Looking at Traumatic Brain Injuries as Jury Rules in Dodgers’ Beating Case

A verdict was handed down this week in a case that many in the Bay Area have been following for nearly three years. As our San Francisco brain injury law firm looks at the verdict, we also consider the danger of traumatic brain injury. Whether it results from an intentional beating or a negligent car crash, we are prepared to help people in Northern California who are facing these life-altering injuries.

Dodgers Held Responsible in Fan Beating
As The Oakland Tribune recounts, opening day 2011 saw a face-off between California rivals as the San Francisco Giants battled the Los Angeles Dodgers. Bryan Stow was wearing a Giants jersey when, according to his lawyers, the 45 year-old was attacked by two Dodgers fans in the parking lot of Dodgers Stadium. The altercation left Stow wheelchair-bound, facing disabling brain damage and requiring round-the-clock care.

In addition to pursing claims against men who attacked him, Stow sued the Dodgers and former owner Frank McCourt. The civil suit claimed the team failed to provide appropriate security at the game and sought compensation for Stow’s lifetime care, lost earnings, and pain and suffering. During the trial, Stow’s counsel called the stadium a mess, citing high alcohol sales and a “culture of violence.” The defense pointed the finger back at Stow, suggesting he was partially at fault because he was drunk.

On Wednesday, a jury in the negligence trial ruled against the Dodgers organization, but absolved McCourt of liability. The jury divided responsibility between the Dodgers and the two Giants fans, meaning the Dodgers will only owe a portion of the total damages Stow incurred in the beating. While the money is about half of what they requested, but the family still considers it a victory. His mother said she was glad the jury found that her son was not liable for the attack. Although noting that the money will help with Stowe’s future needs, she added that Stow’s brain injuries mean he may not be capable of understanding the verdict.

The Terrible Consequences of Traumatic Brain Injuries
brain.jpgBrain injuries are among the hardest cases we see in personal injury law. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, an arm of the National Institutes of Health, traumatic brain injury (“TBI”) is an acquired injury resulting from sudden trauma. It can occur when the head forcefully hits an object (ex. hitting the ground during an assault or the road after a car accident) or when something pierces the skull and goes into the brain. A loss of consciousness can, but does not always, occur. In “mild” cases, initial symptoms can include headache, fatigue, vision problems, mood/behavioral change, and impaired memory or thought processes. More severe cases may also include vomiting, convulsions/seizures, dilated pupils, inability to awaken after sleep, speech impairment, weakness/numbness in the limbs, coordination problems, and mental confusion.

While initial brain damage is typically irreversible, medical attention can help prevent further injury. Surgery is often needed to remove or repair ruptured blood vessels. Longer-term consequences vary greatly and may include problems with cognition (i.e. thinking and reasoning), communication, and mental health. Patients with moderate to severe TBI often benefit from individualized rehabilitation and therapy plans including physical, emotional, and social support. The more severe cases of TBI can leave the patient in a vegetative state.

Brain injury is, to speak plainly, incredibly costly. Medical costs can last a lifetime and a patient may face radical changes in his/her lifestyle. An individual may go from being an active wage-earner to being unable to work and in need of continuous care. In addition to the economic costs, there is pain and mental/emotional suffering. Family members share in the loss.

Representing the Severely Injured
In cases where TBI is the result of someone else’s wrongdoing (ex. an assault) or negligence (ex. a car accident), the injured patient and/or family members may be entitled to money damages. At the Brod Firm, we understand the complexities of traumatic brain injury and can help injured people and their families. When serving as a Northern California traumatic brain injury law firm for San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, Santa Rosa, and surrounding communities we promise to always offer care and compassion while working to obtain the maximum compensation possible under the law.

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(Image by Sue Clark)