Santa Barbara Brain Injury Victim Makes Comeback

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Santa Barbara Brain Injury Victim Makes Comeback

I’m Ed Smith, a Santa Barbara brain injury lawyer. The victim of a hit and run accident in Santa Barbara eight months ago recently went to the police department  with his family to thank the officers who relentlessly tracked and apprehended the driver. In a heart-warming visit, the family noted that bringing the perpetrator to justice was more than just a job for Officer Ethan Ragsdale and his support team.  

What Happened

The accident occurred last December when Drew Daly, 23, a student attending Santa Barbara Community College, was crossing Cabrillo Boulevard around 2:30 in the morning when he was struck by a Honda that was heading westbound. The impact of the crash left Daly severely injured and lying in the street for several hours before he was found by a passerby and help was summoned. Daly was transported by emergency personnel to the Cottage Hospital, where he was reported to be in a coma and in critical condition. The victim’s sister speculated that he had been concerned about taking his final exams and had trouble sleeping, so he might have been out taking a walk. Emerging from the coma, Daly finally recovered sufficiently to leave the hospital. He is now expected to attend Cal State Northridge in the coming semester.

Hit and Run Driver Convicted

A public plea was issued by the Santa Barbara Police Department at the time of the accident in an attempt to locate the hit and run driver. Using surveillance cameras and community tips, the driver, 21-year-old Isaac Vega, was located and placed under arrest. Vega was charged with felony DUI causing great bodily harm and felony hit and run. Vega was on bail for another felony charge when the accident happened.

Vega pleaded not guilty to the charges in the Santa Barbara Superior Court but was later convicted. His six-year sentence contained enhancements due to the severity of the brain injury suffered by Daly.

Traumatic Brain Injury Due to an Accident

TBI, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is responsible for approximately 153 deaths every day. In fact, it is the cause of death in three out of 10 people injured in the United States. In 2013 alone, 2.5 million ER visits were due to TBI with over 280,000 hospitalizations and about 56,000 deaths nationwide. Motor vehicle accidents account for 29.2 percent of deaths in children under four, 55.8 percent in those 5-14 and 47.4 percent in those 15 to 24 years of age. Hospitalizations due to TBI are highest in the 15 to 24 age range.

Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injury

The symptoms of TBI vary according to the degree of damage and the location of the injury. Some present with mild headache and confusion immediately after the accident. Other symptoms are:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Difficulty remembering
  • Visual problems
  • Sleepiness

What to Watch For

It is important to monitor for worsening headache, coordination difficulties, numbness or weakness in the extremities, slurred speech and pupil size discrepancy with one pupil that looks larger than the other. Excessive sleepiness with difficulty staying awake, difficulty recognizing places or people and experiencing behavioral changes are all serious signs associated with a head injury.

Diagnosis of TBI

It is sometimes difficult to diagnose a TBI unless obvious skull fracture or penetrating injury is present. TBI does not always show up on an X-ray in all cases. Doctors may be forced to use a method called diagnosis of exclusion. This means that no other diagnosis explains the symptoms a patient has. MRIs and CT scans can be used as well as a thorough history and physical. Tests that measure cognitive function are also used to measure mental acuity. The Glasgow Coma Scale is used when victims are comatose.

Treatment for TBI

The treatment for TBI varies according to the type and seriousness of the injury. Concussion is common and requires rest, abstinence from alcoholic beverages and activities such as weightlifting and contact sports, heavy computer usage and flying. It is important to wait to assume daily activities until cleared by a physician. Some medications are used to control concomitant symptoms.

Some TBIs such as a subdural hematoma, which is a collection of pooled blood that can put pressure on the brain, often requires surgery to relieve the pressure by draining the blood. Diffuse axonal injury is more serious and makes up 50 percent of all severe TBIs. Often the result of acceleration/deceleration forces, diffuse axonal injury causes shearing of brain tissue and results in the death of brain cells. It causes swelling in the brain and unconsciousness. It is treated with medication to reduce the swelling.

Additional Treatment Modalities

After initial treatment, other treatment modalities are used such as:

  • Speech Therapy: This is used to help patients regain their ability to both understand and produce language.
  • Physical therapy: This is aimed at helping patients regain their ability to perform daily tasks.
  • Support groups: The use of interaction with others who are facing the same problems helps an individual work through the difficulty of TBI treatment.
  • Counseling: This helps individuals acclimate to the mental stress of TBI and its aftermath.
  • Medication: Physicians will use medicine that targets the physical and psychological problems associated with the TBI.

Santa Barbara Brain Injury Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a Santa Barbara brain injury lawyer. I am pleased to see the progress made by Drew Daly and congratulate him on the perseverance he drew on in the months after his accident.  If you or a member of your family has experienced a brain injury, please contact me at (805) 372-0200 to receive my friendly and free advice. If you are outside the calling area, phone (800) 404-5400.

I’ve served Californians, including those in Santa Barbara, for 35 years as an  injury lawyer, making sure that they receive just compensation for their traumatic injury and wrongful death claims.

You can read the reviews written by previous clients at Google Plus, Avvo and Yelp.  If you are interested in previous cases I have resolved, go to the page entitled verdicts and settlements.

I am a California member of a group founded for trial attorneys who have won $1 million or more in case verdicts or settlements for their clients called the Million Dollar Advocates.

Autoaccident.com, a site that I founded and own, is available to find comprehensive information on many legal topics.

Photo Attribution: Wikimedia Commons squad-car-1209719_1280.jpg

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