New Study Finds TBIs May Cause Dementia – Will Your Personal Injury Settlement Cover That?

By Greg Kohn

The connection between traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and dementia has been established for many years through numerous studies. In one study published on the NCBI website, researchers concluded that while the risk of dementia may decrease over time after the TBI, the association between the brain injury and dementia remained evident for more than 30 years after the initial trauma. The association was stronger in cases of multiple TBIs or severe cases of TBI. Our New Jersey personal injury attorneys monitor the new case studies carefully because of the apparent link between accident-related TBIs and personal injury claims.

A New Study Sheds Additional Light on the Connection

As reported by U.S. News, researchers in a newly released study researched 2.8 million patient records searching for links between brain injuries and the development of dementia or other degenerative brain diseases. Researchers in the new study found that patients with a history of brain injury had a 24 percent higher risk of developing dementia compared with patients without a history of brain injury.

The study also reviewed how the severity of the brain injury impacted the risk of developing dementia. A person with a mild TBI had a 17 percent increased risk of developing dementia compared to a person with a severe TBI who had a 35 percent higher risk of developing dementia.

In addition, the researchers compared the number of TBIs suffered by a person and the risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. A person who suffers two or more TBIs could expect a 33 percent higher rate of risk for developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease in the future. The rate of risk for developing a degenerative brain disease almost doubled for a person who suffered four or more TBIs (61 percent chance). For a person who suffers five or more brain injuries, that person’s risk of developing a degenerative brain disease in the future jumps to 183 percent.

The link between TBI and football players has been debated for some time with many experts calling for changes in the sport to reduce the risk of head injuries. While football players may have a legal means of filing for compensation if they develop dementia or another brain disease decade after they quit playing, what can an accident victim do if they suffer a TBI because of a traffic accident, fall, or other personal injuries?

The Law Needs to Catch Up to the Research

As researchers in the new study pointed out, even one mild TBI can increase a person’s chance of developing dementia or other degenerative brain diseases. Furthermore, young adults and children who suffer a TBI may have an even greater risk because of their age at the time of the brain injury.

These results raise serious questions about how the risk of developing dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other degenerative brain diseases should be handled in a personal injury claim. While you can include future damages and compensation in a personal injury settlement claim, it is still unclear how insurance companies will treat claims seeking additional compensation for a “risk” of developing a disease which may never occur.

Our New Jersey personal injury attorneys are working diligently to gather more information to fight for compensation of the long-term consequences of a TBI or other brain injury.  We will continue to monitor the matter to protect the best interests of our clients. Contact our team at Nagel Rice, LLP today.

About the Author
Greg Kohn is a partner at Nagel Rice and specializes in complex civil litigation cases, including professional malpractice, personal injury, class actions, wrongful death, products liability, and commercial litigation.  He has extensive experience representing clients in both state and federal court. Greg has tried many jury trials to verdict and has recovered over $50 million in settlements and verdicts in all types of personal injury matters including automobile accidents, wrongful death cases, slip and falls, and other catastrophic injury cases. Greg also handles medical malpractice cases, involving misdiagnoses, wrongful birth, and delayed cancer diagnosis. If you have questions regarding this article, you can contact Greg here.