Coma Attorneys in New York

File a Lawsuit for Your Loved One's Coma

While any type of brain injury can result in tragic consequences, a coma is certainly one of the most difficult. A person in a coma is still alive, but they have essentially no conscious response to external stimulation. This condition can last for a few days, weeks, or long years, and recovery depends on a wide series of factors. Even someone who awakens from a coma after a relatively short time period may experience long-term or life-long issues as a result of brain injuries or the coma itself.

If you have a loved one who currently is or was in a coma as a result of traumatic brain injury, then you may deserve compensation for their pain and suffering and any financial difficulties you experience. A coma caused by someone else's negligence can be a terrible ordeal, but you do not have to go through that ordeal alone. Call the experienced NY personal injury lawyers of Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP today at (212) 986-7353. Tell us about your case and we can help you understand the options available to you and fight to make sure your rights are protected.

Common Causes of Brain Injury Comas

Typically, comas are caused by trauma to the brain resulting in a lack of oxygen, either a chemical effect from toxins or drugs, or some sort of direct physical damage. The kind of brain injuries that cause comas are usually the result of a major accident or a physical assault.

  • Traffic Collisions: Serious automotive collisions can result in a wide range of injuries depending on the type of impact, but traumatic brain injuries are among the most severe. A driver or passenger’s head might strike the steering wheel, front dashboard, or windshield within a car or truck. A pedestrian or motorcyclist can experience brain injuries if a vehicle comes into contact with his or her head, or by striking his or her head on the ground after the collision.
  • Workplace Accidents: Accidents at the workplace, especially in dangerous places like construction sites, can be disastrous. Falling items may hit a person's head and deal traumatic injury to his or her brain. Even a slip and fall at work can be dangerous if the head is involved. Unsafe working conditions may be due to the negligence of an employer or property owner.
  • Acts of Violence: Sadly, attacks on one person by another can also result in intentional injuries. Blunt force impact to the victim’s head, whether given by a weapon like a baseball bat or just a punch, can result in serious trauma. After an assault, the attacker may face criminal charges, but can also be liable for civil damages if the victim takes him or her to court.
  • Household Accidents: Slips and falls, and other accidents around the house, can result in comas. One of the most dangerous aspects of a slip is if someone hits his or her head on the ground or another object while falling. Poor installation of ceiling fans, lamps, and other household items can lead to in a head injury. A property owner may be liable for such injuries to someone who is renting their house or a guest on their property.

The Glasgow Coma Scale

The Glasgow Coma Scale is a system for assessing the severity of a patient's traumatic brain injury. Invented in 1974 by two neurosurgeons at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, it's the most common scale used to understand a traumatic brain injury. Brain injury experts believe that a patient's GCS score is a good predictor of how impaired he or she is likely to be after recovery. The higher the score, the more fully a patient is likely to recover.

Glasgow Coma Scale looks for eye, verbal and motor responses in the patient and assigns a score from 3 to 15:

Eye Response:

  1. Eyes do not open.
  2. Opens eyes in response to pain.
  3. Opens eyes in response to voice.
  4. Opens eyes spontaneously.

Verbal response:

  1. Does not make sounds.
  2. Makes incomprehensible sounds.
  3. Says inappropriate words.
  4. Speaks, but confused.
  5. Speaks normally.

Motor response:

  1. Doesn't move.
  2. Extends limbs in response to pain.
  3. Flexes limbs in response to pain.
  4. Withdraws from pain.
  5. Moves toward pain.
  6. Obeys commands.

A person in a coma would have a score of GCS 3; a healthy person would have a score of GCS 15. However, doctors often phrase a Glasgow Coma Scale score as the sum of individual components, especially when the patients' age, injuries or treatment makes it impossible to respond using their full abilities. Thus, a person who opens her eyes in response to a voice, cannot speak at all and moves toward pain would have a score of E3V1M5, or GCS 9. While there are exceptions, a GCS score of 8 or below generally indicates a severe brain injury; a score of 9 to 12 indicates moderate injury; and 13 to 15 indicates mild injury. A patient's GCS score can change over time; indeed, doctors expect the score to increase as the patient recovers.

Children under 36 months may be scored on the Pediatric Glasgow Coma Scale, which was invented to test responses of children who haven't learned to speak clearly yet. Another widely used test measuring patients with brain injuries is the Rancho Los Amigos Scale, named for a Los Angeles trauma center. The RLS scale is different from the GCS because it measures the progress of a patient's recovery, rather than the severity of injury, and is not intended to predict the final outcome of treatment.

Other Common States of Unconsciousness

In addition to comas, there are a few other common states of unconsciousness that are medically distinct and worth understanding following a traumatic brain injury:

  • Vegetative State: Somewhat similar to a coma, in this state a person has lost the ability to think and has no awareness of surroundings, but some brain functions remain. He or she might respond slightly to external stimuli and move spontaneously, but cannot speak or respond to commands.
  • Minimally Conscious State: This is a state of altered consciousness, but some awareness remains. It is quite severe and awareness may be inconsistent and unpredictable.
  • Locked-In Syndrome: This typically occurs after a brainstem stroke or similar event and eliminates control of movement, but does not impact awareness or wakefulness. There may be near-total paralysis, but communication and movement through the person's eyes or eyelids is often possible.
  • Brain Death: Someone is considered brain dead after irreversible loss of all brainstem functions, so that breathing and circulation functionality are possible only with the assistance of medical machinery. Even with intensive care, cardiac arrest usually occurs within days or hours.

Need Top-Rated Legal Assistance in NY?

Traumatic brain injuries are catastrophic, life-changing injuries that can change every aspect of the lives of victims and their families. If you or someone you love sustained serious brain damage as a result of another person's carelessness, you have the right to hold that person responsible with a traumatic brain injury lawsuit. Litigation can help you recover money to compensate you for ongoing medical treatment, past and future lost wages, permanent disability or disfigurement, pain and suffering and more. Call the New York traumatic brain injury attorneys at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP today at (212) 986-7353 for a free evaluation of your case.

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If you or a loved one has been seriously injured, it is important to seek legal representation as soon as possible. Contact the New York personal injury attorneys at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP today for a FREE, no obligation consultation today:

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