Recovering Damages for a "Traumatic Brain Injury" In Nevada

Traumatic brain injuries
(TBIs) can cause unpredictable and devastating effects. Accident victims who sustained brain or head injuries in Nevada may be able to recover compensatory damages for:

Depending on the case, TBI victims may be able to recover punitive damages as well. Proving the cause of brain injuries in Nevada often requires the help of both medical and legal experts.

In this article, our Las Vegas Nevada personal injury attorneys discuss what you need to know about traumatic brain injuries in Clark County and throughout Nevada, including recovering compensatory damages such as pain and suffering. Click on a topic to jump to that section:

Brain hematoma

1. Causes of Traumatic Brain Injury in Nevada

Traumatic brain injuries can result from a wide range of physical impacts, including falls, car accidents, or sports-related injuries. Some traumatic brain injuries are made worse when the victim fails to seek medical treatment right away. Swelling of the brain or bleeding may have disabling or even fatal results hours or days after the initial trauma occurs.

Negligence causes many instances of TBIs. A Las Vegas attorney can evaluate whether your injury stemmed from negligent behavior. For example, if you were injured by a drunk driver in Clark County, you can hold the driver liable. And slip and fall accidents that lead to traumatic brain injuries may have been prevented by adequate signage or repairs.

1.1. Nevada Sports Injuries

The CDC reports that the number of student-athletes experiencing sports or recreation-related traumatic brain injuries has been increasing over the last decade. One study indicates that concussions among high school football players have risen 300% between 1998 and 2008. Children and adolescents take longer than adults to recover from concussions and sub-concussive injuries and consequently are more at risk of serious injury from repeat head trauma.

Nevada state law requires schools to remove athletes from play if they have a suspected head injury. Those athletes are required to meet “return to play” guidelines before participating in another game. Players must also receive written clearance from a medical professional in order to return to play. In recognition of the over 60,000 concussions experienced on the football field each year in the United States, Nevada has also started mandating that school personnel be educated about traumatic brain injuries.


1.2. Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)

One of the most difficult illnesses to treat relating to traumatic brain injury is called "chronic traumatic encephalopathy," or CTE. Patients with CTE experience mood and behavioral disturbances as well as cognitive impairments.

The majority of people who experience CTE—including boxers and football players as well as combat veterans—have had repeated concussions or sub-concussive injuries. CTE can be diagnosed only by autopsy, which means family members of Nevadans with CTE may not understand the true extent of the person's injuries until after they pass away.

If you believe you or a loved one may be experiencing the symptoms of CTE after repeated head traumas, you should consult with a qualified neurologist. The costs associated with CTE and other types of traumatic brain injury-related illnesses can be astronomical. Therefore it is a good idea to consult with an attorney to make sure that you and your family receive fair compensation for the losses you have suffered due to your TBI.

2. Effects of Traumatic Brain Injury in Nevada

Even severe brain injuries may seem somewhat minor when they first occur. And trained doctors and nurses can have a hard time figuring out whether a brain injury is serious or not.

2.1. Head Injuries: Short and Long-Term Effects

Some of the effects of head injuries are acute—that is to say, they last for only a short period of time. The acute effects of a head injury can include:

  • Pain at the site of the injury.

  • A “dazed” feeling.

  • Pupils that are unevenly dilated.
  • Memory loss (either short- or long-term).

  • Loss of consciousness.

  • Visual disturbances.

  • Seizures.

Long-term effects of head injuries can be extremely unpredictable. Some people may be affected forever by cognitive or mood changes. Others could lose sensation, sight, or hearing.

Still others may not feel dazed or confused or even in pain from their head injury. It is important to note that for some victims of head injuries—even people who will have significant long-term effects—there may be few or no noticeable immediate effects.

If you have sustained a significant impact that involved your head moving suddenly (whether or not it hit a hard surface), it is best to get checked out by a physician.

2.2. The Danger of Repeat Head Trauma

One of the most significant risk factors for significant brain injury is repeated head trauma. Some Clark County residents have careers or play contact sports that involve a high risk of brain injuries.

While a single concussion is unlikely to be serious, the same cannot be said for continued head injuries. Nevadans who have been concussed repeatedly may develop lifelong brain injuries. These injuries may have unpredictable effects on mood and behavior. In some situations, brain injury carry devastating or even lethal psychological consequences.

young football player in uniform on ground looking dazed
Football players are at high risk of repeat head trauma

3. Costs of Brain Injuries in Nevada

Costs associated with long-term debilitating traumatic brain injuries can reach into the millions. Some injuries require repeated surgeries and lifetime medical treatment. Victims of these injuries may also be unable to work or to continue working in the same profession, making their financial losses even greater. Victims can even lose abilities or senses that significantly impact their ability to enjoy life.

In many cases, the person at fault for causing the traumatic brain injury can be held liable. Nevada laws allow victims of traumatic brain injury to seek full compensation for their injuries. This includes not only the costs that the victim has already incurred, like existing medical bills ... but also their expected costs and losses in the future.

Currently, there is no current cure or single fix for traumatic brain injury. Unfortunately for Nevadans who fall victim to traumatic brain injuries today, some symptoms—which may be physical, psychological, or both—may persist for a lifetime.

4. Compensation for Brain Injuries in Nevada

When you are injured through someone else's negligence in Nevada, you are entitled to compensation. You can also recover money if your brain injury occurred because someone else was reckless or intentionally hit you.

An experienced Clark County personal injury lawyers may be able to help you recover money damages that go beyond your current medical bills.

For example, you can be compensated for decreases in your quality of life, or loss of employment. Nevada victims of brain injuries are also entitled to compensation for their expected future medical bills.

Often brain injuries will have lifelong medical consequences, and some of them can be very expensive. You may also be entitled to compensation for long-term care or to help you learn new skills.

4.1. Can I recover for pain and suffering after a brain injury in Nevada?

If you have suffered a serious injury, you may be entitled to recover for "non-economic" damages under Nevada law.

"Non-economic damages are those not related to your actual out-of-pocket costs. They include recovery for pain, suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, disfigurement and other non-pecuniary damages.1

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There is no set amount a jury can award for pain and suffering damages in Nevada. In making an award for pain and suffering, a jury may award any non-economic damages it finds to be just and reasonable in the light of the evidence.2

Exception: If your brain injury resulted from medical malpractice (professional negligence), there is a cap of $350,000 for non-economic losses.3

The cap on non-economic damages was approved by Nevada voters in 2004 as part of a medical malpractice reform ballot measure called the "Keep Our Doctors in Nevada" initiative. The Nevada Supreme Court has upheld this cap on non-economic damages as constitutional.4

4.2. Can I get punitive damages for a brain injury in Nevada?

"Punitive" and "exemplary" damages differ from damages meant to compensate you for economic and non-economic losses. They are meant, instead to:

  1. Punish wrongdoers who behave in a reckless or malicious manner, and
  2. Set an example to deter others from engaging in similar behavior.

Exemplary and punitive damages in Nevada are in addition to the damages you receive for your out-of-pocket ("compensatory") and non-economic losses.

In general, under Nevada law punitive damages are capped at:

  • Three times the amount of compensatory damages awarded to the plaintiff if the amount of compensatory damages is $100,000 or more; or
  • Three hundred thousand dollars if the amount of compensatory damages awarded to the plaintiff is less than $100,000.5

The cap does not apply, however, when an injury results from: 

  • A defective product,6
  • The emission, disposal or spilling of a toxic, radioactive or hazardous material or waste,7 or
  • The wrongful actions of a driver who has willfully consumed alcohol and/or drugs.8

You are legally entitled to compensation whether the person who injured you did so carelessly, recklessly, or intentionally.

Do Not Sign Settlement Paperwork Without Legal Advice

Insurance companies love nothing more than to have an injury victim sign papers without talking to a licensed Nevada attorney. Consulting with a lawyer in Las Vegas can mean the difference between a quick but inadequate payout and the full amount your case is worth.

That is because there may be injury-related expenses you had not yet considered—or because the initial settlement offer is very low compared to settlements reached in similar cases. Experienced Clark County attorneys can help you evaluate any settlement offer fairly—and often can improve it considerably.

Talking to an attorney does not necessarily mean you will be going to court. In most cases, your Las Vegas lawyer will still reach a settlement agreement with the insurance company. It will just be a settlement that keeps all your needs in mind—both in the short term and the long term.

Call us for help...

If someone you care about suffered a brain injury as a result of an accident or a defective product in Las Vegas, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation.

Our compassionate Las Vegas accident and injury lawyers can help your loved one or you get your life back on track after a devastating brain injury.

To schedule your free consultation, call us at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) or fill out the form on this page. One of our Nevada injury lawyers will get back to you promptly to discuss your case and get you started getting the compensation you need and deserve.

During your free consultation, one of our Las Vegas personal injury attorneys will go over the situation that led to your head injury. We will review your medical records, if you have them, or refer you to a doctor to get checked out.

We will also help you track down witnesses to the event and, if appropriate, have an investigator analyze the accident scene and reconstruct what happened. We can also help you if your head injuries were caused by a dangerous product in Nevada or an intentional act, such as an assault.

Legal resources:

  1. NRS 41A.011.
  2. Nevada Jury Instructions 10.05; BAJI 14.13.
  3. NRS 41A.035.
  4. Tam v. Eighth Judicial District Court, 358 P.3d 234 (2015).
  5. NRS 42.005 (1).
  6. NRS 42.005 (2)(a).
  7. NRS 42.005 (2)(d).
  8. NRS 42.010.

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