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Phoenix Brain Injury Lawyer

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.

Recovery for a Brain Injury in Phoenix

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).

Traumatic Brain Injuries

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.

  • Mild TBI: An example of a mild traumatic brain injury is a concussion. Mild traumatic brain injuries usually come from a bump or blow to the head that can cause your brain to bounce around in your skull, thereby damaging brain cells, but it is not life-threatening and complete recovery is often possible.
  • Moderate TBI. A moderate TBI is often the result of a fall. A moderate traumatic brain injury can lead to long-term health problems, but again is not itself life-threatening. Multiple concussions can over time develop into a more serious condition known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which in turn can lead to aggression, depression, anxiety, Parkinson’s disease, and ultimately to dementia.
  • Severe TBI. A severe traumatic brain injury comes from a particularly heavy blow to the head. A motor vehicle accident, blunt force trauma from an assault, or gunshot wounds can cause severe brain damage like a diffuse axonal injury, and in some cases lead to the death of the brain injury victim.

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.

  • Nationally, there are more than 1.7 million TBI cases every year. Every minute, three people suffer a traumatic brain injury in the United States.
  • About 5 million people in the US are currently living with the consequences of brain trauma.
  • Most traumatic brain injuries come from falling. Motor vehicle accidents are the second most common source of TBI, followed by assaults.
  • Every year more than 65,000 traumatic brain injuries happen in Arizona. The vast majority of these wounds, such as diffuse axonal injuries, require immediate medical attention and emergency room visits. More than 1,000 people die as a result of traumatic brain injuries.
  • At any given time in Arizona, more than 45,000 people are experiencing ongoing effects of having experienced a traumatic brain injury.

Acquired Brain Injuries

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.

Other Kinds of Head Injury

The following types of head and brain injuries commonly occur in accidents:

Closed Head Injury

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.

Open Injury

An open head injury is one that penetrates the skull. This could result in skull fractures or bleeding from the brain.

Concussion

Occurs when the brain has been severely shaken. It can cause loss of consciousness, lightheadedness, or severe headaches.

Scalp Wounds

Cuts, scrapes, or piercing of the skin that surrounds the skull. This can cause brain bleed or tissue damage.

Brain Injury Symptoms

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:

  • Pain: Headaches, neck and shoulder pain are common traumatic brain injury symptoms, and can be related to a cerebral contusion or neck and spine injuries you receive at the same time as the traumatic brain injury.
  • Sensory degradation: This can affect your vision, hearing, and ability to taste and smell. Sometimes you can experience heightened sensitivity to light and to noise as well.
  • Difficulty concentrating: These symptoms include trouble thinking through problems, memory loss, inability to focus on topics of conversation, having difficulty in organizing and planning, difficulty learning, and a general feeling of being in a “mental fog.”
  • Trouble communicating: Seemingly being unable to “find the right words” to express thoughts, difficulty paying attention while listening to others, or even talking too much are all effects of a brain injury.
  • Lack of energy: Symptoms include sleep loss and a persistent sense of listlessness or fatigue.
  • Emotional difficulties: People who suffer from a brain injury often report having trouble with mood swings, anxiety, depression, a sense of isolation, and becoming easily agitated. At least one study suggests a link between brain injuries and suicidal thoughts, attempted and actual suicides.
  • Physical disorders: Dizziness, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, difficulty maintaining your balance, a feeling of numbness in your limbs, and changes in sexual behaviors are problems frequently connected with having a brain injury.

How to Reduce Your Risk of Head Injuries

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:

  • Wear seatbelts when driving or riding in a motor vehicle. Car accidents are a significant source of a traumatic brain injury claim. Children should ride in rear-facing car seats until they are 4 years old or have reached the seat manufacturer’s maximum weight recommendations.
  • Wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle or bicycle.
  • When playing contact sports, wear a helmet and a mouthguard. These are particularly important for children.
  • Use safe practices and safety devices at home and work to reduce the risk of falls.
  • Similarly, use safe practices around sources of electricity at home and at work, and around swimming pools to avoid electric shock and near-drowning brain injuries.
  • Keep firearms safely locked away.
  • Avoid situations that would put you at risk of physical assault by others.

Personal Injury Lawsuits

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. 

Elements of a Personal Injury Lawsuit

In Arizona, to prove negligence in a brain injury lawsuit you must prove all of the following:

  1. Another person had a duty to exercise reasonable care toward you. For example, when you are driving or riding in a car, other drivers owe you a duty of care not to drive while intoxicated.
  2. The other person breached that duty of care owed you. In our motor vehicle accident example above, this could mean that the other person was in fact intoxicated while driving on the same road as you and in proximity to you.
  3. The other person’s breach of duty caused the accident or other harm you suffered. Continuing with our example, being intoxicated caused the other driver to swerve into your lane and collide with the vehicle you were in.
  4. You must have suffered harm from the other person’s breach of duty. In our example, the harm you suffer could be a traumatic brain injury as a result of the other driver’s car striking the one you were in. 

Product Liability Lawsuits

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.

Wrongful Death Lawsuits and Arizona Statutory Survival Actions

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.

Wrongful Death Lawsuits

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.

Arizona Statutory Survival Actions

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:

  • A wrongful death lawsuit is based in common law, which comes from court decisions over time. A survival action is codified in an Arizona statute.
  • In a wrongful death action, the compensation you seek is for the harm done to you because of the death of the family member. In a survival action, the estate of the deceased person is the plaintiff, and the recovery is for the harm the deceased person experienced before dying because of the brain injury. 

Medical Malpractice and Hospital Negligence Lawsuits

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.

Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

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

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.

Money Damages Recovery for Brain Injuries

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.

Economic 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.

Non-Economic Damages

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.

Punitive Damages

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.

  • Gross negligence is similar to recklessness: it describes behavior that, while not intentional, was so extremely careless that the defendant had to have been aware of the likelihood of harm to you yet proceeded with it anyway.
  • Willful and wanton conduct is another way of describing wrongful behavior that was purposeful or intentional––in other words, the defendant meant to cause you harm.

Factors That Can Affect Your Damages Award or Settlement

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:

  • How much evidence you have proving your direct damages, and the quality of that evidence.
  • What medical care you need now and in the future.
  • How long your expected recovery will be.
  • Whether your recovery will be complete or only partial.
  • The effect your brain injury has on your quality of life.
  • The effect your brain injury has on those close to you.
  • Whether you are able to receive compensation from other sources, like disability income.

Comparative Fault in Arizona

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.

Talk With an Experienced Phoenix Brain Injury Attorney Today

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.

Why Work With Our Brain Injury Law Firm?

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.

Traumatic Brain Injury Lawyers

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.