Injuries that affect the brain are arguably some of the most serious an individual can sustain, often resulting in lasting, life-changing damage. Many of the functions you may take for granted, from swallowing to breathing, can be affected by these severe injuries. 

But above all, the vast majority of people who suffer from the effects of brain stem damage should not have to face the struggles of their altered lives alone. In fact, many of these injuries are caused by the careless or reckless actions of another.

With that in mind, if you or a loved one has suffered a brain stem injury because of a medical professional’s or other party’s negligence, turning to a lawyer can mean being able to pursue rightful compensation for what you’ve suffered. 

Brain Stem Function: What Does the Brain Stem Do?

You’ve likely seen pictures of the human brain throughout your life. The brain stem itself is the stalk-like portion that protrudes from the bottom of the brain. 

As it connects your brain to your spinal cord, the brain stem is a core part of your central nervous system. It sends messages between the brain and the rest of your body to help regulate and coordinate the signals that control various functions.

The brain stem is made up of three parts: the midbrain, pons, and medulla oblongata. Each of these controls a specific set of bodily processes. For instance, the midbrain is what controls eye movements (and despite its name, it is located at the very top of the brain stem).

The middle part of the brain stem, known as the pons, is the part that coordinates hearing, balance, and facial movements. And lastly, at the bottom of the brain stem, is the medulla oblongata, which regulates your breathing, blood pressure, swallowing, and heart rhythm.

Can Medical Errors Cause a Brain Stem Injury?

People often assume that injuries that are severe enough to cause harm to the brain stem can only occur as a result of blunt force trauma, such as that which might arise in an assault or car accident. What most people don’t realize, though, is that medical errors can also be to blame. 

Medical malpractice can result in brain injuries of all forms. Misdiagnosed conditions, untreated infections, and even surgical errors can all cause damage to the brain, which can, by extension, involve the brain stem. The delayed diagnosis and subsequent treatment of a brain aneurysm or an internal bleed, for instance, can lead to injuries that affect brain stem function.

The Consequences of a Brain Stem Injury

Most brain stem injuries are the result of a traumatic brain injury. The brain stem might not have been directly harmed in the event that led to the greater brain injury. However, the swelling that can occur after the fact can put significant pressure on the brain stem, damaging it.  

In cases where it is significant, damage to the brain stem can cause oxygen or blood to be unable to reach the brain. The result is brain death, the irreversible loss of all brain function. 

But even if the damage is not fatal, it can still hinder brain stem function, resulting in a number of symptoms that vary in severity, such as:

  • Dizziness
  • Balance problems
  • Trouble making facial expressions
  • Irregular sleeping habits
  • Trouble breathing
  • Loss of smell
  • Loss of vision
  • Repetitive and unusual eye movements
  • Heart rate changes
  • Coma

Some people also experience locked-in syndrome, which refers to the phenomenon wherein the person is conscious but can’t communicate or move anything except their eyes. 

Although some mild brain stem injuries can heal themselves with time, the majority of people who experience them will likely require medical care or other forms of assistance for the rest of their lives. 

What Damages Can You Claim After a Brain Stem Injury in Georgia?

Because a brain stem injury can involve such disastrous consequences, it’s important to understand you can seek compensation if you or a loved one has suffered because of someone’s negligence. In Georgia, you can claim economic and non-economic damages.

Economic Damages

Economic damages strive to reimburse you for any expenses you sustained because of your injury. Given that brain stem injuries can be disabling and often require long-term care and significant medical treatment, such expenses fit in this category. 

Compensation for economic damages also commonly includes future medical expenses, as well as coverage for any mobility devices you need or any changes you need to make to your home or vehicle. 

Depending on the nature and severity of your injury, you may not be able to return to work for a long time, if at all. And that means you will likely lose out on your earning potential. Thankfully, you can also claim lost wages and the future earnings you would have made if the injury hadn’t occurred. 

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages try to compensate you for intangible things, like the loss of enjoyment of your life. 

Pain and suffering make for another kind of damage you can claim. In these instances, your lawyer will fight to help you receive compensation for the emotional anguish and physical distress you have suffered because of your injury. 

Lastly, if your loved one has become permanently disabled or has died because of a brain stem injury, you can also seek to claim loss of companionship. 

Trusting an Experienced Lawyer With Your Brain Stem Injury Case in Atlanta, GA

A catastrophic injury like a brain stem injury makes for a complex claim, especially if there’s medical malpractice involved. You never want to try to file such a claim on your own, as you could end up getting much less compensation than you deserve. 

With a reputable Georgia personal injury lawyer by your side, you have the chance to get help covering medical expenses and more. Look for experienced attorneys in your area so that you can begin your claim as soon as you can.

Any brain injury can be life-changing and result in significant medical costs. One study found even mild TBIs have an average one-year cost of $13,564. A more serious brain injury can result in disability and a lifetime of medical treatment. 

Suppose you or someone you love has suffered a brain injury in an accident or due to suspected malpractice. In that case, a personal attorney can help you explore legal options to recover the compensation you need. 

If you or a close one have suffered from medical malpractice in Atlanta, GA, please call Malone Law Medical Malpractice and Severe Injury Lawyers at (770) 336-6169 or contact us online to schedule a free case evaluation today.

Malone Law Medical Malpractice and Severe Injury Lawyers
2 Ravinia Dr NE
Suite 300
Atlanta, GA 30346