Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a stroke. Suffering a stroke can leave victims physically debilitated for the rest of their lives, struggling under the weight of medical bills, lost wages, disability and more. Many victims will never regain the same physical abilities they once had - and some will never even have a chance.
Every 3 minutes and 45 seconds, someone in the United States is killed by a stroke.More than 795,000 new or recurrent strokes are experienced annually.
If you or someone you love were unfortunate enough to suffer a stroke recently, know that you are not alone. If you believe that negligence played a part in your stroke injuries - whether causing the stroke, or failing to identify it before the damage was done - you could be eligible for compensation.
While pursuing a legal case may be the last thing on your mind during recovery, it is the first step towards freeing yourself from a stroke's burden.
What is a Stroke?
A stroke occurs when something blocks the blood supply to the brain, or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts. During a stroke, a lack of oxygen-rich blood causes brain cells to become damaged or die. A stroke can create very serious consequences, including lasting brain damage, long-term disability, and even death.
To function properly, the brain relies on oxygen. In fact, despite making up only 2 percent of your body weight, the brain uses 20 percent of the oxygen you breathe. Your arteries supply all parts of the brain with oxygen-rich blood. When a blood clot or blood vessel interrupts normal blood flow, a stroke ensues.
Consequences of a stroke include:
- Loss of peripheral vision
- Difficulty with visual perception
- Loss of emotional control, or mood swings
- Issues with memory, problem-solving, and judgment
- Behavioral or personality changes (use of improper language)
- Weakness or paralysis on one side of the body
- Difficulty speaking (dysarthria)
- Trouble swallowing (dysphagia)
Types of Stroke
Stroke is actually a very broad term. There are three main categories of strokes that medical professionals refer to in diagnosis and treatment.
- Ischemic Stroke: An ischemic stroke occurs when the artery that supplies oxygen-rich blood to the brain becomes blocked. In most cases, blockage of blood flow is caused by a blood clot within the artery. Ischemic strokes are the most common type of stroke, making up to 87 percent of all strokes.
- Hemorrhagic Stroke: An hemorrhagic stroke occurs when an artery in the brain leaks or breaks open, known as a rupture. The leaked blood places too much pressure on sensitive brain cells, damaging them. There are two types of hemorrhagic strokes:
- Intracerebral Hemorrhage: The more common type of hemorrhagic stroke, an intracerebral stroke occurs when an artery in the brain bursts, flooding the surrounding tissue with blood.
- Subarachnoid Hemorrhage: A rare type of stroke, subarachnoid hemorrhages refers to when bleeding occurs in the area between the brain and the thin tissue that covers it, known as the arachnoid.
- Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA): Commonly referred to as a mini-stroke, a transient ischemic attack (TIA) differs from the two major types of strokes because blood flow to the brain is only blocked for a short period of time. Typically blood flow is blocked for no more than 5 minutes. A TIA is still considered a medical emergency, and requires emergency care. A TIA is a warning sign of a future stroke, and more than one-third of victims who fail to get treatment have a major stroke within one year. In fact, as many as 10 to 15 percent of people will have a major stroke within 3 months of a TIA.
What are the Warning Signs of a Stroke?
During a stroke, every minute is precious. The faster a stroke victim receives treatment, the lesser brain damage the stroke can cause. A proper understanding of the symptoms and signs of a stroke are critical.
The warning signs of a stroke include:
- A sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
- Trouble speaking or difficulty understanding speech
- Loss of balance or lack of coordination
- Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden severe headache
- Difficulty walking
While there are no meaningful differences between stroke symptoms of men versus women, oftentimes women will suffer symptoms that are commonly dismissed as something else. These include:
- Sudden nausea and vomiting
- Extreme exhaustion
What Causes a Stroke?
High blood pressure is the leading cause of stroke among Americans. When the pressure of the blood in your arteries and other blood vessels becomes too high, the artery can leak or rupture. There are often no symptoms of high blood pressure, therefore it is critical to get your blood pressure checked often. If your doctor takes your blood pressure and fails to alert you it was high, or provide an adequate treatment, they could be found negligent if high blood pressure leads to a stroke.
Naturally occurring conditions within the body, such as high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, and sickle cell disease can all also lead to the occurrence of a stroke. When these conditions are not properly addressed by your healthcare provider, the chances for stroke multiply.
However, it's not just disease that can bring about stroke. A variety of personal injury accidents caused by another's negligence can have the unfortunate side effect of stroke.
Stroke and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Brain damage significantly increases the likelihood of stroke, and can be the single contributing factor - in other words, a perfectly healthy individual can suffer a stroke after experiencing brain injury.
According to the American Heart Association, those who suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI) are ten times as likely to suffer a stroke within three months of the incident. Examples of scenarios which can cause TBI include:
Falls, the sudden impact of a crash, and other accidents which create a blow to the head can result in a significant change in an individual's normal brain function - even a completely healthy person with no prior conditions. When another person's negligence caused your stroke injuries, they should be held accountable for their actions. After suffering at the hands of another's recklessness, you may be eligible for compensation.
Medical Malpractice and Strokes
Just as a traumatic accident can cause a stroke, so can malpractice on behalf of a medical professional. When an individual suffers a brain injury due to another's negligence, including when a stroke is not properly diagnosed and treated, he or she may have the right to pursue a legal claim for medical malpractice. Compensation from a personal injury, or wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the surviving family, can help pay medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and even punitive damages in some cases.
A medical practitioner could be found as negligent if he or she:
- Failed to prevent a stroke, such as failing to provide medication or failing to follow protocol when requesting a patient stop taking medication before a procedure
- Failed to treat a stroke once it occurred, such as misdiagnosis
- Failed to administer tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) to dissolve blood clots
Monetary Damages After a Stroke
According to the CDC, strokes cost the United States an estimated $34 billion each year. This includes the cost of health care services, medicines to treat stroke, and missed days of work.
Strokes reduce mobility in more than half of stroke survivors age 65 and over. Therefore, it is critical for a victim to attend rehab therapy following a stroke, either at a hospital, nursing facility, outpatient clinic, or at home. Treatment can result in costly medical bills as well as an accumulation of lost wages while the victim is receiving physical therapy.
However, strokes are also the leading cause of serious long-time disability in the United States. In severe cases, stroke victims are unable to recover speech, muscle strength, and mobility. Victims may be permanently unable to return to work due to disability.
Bearing this in mind, if you feel as though you or someone you love suffered a stroke due to the negligent actions of another, it may be possible to seek compensation. Damages one could seek following a stroke include:
- Current and future medical bills
- Current and future lost wages
- Long-term care expenses
- Long-term disability
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Pain and suffering
In the case that a stroke victim was killed, surviving family members could file a wrongful death lawsuit, claiming:
- Medical bills
- Loss of income
- Funeral and burial costs
- Loss of companionship
- Pain and suffering
Speaking with a Stroke Injury Lawyer
If you or someone you love recently suffered a stroke due to circumstances you believe were caused by another's negligence, reach out to Weinstein Legal today. Our team of experienced personal injury attorneys will fight tirelessly to ensure you receive your right to compensation.
When a stroke stops your life in its tracks, fight to regain financial freedom.