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What is a Brain Stem Injury?

Your brain stem is a group of nerves that link your brain to your spinal cord. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the brain stem performs a variety of critical functions, such as regulating your circadian rhythm, balance, breathing, and heart rhythms. The brain stem is also tied to other functions, like the ability to swallow or control facial movements. While some brain injury victims recover, others require a full-time caretaker and never fully recover.

In many cases, damage to the brain stem is the result of a traumatic brain injury, even though the brain stem may not be injured in the initial accident.  Traumatic brain injuries range in severity from a mild injury like a concussion to severe, life-threatening damage inflicted by a diffuse axonal injury. A brain stem injury can also occur when the brain swells and puts pressure on or otherwise damages the brain stem. For example, this may be a result of a penetrating head injury sustained on a job site or a coup contrecoup head injury suffered in a rear-end collision.

When the damage to the brain stem is extensive or blood and oxygen are prevented from reaching the brain, this can result in “brain death“. If you have lost a loved one as a result of a brain stem injury, you may still be able to recover damages in a wrongful death lawsuit if their injury was caused by someone else’s negligence.

Common Causes of Brain Stem Injuries

A brain stem head injury can be sustained under many types of circumstances. For your damages to be eligible for compensation, the injury must stem from an act of negligence committed by a party that owed a duty of care. For example, an accusation of negligence may be leveled against a drunk driver who caused a head-on collision or an employer who failed to provide working safety equipment to scale a building. A skilled brain injury lawyer will be able to ascertain liability in your claim for damages.

Motor Vehicle Accidents Are a Top Contributing Cause of Brain Stem Injuries

Car, truck, and motorcycle accidents are a leading cause of brain stem injuries. Brain injuries can occur when a driver or passenger slams their head against a hard surface or gets violently jerked back and forth. They affect people of all ages and walks of life with the potential to occur anywhere.

Wearing seatbelts in cars and helmets on bikes has shown to be protective from these injuries. This protection comes from lessened chances of neck hyper-flexion, frontward and backward, and reduced twisting. These are two extreme motions that can lead to a brain stem injury.

Common Florida Recreational Activities Can Result in Brain Stem Injuries

Many Floridians enjoy activities that involve spending time in or out on the water, such as boating or diving. Unfortunately, many of these activities are associated with a risk of a traumatic brain injury. For example, in a boating accident, a reckless boat operator may be forced to stop suddenly to avoid a collision, launching their passengers into water or against hard surfaces, causing trauma to the brain.

Even recreational activities on dry land present a brain stem injury risk. Children are prone to these types of injuries due to different forms of sports and recreation. Falls from playground equipment, while skateboarding, bike riding, horseback riding, as well as playing contact sports, can lead to brain stem injury. Serious head injuries can be prevented or lessened in youths and adults with protective headgear.

Workplace Brain Injuries Due to Falls Can Be Serious

In many industries, employees are at a higher risk of being injured in a slip-and-fall accident. This is especially true in fields like construction or occupations like firefighting. Brain stem injuries may occur from falls from high places such as trees, windows, ladders, or rooftops. Of course, white-collar workers are also susceptible to brain stem injuries, although it is less likely.  If you sustained a brain stem injury at the workplace, you are likely entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits from your employer’s insurance carrier. In the case of a severe brain injury, such as one that prevents you from working or living independently, you may be eligible for more extensive disability benefits.

What Damages Can I Recover in a Brain Stem Injury Lawsuit?

A brain stem injury can impact every facet of your life, from your finances to your mental and physical health. These challenges can last for a long duration, even a lifetime, depending upon the severity of the injury. If your brain stem injury resulted from someone else’s negligent act, you can likely pursue a brain stem injury lawsuit against them to recover these costs.

In a personal injury lawsuit, your brain injury attorney will likely advise you to file for economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages, such as the price of a wheelchair, have an established price tag. Non-economic damages are often more difficult to quantify, as they involve emotional losses like a loss of independence or function. Both types are valid. A qualified personal injury attorney will be able to help you calculate the value of these losses with respect to your health, lifestyle, and occupation.

Examples of Damages in a Brain Stem Injury Lawsuit

  • Medical bills
    • Medication
    • Surgery
    • Therapy and rehabilitation
    • Mobility aids
    • Hospital stay
    • Home modifications
    • Home healthcare aide
  • Job-related losses
    • Lost wages
    • Reduced earning capacity
    • Missed promotions
    • Loss of career
  • Pain and suffering
  • Permanent disability
  • Wrongful death
    • Funeral and burial costs
    • Loss of companionship or parental guidance

After a brain stem injury, you may be unable to perform the most basic functions, like swallowing. Some brain stem injury victims even become dependent on others to live anything close to a normal life. In many cases, the injury that caused such devastation was the fault of another party. You should seek prompt medical attention to protect your health and the viability of a future personal injury claim. After that, we recommend reaching out to a reputable brain stem injury attorney to discuss your legal options.

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