Category Archives: Brain Injury

Can a Girl Declared Brain Dead File a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?

Brain Injuries AttorneysIn December of 2013, a family took their 13-year-old daughter to Children’s Hospital in Oakland for a routine tonsillectomy. They couldn’t have imagined that their daughter might not pull through the common surgery, nor did they imagine the legal battle that would result. Now a medical malpractice lawsuit and the funds to continue life support hang on one question. Is their daughter dead or in a “minimally responsive state”?

Will a Declaration of Brain Death Hurt a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?

Here in California, damages for pain and suffering are capped at $250,000 when it comes to medical malpractice cases. However, if a victim has ongoing medical costs as a result of their injuries, juries can award unlimited economic damages. These unlimited damages cannot be claimed if the plaintiff is dead, which is where trouble begins for this California family.

During a routine surgery, the family’s 13-year-old suffered massive and irreversible brain damage due to a lack of oxygen. She suffered a cardiac arrest and was put on life support. A month later, the girl was declared brain dead and the coroner signed her death certificate, but the girl’s mother refused to take her off life support.

Why Is This Little Girl Still on Life Support?

The religious beliefs of the girl’s mother do not acknowledge brain death as actual death. And though most states do not accommodate such beliefs, New Jersey does. The girl was taken to New Jersey to remain on life support, and now a legal battle is being fought so that her care may continue back in California.

As the girl has been cared for in New Jersey, her parents and family members have claimed she is semi-responsive. They have posted videos online showing the girl twitching and allegedly responding to noxious smells. Though doctors back in California claim that even a brain-dead individual can occasionally twitch, a critic of brain death diagnoses has another opinion.

Doctor Alan Shewmon has examined the girl, and witnessed her reactions to smell, and he does not believe the girl is actually brain dead. He also claims the girl’s body has not deteriorated as it should have if the girl was brain dead. Another doctor who examines the girl every three months has even claimed the girl has reached puberty.

Will This Girl’s Death Certificate Be Overturned?

Based on this evidence and testimony, a judge here in California has ordered this case to trial. If the girl is declared dead, she may not return to California, but if her death certificate is rescinded, California doctors will be compelled to continue her treatment. Now only a jury can decide.

Medical malpractice cases can be complex, and the lives of families as they look to care for injured loved ones hangs in the balance. Experienced representation with a record of success can often be the better solution for these families in need. Don’t be afraid to contact a Bay Area medical malpractice attorney if you suspect your loved one received negligent treatment.


The number of children that are diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries had increased in recent years, according to research conducted at UC San Francisco. It was recommended that children be prioritized for ongoing research and development in concussion prevention, education, diagnosis, and treatment.

A recent study, conducted by researchers at UCSF, revealed that 56 percent of concussions were diagnosed in emergency rooms, 29 percent in physician’s offices, and the remaining in inpatient and urgent care settings. It was recommended that outpatient clinicians have the same level of competence and confidence for managing concussion cases as that of emergency department physicians.

The study found that there was a 60 percent increase in traumatic brain injuries from 2007 to 2014. The number rose from 3,529 in 2007 to 8,217 in 2014. The largest increase in traumatic brain injuries was in the 10-14 age range. This age range saw a 143 percent increase while those in 15-19 age range saw an 87 percent increase. It was also reported that 29 percent of traumatic brain injuries were associated with a loss of consciousness.

At Mary Alexander & Associates, our traumatic brain injury lawyers have more than 30 years of expertise taking on TBI cases. We have the scientific knowledge and background to understand the medical issues associated with traumatic brain injuries. Call 415-966-2626 or contact us online to speak to a TBI attorney in San Francisco, California.

Traumatic brain injury misconceptions abound

According to some reports, the treatment of traumatic brain injury, or TBI, is commonly hampered by misconceptions about how such injuries occur and present themselves to observers. These misunderstandings persist although the combined incidence rate of multiple sclerosis, breast cancer, AIDS and spinal-cord injuries is only one-eighth as frequent as that of TBI. Entire blog

California female athletes and concussions

While much of the attention regarding concussions in the past year has focused on men in California and around the country who play contact sports, a new study sheds light on the problems women who receive concussions face. According to the study, women are twice as likely as men to suffer from concussions, and they may also have worse prognoses when they do. Entire blog

Researchers say even mild concussions leave brain scars

People in San Francisco who have been diagnosed with mild traumatic brain injuries may still have long-lasting brain damage, according to a study published in December 2015. Researchers from the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center found evidence of scarring on the brains of soldiers who had previously been diagnosed with mild concussions.

The study was conducted by looking at more than 800 brain scans from soldiers with mild traumatic brain injuries. Over half of the brain scans that were analyzed had abnormalities in the white matter, or the brain component that transmits signals from one part to another. It was previously thought that mild brain injuries would not be detectable in scans, but the study has disproved this theory.

Researchers who conducted the study used an advanced type of MRI to detect brain abnormalities. The lead researcher said that the scans showed that little scars had formed where the body was trying to repair some mild brain damage. Since 2000, over 300,000 U.S. military service members have received a traumatic brain injury diagnosis. Concussions are often diagnosed with cognitive assessments as normal MRI and CT scans cannot detect signs of mild brain damage.

Many people sustain brain damage from a physical force to the head during a car accident or a sudden fall. A traumatic brain injury can have a significant impact on an individual’s life, including decreased cognitive and physical functioning. An attorney can often assist a person who has suffered from a brain injury that was caused by the negligence of another party in seeking compensation through a personal injury lawsuit for the damages that have been incurred.

How brain trauma might occur

If a California resident has the misfortune to undergo severe trauma to their head, perhaps as part of an accident or incident beyond their control, then damage to the brain may result. This type of injury has the potential to destroy the sufferer’s quality of life. They can lose control over all or part of their body, their ability to function in society can be impaired and they may encounter any number of other symptoms. Research into this issue has revealed a possible reason as to how this injury takes place.

There is a phenomenon known as cavitation that occurs when bubbles form in a fluid. It is known to happen when a pressure wave travels through the fluid, reflecting differently in areas of different density. The reflections cause areas of lower pressure, and bubbles may form in those areas. When the bubbles that form are extremely small, the process is known as microcavitation.

Researchers into brain trauma believe that microcavitation might be the source of brain damage caused by sudden impact or repeated traumas to the head. The process of pressure waves moving through the tissues and fluids of the brain may cause tiny bubbles to form inside the structure, disrupting function and robbing key brain areas of the ability to function unhindered.

People who have suffered brain trauma could face severe economic losses. Their ability to earn a living may be impacted, medical bills can be exorbitant and the therapy required to regain some level of function might be very expensive as well. An attorney may be able to help a victim file a civil suit against any person or party responsible for the injury.

Source: Student Science, “Bubbles may underlie trauma’s brain injury,” Sid Perkins, Dec. 13, 2015

Concussions and traumatic brain injuries

A substantial number of California residents receive a concussion or other type of brain injury every year. Medical research into the causes and effects of concussions has found that the damage may be more deeply felt and difficult to heal than previously believed.

Brain injuries do not necessarily manifest all at once, and they do not always heal completely. It is very important to monitor anyone who has received serious trauma to the head, as symptoms may manifest or worsen over a course of days.

Doctors point out that the ill effects of brain injuries may accumulate. A person who receives multiple concussions or other damage to their brain, then they may find their faculties substantially degraded. People who participate in contact sports are especially at risk, with football players at all levels suffering from concussions during violent tackles.

While concussions and other head injuries are often associated with contact sports, they are also quite often the result of a fall or a sudden car collision. Any accident or event that applies a serious amount of physical force to the head has the potential to be deeply life-altering. A person who has incurred a traumatic brain injury will often have to spend a considerable amount of time in the hospital and then undergo extensive therapy. In many cases, victims are unable to return to their former place of employment due to a lack of cognitive capacity. A person who has received a serious brain injury as the result of the negligence of another person may want to meet with a personal injury attorney to determine how best to seek compensation from the at-fault party for the damages that have been sustained.

New treatment may be ahead for severe burns

A California biotechnology firm is involved in the development of a new treatment that could significantly alter the treatment and prognosis of people who have been badly burned. Engineered skin substitute, also known as ESS, uses both collagen-producing cells and a patient’s own skin to regrow the layers. Skin grafts using a patient’s own skin have been in use for years, but they do not promote the type of large-scale healing that ESS may provide. Previous treatments have only ever been able to regrow a single skin layer, but with ESS, it is possible to regrow both the dermis and the epidermis.

Researchers from Rutgers University and the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research in Texas are also involved in the study. The USAISR Burn Unit treats both civilians and military personnel, and it will conduct a Phase 2 study of ESS involving a dozen people who have burns over 50 percent of their bodies. Around 500 to 2,000 people annually sustain burns this severe, and many of them die from infection or organ failure.

If ESS is successful, it could also be important in soft tissue repair following a burn. Research into other techniques and products is also underway including a system in which an individual’s stem cells are used to produce new tissue.

Injuries from a burn may be life-changing. Recovery may be painful, expensive and lengthy, and people may be permanently disfigured or disabled. If the injuries were caused by the negligence of another party, such as a manufacturer of a defective electric blanket that caused a fire, a personal injury attorney can assist the victim in seeking compensation for the losses that have been incurred.

Brain injuries in California

A seemingly countless number of patients are seen in California emergency rooms and trauma centers each year after suffering from a traumatic brain injury. Whether the accidents occur on the football field or during a car crash, people often experience long-term problems related to brain swelling and blunt-force impact. Researchers have found that some enduring effects may be treatable with medications and other therapies.

After the initial healing period, the residual effects of brain injury are caused by persistent inflammation of the tissues. Lingering, mild swelling has been associated with chronic brain damage resulting in cognitive impairment and psychiatric abberations. Additionally, people who endure repeated injuries while the brain is still recovering from the initial trauma are at higher risk for permanent cognitive deterioration. Where long-term problems have formerly been attributed to the initial injury, the issues are now being connected with continual irritation in the brain.

Studies have shown that patients who are treated early on in the recovery phase may be able to halt or reverse the damages caused by chronic brain tissue inflammation. Experimental medications have been shown to reduce the amount of swelling to the cerebrum after injury, and specific exercises can be performed to help keep irritation to a minimum.

Motor vehicle accidents are one of the primary causes of traumatic brain injuries. Victims of such an accident may face long and expensive medical care and treatment, and in some cases their financial situation is made worse by being unable to return to work for prolonged periods. In the event that the accident was caused by the negligence of another driver, the injured victim may want to meet with a personal injury attorney to determine how to seek compensation for the losses that have been sustained.

New tests may help California TBI patients

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, traumatic brain injuries account for 30 percent of accident-related deaths each year around the country. The agency has asserted that those deaths cost the United States $75.6 million annually. While there is no cure for TBIs, researchers believe that they may be able to stop an injury from getting worse after it occurs. It is thought that there is a two- or three-day window in which cell death can be prevented after a blow to the head.

To study the effects of a blow to the head, scientists use slices of rat brain tissue. They can simulate the impact of a tackle during a football game, the impact of a car crash or the effect that an explosion may have on brain matter. The tests aim to discover how much tissue can bend before it breaks and how many cells die immediately following such a scenario.

Although many in the scientific community applaud the work, there is more research that needs to be done. For instance, some have suggested doing experiments outside of a lab’s controlled environment. For now, the best advice may be to wear a seat belt and take other precautions to prevent a TBI from occurring.

Those who have received a brain injury as the result of another party’s negligence may wish to talk to an attorney about their legal options. It may be possible to win compensation to pay for medical bills, long-term care costs and other expenses related to the injury through the filing of a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party. It may also be possible to win compensation for lost wages if the victim was forced to miss work.

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