When a pedestrian is hit by a car or truck, the injuries that can result are catastrophic. Unlike motor vehicle accidents in which another car is hit, providing even the smallest amount of protection around the driver, when a pedestrian is hit by a vehicle there is nothing to protect them from sustaining serious and often fatal injuries. The rate at which these accidents occur is rising, especially in busy cities like Miami.
A tragedy close to home
The most recent tragedy occurred on August 19, when 19-year-old college student Baylie Grogan attempted to cross the street near her dorm room at University of Miami. Ms. Grogan was struck by a vehicle and sustained massive trauma to her brain and spinal cord, resulting in the young woman being placed in an induced coma while doctors attempted to save her life.
Ms. Grogan’s injuries are not uncommon, unfortunately. Injuries the extent of Baylie Grogan’s happen far too often, when drivers feel the need to rush and pedestrians have the right of way, only to be met with a reckless driver and life-threatening injuries as a result. The injuries sustained when a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle are wide-ranging. In this series of articles we’ll explore the most common, and often most catastrophic types of traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries that occur in these types of situations.
The severity of the situation
To better understand traumatic brain injuries, we first must explain the two types of TBI that can occur when a human being is struck by a vehicle moving at a fast rate of speed. In Tough Truths About TBI we looked at both of these injuries in depth and determined that one type is more severe than the other.
- Open TBI: This type of TBI occurs when the skull suffers a fracture. This injury can be the result of a fall or serious injury where the skull makes direct contact with the hard surface of an object such as pavement or glass. This type of injury has less chance of cerebral edema or brain swelling, due to the skull fracture that allows the brain to expand during trauma. That being said, it doesn’t reduce the seriousness of such injuries, and severe cognitive disruption, strokes, coma, and death can still occur.
- Closed TBI: A closed head injury doesn’t involve fracture of the skull, but it is considered more serious than an open TBI. This differentiation is due to the fact that cerebral edema (swelling of the brain) is more likely to be sustained and thusly, blood clots in the brain can form, leading to side effects such as stroke and hemorrhage.
Open and Closed TBI can both cause stroke, paralysis, loss of consciousness and ultimately fatalities if not treated quickly by a team of medical professionals.
Road to recovery
Even after a traumatic brain injury patient is treated and released from the hospital, the road to recovery doesn’t end there. In the most severe cases, victims require months or even years of rehabilitation to be able to live even a somewhat-normal daily life again. Rehabilitation may include relearning how to eat, bathe, walk, and even speak depending on what parts of the brain were most severely affected. Not only this, but victims may also experience chronic pain conditions such as CRPS from sustaining other injuries in the accident. The medical expenses of these injuries are astronomical and often beyond what even the best insurance policies will readily cover.
Upon returning home after sustaining a traumatic brain injury, victims still recovering from their ordeal will often need any number of assistive devices or home health care services. Any or all of the following may be necessary to assist them in their daily lives either indefinitely or until they are able to once again care for themselves:
- Home health care aides (attendants, nursing staff such as CNAs, LPNs, and RNs, physical and occupational therapists, mental health therapists)
- Disabled access in the home (ramps, lowered sinks, toilets, and handles, wheelchair access in bath/shower)
- Hospital bed in a home care setting (this occurs when the victim cannot ascend and descend the stairs in their own home upon returning)
- Assistance with preparing meals, bathing, dressing, and taking medications on schedule
- Accessible vehicles (ramps, motorized lifts) as well as a capable aide to drive the recovering patient to doctor’s appointments, help with errands, etc.
There’s still the legal side
After sustaining a traumatic brain injury to the extent that longterm hospital and rehabilitative care are necessary, victims and their families will struggle with medical bills and lost wages. A board certified lawyer retained by the family will be able to pursue a medical evaluation detailing the extent of the victim’s injuries and thusly, how impaired they are. This medical evaluation is obtained in order to recover damages that can ease the financial aspect of the trauma on the family.
Within the medical evaluation, the following questions are answered:
- Is the the victim able to work?
- Can the victim live independently, or do they require the care of others?
- Is the victim offered protection against discriminatory hiring practices if they want to attempt to work?
- What medical interventions may improve the longterm prognosis of the accident victim?
The right to compensation
When a victim or their family pursue litigation after an accident that causes a traumatic brain injury, their attorney will use several different legal principles to determine if the victim became injured because of someone else’s recklessness, negligence, or carelessness. The oft-used “negligence” theory of liability can be used to provide indisputable evidence that someone owed the victim a reasonable duty of care (and failed to fulfill that duty), directly becoming the cause of a traumatic brain injury.
The negligence principle is used when someone’s action (or lack of action) was what caused the victim to sustain their injury, or fatality. In the case of a pedestrian being struck by a vehicle, the driver owed the pedestrian a duty of care to reasonably slow down or stop, allowing them to cross the street. Failing to stop after noticing a pedestrian crossing makes the motorist liable for any injuries the pedestrian sustains in the event they are struck by the vehicle.
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