Accident Resource: Leading Causes of TBI

Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are a type of injury that typically results from a violent impact to the head which causes damage to the brain. The severity of the effects of a TBI can vary greatly depending on the force of the initial impact and the affected areas of the brain. In severe cases, TBI victims can face life-long complications related to their injuries. According to the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA), approximately 5.3 million people in the United States currently live with disabilities related to traumatic brain injuries.

These sobering figures show how important it is to take measures to prevent incidents that can cause serious brain injuries. It is crucial to understand the risk factors that may lead to this diagnosis.

Leading Causes of TBI

According to data from Brainline, the following causes accounted for the highest numbers of TBIs in the United States:

  • Falls: 47%

    Children under 18 years old and the elderly are the most at-risk groups. Falls accounted for about half of all TBI-related emergency room visits for children, and 81% of visits for the elderly.

  • Struck by/against accidents: 15%

    These accidents involve the victim being unintentionally struck by another person or object. For example, a construction worker hit by falling debris on a work site or an athlete hit by a ball during a game.

  • Auto accidents: 14%

    Car accidents are responsible for the largest number of TBI-related deaths. About 200,000 brain injuries result from auto accidents annually. This is the leading cause of hospitalizations among teens and adults ages 15-44.

  • Assault: 9%

    TBIs resulting from intentional harm done to the victim by another person. Adults above the age of 18 and below the age of 65 account tor the majority of TBIs resulting from assault. This category includes instances of gunshot wounds, domestic violence and other violent acts.

  • Unknown causes: 8%

    These are cases where medical records do not pinpoint the exact cause of the TBI.

  • Other: 7%

    This category includes causes that do not fall into the other dominant categories. For example, an animal attack that caused a TBI.

Recreational activities also account for a significant number of traumatic brain injuries among younger groups. According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, the following are the top five sports accounting for the highest number of head injuries treated in U.S. emergency departments:

  • Cycling
  • Football
  • Baseball/ Softball
  • Basketball
  • Water Sports

In the professional world, some industries are placed at an increased risk for TBI among employees. With falls and struck-by accidents as two of the leading causes of TBIs, it's no wonder that construction workers face the highest risk for TBI in the workplace. In the United States, the construction industry has the largest number of fatal and non-fatal TBIs among workplaces, according to a 2016 report by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

Between 2003 and 2010, 2,210 construction workers died from construction-related TBIs. These deaths accounted for 25% of all construction deaths and 24% of all occupational TBI fatalities in that period of time. A 2016 report in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine shares that falls were the most frequent injury event and accounted for a large percentage of TBIs among construction workers. The report emphasizes the need for safety precautions to reduce the number of fall-related TBIs among workers.

In order to prevent falls on construction sites, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) enforces federal regulations for job sites. All workers have a right to a safe work environment that does not pose risk for serious harm. Employers have a responsibility to maintain this safe environment through use of guardrails, regular inspection of scaffolding, providing personal fall arrest systems, among other methods.

Preventing Accidents That Can Cause Brain Injuries

The best way to prevent brain injuries is by addressing its causes and to take extra precautions if you are part of the at-risk groups, which include older adults and children in contact sports. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), older adults can help mitigate the risk of traumatic brain injuries if they can take active precautions against falls, which include strength training, balance exercises, regular vision exams, and a safer home environment.

For children who participate in contact sports, and may suffer brain injuries from heavy impact with other players or sporting equipment, the CDC recommends coaches, parents, and other supervising adults challenge the "win at all cost mentality" that is prevalent in sports culture. Additionally, children should be educated on the risks associated with their sport and taught the proper way to handle an injury. If children are aware of the dangers and taught to prioritize safety, they may be more likely to take fewer risks and seek treatment when necessary.

Since auto accidents and other incidents can result in blunt force trauma to the head, it's important that we all take precautions in preventing harm to ourselves and others. For the general public, recommendations for preventing TBI in all demographics include:

  • Wear your seatbelt when riding in any vehicle
  • Wear a helmet (or other appropriate headgear) when riding a bicycle, motorcycle, skateboard, snowboard, etc.
  • Undergo regular vision exams
  • Never drive while under the influence
  • Do not use your cell phone to cell or text while driving

Many states have task forces, commissions and studies that focus on TBI and its prevention. If you would like to learn more about TBI, non-profit groups such as the Brain Injury Association of New York State provide advocacy, prevention programs, and information to victims of brain injury, their families, as well as to the general public. Often, victims with serious brain injuries struggle to adjust to a new lifestyle. It is important to understand that the possibility for life beyond your accident exists and that there are resources available to help you move forward with your life.

Speak with a Brain Injury Lawyer

If you or a loved one sustained a TBI as a result of an accident caused by the negligence of another party, you may have legal recourse to file a lawsuit. An experienced brain injury lawyer can help you understand your legal options and fight for the compensation you are entitled to after a devastating accident.

The lawyers at Block O'Toole & Murphy have dedicated their lives to obtaining justice for those who have suffered due to the negligent actions of another party. Our proven track record includes results such as:

  • $32,756,156 jury verdict for a Vietnam veteran who was violently hit by a car driven by an impaired driver and suffered massive brain damage
  • $13,500,000 settlement for a pedestrian who suffered a TBI after she was struck by a car in Suffolk County
  • $9,792,412 verdict in a medical malpractice case for a man who suffered paralysis as a result of a surgical error while undergoing surgery to remove a tumor from his brain
  • $8,800,000 settlement for a Queens woman who suffered a traumatic brain injury and required surgery after being hit by a van
  • $7,525,000 settlement for survivors in a tragic auto accident where a mother and son were killed. One of the surviving children suffered a brain injury.
  • $5,500,000 settlement for electrician who suffered an injury to his brain after falling from an extension ladder

To speak with a Block O'Toole & Murphy attorney, please call 212-736-5300 or fill out our online contact form.

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