Traumatic Brain Injury Settlements: What Is My TBI Case Worth?
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is one that causes sudden damage to brain function. It can range from mild concussions to life-altering brain bleeds, and in most cases, this injury involves medical bills, missed work, and disruptions in one’s daily life.
If you or someone in your family has suffered a head injury through someone else’s fault, it can be a major blow to your finances. You may be entitled to claim the compensation you need and deserve. To determine what your TBI claim is worth, it’s best to consult a competent personal injury attorney. But to give you an idea, here’s how TBI compensation works in California, and some examples of California TBI settlement amounts.
How much is the average settlement for TBI?
When you seek compensation for your head injury, you may either negotiate a settlement from the other party, or pursue a court trial which will result in a jury verdict. Either way, there is no true average amount for TBI compensation because the settlements and jury awards vary widely. Each case is a unique combination of factors (which we will discuss in the next section).
According to Jury Verdict Research, the average personal injury verdict in California as of 2020 is $1.81 million, yet the median jury award is only $114,000. The huge difference between the average and the mid-range figures is because among injury cases, there are many five-digit or six-digit awards, but there are also a few million-dollar verdicts that skew the average.
Specifically, the median verdict for brain injury in California is $1,595,000. Again, we take this figure simply as an example. It does not indicate a “standard” amount to expect in your particular case.
What factors affect a brain injury settlement or verdict?
Getting compensated for your injury is not just about summing up your bills and claiming reimbursement for them. Insurance companies, lawyers, and juries consider many facts and circumstances around your accident. These are some of the important factors that affect your TBI compensation.
Current and future medical expenses
Often, a traumatic brain injury is not a one-off event but a developing condition that requires continuing medical care. In fact, the lifetime cost of TBI could run from $85,000 to $3 million per patient, estimates Dr. Chandi Edmonds of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
Thus, in calculating the value of your claim, we consider not just the initial treatments but also your continuing medical needs as well as potential future expenses. Medical costs that you may be entitled to include:
- Emergency care
- Diagnostic tests
- Therapy and other forms of rehabilitation
- Psychological care
- Assisted living or nursing care.
Lost income and ensuing disability
Lost income includes the work you missed due to the accident and treatment, as well as the potential decrease in your earnings after your injury.
It’s an unfortunate fact that many TBI cases lead to long-term or permanent disability. According to Columbia University, about 5.3 million Americans are living with a long-term disability due to TBI. If your injury now prevents you from working at regular capacity, or if you cannot return to work at all, we must factor in the earnings you could be missing in your post-injury life.
To calculate this, we don’t just take your average wages and multiply it by a number of weeks. We take into account your age and life expectancy, your education and skills, the potential promotions and wage increases you could be missing, and the affected job benefits such as your pension and health insurance.
Other economic damages
Economic damages are those that have a definite monetary amount. Medical bills and lost wages are common examples, but in TBI cases, there are often other economic damages such as:
- Special mobility needs (e.g. wheelchair)
- Domestic services (e.g. housekeeping)
- Home modifications to accommodate impairments
- Vocational training.
Non-economic damages refer to losses that are less tangible in terms of financial value. The most common example is the pain and suffering you experienced due to the injury. Other examples may include mental anguish and lost enjoyment of life.
How clear the case is
When negotiating the settlement, insurers will consider how well your claim could hold up in court. A brain injury can result in any type of accident, generally the more complicated the accident is, the more likely they could argue that the defendant is not liable, and the less likely they will offer the settlement amount you need.
Further, traumatic brain injuries are often “invisible injuries” that don’t show physical symptoms. For instance, a serious concussion may look like a simple bump on the head, but could actually have more severe effects like headaches and memory problems. Without sufficient documentation of these effects, the insurance company may assert that your injury is not as serious as you claim.
On the other hand, if it is clear who caused the accident, and if you can clearly establish the severity of your injury, an insurer will be more likely to settle with you to avoid a more costly trial. Proving liability and the extent of your injury is one of the reasons an attorney’s help is crucial in getting your rightful compensation.
The injured’s share of fault
If there’s a possibility that you contributed to your own accident, this can be a significant factor in the compensation amount you could receive. California follows the “pure comparative negligence” rule, which takes into account the share of fault that each party had in an accident. If you were partly at fault, your compensation will be reduced accordingly. For example, if it is found that you were 10 percent at fault, your compensation will be reduced by 10 percent.
Insurance adjusters often use this rule to shift the blame away from the defendant and minimize the amount they have to pay. This is why injured persons in an accident are often advised not to apologize for anything and not to speak with insurance representatives before getting a lawyer.
Many cases of TBI involve several at-fault parties – for instance, a trucking accident involving commercial firms, or a premises liability accident involving property owners and contractors.
When multiple defendants are involved, you may be able to claim compensation from all of them, which means there is more negotiation as to how much each party should pay. You’ll want an attorney on your side to handle this complex case and get meaningful offers from each party.
In a few rare cases, an injured person may also receive an additional jury award for punitive damages. This is an amount that’s not meant as compensation for the victim, but as a punishment for the at-fault party. Punitive damages are applicable only if there was intentional harm or extreme recklessness from the defendant.
How can I maximize my TBI settlement?
When calculating damages of a TBI, or any other injury claim, having an experienced personal injury lawyer can be indispensable if you hope to receive favorable compensation. The reality is that insurance companies will take your claim more seriously if you are represented by an attorney. Your lawyer should also take steps to maximize your claim. Here are some things we do at Hamparyan Personal Injury Lawyers to get ideal settlements for our clients:
We wait for your maximum medical improvement (MMI).
Your maximum medical improvement is a point in your recovery where your condition is unlikely to improve further. This is essentially the maximum health you can recover, as assessed by your doctor. It’s wise to wait for your MMI before negotiating your settlement so that we have a good idea of the real extent of your injury and expenses. If you settle before reaching your MMI, there’s a chance you miss out on further compensation if your condition later turns out to be worse.
We enlist our network of experts to support your claim.
We at the Hamparyan Personal Injury Lawyers have built a network of medical and financial experts who help us establish our client’s damages. To evaluate a brain injury, we work not just with physicians but also with neurologists, physical therapists, and mental health professionals. To examine the financial impact of the injury, we confer with life planners, economists, and human resource specialists.
We aim to get a full picture of your losses, not just what the receipts say. We can also bring in these experts to provide credible testimony supporting your TBI claim.
Examples of TBI settlements and verdicts
The Hamparyan Personal Injury Lawyers have obtained favorable verdicts and settlements in brain injury cases, including:
- $13,500,000 verdict for our client who suffered a mild TBI in an auto-versus-truck collision
- $12,500,000 settlement from San Diego City Council after a roadway obstruction led to serious head injuries and wrongful death
- $12,000,000 verdict in a car-versus-car head-on collision that resulted in TBI for our client.
Remember that each case is unique and that the outcome of your case depends on the specific factors. Elsewhere in California, these are some sample verdicts and settlements in TBI cases:
- $100,000 settlement for a woman who got soft-tissue injuries in an intersection crash
- $160,000 verdict after a rear-end car crash resulted in a concussion and injured spine
- $394,018 verdict in a “dooring” accident – bicyclist crashed into an opened car door.
Talk to us at the Hamparyan Personal Injury Lawyers to get a proper evaluation of your case. We are highly experienced in various head injury cases including those from vehicle accidents, dangerous properties, slip-and-fall accidents, birth injuries, and medical malpractice.
Consult With an Experienced Traumatic Brain Injury Attorney in San Diego County
With over 20 years of experience, Hamparyan Personal Injury Lawyers are highly trusted in the San Diego area for head injury claims. We have won many million-dollar cases because our attorneys combine skill, experience, and fearlessness when advocating for our clients. We are deeply familiar with insurance negotiations and are also well-equipped to go to court if necessary for your fair compensation.
Your consultation with us is free, and we won’t charge you lawyer fees until we obtain compensation for you. Call us at (619) 550-1355 today.
Robert Hamparyan is one of California’s most accomplished personal injury lawyers. Hamparyan Personal Injury Lawyers San Diego was founded so that Robert could bring more of his skill and knowledge to personal injury victims in all types of cases. Robert and his team have dealt with semi truck accidents, wrongful death cases, brain & spine injuries, and many other types of personal injury cases with soaring success.
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