While many types of brain injuries are caused by trauma – such as a blow to the head – hypoxic brain injury refers to a situation where blood flow to the brain is restricted, resulting in damage and eventual death of neurons, or brain cells. Anoxic brain injury is a similar condition in which the brain’s blood flow is completely stopped for a period of time. These types of injuries are less likely to occur due to trauma and are usually caused by a health problem such as a stroke or cardiac arrest. There are many possible underlying causes, including these situations:
- Stroke. This is one of the most common causes of hypoxic or anoxic brain injury. When a stroke occurs, blood flow to the brain is limited or stopped due to either a blood clot or a hemorrhage (blood clots account for the majority of strokes). A stroke can happen for many reasons, including genetic factors, high blood pressure, being immobile (such as when a person is confined to their bed due to illness or injury), certain medications that increase clotting risk, and sometimes traumatic injuries.
- Birth injury. Sometimes complications occur during birth that cause a reduction in blood flow to the infant’s brain. When this happens, the baby may suffer permanent brain damage that may or may not be evident immediately. In some cases, the infant might show more signs of brain damage as they grow older and don’t reach typical milestones for their age.
- Cardiac arrest or poor heart function. A cardiac arrest can cut off blood flow to the brain until the heart is restarted through prompt medical care. Performing CPR can keep some blood flowing to the brain, but often less than normal. Poor heart function or an irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia) might also reduce blood flow to the brain even if the heart is still beating, and over time this might lead to a hypoxic brain injury.
- Lung problems can produce a similar situation, in which blood reaches the brain but doesn’t contain enough oxygen due to lung dysfunction.
- Strangulation, choking, suffocation, and drowning can all lead to a lack of oxygen in the brain. In children, some of these situations can easily occur by accident.
- Smoke inhalation. When you’ve been exposed to smoke, such as in a house fire, it’s important to get medical attention even if you feel fine. Sometimes smoke inhalation can cause a delayed reduction in blood flow to the brain.
- Certain poisons, an overdose of some medications, or complications from general anesthesia are sometimes responsible for hypoxic brain injuries.
- Head injury. The bleeding, bruising, or swelling that occurs in the brain after an injury may lead to reduced blood flow in one or more areas of the brain.
Why Should You Contact a Hypoxic Brain Injury Attorney?
If you or a loved one have suffered a hypoxic or anoxic brain injury, there could be permanent health effects. While some people are able to make a full recovery, others may develop permanent disabilities or difficulties, including:
- Chronic headaches
- Difficulty with balance or sensory issues
- Vision problems
- Movement or motor control issues
- Cognitive challenges, including problems with memory, judgment, concentration, or logic
- Speech, language, or communication difficulties
- Behavioral or personality changes
- Seizures or epilepsy
Healthcare and other assistance for a person who has suffered a hypoxic brain injury can be expensive and may exceed the limits of available medical insurance. Additionally, some patients find that their injury prevents them from returning to work or working as much as they did before, creating further financial difficulties.
If your injury was due to the negligence of another person or entity, you have the right to seek compensation for your damages, including medical bills, pain and suffering, permanent disability, and more. A hypoxic brain injury attorney can help you determine who the liable party or parties are and identify any relevant insurance policies. Next, we will estimate your damages and assist you in filing an insurance claim or lawsuit to recover the financial compensation you deserve.
What If No One is at Fault for My Hypoxic Brain Injury?
You should speak with an experienced brain injury lawyer to be certain that this is true. Frequently people tell us that their injury was no one’s fault because they simply had a health problem. Sometimes, they’re right. But in many other cases, their condition was caused or made worse by someone else’s negligence. Here are some examples:
There are multiple situations where medical malpractice or negligence can lead to a hypoxic brain injury, including the following:
- Misdiagnosis. In some cases, we find that brain damage could have been avoided if a healthcare provider had properly diagnosed the patient’s condition early enough for treatment to help. For instance, strokes caused by blood clots are often reversible if the patient receives clot-busting medication quickly. If a doctor failed to correctly diagnose your stroke, and you developed permanent brain damage as a result, the doctor or healthcare facility may have been negligent.
- Treatment errors. Sometimes the patient’s condition is diagnosed correctly, but a healthcare provider fails to provide treatment that lives up to the typical “standard of care” for their specialty. What does this mean? The fact that you suffered a bad outcome from an illness does not necessarily mean your doctor was negligent. However, if they failed to treat you the way any other doctor in their field would have, they may have been negligent. Unfortunately, this isn’t a distinction that the average person can make on their own, so consulting a medical malpractice attorney is necessary to determine if what happened to you meets the criteria for medical malpractice.
- Medication errors or defective medications. There are two categories here: In the first category, a doctor either prescribes an incorrect medication or dosage, or a healthcare worker administers the wrong drug or dosage. In the second category, a defective drug may cause a condition that leads to hypoxic brain injury. Depending on the details of your case, we may be able to seek compensation from either the healthcare provider or the drug manufacturer.
- Birth injuries. Sometimes an OB/GYN’s error during a patient’s pregnancy or childbirth can cause the infant to suffer a hypoxic or anoxic brain injury. If your child was diagnosed with this type of brain injury shortly after birth, you should speak with a lawyer to understand what may have caused the hypoxia.
Car Accidents or Other Trauma
Sometimes people don’t connect their head injury to a car accident, fall, or other trauma because they didn’t hit their head or they weren’t diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury. But these types of injuries may indirectly cause a hypoxic brain injury in some situations. For instance, if you suffer several serious broken bones in a car accident, you may be placed in traction and unable to move around as you normally would. If this inactivity causes a blood clot, which later travels to your brain and blocks blood flow, your hypoxic brain injury may have been a complication of the initial injury.
When a hypoxic brain injury is related to a car accident, we typically start by pursuing compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. In certain circumstances, we may make a claim on the injured person’s auto insurance if the other driver was uninsured, can’t be located (hit-and-run), or there is insufficient evidence of the other driver’s responsibility for the accident.
If the hypoxic brain injury is related to a fall, assault, or other trauma suffered at a store or other business open to the public, we may be able to seek compensation from their business liability insurance. Injuries that occur at a person’s residence are often covered by a homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy. In the event that your damages exceed the limits of an applicable insurance policy, we might consider suing the responsible party directly for the remainder of your damages. However, this might not be a good option if they have few or no assets.
The above are only a few examples of situations where another party’s negligence may not be immediately obvious, but could still have contributed to a hypoxic brain injury. If you are unsure how your injury happened or what the underlying cause might be, we recommend speaking with an experienced brain injury lawyer to learn more about potential routes for seeking compensation.
How Can I Find Out My Options For Seeking Compensation After a Hypoxic Brain Injury?
We understand that recovering from a hypoxic brain injury is a difficult and stressful process, and you may also be struggling to pay medical bills despite missing time at work. If you or a loved one have sustained a hypoxic brain injury, please contact Tatum & Atkinson for a free, no-obligation consultation about your case. We’ll review the details of your injury and explain your options for recovering damages. If you decide to move forward with our help, we won’t charge you anything until we win or settle your case.