Traumatic Brain Injury Compensation: Examples of TBI Claim Values

Traumatic brain injuries are life-altering for victims and families. See examples of injury compensation for a range of brain injuries.

Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) occur when there is a forceful blow to the head, penetration of the skull, or forces of motion causing the brain to move within the skull.

More than 160 Americans die each day from traumatic brain injuries.¹

If you or someone you love suffered a TBI due to another person’s negligence, you’re entitled to seek compensation from the at-fault party for current and future damages.

Some patients who survive significant head trauma will experience a full and quick recovery. Others may take several months or years to recover, and some may never fully recover. Accordingly, the settlement value of a mild concussion may be under $5,000, while jury awards for catastrophic brain injuries can run into millions of dollars.

Types of Compensable Damages from Brain Injuries

The value of a personal injury claim is calculated based on the victim’s compensatory damages. “Damages” are the losses an injured party suffers because of their injury. The types and amounts of damages will help determine how much compensation they should receive.

Average settlement amounts for personal injuries can vary widely, depending on the victim’s damages.

Economic damages from a brain injury can include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Long-term care and rehabilitation bills
  • Lifecare costs
  • Medical devices
  • Medication
  • Lost wages
  • Funeral expenses

To prove these damages, you will have to provide medical bills, receipts for related expenses, and wage information. These items will show the amount of money you lost due to the injury.

Damages may also include things that don’t have a measurable value but still represent significant losses to a person’s life.

Non-economic damages from a brain injury can include:

Establishing a dollar value for pain and suffering requires careful documentation of the negative impact your injuries have had on your life.

A good way to document the effects of your injury is to keep a daily journal. Write about your physical pain, your emotions, and the events and activities you missed out on.

Settlement for a Mild Brain Injury Claim

You may need a good attorney to get a reasonable amount even for a mild traumatic brain injury settlement. However, if you’ve fully recovered from a mild concussion and the at-fault party’s insurance has accepted liability for your injuries, you can probably negotiate a fair settlement without a lawyer.

Example: Insurance Settlement for Mild Concussion 

Roger Fremont was sitting in traffic waiting for the light to turn green when he was suddenly jolted forward and back, smacking his head on the car window. Roger’s car had just been rear-ended by another car, driven by Nicole Massey.

Nicole was cited for following too closely and failing to keep a proper lookout. Roger’s car was drivable, so he went home to meet his wife, who drove him to urgent care.

Roger was treated for a lump and contusion on his head, and diagnosed with neck strain and a mild concussion from a closed head injury. He was off work for a week, until the headaches, neck pain, and nausea went away. Roger needed no further treatment.

Medical bills (Urgent care, OTC medications): $450

Lost wages benefit (One week off work): $720

Total economic damages ($450+ $720): $1,170

Non-economic Damages ($1,170 x 2 ): $2,340

Estimated Mild Concussion Settlement ($1,170 + $2,340): $3,510

Roger decided to handle his injury claim on his own. After collecting his medical treatment bills and receipts, he calculated the settlement value of his claim, allowing two times the amount of his economic damages to account for his non-economic damages, commonly called “pain and suffering.”

Roger sent a demand letter to Nicole’s auto insurance company asking for $4,000 to settle his injury claim. He justified his demand for pain and suffering by documenting that he not only missed work for a week, but he was also unable to spend time outside with his kids, mow the grass, and missed his son’s baseball game because of his injuries.

Since liability was clear, after a few settlement offers and counteroffers, Roger agreed to a compromised settlement amount of $2,800.

Traumatic Brain Injuries Are High-Value Claims

Brain trauma and spinal cord injuries are some of the most catastrophic personal injuries a person can sustain. Many injured victims and their families file civil lawsuits seeking compensation for traumatic brain injury damages.

Factors that impact what an injury claim is worth:

  • The circumstances leading to the injury
  • The extent of the traumatic brain injury
  • If a secondary injury occurred (like a spinal cord injury)
  • The degree of hospitalization and medical treatment

Future Lost Wages

Typically, lawyers hire expert accountants to determine the potential wages the injured individual could have earned during their lifetime if they did not have a head injury.

The accountant considers the individual’s age, skills, and education, how many more years of employment the individual might have had, projected wage increases, and the expected inflation rate.

Loss of earning capacity is also an important calculation in wrongful death claims, especially when the person who died from a brain injury provided financial support to family members.

Age of the Victim

Younger brain injury victims usually receive more compensation as their permanent losses will affect more of their lives. For example, a child who is brain-damaged at birth by a mishandled hospital delivery would likely receive more compensation than an elderly person who suffers brain damage from a botched surgery.

Not only will the child have lost a lifetime of wage earnings, but they may also have lost the opportunity to marry, have children, or pursue a chosen vocation.

Moderate to Serious Brain Injuries

Since a traumatic brain injury can turn out to be a long-term or permanent disability, victims and their families rightfully expect a higher amount of compensation. A fair settlement for moderate to serious brain injuries can run from $10,000 up to a million dollars or more, depending on the victim’s age and overall impairment.

Brain injuries can change a life forever. For some victims, life after the injury is less fulfilling. They may not be able to enjoy family and friends, go to events, or take part in activities they once enjoyed.

Case Example: Jury Awards $3 Million for Concussion

Bartender Philip Lipari was at work when a 75-pound bar flap installed by Shawmut Design fell, striking him on the head. He was taken to the hospital emergency room, where he was diagnosed with a concussion, and later with Post Concussion Syndrome.

When his condition failed to improve, Lipari’s injury attorney filed suit against Shawmut Design for negligence.

Medical experts testified at trial that “…in cases like Mr. Lipari’s, a concussion can cause severe and permanent damage to delicate brain tissue and microscopic nerve cells, which can go undetected on imaging studies like CT and MRI scans.

The jury agreed that Lipari suffered from a “hidden injury” to his brain, and awarded him $3 million in damages.

Permanently Disabling Brain Injuries 

Catastrophic brain injuries typically involve long-term disabilities and ongoing medical care. Specialized medical equipment is sometimes required to care for the victim.

Severe brain injuries may also leave the victim needing assistance with day-to-day living. Lifetime daily assistance for individuals with a brain injury can add up to millions of dollars.

Those with permanent brain injuries caused by negligence are entitled to much higher compensation for pain, suffering, and emotional distress than the typical injury claimant. Pain and suffering for brain injury victims must take into account the injured person’s loss of their dreams, aspirations, and personal independence.

Case Example: $29.5 Million Award for Aspiring Actress’s Brain Injury

Chantel Giacalone was 27 years old when she suffered brain damage after going into anaphylactic shock while modeling clothes at a fashion trade show. The young model suffered a severe allergic reaction after unwittingly eating a pretzel that contained peanut butter.

Giacalone sought treatment from MedicWest Ambulance, which was running the medic station for the trade show. Despite state law requiring medics to carry IV epinephrine, the medics treated Giacalone with an injection.

The Giacalone family’s attorneys argued that the failure to promptly treat Giacalone with IV epinephrine caused her to lose oxygen to her brain, resulting in permanent brain damage. Giacalone is now quadriplegic, requires tube feeding, and can only communicate with her eyes. She requires 24-hour care.

Giacalone was 35 years old by the time the case came to trial and is expected to live to the age of 55. She has been cared for in her parents’ home since she became disabled.

After a three-week trial, the jury awarded $29.5 million to the family for her lifelong care.

Filing a Brain Injury Compensation Claim

Traumatic brain injury cases are medically and legally complicated. They require expert medical care and legal advice. There are also special laws that apply to brain injury cases. Never attempt to file a serious head injury claim on your own.

If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury that could be the fault of another party, speak to a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. You need to be fairly compensated for such a severe injury, especially if you or your loved one will endure long-term effects.

A good attorney can protect your legal rights and help you get all the compensation and disability benefits you’re entitled to.

It costs nothing to meet with a lawyer to discuss your case. Most personal injury attorneys offer a free consultation for brain injury cases, and they work on a contingency fee basis. Until they secure compensation on your behalf, you owe them nothing.

Even if the at-fault party’s insurance company offers to accept full responsibility for your TBI, contact an attorney. It costs nothing to learn how to protect the interests of you and your family.

Dustin Reichard, Esq. is an experienced attorney with 20 years of work in the legal field. He’s admitted to the Illinois State Bar and the Washington State Bar. Dustin has worked in the areas of medical malpractice, wrongful death, product liability, slip and falls, and general liability. Dustin began his legal career as a JAG... Read More >>