Articles Posted in Brain Injury

baby.jpegA Texas couple is suing the West Virginia University Hospitals in Monongalia Circuit Court, claiming that due to its negligence during their daughter’s birth, their daughter suffers from severe physical and mental damage.

In late 2009, Jennifer Bollack became pregnant by artificial insemination and was thereafter a patient at West Virginia University, where she received prenatal care from Cheat Lake Physicians. Bollack alleges that in July 2010, she reported leakage of amniotic fluid and was admitted to the hospital. However, because fetal monitoring and a urine test came back normal, Bollack was released and told to follow up with one of the Cheat Lake physicians two days later. When Bollack followed up, she complained of decreased fetal movement, and was scheduled for an induction of labor. The couple’s daughter was finally born just after midnight on July 7, 2010, with no heartbeat or signs of breathing. She was admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in critical condition.

Although the Bollacks’ daughter was finally discharged two weeks after birth, she has shown signs of being neurologically delayed, showing both physical and speech deficits. Speech therapists and physical therapists will be required, and the Bollacks’ daughter remains under the care of West Virginia doctors. The Bollacks charge West Virginia Hospitals with failing to provide qualified medical staff to monitor Jennifer Bollack’s labor, failing to properly examine her during labor, failing to read the fetal heart monitor tracings in a timely manner, and failing to perform a Caesarean section in a timely manner.

atv.jpgThis blog has previously discussed the allure of all terrain vehicles (ATVs). They are rugged and exciting, and can take you through back country areas quickly and easily. However, they are also very dangerous. Don’t be fooled into thinking that because they have three, four, even six wheels, you will be protected from accidents: they have mortality rates comparable to motorcycles. Often the reason for the death and injury rate is the driver’s failure to wear a helmet. A person not wearing a helmet is three times more likely to suffer an injury from an ATV accident. Recently, an ATV accident claimed the life of yet another person in West Virginia.

Dakota Austin “Kody” Mullis, a 17-year old from North Carolina, was spending the weekend riding ATVs with family and friends in the Hatfield-McCoy trail system known as the “stair step.” At the end of the day, Mullis and his girlfriend decided to take one last ride before turning in. Since it was supposed to last 20 minutes, Mullis did not bring a helmet. “He never rode without his helmet, but this time he did,” his aunt noted. During a race up the trail in the twilight, Mullis and his girlfriend ended up losing control of their vehicles and hitting a guard rail. Both were thrown into an embankment, with Mullis being thrown nearly 50 feet into the air and finally hitting a tree. Although Mullis’s girlfriend alerted first responders, he was declared dead at Bluefield Regional Medical Center.

Doctors believe that even if Mullis had worn a helmet, the impact when he hit the tree and the ground might have been too great to survive. Still, no one will ever know. Now a North Carolina community is left to mourn a young man who would have been a senior in high school and was planning to join the military after graduation.

We at the Wolfe Law Firm express our deepest condolences to Mullis’s friends and family. There are so many “What ifs” in this situation. Mullis might have lost control of the vehicle through human error, though news articles suggest that he has used ATVs multiple times. It is also possible that this is more than just a tragic accident: there might have been something wrong with the vehicle itself. There is no information on how old Mullis’s ATV was or where he purchased it. If there is anything to suggest that the vehicle itself had a defect, his family might consider filing a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer. In a product liability lawsuit, you would argue that the manufacturer was strictly liable because the ATV had a manufacturing defect (that particular ATV was unreasonably dangerous when it came off the assembly line), a design defect (all of that model ATV had control problems), or a warning label that failed to point out all foreseeable dangers. If the product is found to have a defect, the manufacturer will be liable even if it was not negligent — that is, even if it acted with reasonable care. You can still receive a money award in a product liability case even if you or your loved one was partially responsible for the accident — just as long as your fault does not rise to 50% or more in West Virginia.
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666037_x-ray_head.jpgThe NFL season is half over and college football season is hitting its stretch run, but while the Mountaineers’ and the Thundering Herd’s regular seasons are ending soon, the investigation regarding head injuries sustained playing America’s game will continue. Our collective consciousness has been raised considerably over the past year due to the severity of injuries sustained by players and the news stories that have come out regarding the long-term effects of repeated concussions. The concern has extended to the youth levels of the sport, where West Virginia University Medical School’s own chairman of neurosurgery Dr. Julian Bailes has become the chairman of Pop Warner’s national medical board. The board is tasked with ensuring that the league’s rules are preserving the safety of the children who play Pop Warner football.

While football gets most of the press in the discussion about the dangers of concussions and brain trauma, there are many people who sustain brain injuries off the gridiron. Car accidents, slip and falls, and workplace mishaps can, and in many instances do result in serious brain injuries. Brain trauma can have a significant negative impact on a victim’s life after they have suffered the injury. Chronic headaches, memory loss and changes in the victim’s personality are just some of these adverse effects.

Whether you or someone you know has sustained a traumatic brain injury through no fault of your own, you should consult a West Virginia brain injury attorney as soon as possible. While not every brain injury gives rise to legal liability, a trained lawyer can evaluate the circumstances leading to your trauma and explain your rights and options. If the facts of your injury constitute a strong legal case, an attorney serves as an invaluable resource and advocate who can help get you compensated for the damages you have already suffered and will continue to suffer.

373760_brains.jpgAccording to a recent article published by Science Daily, new research from the University of California Los Angles and Australian scientists may lead to breakthroughs in memory for victims of traumatic brain injury (TBI). The article outlines results from clinical studies that studied how the brain learns and stores memories. In the study, scientists have shown that the way the brain first captures events or situations is different from how it actually stores subsequent memories.

Regular memories are formed in the hippocampus part of the brain. This area is also one of the most vulnerable sections of the brain, and is most often damaged through traumatic injury, stroke, lack of oxygen or by Alzheimer’s disease. When a memory is initially formed, scientists have located a particular protein that is involved in synaptic transmission. This protein is called the NMDA receptor.

According to researchers, activation of the NMDA receptor allows calcium to enter a neuron, which subsequently enables a whole chain of molecular reactions that help solidify memories of experiences. Theories about this process hypothesize that learning simply cannot occur without these receptors, which is a breakthrough in the way we think about brain injuries.

1254880_shiny_brain_.jpgTraumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is one of the most common serious injuries related to car accidents in West Virginia. The range of TBI injuries can make them not only difficult to diagnose accurately, but also tough to defend in personal injury cases. If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident, slip and fall or other type of personal injury case, it is imperative that you contact a reliable attorney in West Virginia to represent your rights.

The Effects of TBI

When TBI occurs, the brain is shifted within the skull, causing it to collide with the hard bone surrounding your brain. This can cause temporary or permanent damage, ranging from a mild temporary concussion to severe permanent brain damage. The effects of these injuries, then, can also be highly diverse.

xbrain.jpgFalls and auto accidents are the leading causes for Traumatic Brain Injury, or TBI, in West Virginia and throughout the United States. March is Brain Injury Awareness Month, and the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) is trying to spread awareness about these types of injuries. According to the organization, falls account for 28% of TBI cases and auto accidents make up another 20%. Further, many TBI injuries in West Virginia are related to crashes that involve drunk drivers. As a matter of fact, the Charleston Gazette reports that half of all TBI cases last year were sustained in auto accidents that involved DUI.

The Facts

1.4 million people sustain TBI every year in America, says BIAA. Of that number, 50,000 die from their injuries and 235,000 are hospitalized. The remaining 1.1 million are treated and released from the emergency room. Men are more likely to suffer TBI than women (1.5 times) and African-Americans have the highest death rate from TBI.

xbrain2.jpgIn West Virginia, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is often the result of an auto accident, motorcycle accident or sporting accident. TBI can range from mild to severe and can exhibit a variety of symptoms. MTBI, or Mild Traumatic Brain Injury, is very common but often goes undiagnosed because people who have MTBI simply dismiss the symptoms as being “normal” after an accident or traumatic event.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, MTBI is synonymous with the term “concussion.” If you keep up with the National Football League (NFL) or any other professional sport for that matter, you’ll know this term quite well. Concern over the number of concussions that NFL players are suffering has led to much discussion regarding changing the rules players must abide by after head injuries. This is because repeated concussions can cause permanent brain damage and other severe repercussions.

The same concerns ring true for car accident and other personal injury victims. MTBI symptoms include headaches, dizziness, sensitivity to light, confusion, blurred vision and changes in mood and behavior – all things that most people would just attribute to the shock of an accident. However, these signs are more than just that; they can be serious indicators of brain injury. The CDC has created an evaluation tool for doctors to use to accurately diagnose MTBI. The system is called ACE (Acute Concussion Evaluation) and it provides physicians with evidence-based protocol to use when examining patients.