Brain injuries are a recognized cause of action under Arizona personal injury law. If someone else is responsible for the harm you have suffered, then you have a legal right to make a claim against that person and to seek compensation for the foreseeable consequences of your injury.
Part of coping with the consequences of a brain injury is finding out how to pay for your medical costs of treatment, what to do about making a living if you can’t go back to work, and in some cases how to seek a measure of justice for what someone else did to you to cause the injury.
If you have suffered a brain injury in Phoenix or anywhere else in Arizona, then an experienced personal injury attorney can help you to understand your rights, inform you of how much time you have to exercise them, and help you to file appropriate claims against those responsible.
This is what we do at Stone Rose Law. Call us today at (480) 498-8998 to schedule a free consultation with one of our Phoenix brain injury lawyers so we can help you.
Sometimes, no matter how careful you are, you can still be the victim of an accident or even an intentional act leading to a brain injury. If this happens to you, then Arizona law and federal law offer ways for you to pursue compensation through the legal system and possibly through workers’ compensation and Social Security disability benefits.
Here, we focus on your legal right in Arizona to make a personal injury claim against the person or people who were at fault for causing you to suffer a brain injury, and how a Phoenix head injury lawyer can help.
Brain injury attorneys deal with two main types of brain injuries: traumatic brain injuries (TBI), and acquired brain injuries (ABI).
A traumatic brain injury results from a blow or some other external force applied to your head––a trauma, in other words. Depending on the severity of the injury and its symptoms, a traumatic brain injury can be mild, moderate, or severe.
Common causes of traumatic brain injury cases include car and truck accidents, pedestrian and bicycle accidents, motorcycle accidents, falls, being struck by equipment or falling objects, and physical assault. Each year in the United States about 3 million people will suffer from a TBI.
An acquired brain injury is a brain injury that does not result from the application of trauma or other physical force.
Acquired brain injuries are slightly more common than traumatic brain injuries, with about 3.5 million people suffering from them annually. ABIs can come from sources like electric shock, swimming pool accidents and other near-drowning incidents, substance abuse or drug overdoses, strokes and seizures, defective products, and hospital negligence or medical malpractice events.
The following types of head and brain injuries commonly occur in accidents:
Closed head injuries are severe blows to the head that do not crack open the skull or pierce brain tissue. They can cause swelling and bruising.
An open head injury is one that penetrates the skull. This could result in skull fractures or bleeding from the brain.
Occurs when the brain has been severely shaken. It can cause loss of consciousness, lightheadedness, or severe headaches.
Cuts, scrapes, or piercing of the skin that surrounds the skull. This can cause brain bleed or tissue damage.
Regardless of their cause, brain injuries are serious injuries because damage to your brain tissue can negatively impact your life in so many ways.
It is almost impossible not to be affected by the symptoms of a brain injury after you receive one. They can alter your senses, emotions, thought patterns, energy levels, and ability to communicate to the point where you are no longer the person you were, and not for the better.
Here are some of the difficulties you might encounter with a severe brain injury, alone or in combination:
The good news about brain injuries is that you do not always need a traumatic brain injury attorney for them. Many times they are avoidable if you take proper precautions. These include:
Unlike requesting disability benefits from workers comp or Social Security, in a personal injury lawsuit you are seeking compensation not from a government agency or your employer’s insurance company, but rather directly from those responsible for your brain injury.
A brain injury lawsuit can arise from behavior of someone else that is negligent, reckless, or intentional. An important distinction among these behaviors is that the more the conduct that led to your injury was purposeful instead of accidental, the more likely it becomes that you can seek additional compensation in the form of punitive damages.
A Phoenix head injury attorney like one of ours at Stone Rose Law can tell you which of these behaviors most likely applies to your brain injury.
In Arizona, to prove negligence in a brain injury lawsuit you must prove all of the following:
In some cases, the behavior of another person, like someone getting into a car accident with you or physically attacking you, is not necessarily the only reason why you receive a brain injury. Indeed, in some brain injury lawsuits, a third party might be partly or wholly responsible. This can be the case with product liability.
Under Arizona law, if a product is unreasonably dangerous in its design or its original construction, then the manufacturer and everyone else involved in distributing and selling the unreasonably defective product is subject to a product liability lawsuit.
For example, let’s assume you buy a car built with a defectively designed fuel tank that is prone to exploding in an accident. You are in fact injured when you get into a collision and the fuel tank explodes, causing you a traumatic brain injury among your other harm suffered. In this case, everyone involved in making and selling the defective vehicle, from the car manufacturer down to the dealership where you bought the car, is potentially liable to you.
A product liability lawsuit is similar to a personal injury lawsuit, except that defendants in a product liability case are subject to strict liability. What this means to you is that if you can prove that the product was unreasonably unsafe as designed or built, then you do not have to prove negligent, reckless, or intentional behavior by anyone else to prevail in the lawsuit.
Another distinction between a personal injury lawsuit and one based in product liability is that, as we mention above, multiple parties who market the defective product can be jointly and severally liable to you. What this means is that your compensation recovery does not depend on just one defendant; all of them are liable to you, and it is up to them to work it out among themselves how to compensate you.
Unfortunately, not everyone recovers fully from a brain injury. Sometimes, the victim does not recover at all. When a family member of yours dies because of a brain injury that is the fault of another, then under Arizona law there are two kinds of recovery you can seek for the untimely death of a loved one.
A wrongful death lawsuit is a variation of a personal injury lawsuit, except that instead of the deceased victim of the brain injury being the plaintiff, you and other surviving relatives can be the plaintiff.
The recovery you seek in a wrongful death lawsuit is connected with the loss you have suffered because of the death of a family member. This can mean, for example, that if the deceased person was an income earner for the household then the loss of that person’s economic contributions are a form of harm to you.
A survival action in Arizona is similar to a wrongful death lawsuit in that both of these causes of action arise from the death of a family member. But there are some important differences between the two:
If a brain injury results from negligent medical treatment, then the medical professional who caused the harm and the health care facility where that person works can both be potentially liable to you.
In a medical malpractice lawsuit, the defendant is the medical professional or professionals whose acts or failure to act caused a brain injury to you. For example, let’s say you were in the hospital for surgery, and the anesthesiologist negligently causes you to experience such a low rate of respiration that it temporarily deprived your brain of oxygen, giving you an anoxic brain injury. The anesthesiologist would be a likely medical malpractice defendant.
Although medical negligence lawsuits are similar to personal injury lawsuits in the elements you must prove to win your case, one key difference is in how Arizona law defines “reasonable behavior” in each instance. Unlike with a personal injury lawsuit, in which the standard of what is reasonable conduct is defined by what a mythical “reasonable person” would do, for medical malpractice the standard of negligence is what another medical professional of the same kind as the defendant would have done in the same circumstances that caused your brain injury.
Hospital negligence lawsuits are similar to a lawsuit you might file against any other employer of someone who wrongfully caused you to experience a brain injury while acting as an employee. If the employer was negligent in hiring, training, or supervising the employee, and harm results to you, then in addition to the employee the employer can also be liable to you for the injuries you suffer.
Returning to our anesthesiologist example above, if investigation reveals that the hospital hired that person despite evidence that he or she was not properly qualified to perform in that role, then on top of a medical malpractice lawsuit against the anesthesiologist you may also have a hospital negligence claim against the facility where the anesthesiologist works.
No matter what cause of action you may have––personal injury, product liability, medical malpractice, hospital negligence, wrongful death, or a survival action––what you can recover if you win in a lawsuit boils down to the following categories of money damages.
These are also known as direct damages. What you can recover here are the costs you incur because of a brain injury. Examples include medical bills, including anticipated future medical treatment expenses, lost income and expected future lost wages, and property damage you may have experienced (for example, if a drunk driver collides with your car, then the repair or replacement value for damage done to your car is something you can recover).
There is no limit on what you can recover in economic damages other than what you can prove to the court.
Also known as indirect damages, a non-economic injury is not something you can establish the value of with receipts for treatment costs or property replacement but nonetheless still constitutes real harm to you.
Examples of non-economic damages include pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of companionship or consortium. It will be up to the court to decide how much to award you in damages if you prevail on a non-economic damages claim in a lawsuit.
Not every brain injury case will result in an award of punitive damages. This is because punitive damages––also known as exemplary damages––are not usually allowed in cases that involve simple negligence, like accidental behaviors.
Instead, in Arizona courts will award punitive damages to you for a brain injury only if the behavior of the defendant or defendants was more than just negligent but rather “grossly negligent” or “willful and wanton” instead.
Any court decision or settlement amount––remember, the overwhelming number of Arizona brain injury cases will settle out of court––is subject to adjustment up or down depending on considerations specific to the facts of your injury and how it happened.
Some of the particular factors that a court or insurance adjuster will look at when calculating an award or negotiating settlements of brain injury claims include:
Another factor that can affect how much you receive in a damages award is if the court concludes that you were partially at fault for the injury event that caused your brain injury.
Sometimes you can be what personal injury and insurance lawyers call a “blameless plaintiff.” For example, if you are a passenger in a car and suffer a brain injury, chances are good that unless you were doing something to distract the driver you likely had nothing to do with causing the accident.
But what if you were doing something that contributed to the accident? What if you were partially at fault? How does that affect your recovery of damages?
The rule in Arizona is that if you contributed to the harm done to you in a brain injury case, then the court will reduce your initial damages award by your percentage share of the blame. This can be any percentage, up to 99 percent your fault. If that were to happen, your damages award would be reduced to just one percent but you would still at least theoretically be entitled to recover that last percentage point from the defendant.
Suffering a head injury can be devastating to your wellbeing and livelihood. Any loss of function in your brain can lead to severe impairment, disability, and a dramatic reduction of your physical and cognitive ability.
Let a skilled Phoenix traumatic brain injury lawyer at Stone Rose Law help you fight for the compensation you deserve, and help you seek the support and medical treatment you need. Call our Phoenix law office today at (480) 498-8998 to schedule a free consultation.
We are a team of highly experienced Phoenix traumatic injury attorneys and head injury lawyers who are well acquainted with Arizona brain injury law, and who are committed to recovering compensation for our clients.
We offer aggressive and compassionate legal representation at reasonable fees.
We are prepared to take your brain injury claim to court to help you get the compensation you are entitled to and need for your recovery.
A traumatic brain injury lawsuit can be complex to prove and to prepare for trial. Especially in situations involving product liability, medical malpractice, or hospital negligence, for brain injury victims gathering the necessary evidence can be a painstaking process.
Furthermore, you can safely bet that if you seek to recover compensation for a traumatic brain injury caused condition, then the people you seek to recover from will hire their own insurance personal injury attorneys and personal injury defense lawyers. You can expect these attorneys to vigorously defend their clients interests; what you need is a brain injury lawyer to vigorously represent your interests.
That is what we do at Stone Rose Law. We are highly experienced personal injury settlement negotiators and traumatic brain injury lawyers. We will not be intimidated by insurance companies or other lawyers. We will not leave on the negotiating table any recovery amounts you are entitled to. And we will not quit until we either win your traumatic brain injury case or you receive a full and fair settlement, because we provide legal services to brain injury clients on a contingency basis.
Call our Phoenix traumatic brain injury attorneys today, and feel confident that you have the best brain injury lawyer available on your side. Or reach us online if you prefer. Either way, in Arizona you usually have only two years from the day of your brain injury to make a legal claim or lose it. That time can pass by faster than you may imagine. Don’t wait now only to be sorry later. Let us help you, starting with a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer in our Phoenix offices.