Robert J. Rohl Trial Lawyer

The Trial Lawyer
For Life’s Toughest Trials

Traumatic Brain Injury Attorney in South Dakota

The consequences of suffering a traumatic brain injury (TBI) are life-changing for a person and their families/loved ones.  These injuries regularly require comprehensive medical treatment, continuing care, and lifetime maintenance to obtain the highest quality of life after injury. The economic loss associated with a brain injury, which is recoverable, is greatly outweighed by the impact it has on the enjoyment of life.  Brain injuries can change personalities, cognition, memory, stress, agitation, etc.  The emotional pain and suffering a victim endures is tragic.  The road to recovery can be very long and limitations permanent.

In cases where you have or a loved one has sustained a TBI as a result of someone else’s negligence, you’re always best to consult with a lawyer with experience representing individuals who have suffered brain injuries. Your personal injury lawyer needs to understand the science, causes, and effects of a traumatic brain injury.  Further, your lawyer needs to be able to effectively communicated this injury to a jury, if necessary.  The only chance of receiving fair compensation for brain injury is when when your case is handled by an effective TBI trial lawyer.

Types of Brain Injuries

Injuries to the head fall into two main categories: those which penetrate the skull and those which do not. The injuries that don’t cause penetration to the head are often more difficult to diagnose, because the damage is not usually visible. Here are some of the most common types of traumatic brain injuries that occur:

  • Skull fractures– when the skull gets fractured, it’s very common for fragments of bone to pierce the sensitive brain tissue protected by the skull. This can cause internal hemorrhaging and depending on which part of the brain is affected, there may be cognitive damage.
  • Diffuse axonal injuries– also referred to as DAIs, these injuries involve tearing of the connective fibers in the brain. Depending on the extent of the tearing, it’s possible for the victim to experience permanent, irreversible damage to the brain, sometimes even leading to death.
  • Concussions– these are one of the milder forms of traumatic brain injury, but symptoms can still be fairly severe. The cumulative effect of multiple concussions are generally more serious than when a person suffers a single concussion.
  • Coup-contrecoup injuries– injuries like these happen when the brain gets pushed up against the skull by the force of an impact. That leaves two injuries to the head, the first being at the impact site, and the second being the point where the brain gets forcefully pushed against the skull.

There are different types of TBIs, and there is a large range of severity involved (mild, moderate, severe). All types of traumatic brain injuries require immediate medical attention, as well as ongoing lifetime monitoring to identify developing symptoms. A good TBI lawyer is aware of this and the much greater likelihood of future development of cognitive decline and dementia. Snap conclusions and quick settlements in the immediate aftermath of a TBI is generally a very irresponsible and poor decision for any attorney to make. A traumatic brain injury lawyer knows enough to keep looking for any newly developing issues that may result.  A firm brain injury diagnosis usually takes time to understand.  Lasting limitations which are incapable of rehabilitation usually are not completely understood until at least a year after.

Neuroradiologists, Neuropsychologists, and Life-Care Planners need to be consulted and are often integral in the diagnosis process for any lawyer attempting to prove you case.  Brain injuries are often the most misdiagnosed and missed injuries resulting from road accidents/collisions.

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Types of Compensation Sought:

Medical Treatment: Proper treatment and maintenance of a brain injury usually requires lifelong expense.  Your representative needs to understand that compensation needs to include past and future medical expense, wellness and accommodation, rehabilitation, support groups, counseling, neuropsychological testing, periodic imaging, occupational/vocational evaluations, and architectural changes to make a home more habitable and safe for an individual living with a brain injury.

Pain and Suffering: Monetary damages for any lasting physical or emotional injuries suffered by a victim following an accident.  The impact of headaches, light sensitivity, forgetfulness, personality changes, ability to focus, feeling “foggy”, on a life is hugely impactful and devastating.  A skilled and experienced trial lawyer is necessary to meaningfully present this loss to a jury.

Loss of Enjoyment of Life: Inability to participate in leisure or daily activities that they once enjoyed.  The ability to live a life without the impact of a brain injury.  This is where the quality of life immediately before the injury is compared to a new life with a brain injury.  Again, a skilled and experienced trial lawyer is necessary to show the jury this type of huge loss in any brain injury case.

Lost Wages: Recover compensation for all impacts that the traumatic brain injury has on both past and future earnings.  This often includes future diminished earning abilities and much shorter work life/retirement date.  Science and studies unanimously confirm that individuals with a traumatic brain injury regularly are unable to work until the forecasted date of their retirement due to the onset and development of future limitations.

Why do you need a brain injury attorney?

It is an extremely challenging time following a TBI.  Knowing which professionals to consult, resources to seek out, and simply taking the next right action is often a very daunting task.  Your attorney should be able to help you get the treatment, resources, and care needed to properly diagnose, treat, and deal with traumatic brain injury.  Your brain injury lawyer in South Dakota should simply want you to get better or recover to the maximum potential possible and they will and should be familiar with the resources you need to help make that your reality.  No amount of money is ever worth a brain injury and only an experienced trial lawyer representing victims, families, and those afflicted by brain injuries will truly understand this. Of the issues that need to be dealt with promptly, health is at the forefront.  Let our experience in advocating for brain-injured clients be your asset to develop a treatment, maintenance, and team of professionals dedicated to your recovery.  Also, our experience in handling these cases is known to opposing counsel and insurance companies.  We are good at what we do and to that end we substantially enhance the value of all cases we take on.

Understanding the nature and extent of a brain injury takes time. Days, weeks, and even months go by before the extent of a brain injury begins to become evident. Our country has made a lot of progress in this area of medicine as too has our recognition and acceptance of the impact of brain injuries for the remainder of one’s life. By finding a good Rapids City, South Dakota TBI lawyer to represent you, you can be sure that you’ll receive fair compensation for your lifelong injuries.

Beyond getting connected with the right TBI attorney, having an attorney know the importance of connecting you with other knowledgeable experts makes a huge impact on the quality of your case’s result. Robert Rohl has years of experience working with Neuropsychologists, Neurologists, Neuroradiologists, and Life Care planners, as well as many other brain rehabilitation professionals that can help you prepare and understand what life post-injury will look like.

In the event an insurance company or other at-fault party refuses to accept the value of your loss after a brain injury, it often makes sense to go to trial.  You’ll need a team of highly-trained experienced professionals on your side.  The at-fault party and their insurance company always has a team of trained representatives designed and constructed with the exclusive intention of minimizing the value of your claim.  Only a skilled trial lawyer can successfully present your loss to a jury in a way that is easily understood.  Robert J. Rohl has years of experience representing unfortunate victims of traumatic brain injuries.  He is intimately acquainted with the subtleties of such cases. Your best chance of being made whole again will be to consult with Robert Rohl as soon as possible after you’ve suffered any kind of significant head injury.

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Robert Rohl’s past TBI cases and results speak for themselves.

– Minor struck in head by defectively maintained trucking equipment.  Diagnosed with mild traumatic brain injury and facial scaring on forehead.  Prior to Mr. Rohl’s involvement, before a lawsuit was filed, and before a team of experts was constructed, best offer of settlement was $400,000.  Months before trial, case settled for $1,100,000.

– 65-year-old woman side swiped by semi-truck.  Woman drove over 150 miles from accident scene in her vehicle.  Offer before filing a lawsuit was $15,000.  Case settled after expert depositions for $200,000.

– Young father was hit by a semi-truck which resulted in mild traumatic brain injury diagnosis.  Client received several work/occupational promotions throughout duration of the case.  After depositions the case settled for $500,000.

Traumatic Brain Injury Attorney Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is a TBI?

A: Traumatic Brain Injury happens when a sudden, external, physical assault or trauma damages the brain. It is one of the most common causes of disability and death in adults. TBI is a broad term that describes a vast array of injuries that happen to the brain. The damage can be focal (confined to one area) or diffuse (more than one area). The severity can range from a mild concussion to a severe injury that results in coma or death.

Q: What are the different types of TBI?

A: Closed brain injury and Penetrating brain injury. Closed brain injuries occur when there is a nonpenetrating injury to the brain with no break in the skull. A closed brain injury is caused by a rapid forward or backward movement and shaking of the brain inside the bony skull that results in bruising and tearing of brain tissue and blood vessels. Closed brain injuries are usually caused by car accidents, falls, and increasingly, in sports. Penetrating, or open head injuries happen when there is a break in the skull.

Q: What is diffuse axonal injury (DAI)?

A: DAI is the shearing (tearing) of the brain’s long connecting nerve fibers (axons) that happens when the brain is injured as it shifts and rotates inside the bony skull. The changes in the brain are often microscopic and may not be evident on computed tomography (CT scan) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans.

Q: Is it possible to have a TBI and be unaware of it?

A: Absolutely. If treatment was never sought after the original TBI, it’s possible to experience any of the symptoms associated with the injury at various times. The most common undiagnosed injury that our office has dealt with is TBI.

Q: What are the possible results of brain injury/TBI?

A: Some brain injuries are mild, with symptoms disappearing over time and with proper attention. Others are more severe and may result in permanent disability. The long-term or permanent results of brain injury likely need post-injury and lifelong rehabilitation and maintenance. Effects can include: cognitive deficits, coma, confusion, memory problems, attention span issues, problems with problem-solving, problems with judgment, loss of time and space, decreased awareness of self and others, motor deficits, perceptual or sensory deficits, communication and language deficits, functional deficits, social difficulties, regulatory disturbances, personality or psychiatric changes, traumatic epilepsy

Q: Should I see a doctor if I've suffered a TBI?

A: YES! Most studies show that once brain cells are destroyed or damaged, for the most part, they do not regenerate. However, recovery after brain injury can take place, especially in younger people. In other cases, the brain learns to reroute information and function around the damaged areas. The exact amount of recovery is not predictable at the time of injury and may be unknown for months or even years. Recovery from a brain injury often involves a prolonged or lifelong process of treatment and rehabilitation.

Q: Who is involved in brain injury rehabilitation?

A: It depends, but care professionals can include: neurologist/neurosurgeon, physiatrist, neuroradiologist or radiologist, internists and specialists, rehabilitation nurse, social worker, physical therapist, occupational therapist, speech/language pathologist, psychologist, neuropsychologist, psychiatrist, recreation therapist, audiologist, dietitian, vocational counselor, orthotist, case manager, respiratory therapist, and/or chaplain.

What are the long-term effects of a traumatic brain injury?

There is no one size fits all when discussing brain injuries.  Brain injuries consist of a wide range of symptoms, life impacts and consequences.  A traumatic brain injury is an injury to the brain that impacts how it functions due to increased swelling and expansion of the brain within the skull.  TBIs can be caused by a hit or blow, forceful bump, or jolt to the head and/or body, or from an object that can pierce through the skull and enter the brain.  Most TBIs are closed, meaning that the outside force that strikes the head does not penetrate through the skull.  Medicine and science continue to break barriers in our ability to both understand and prove brain injuries.

How will a traumatic brain injury affect my ability to work?

Traumatic brain injuries can vary greatly from individual to individual.  TBIs can affect memory, communication, movement/coordination, executive functioning, processing, actions, comprehension of information, concentration, energy, light-sensitivity, balance, equilibrium, and increases the likelihood of the development of dementia.

What kind of medical treatment will I need?

The severity of symptoms depends on whether the injury is mild, moderate or severe.  In all forms of traumatic brain injury, cognitive changes (changes in how people think) are among the most common, most disabling and longest-last symptoms that can result from the injury.  The ability to learn and remember new information is often affected.  Other commonly affected cognitive skills include the capacity to pay attention, organize thoughts, plan effective strategies for completing tasks and activities, making good judgments, etc.  More severe changes in thinking skills – a hallmark characteristic of dementia – may develop years after the traumatic brain injury took place and the person appears to have recovered from its immediate effects.

Treatment professionals can include, but not necessarily be limited to, physiatrist, surgeon, occupational therapist, physical therapist, speech and language therapist, neuropsychologist, social worker or case manager, rehabilitation nurse, traumatic brain injury nurse specialist, recreational therapist, and vocational counselor.

What kind of compensation am I entitled to?

In South Dakota, you are entitled to recover damages for all past and future medical expense, all economic loss (this includes lost wages/diminished earning capacity), past and future pain and suffering, permanent injury or disability, and loss of the enjoyment of life.  The damages are broken up into what is commonly referred to as “special damages” and “non-economic loss”.  Special damages are those which a dollar value can easily be placed on, i.e. cost of a surgery or a year’s worth of lost wages.  Non-economic damages constitutes attributing a dollar value to the ways that the injury has changed your life, i.e. inability to coach my son’s baseball team.  Contrary to popular belief, personal injury cases are not about economic loss, it is oftentimes a component of the case, but the real value of a personal injury case is the way it changes our human experience.  Injuries that have a lifelong impact inherently change how we live our lives and the way we experience happiness with those we love.  In any catastrophic injury case I have ever handled, my client would immediately substitute any amount of money to get their health back.  Our civil justice system is unable to restore health, but you are entitled to adequate compensation for the life changing injuries you have incurred because of another’s wrongful conduct.      

How can I prove that my traumatic brain injury was caused by negligence?

This is a good example of why having an experienced traumatic brain injury trial lawyer is so crucial.  Medical testimony is often a key component of your trial presentation, but what really drives home the injury is the story of how your life has changed.  Lay witnesses in the form of friends, family members, prior associates, co-workers, clients, and etc. are crucial to explaining your loss to a jury and proving your injuries.   

What is the statute of limitations for traumatic brain injury cases in South Dakota?

It depends.  Generally speaking, it is a three year statute of limitations on general negligence claims, but the specifics of how the injury was incurred and who caused it will dictate the statute of limitations for your claim(s). 

What are the risks of going to trial?

This is a case-by-case analysis and the risks of trial for your traumatic brain injury case are never identical.  In its most general form, the biggest risk of going to trial is the uncertainty.  This is why investigation, case framing, and trial preparation are critical.  I always do my absolute best to provide a range of plausible outcomes, but no trial lawyer can ever make you a guarantee.  If the at-fault party and/or their insurance company do their job(s) right, they put up enough money in the form of an offer to settle that you simply refuse to walk away from.  When the offer of settlement is not enough, then a jury trial makes sense.  Only an experienced traumatic brain injury trial lawyer relying on their experience and proven record of trial performance is capable of providing the best real time analysis of your trial risks.