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Brain Stem Injury | Causes, Help, Lawsuits

Brain stem injuries are often devastating, if not fatal. The brain stem sits at the top of the spinal cord. In addition to providing motor and sensory nerves for the face and neck, it is also essential for controlling the cardiovascular and respiratory systems, pain sensitivity, alertness, awareness, and overall consciousness.


Brain stem injuries may cause dizziness or changes in motor function. More severe injuries may lead to paralysis, coma, or death. Treatment for such injuries is expensive; many victims simply cannot work while healing from a brain stem injury.


If you or a loved one suffered a brain stem injury due to the negligence of another person or company, our experienced Texas personal injury lawyer can help. Niles Sneed has helped brain injury victims in Houston, Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, and throughout the State of Texas. Our law firm also handles cases on a contingency fee basis. That means we don’t take a dime unless we win you a just settlement. Our lawyers are happy to discuss your case and your options with a free, one-on-one, no obligation consultation.



what is a brain stem injury


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What is the function of the brain stem?


The brain stem acts as a transit station for messages throughout the body to and from the cerebral cortex. The stem is composed of midbrain, pons, and medulla oblongata. Clients that suffer brain stem injuries often experience a loss of equilibrium because the midbrain controls motor movement through the eyes and visual processing. The pons located within the brain stem are the portion that carries the mail from the cortex to the spinal cord, and the medulla oblongata controls breathing, heart beat, swallowing, and also regulates blood pressure.


Without a functioning brain stem, the body is effectively in two parts, the body, and the brain, without messages or communication between the two. The brain stem unites the mind and body and allows us to function in every facet and capacity each day. But, blunt force trauma to the brain after a personal injury event can cause a brain stem injury, so the importance of the brain stem becomes unavoidably clear.


How are brain stem injuries caused in Texas?


A person’s brain stem can suffer trauma from a variety of accidents. Most of these incidents involve blunt force trauma to a person’s head, but sometimes even minor bumps or infractions lead to brain stem injuries.


Common causes of brain stem injuries include:

  • Automobile accidents

  • Commercial trucking accidents

  • Motorcycle accidents

  • Pedestrian accidents

  • Uber and Lyft collisions

  • Offshore Injuries

  • Workplace accidents

  • Premises liability accidents

  • Slip and fall accidents

  • Construction site accidents

A brain stem injury can could also result from trauma or swelling within the brain. No matter the cause of your brain stem injury, if you believe another person’s negligence caused you to suffer injuries, you should speak with an experienced attorneys about your legal rights.


What are the symptoms of a brain stem injury?


The brain stem is crucial for the transmission of neural messages between the brain and the body. Symptoms of damage to the brain stem include: abnormal sleep patterns, insomnia; dizziness; nausea or vomiting; balance impairment; an inability to cough or gag; trouble eating, drinking, or swallowing; slurred speech; decreased motor function and control; impaired vision; unconsciousness; altered heart rate; full or partial paralysis; and coma.


You should seek medical attention as soon as possible after sustaining any head injury. A physician can order diagnostic tests and spot brain stem injuries early in order to give you the best chance of recovery.


How severe can a brain stem injuries be?


Some of the most serious impairments related to severely damaged brain stem injuries include patients being able to no move anything other than their eyes. Medical professionals call this condition “locked-in syndrome.” When patients suffer from locked-in syndrome, they maintain their intelligence, reasoning, and can hear all that occurs within the room or environment around them, but they just can’t communicate. Essentially, the body is locked.


Unfortunately, there is not a form of treatment to aid those that suffer from locked-in syndrome, patients are maintained and watched over, and although most people never regain movement, there are cases where people regain motor skills, bowel control, and are weaned off of ventilators.


Brain stem complications can also cause fatalities as a person’s body is unable to sustain and suffer pulmonary complications or are withdrawn from medical support.


If you or a loved one suffered a brain stem injury, hiring experienced legal counsel is imperative to effectively advocating on your behalf. When another’s negligence causes a personal injury victim to sustain serious and possibly debilitating injuries, you deserve complete compensation for the damages that result.


How do people recover from brain stem injuries?


Often, recovering from a brain stem injury is difficult, costly, and time consuming. Treatment and rehabilitation needs will vary depending on the nature of the injury. Most of the time, treatment begins at a hospital or other medical facility. Ongoing physical therapy will help a person regain full or partial physical and occupational ability.


After the hospital, brain stem injury patients typically move to their homes or extended nursing facilities. Some victims may start vocational programs in order to regain employment. Others may still suffer from too many complications following their injury to return to ‘normal’ life and will require additional assistance in order to recover more independence.


Caring for a brain stem injury adds up. Medical bills, home modifications, therapy, rehabilitation, and necessary long-term care is all costly. Plus, most people recovering from a brain stem injury cannot work. They miss much-needed paychecks and cope with noneconomic damages such as loss of enjoyment of life and/or pain and suffering.


Many victims of brain stem injuries suffer from “locked-in-syndrome,” which leaves a person fully conscious but unable to move or communicate. The syndrome may last for several years and require expensive, long-term medical care.


An experienced personal injury attorney will know how to fight for the victims of brain stem injuries. Just compensation is necessary for most victims in order to cover their massive losses following such a devastating injury. Our brain stem injury lawyers have a proven track record of success. In 2020, Sneed|Mitchell LLP obtained a record setting settlement on behalf of a young boy who suffered a severe and permanent brain injury due to injuries suffered aboard a school bus.


How common are brain stem injuries?


Brain stem injuries are medically and statistically classified as traumatic brain injuries (TBI), which occur at alarming rates. Approximately, 5,000,000 million people suffer from severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) each year.

  • Estimated annual direct and indirect TBI costs are $76.5 billion.

  • There are about 300,000 hospitalizations for TBI each year

  • In 2017, approximately 61,000 TBI-related deaths occurred in the United States.

  • Nationally, nearly 17,500 fall-related TBI deaths occurred during 2017

  • In 2014, there were about 2.87 million TBI-related ER visits.

  • Every year, around 80,000-90,000 people experience disabilities from a TBI.

  • The leading causes of deaths that involved TBI are automobile accidents, falls, and suicides.

  • The leading causes of non-fatal TBI are falls at thirty-five percent, car accidents at seventeen percent, and blows to the heads at seventeen percent.

What other injuries commonly result in head injury accidents?


Brain stem injuries occur in cases where a person's head and neck sustain immense force or counter forces, which often includes forceful automobile collisions, explosions, falls from heights, or falling objects. In personal injury events where brain damage occurs other common injuries often result:

  • Whiplash or "Whip effect"- On average, more than 3 million Americans suffer whiplash injuries each year, and although whiplash tends to only reference muscle strains, a whiplash force often causes herniated or bulging disks in the vertebrae, spinal cord injuries, nerve damage, and even paralysis.

  • Shoulder or Rotator Cuff Injuries - The rotatory cuff, which classifies as the ball and socket joint, is a delicate group of four muscles originating on the scapula and extending into the head of the shoulder to improve stability. When the upper body experiences blunt force trauma, partial or complete tears can arise in the ligaments linking the muscles. Additional injuries include a broken clavicle and AC joint separation.

  • Crush Injuries - Crush injuries occurs when force or pressure caused a part of the human body to be compressed between to heavy objects. The immediate symptoms include immobility to the damaged area, along with bleeding, bruising, compartment syndrome, bone fractures, lacerations or infection. Crush injuries are treated by surgically repairing any fractures or breaks, but also treating the damaged tissue with isotonic fluids, mannitol, calcium chloride, and insulin.

  • Brain Injuries - Head injuries, or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), result from violent force or jolts to the head or body and sometimes cause brain stem injuries. The symptoms of a TBI vary greatly depending on whether the TBI is mild, moderate, or severe. Although headaches are a common result, other sensations such as blurred vision, nausea, slurred speech, forgetfulness, or loss of consciousness often commonly occur.

  • Broken Bones and Fractures - Personal injury victims that suffer impairment to their brain stem often break or fracture bones within their hands, fingers, face (orbital, mandible, maxilla), skull, or clavicle. The types of fractures include displaced fractures, non-displaced fractures, closed fractures, open fractures, avulsions, spiral, stress or communized.

Additional injuries that may result from injury events during which a brain stem injury is experienced includes; amputations, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and scarring and disfigurement.


If you need an experienced Texas Brain Injury Lawyer that handles brain stem injuries and similar head trauma, call Niles Sneed. Niles Sneed regularly secures maximum compensation head and brain injury victims and can discuss your legal options today. Niles unique understanding of the complications and treatment needs of brain stem injury victims allows him to effectively and successfully advocate for clients.


What must be proven to receive compensation for your brain injury in Texas?


When bringing a claim with the negligent or unsafe individual or corporation here in Texas, the victim has the burden of establishing their legal entitlement to compensation related to the brain stem injury. To prove liability against the at-fault, you will need to show:

  1. The at-fault had a legal obligation to act safely,

  2. The at-fault failed to maintaining this legal obligation.

  3. The at-fault caused the accident.

  4. The accident caused the resulting brain stem injury.

Although these steps appear straight-forward, litigating a successful brain injury cases often requires extensive legal resources, case-specific strategies, and case experts (such as accident reconstructionist, engineers, industry experts, and medical treatment professionals) to prove how the accidents occurred and that your injuries were entirely avoidable if the at-fault would have acted with reasonable care and prudence. If you are found partially at-fault in causing the accident, Texas law still allows you to recover a portion of the damages as long as the percentage or your involvement doesn't exceed 51% as a contributing factor.


What types of compensation can be recovered in lawsuits involving brain stem injuries?


Under Texas state law, personal injury victims have a right to seek compensation for monetary damages and for intangible losses. Unfortunately, in head injury lawsuits, companies and their insurance companies try to prevent brain injury victims from obtaining the full range of damages they are entitled to. When they can get away with denying coverage for a concussion or paying less for traumatic brain injury treatment or overall impact, they will.


If you or a loved one suffered a traumatic brain injury in Texas, the economic and non-economic damages you may be entitled to include:


Economic damages are as follows:

  • Hospital costs

  • Doctor bills

  • Rehabilitation costs

  • Medical costs

  • Procedure and surgical costs

  • Lost income

  • Lost economic potential

  • Disability

Non-economic damages can include:

  • Pain and suffering

  • Emotional trauma

  • Loss of consortium

  • Loss of enjoyment

  • Wrongful death expenses

In certain Texas personal injury cases, such as offshore accidents, construction injuries, industrial accidents, and commercial trucking collision, punitive damages are also available. Punitive damages, codified as "exemplary damages" are fines assessed to punish unsafe behavior and discourage the entity from engaging in similar actions in the future. Punitive damages always possible, but an experienced Texas personal injury attorney can evaluate the claim and inform you of the types of compensation available in your situation.