The notorious case involving Ethan Couch, the teen who was sentenced only to probation and rehab after killing and injuring several people while driving drunk, highlights the need for brain injury victims and their families to receive compensation that covers all of their losses. One of Couch's victims, Sergio Molina, suffered a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the crash.
More than two years later, Molina still cannot talk, move or care for himself. His mother had to stop working so she can care for him. Because they did not have health insurance, Molina could only stay in the hospital for a month, despite the severity of his brain injury. Even after receiving a financial settlement later, the family still struggles.
In this case, the criminal justice system did little to punish the guilty party or provide justice to the victims and families. In civil court, however, the family filed a personal injury suit and received compensation for medical bills, lost income and related expenses. Unfortunately, the $2 million settlement is unlikely to adequately cover the family's losses.
People who suffer serious brain injuries need extensive medical care. They may require surgery, lengthy hospital stays, physical therapy, speech therapy, and other cognitive and emotional care. Some need everyday help with self care because they cannot feed, bathe or dress themselves. Some will need wheelchairs and other medical equipment for the rest of their lives.
In addition to medical needs, the family's home and vehicles often need modifications to make them safe for TBI patients. Many families, like Molina's, also lose significant income and benefits when one family member stops working in order to care for the injured person.
If a loved one suffers a TBI, it is important to speak with a lawyer right away. An attorney who understands the lifelong consequences TBI victims suffer can help you determine your current and future losses associated with the injury. This is a crucial step in obtaining the compensation you will need.
Source: The Washington Post, "For victim of 'affluenza' teen Ethan Couch, a life of paralysis," Yanan Wang, Feb. 22, 2016.