Unlike other types of injuries, a brain injury does not just affect the physical body. An injury to the brain can also cause mental, psychological, cognitive and emotional changes for a victim due to an imbalance of the chemicals in the brain. Depending on the severity of the injury, these emotional changes can last days, weeks or much longer. Under Missouri law, a brain injury victim can recover financial compensation for his or her emotional damages.
What Are Common Emotional Damages After a TBI?
A traumatic brain injury from an accident such as a car crash or slip and fall can alter the brain in many different ways. Depending on the area of the brain impacted and the severity of the injury, the brain may experience changes in how it works. For example, chemical changes can alter the way the individual experiences or expresses emotions. A brain injury can also affect cognition, thinking, comprehension, memory, communication, attention and reasoning.
The overwhelming changes caused by a brain injury, from physical disability to cognitive issues, can make a victim feel overwhelmed. A victim may be unable to cope with the injury and respond with further negative emotional reactions. Together, this means a brain injury has the power to inflict many emotional damages on an individual, including:
- Anger and frustration
- Grief and sadness
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Suicidal thoughts
- Mood swings
- Changes in personality
- Withdrawal from favorite activities
- Isolation from others
Some individuals are more susceptible to emotional damage from a brain injury than others. This includes people who have suffered concussions or brain injuries in the past, as well as those who already had mental health issues before the injury, such as depression or anxiety. Finally, to cope with the life changes caused by a brain injury, many victims turn to drugs or alcohol. This can further the emotional changes brought on by the injury.
Can I Recover Damages for Emotional Pain and Suffering After a Brain Injury?
Yes. It is possible to recover damages, or financial compensation, for the emotional changes caused by a brain injury during a personal injury case in Missouri. The nonphysical and nonfinancial (intangible) losses suffered by the victim of an accident are just as real as their bodily injuries and economic losses in the eyes of the civil justice system. They are called noneconomic damages, also known as pain and suffering.
If you experience emotional pain and suffering from a brain injury, you can pursue financial compensation specifically for this type of loss in addition to economic damages. In Missouri, the only cap on noneconomic damages applies to medical malpractice claims ($400,000 maximum, increased to $700,000 for a catastrophic injury). The cap does not apply to other types of personal injury cases brought for a brain injury.
The value of your emotional pain and suffering damages will depend on how significantly the brain injury impacted you and your life. If you suffered extreme emotional distress and psychological trauma because of your injury that made it impossible to go about your daily life or work, for example, your pain and suffering damages would be worth more than if you only had a mild concussion with light symptoms.
A Brain Injury Attorney Can Help Prove Emotional Damages
Proving the emotional effects caused by a brain injury can be difficult, as there are no physical signs or medical tests that can establish them. Instead, the victim will have to rely on evidence such as psychological or psychiatric care, a mental health diagnosis, an injury journal, testimony from friends and family about the changes experienced, and expert testimony. A brain injury lawyer in Kansas City can make it easier for you to recover the financial compensation that you deserve for your emotional damage after a brain injury.