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3 things car accident victims should know about the cost of a TBI

A car accident can result in very serious injuries. Broken bones, stitches and whiplash are all familiar injuries that we are accustomed to dealing with, but we are still learning about the full extent of damage that comes with a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

As discussed in a previous article, available here, car accidents are a leading cause of TBIs. TBIs can result in immediate symptoms that include a loss of consciousness, confusion and nausea. We know from a study published in Neurology that the initial treatment of TBIs can average $162,523. This includes the costs of initial emergency services and can increase depending on the need for additional medical treatment.

However, we also know TBIs can lead to more than just immediate medical needs. These injuries can come with long term difficulties with memory and other brain functions. But how much do these future expenses that result from the TBI end up costing the victim?

It is important to note that future difficulties are not uncommon. The United States National Library of Medicine's National Institutes of Health (NIH) published a study on the cost of a TBI. the researchers found that over half of those who suffer head trauma battle "moderate to severe" disabilities resulting from the injury one-year after the accident and that "many more" never fully recover. The researchers in this study were unable to determine a definitive cost of future medical needs due to insufficient data.

How much does a TBI cost? Federal agencies and courts search for an answer.

Federal agencies are not the only ones to grapple with this question. Courts also struggle to find an answer. How much should the jury or judge award a victim who will suffer with a TBI for the rest of their life? The answer often hinges on the testimony of expert witnesses.

A recent case provides an example. In that case, the victim could establish $225,000 in past medical expenses. The victim could not make a case for future lost wages or future medical expenses. Yet the victim was able to build a case that resulted in an $11 million award. How? The victim called on an expert in brain functions to testify. This doctor, a neurologist, explained how this victim's TBI from a car accident led to memory loss, depression and other health problems. The physician was able to take complex medical terminology and discuss the injury and its life-long impact on the victim in a way the jury could easily understand. This, paired with the fact that the defense did not have an expert to counter the victim's testimony, likely contributed to the jury's decision to provide a multimillion-dollar award.

The true cost of a TBI depends on each victim's case

Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to how much a TBI will cost. The answer will depend on each victim and the details of the injury. However, victims can increase the likelihood of a fair award by building a case that provides information to the jury to help the jury understand the full impact of the injury.