A diffuse axonal brain injury is a life-shattering form of a traumatic brain injury (TBI). “Axonal” refers to nerve fibers (“axons”) in the brain that are damaged or disrupted. “Diffuse” means that the injury is not localized. Instead, the injury is spread across a large part of the brain. About half of all traumatic brain injuries are diffuse axonal injuries. They frequently lead to coma and “brain death.” A diffuse axonal injury is, in fact, the TBI that is most likely to result in a fatality. When an injury victim survives, the resulting brain damage often has a devastating impact upon the victim's life.
Victims are entitled to seek compensation for everything they lose when another person's carelessness causes their brain injury. Spouses and certain other family members are entitled to seek compensation when a loved one dies from a diffuse axonal brain injury that resulted from another person's negligence.
The Orange County catastrophic injury lawyers at Timothy J. Ryan & Associates has more than thirty years of experience helping brain injury victims and their families recover compensation for their losses. To learn more about your rights if you or a family member experienced a diffuse axonal brain injury due to another person's negligence, call Timothy J. Ryan & Associates at 800-838-6644.
In some cases, axons in the brain are damaged by penetrative injuries. A penetrative injury occurs when an object penetrates the skull and makes direct contact with the brain. For example, if a piece of shrapnel propelled by an exploding gas tank bursts through the victim's skull and severs nerve fibers within the brain, a diffuse axonal injury will be the likely result.
In other cases, axons are damaged when the brain collides violently with the skull. When no object penetrates the skull, brain trauma of that nature is known as a “closed head injury.”
Some closed head injuries occur when the victim's head slams against an object. Motorcycle riders often experience closed head injuries when their head strikes the ground after a collision. Drivers and passengers also experience closed head injuries when their heads strike the interior of a vehicle during a crash.
“Shear forces” also cause diffuse axonal injuries. Even when the head does strike an object, the rapid acceleration of the head can cause the brain to slam against the skull. That happens in rear-end collisions, particularly those that push a car into another car. The head snaps backward when the first collision occurs due to the car's rapid acceleration, then snaps forward when the car abruptly stops after the second collision. Nerve fibers across the brain stretch or sever as the brain repeatedly bounces against the skull.
High-speed crashes are the most common case of diffuse axonal brain injuries. Negligent acts that cause diffuse axonal brain injuries include:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Accidentally inflicted gunshot wounds
- Falling on wet or slippery surfaces
- Tripping over unexpected obstacles
- Sports concussions after an injured player is sent back into the game
Any act of carelessness that contributes to a diffuse axonal injury entitles the injury victim, or the family of a deceased victim, to seek compensation.
Compensation for Diffuse Axonal Brain Injuries
A diffuse axonal brain injury is not always easy to diagnose. Some injuries fail to appear on CT scans. Some produce no symptoms until hours or days after the accident that causes them.
It is essential for head injury victims to seek immediate evaluation and treatment from a neurologist. It is even more vital to do so when the victim experiences a headache, blurred vision, or lapses in concentration.
When a negligent person or business contributes to brain injury, victims are entitled to bring a claim for their medical expenses as well as all costs they will incur to restore the full use of their brain and body. Those costs may include physical therapy, speech therapy, and vocational rehabilitation. Victims are also entitled to recover lost wages as well as the future income they would have earned if the accident had not happened.
When injuries are disabling, the victim is entitled to compensation that will restore the victim's quality of life to the greatest possible extent. A financial recovery might therefore include the cost of hiring a caretaker or the expense of residing in an assisted-living facility. In all cases, the victim should be compensated for pain, suffering, mental distress, and loss of enjoyment of life.
When a wrongful death results from a diffuse axonal injury, the victim's spouse and certain family members are entitled to recover compensation. Surviving family members in California can recover the lost income that the victim would have contributed if he or she had lived, as well as compensation for their loss of companionship and emotional support.