Brain injuries are among the most devastating and debilitating injuries people may experience. They can disrupt children’s development and severely impair a person’s quality of life. In many cases, brain injuries can be fatal. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that, in 2021, 190 people in the U.S. died per day because of brain injuries and related conditions. People who have suffered brain injuries may have legal rights to recover compensation for the damages they have suffered. Family members may be able to assert claims for someone who did not survive their injuries. If you or a loved one has experienced a brain injury, an experienced personal injury attorney can assess your case, advise you of your rights, and fight to recover the compensation you deserve. The Cochran Law Firm is ready to help you.

Causes of Brain Injuries

Brain injuries can result from accidents, intentional violent acts, medical errors, dangerous products, exposure to toxic chemicals, and other causes. The following are some of the most common causes of brain injuries:

Traumatic Brain Injuries

When people hear the term “brain injury,” they might automatically think of traumatic brain injuries or TBIs. This type of brain injury often results from a blow to the head, neck, or another part of the body, resulting in trauma to the brain. TBIs can occur from a wide range of causes, including the following:

  • Falls: This might involve slipping and falling on a wet or icy surface, tripping on an uneven surface, or falling because of a defective product like a stepladder.
  • Falling objects: This type of accident may occur on construction sites when someone drops or fails to secure a heavy object.
  • Accidents: TBIs may occur as a result of car accidents, pedestrian accidents, bicycle accidents, boating accidents, and numerous other types of accidents.
  • Assaults: TBIs may result from intentional harm caused by another person.

Not all blows to the head cause TBIs. At the same time, though, not all TBIs are noticeable immediately after a person sustains the injury.

  • A person with a primary TBI shows signs of an injury right away. This often happens after a serious accident or a particularly violent attack. The victim may lose consciousness or show other clear signs of injury.
  • The symptoms of a secondary TBI might not appear until hours, days, or even weeks later.

In addition to “primary” and “secondary” injuries, TBIs fall into two general categories:

  • A penetrating TBI occurs when something pierces the skull, such as a bullet, sharp weapon, or debris from an accident.
  • A non-penetrating TBI, sometimes also known as blunt-force trauma, occurs when something hits the head with enough force to jostle the brain within the skull, but not necessarily enough to penetrate the skull. Damage from a non-penetrating TBI might not be visible. It can include bruising to the brain, known as a “concussion,” or internal bleeding, known as a “hemorrhage.”

Medical, Surgical, or Medication Errors

A variety of brain injuries may result from misdiagnosis, surgical errors, medication errors, and other mistakes during medical treatment, including the following:

  • Anesthesia errors
  • Failure to intubate a patient properly
  • Loss of oxygen or blood flow to the brain during surgery
  • Infections, such as septicemia
  • Incorrect medications or dosages
  • Misdiagnosis of conditions like brain cancer or stroke

Birth Injuries

Injuries prior to or during birth can cause lifelong complications, including serious conditions like cerebral palsy. For this reason, birth injuries are often treated as a distinct category of medical malpractice. Doctors must carefully monitor both the mother and the baby to make sure they receive the proper care.

Causes of brain injuries before or during birth may include the following:

  • Lack of oxygen: Numerous problems during childbirth can prevent a fetus or newborn from receiving enough oxygen. This could involve problems with the umbilical cord, placental abruption, or maternal health conditions that affect the fetus.
  • Infection: Infections affecting either the mother or the fetus can cause brain injuries in the fetus.
  • Delivery trauma: Physical injury sustained during a lengthy or difficult delivery can result in brain injuries.

Toxic Exposure

Exposure to certain chemicals or substances can cause brain injuries. In some cases, injuries may result from fairly small amounts of exposure, but many of these types of injuries develop over longer periods of time.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is a common form of toxic exposure that can result in brain injuries or death. It is a byproduct of burning carbon-based fuels, such as gasoline in automobiles and natural gas in many home appliances. An excess amount of carbon monoxide in the blood can cause hypoxia, in which a sufficient amount of oxygen cannot reach the brain and other vital organs. Poor ventilation can lead to dangerous carbon monoxide buildups, as well as poorly maintained or defective appliances.

Other chemicals or substances that may cause brain injuries may include the following:

  • Lead and other heavy metals, such as cadmium or mercury
  • Solvents and other cleaning products
  • Pesticides and herbicides
  • Building materials
  • Pharmaceutical products
  • Perfume, cologne, and other personal care products

Exposure to these or other substances could cause hypoxia, disruptions to neurotransmitters, inflammation or bleeding in the brain, or even various forms of brain cancer.

Some people may have greater sensitivity to certain chemicals than others. A person might experience feelings of lightheadedness or a mild headache that goes away once they are no longer exposed to the chemical. Prolonged exposure can cause brain injuries known as toxic encephalopathy, which may or may not improve.

Common Symptoms of Brain Injuries

Different types of brain injuries can have a wide range of symptoms. Some brain injuries might produce immediate and acute symptoms, while others might not present symptoms for some time. The following are some of the most common symptoms of brain injuries:


Headaches are one of the most common symptoms of brain injuries. They could indicate a traumatic injury like a concussion or hemorrhage. They could also indicate less visible damage, such as hypoxia.

Even a mild headache could indicate a serious injury. It is often best to seek medical attention as soon as possible. 

Vision Problems

Injuries to the brain can affect how the body processes senses. Blurred vision or sensitivity to light could be signs of brain injury, especially if they occur after an accident.

Hearing Problems

Much like vision problems, hearing problems can also result from brain injuries. This may include diminished hearing ability or a persistent ringing in the ears.

Loss of Smell

A brain injury can interfere with a person’s ability to smell anything, or it could cause them to smell odors that are not actually present.

Sleeping Problems

Brain injuries can disrupt the body’s ability to regulate the sleep cycle. This could make it difficult to fall asleep, or it could cause someone to sleep too long.

Nausea and Vomiting

TBIs often cause people to experience nausea, possibly accompanied by vomiting. These symptoms may also result from other incidents that may cause brain injuries, such as exposure to toxic chemicals.

Dizziness or Fatigue

Injuries to the brain can cause dizziness, loss of balance, or even vertigo. They can also cause a person to feel fatigued.

Weakness in Limbs

Brain injuries can interfere with nerve signals to the limbs. This can result in weakness in the arms, legs, or hands.

Loss of Consciousness

TBIs may result in immediate loss of consciousness, but this symptom may also appear after the injury has occurred. It could reoccur, or it could occur for the first time hours, days, or more later.

Difficulty Concentrating or Focusing

Brain injuries can cause people who did not previously have trouble concentrating on tasks to experience difficulty maintaining their focus. They can also worsen people’s concentration issues.

Memory Loss

Brain injuries, especially TBIs, can cause problems with memory loss. This rarely looks like the kind of amnesia portrayed on television and in movies, though. Injuries to the brain often affect short-term memory more than long-term memory. It can also affect other types of memory:

  • Long-term memory consists of memories from a person’s past, such as where they grew up and went to school. Amnesia, as portrayed in movies and TV, typically involves loss of long-term memory. In real life, TBIs are unlikely to affect long-term memory. They can, however, make it more difficult to retrieve information when needed. A person might recognize an old friend that they have not seen for some time, while also struggling to remember their name or how they know each other.
  • Short-term memory involves new information received from moment to moment. A TBI could interfere with short-term memory, making it difficult to remember what happened a few days, hours, or moments ago.
  • The term “prospective memory” refers to memories of future events or obligations, such as an upcoming meeting, someone’s birthday, or the pick-up time at a child’s school. Brain injuries can also affect this type of memory. It can cause people to forget events or appointments that might have been routine before the injury.

The duration of the memory loss depends, in part, on the severity of the injury. It could last anywhere from a few days to several months. In serious enough cases, a person might never fully recover their memory.

People who have suffered TBIs may have difficulty remembering some or all of the circumstances of the accident. This can make it difficult to build a case for damages. A brain injury lawyer can help them gather the necessary information and evidence for a claim.

Slurred Speech

Much like how brain injuries can interfere with communication between the brain and the limbs, they can also impair a person’s ability to communicate with others. This can result in slurred speech or other speech difficulties.

Changes in Mood

Any kind of trauma to the brain can cause major changes in a person’s mood. This often involves irritability or agitation, but it may also include outbursts of laughter. In infants and young children, this could present as incessant crying and refusal to eat or breastfeed.

Changes in Personality

Brain injuries can cause changes to someone’s personality in a variety of ways. Loss of memory, confusion, and other common symptoms can affect how a person relates to the world. They may experience greater levels of anger or aggression, or they may have trouble regulating their emotions. Some people may struggle to express any emotions at all.

Seizures or Convulsions

A person may experience seizures or convulsions immediately or shortly after suffering a TBI. These symptoms may also occur long after the injury occurred. Severe TBIs can even lead to the development of epilepsy.

Legal Rights and Protections for Brain Injury Victims

A person who has suffered a brain injury may be able to assert a claim for damages against the person who is legally at fault. The circumstances of the accident and the laws of the person’s state will determine what damages they may recover.

Legal Claims for Brain Injuries

State laws establish rules for when a person is liable for injuries to another person. This may occur when the person has intentionally caused someone harm, or when they have acted negligently or without reasonable care.


The legal theory of negligence is the basis for many personal injury claims, also known as tort claims. A plaintiff alleging negligence must prove four elements:

  1. The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care.
  2. The defendant breached that duty.
  3. This breach directly caused the plaintiff’s injuries.
  4. The plaintiff has suffered financial harm as a result.

Intentional Torts

People may be liable for intentional injuries. A person who caused a TBI in a deliberate attack on another person may be liable in a claim for assault. Some states might call the claim battery.

Medical Malpractice

Doctors and other medical professionals hold positions of great trust in our society. As a result, we hold them liable if they make mistakes that cause serious injuries. A medical malpractice claim is similar to a claim based on negligence. Many states have additional requirements for medical malpractice claims, as well as limits on the total amount of damages a plaintiff may recover.

Premises Liability

Property owners have a legal responsibility to keep their premises safe. They may be liable for injuries if they fail to repair dangerous conditions or warn people they have invited onto their property about those conditions. Claims for brain injuries resulting from construction accidents often rely on premises liability.

Products Liability

Product designers and manufacturers are responsible for making sure their products are safe. They may be liable for injuries that result from defective or unsafe products.

Damages in Brain Injury Cases

Several types of damages may be available in brain injury cases.

Economic Damages

Economic damages compensate a person for their direct financial losses, such as:

  • Medical bills
  • Rehabilitation expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of future earning capacity
  • Funeral expenses in wrongful death cases

Noneconomic Damages

Not all losses resulting from brain injuries are as easy to measure as medical bills or lost wages. Noneconomic damages compensate people for losses that are more subjective, including:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

Punitive Damages

In cases that involve intentional harm or gross negligence, some states allow plaintiffs to recover punitive damages, which are intended to punish the defendant.

The Importance of Seeking Legal Representation for Brain Injury Cases

You need a skilled brain injury lawyer to protect your interests and advocate for your rights. Whether you are making an insurance claim or filing a lawsuit, an attorney can make sure you present the best case possible.

Insurance Adjusters Are Not Your Friends

Insurance companies will try to convince you that they are offering you a fair settlement when in reality they are often trying to make your case go away as cheaply as possible. Personal injury lawyers know all of the tricks insurance companies use to minimize payments on claims.

Time Is of the Essence

You have a limited time after an injury to file a lawsuit. This time limit, known as the statute of limitations, could be as little as two years. If you plan on filing an insurance claim before going to court, you need to start that process as soon as possible. A lawyer can help you get started and stay on schedule.

Court Procedures Are Complicated

Filing a lawsuit requires following state law, county requirements, and local court rules. The process can seem overwhelming. An attorney can make sure you do not miss any important documents or other requirements.

Finding a Brain Injury Lawyer: Tips and Considerations

When considering whether to hire a brain injury lawyer, the following considerations can help you identify the best law firm for your or your loved one’s case:

  • How much experience do they have handling brain injury claims?
  • How well do they understand the different kinds of brain injuries?
  • Do they work with medical professionals who can provide support for your claims?
  • Are they able to handle any issues with accessibility or communication related to your or your loved one’s brain injury?
  • What kind of fee do they charge?

Do not be shy about asking questions when you meet with prospective lawyers. You want to choose someone you will trust to handle your case.

Still Have Questions? Contact an Experienced Brain Injury Lawyer Today.

The Cochran Firm, founded over fifty years ago by renowned attorney Johnnie Cochran, is one of the country’s top plaintiffs’ litigation firms. Its team of experienced litigators has helped countless clients assert their legal rights and obtain damages. The firm handles cases on a contingent fee basis, meaning that you owe nothing to the firm until they recover money for you.

Our call center staff is available 24/7 to talk to you. Contact us today to speak with a Cochran Firm intake specialist or attorney and schedule a free, no-obligation consultation:

Our team will discuss your legal matter with the confidentiality, understanding, and respect you deserve.