Tragically, child head injuries are far too common— child brain injury is the leading cause of death and disability in the U.S. Even more devastating, many child brain injuries go undiagnosed, sometimes for years. Contrary to what some people believe, kids aren’t little adults – a child’s brain is still developing. And kids aren’t made of rubber—they don’t always bounce back after an injury. Rather, they are susceptible to serious brain injuries, including child traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).
The symptoms of a brain injury in children are similar to those experienced by adults, but the functional impact can be very different. The cognitive impairments of children with brain injury may not be immediately obvious after the injury, but may become apparent as the child gets older.
Our experienced child brain injury attorneys should be contacted right after a TBI occurs to ensure your child receives the compensation you deserve. The Killino Firm takes your child’s medical treatment seriously and we will fight for the financial resources needed to ensure a full recovery from your child’s brain injury.
How Common Are Child Brain Injuries?
Approximately 62,000 children (aged 0-19) are hospitalized every year with a TBI, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Thankfully, many of these children will fully recover from their injuries, but others will face a lifetime of challenges.
Here are a few statistics from the Brain Injury Association of America:
- Among children ages 14 and younger, TBI accounts for an estimated 2,685 deaths, 37,000 hospitalizations and 435,000 emergency room visits.
- Most TBI child injuries arise from motor vehicle accidents, bicycle accidents, sporting injuries, and child abuse and falls. And some aspects of brain injury are unique to children.
- The two age groups at greatest risk for brain injury are age 0-4 and 15-19.
And from the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation:
- Every year over 11,000 American youth die from a brain injury.
- Every 40 seconds a youth enters a U.S. emergency room with a brain injury.
- Every year 765,000 American youth suffer brain injury.
Child Brain Injury Causes
The most common causes of child and adolescent head injuries are falls, motor vehicle crashes, pedestrian and bicycle accidents, sports-related trauma, and child abuse. Falls accounted for almost half of all TBI-related emergency department visits, followed by being struck by or against an object (28 percent).
Horrifically, homicide was the leading cause of TBI- related death for children ages 0-4 years.
Brain Injuries Caused by Motor Vehicle Accidents
The third leading cause of child brain TBI is motor vehicle crashes. The CDC reports the following:
- Among all age groups, motor vehicle crashes were the third overall leading cause of TBI-related ED visits, hospitalizations, and deaths (14%).
- Motor vehicle crashes were the leading cause of [TBI-related] death for persons 5-24 years of age.
- Motor vehicle crashes were the leading cause of [TBI-related] hospitalizations for adolescents and persons 15-44 years of age.
Children involved in car accidents can sustain brain injuries as a result of the direct impact of a child’s head with the interior of a car, an excessive jarring of the child’s brain inside the child’s skull, or the inhalation of toxic fumes released in the aftermath of a vehicle crash.
Defective Products Causing Child TBI
Children’s brain injuries may also be caused by their exposure to, or use of, defective products. These include not only children’s products and toys but also products intended for adult use to which children have been exposed. Small toys can be swallowed, causing a child to choke and sustain an asphyxiation brain injury.
Heavy household items (e.g., television, IKEA Dresser, highchair) can easily tip over and fall on a child. If the television is found to be defective as a result of a tipping hazard, the manufacturer and others involved in the television’s distribution may be found liable for the child’s brain injury.
Defective infant sleepers, highchairs and strollers and car seats with inadequate restraints may cause a child to slip down and suffer oxygen loss from strangulation on a part of the highchair or stroller. In infants less than 1 year old, car seats also contribute to TBI when used as baby carriers. For instance, if a car seat is placed on a table or countertop, there is a risk of the car seat falling off and injuring the infant.
Consumer Products and Child TBI
Data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System investigated leading products and activities associated with TBIs in children and found the following:
- TBIs from home furnishings and fixtures, primarily beds, were highest among infants aged less than 1 year and children aged 1–4 years.
- In younger children less than 10 years old, beds are a leading product cause of TBI. Bunk beds are especially risky, as children can easily fall from the top bunk of a bunk bed while sleeping or playing and sustain a TBI
- TBIs associated with floors and stairs are common in children and adolescents of all ages. Together, floors and stairs account for approximately 11% TBIs in this population. Structural designs, such as uneven flooring and prefabricated stairs, often contribute to falls, which are the leading cause of TBI in children. Hard or non-resilient surfaces, such as asphalt and concrete, are associated with skull and upper extremity fractures, which are often found in playgrounds.
Lead exposure continues to be a major public health problem, particularly in urban centers in the US. Nearly 1 percent of children between the ages of one and five currently have blood lead levels in excess of safe amounts, often because they put items and substances contaminated with lead-based paint into their mouths.
A toy with paint that contains lead in excess of that allowed by federal regulations can cause serious brain damage when a child puts such a toy in his or her mouth. For more information about childhood lead poisoning and the developing brain and lead neurotoxicity in children, here is a study published in Brain, A Journal of Neurology.
Attorney Jeffrey Killino is not only an experienced lawyer — he is also a child advocate. When a child brain injury occurs, whether it is a because of a faulty sleeper, lead toy or other product, he has the know-how and resources to guide you through the legal process to get what you and your family are entitled to.
The Killino Firm’s highly trained and experienced legal team has a proven track record of success in handling defective products on both the individual and national level. If your child has suffered a traumatic injury because of a company’s negligence, Jeffrey Killino can help. Contact child brain injury attorney Jeffrey Killino today at 877-875-2927.
Child Near-Drowning Brain Injury
Children’s near-drowning accidents are far too common, particularly during the summer months. Non-fatal drowning accidents can result in asphyxiation (a lack of oxygen) and often cause lifelong injuries or impairments. Landowners may be found liable under most states’ negligence laws for non-fatal drowning accidents that lead to a child’s brain injury. Homeowners who fail to provide adequate fencing to prevent children’s access to a pool may be held liable for a child’s brain injury.
Brain Injury at Birth
A child’s birth should be the happiest moment of your life, but occasionally serious medical complications arise during childbirth that put your baby’s health at risk. Brain injuries at birth may occur as a result of medical negligence during any stage of a woman’s pregnancy. Thankfully most babies are delivered in good health these days, but too many children are born with brain injuries that could have been prevented with proper medical care.
When a doctor or medical professional fails to handle a situation properly, your infant may suffer a serious brain injury that can result in permanent disability. In the worst cases, mishandled childbirth complications may result in death.
For example, if a newborn is deprived of oxygen, such as during a delayed Cesarean section, the loss of oxygen to the brain (anoxia or hypoxia) can lead to serious brain injury such as cerebral palsy. Excessive uses of forceps or vacuums are medical errors that can cause newborn brain damage.
Newborns are susceptible to brain damage from jaundice, a condition in which the concentration of bilirubin (yellow coloring) builds up in the blood. While over half of newborns develop some level of jaundice soon after birth, most will recover with time and medication. But in some babies levels of bilirubin will be allowed to get too high, leading to a type of brain damage called Kernicterus, a type of brain damage that can cause cerebral palsy, mental challenges, hearing problems and vision troubles.
If your child was born with a brain injury due to medical negligence during your pregnancy, labor, and/or delivery, you may be entitled to compensation through legal action. Using cutting edge technology, we evaluate every option until we determine who was responsible, and then we proceed aggressively so that our clients receive all of the compensation they are entitled to. Contact child and birth injury lawyer Jeffrey Killino at 877-875-2927 for a free evaluation of your case and additional information about your legal options.
Daycare Brain Injury
In some cases, a child’s toy-related brain injury may result from the negligence of someone who has been entrusted with a child’s care. For instance, a caregiver who provides a child with a toy or allows a child to gain access to a toy that is unsuitable and dangerous for the particular child may be found liable.
Daycare employees, babysitters and nannies may be found liable for a child’s brain injury that has been caused by the caregiver’s negligence. Failure to supervise a young child while the child is playing on playground equipment, for instance, may lead to the caregiver’s liability for a child’s brain injury. Daycare centers and babysitter or nanny agencies that employ caregivers may also be found liable for brain injuries sustained by children as a result of caregivers’ negligence.
Legal Liability for Children’s Brain Injuries
Under most states’ product liability laws, the manufacturers, designers, assemblers, suppliers, and retailers of defective products may be held strictly liable for children’s brain injuries.
Child brain injuries often result from the negligence of childcare providers or their employees, mistakes made during childbirth or surgery, or exposure to defective products. Liability for these injuries may depend on the medical malpractice, negligence, and product liability laws of the state in which a legal action seeking damages for such injuries is filed.
A traffic accident caused by the negligence of one or more drivers may result in a child’s TBI. A driver’s failure to obey traffic laws or rules of the road may be considered negligence per se and result in the driver’s liability for damages suffered by a child if it is determined that the driver’s negligence was a cause of the child’s brain injury.
Symptoms of a Child Brain Injury
Because child brain injuries are often complex, a child can experience a range of symptoms after a birth injury, slip and fall, sports injury, vehicle accident or any other serious accident.
Signs of a brain injury include:
- Changes in speech and vision
- Difficulty speaking, writing or reading
- Difficulty meeting developmental milestones (infants)
- Emotional changes, such as depression and mood swings
- Limited attention span/restlessness
- Reduced motor coordination
- Speech impairments
- Short- or long-term memory loss
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents contact their child’s healthcare provider for advice for anything more than a light bump on the head Have your child evaluated by a healthcare provider if they experience:
- seizures (convulsion)
- loss of consciousness after the injury
- a severe headache or the headache worsens with time
- changes in behavior (e.g., lethargic, difficult to wake, extremely irritable, or other abnormal behavior)
- unusual stumbling, difficulty walking, clumsiness, or lack of coordination
- has a hard time talking or seeing
- confused or slurred speech
- blood or watery fluid oozes form the nose or ears
- cut will not stop bleeding after applying pressure for 10 minutes
- develops a stiff neck
- cannot stop crying or looks sicker
- has weakness or numbness involving any part of the body
Parents should try to describe how the injury occurred, including what the child was doing before the traumatic brain injury and how he/she responded after the injury. And your child does not need to stay awake after a head injury. In fact, a more rested and calm child will be easier to assess.
If your child experienced a severe brain injury due to the negligence or recklessness of another individual, you are entitled to be compensated for medical expenses and other expenses that occur as a result of the injury, including future costs such as special education and care.
Symptoms of a Child’s TBI can include:
- Appearing dazed
- Listlessness and tiring easily
- Irritability and crankiness
- Loss of balance and unsteady walking
- Crying excessively
- Change in eating or sleeping patterns
- Lack of interest in favorite toys
Additionally, as time passes after an event that a parent or adult believes may have involved trauma to a child’s head, parents and other adults should be watching for the following warning signs:
- Concentration and memory complaints
- Irritability and other personality changes
- Sensitivity to light and noise
- Sleep disturbances
- Psychological adjustment problems and depression
- Disorders of taste and smell
The above symptoms are similar symptoms experienced by many adults with TBI. But children can face educational challenges after suffering a brain injury and cognitive issues may take longer to appear in children, sometimes years after an injury. Perhaps it won’t be noticed until high school, when a child cannot solve a complex math problem. The extent of a brain injury can be difficult to determine: how much medical and educational help will be needed in the future? While insurance companies know this, they rarely offer enough compensation to cover the full extent of a child’s brain injury.
A missed diagnosis can be blamed on a lack of education and awareness by family pediatricians and emergency room about how to diagnose and treat brain injury in children. Sometimes teachers don’t have the time to notice. Caring parents with good intentions may be in denial, the thought of their child having a brain injury overwhelming.
According to a study by the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center:
“Research on long-term effects of TBI (average of seven years after injury) shows that patients with mild to moderate brain injuries are two times more likely to have developed attention problems, and those with severe injuries are five times more likely to develop secondary ADHD. These researchers are also finding that the family environment influences the development of these attention problems.”
Our child brain injury lawyers work closely with clients, doctors and medical experts to present a full picture of the brain injury to insurance companies and, when necessary, juries. We use cutting-edge technology to demonstrate the injury and its future impact on our child clients.
Child Brain Injury Precaution and Prevention
Many child head injuries can be prevented, given the proper precautions. And children can make significant recoveries– relative to adults for TBI– if they receive early and aggressive medical treatment.
As a parent, it’s imperative to understand that some serious injuries are unavoidable and can happen to anyone, no matter how caring and cautious you are. Slips and falls can be out of your control; thousands of Americans suffer motor vehicle accidents when they are not at fault. In fact, most people experience some form of unavoidable injury in their lifetime.
But there are certain steps parents can do to prevent or reduce the risk of their child experiencing a brain injury. For instance, correct uneven flooring; keep floors and stairs clear of tripping hazards; install stair gates and guard rails wherever possible; avoid hard-surface playgrounds; and ensure your child wears a helmet while cycling or during risky sports activities.
If your child has suffered a traumatic brain injury for any of the reasons mentioned above, call child brain injury lawyer Jeffrey Killino and his team to learn how we can help, from assessing the viability of your claim, to explaining your legal options, to providing guidance as you consider your next steps.