afford.The contingency system allows more people to fight for the compensation that they justly deserve.
If you or someone you love has recently sustained a brain injury, contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today.Our experienced team of Brain Injury attorneys can advise you of your legal rights and help you get the compensation you deserve.Simply fill out the free evaluation form on the right of the screen and one our lawyers will contact you and discuss the options for your case. There is no obligation.