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De Caro & Kaplen LLP Announce 2019 Traumatic Brain Injury Scholarship Winner

California art student Luis Fierro Rios, who sustained a serious brain injury in 2016, is announced as the latest recipient of New York brain injury attorneys De Caro & Kaplen, LLP’s Traumatic Brain Injury Scholarship award.

Shana De Caro & Michael V. Kaplen with 2019 Traumatic Brain Injury Scholarship winner Luis Fierro Rios
Shana De Caro & Michael V. Kaplen with 2019 Traumatic Brain Injury Scholarship winner Luis Fierro Rios

In 2016, 26 year old art student, and aspiring teacher, Luis Fierro Rios’ life changed forever.

Fierro Rios was in his first semester of the M.F.A- Master of Fine Art program at California State University of Fullerton when he was struck by a van during a class outing. Fierro Rios recalls, “As part of an outdoor painting class, we were visiting a hiking mountain to learn and paint the scenery. When I returned to the car, I crossed the road and I was struck by a van going at speeds of about 40 mph.”

Fierro Rios was rushed to Los Angeles County USC Medical Center by helicopter, where a left hemicraniectomy was performed — a surgical procedure where a large flap of the skull is removed to reduce intracranial pressure on a swollen brain.

Fierro Rios’ physical and psychological health have been permanently affected, “I sustained severe trauma to my head and my skull fractured in the impact. This surgery had to be done to treat the swelling of my brain, but it also left my brain unprotected with my scalp as the only shield. I was in a coma for about two and a half weeks, and when I woke up, I was a different man. Over time there was no recovery but instead a decline in both physical and psychological health.”

Indeed, Fierro Rios’ injuries were so serious that doctors feared he would never walk again, “My right side of my body was paralyzing. I was also in a wheelchair and my family was told I was never going to walk again.”

But Fierro Rios was determined to prove the doctors wrong. Nine months after the accident, another operation was performed, followed by two months of therapy as an in-patient. “A team of physical, speech and the occupational therapist did everything possible for me to improve as much as possible along with my determination to be normal again. I felt like an infant which had to relearn mostly everything.”

During his time at the hospital Fierro Rios rediscovered his passion for art and determined to resume his education, “Occupational therapy began to introduce art and it sparked memories, thoughts, and ambitions to be an artist and use my skills to teach others once again.”

Enrollment in a community college helped prepare Fierro Rios for University, but he also realized he would have to overcome the difficulties in social interactions to achieve his goals, “This experience taught me what I needed to improve including higher levels of thinking and even social interaction. Before the accident, I wanted to be a college professor but now after exploring more options, I decided to teach students at a high school level.”

To help with his social skills, he began a part-time teaching job in an afterschool children’s art program, before enrolling in the single subject ‘Teaching Credential in Art’ at California State University of Long Beach, “ I went above my disability and obtained a part-time job teaching in an afterschool children’s art program. Then I began University. The feeling of starting the single subject teaching credential in art was exhilarating.”

In September 2019, Fierro Rios’ dedication to overcoming his disability was recognized by New York brain injury lawyers, De Caro & Kaplen, LLP, when he was selected as the recipient of their annual Traumatic Brain Injury Scholarship award.

In presenting the award — a check for $1,000 to assist with education and living costs — De Caro & Kaplen, partners Shana De Caro and Michael V. Kaplen said, “It is always difficult to select the winner of our award. Each applicant has a unique, and deeply moving story of his or her experience with brain injury. But something every applicant has in common is the determination to continue to pursue his or her dreams. We were impressed by Mr. Fierro Rios’ drive to resume his education, but also his bravery in continuing to pursue a career in teaching. Social interactions can be difficult after brain injury, so it would have been easy for Mr Fierro Rios to choose a less interactive career. But Mr Fierro Rios has refused to let his injury control his future, and we hope that our scholarship will help him achieve his goals.”

Now 29, Luis Fierro Rios believes he has ‘surpassed the odds’ and encourages other individuals with a disability not to give up on their dreams, “It is important for our life to have a purpose and [in teaching] I have found mine. Without them, we have no future to look forward to. I encourage everyone I meet including kids and individuals with a disability to unlock their full potential of the brain and to never give up on their dreams. The brain is capable of so much including healing. Many individuals didn’t believe I would get better but I surpassed the odds by transcending from my disability.”

The Traumatic Brain Injury Scholarship award is presented by New York brain injury lawyers De Caro & Kaplen, LLP and is open to students in the USA who have sustained a traumatic brain injury. Applications for next years award will open in March 2020.

How do I file a personal injury claim?

How do I file a personal injury claim?

How do I file a personal injury claim?

A lawsuit is started by filing a complaint, allegations of negligence against the people who committed the acts that you are complaining of that you say caused your injury. After the complaint is filed with the court, it gets served on the defendants usually by a process server. After the initial discovery proceedings, the defendants will ask for information about your medical condition. They will request copies of your medical records, your hospital records. After that, both parties submit to oral questioning called depositions.

They ask you how the accident happened, the nature of the accident, the nature of your injuries and how it's affected your life. The court orders a date to be set for trial at which point the attorneys for both sides prepare their cases for trial. If you’ve had an accident either with a car, or a truck or a bus, it is important for you to contact an attorney right away because there are time limits within which you can bring a lawsuit.

Please call the attorneys at De Caro & Kaplen for a free, no-obligation consultation. We are here, and we are committed to achieving justice and fair compensation for our clients.

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Brain Injury News Monthly Update

All coaches to undergo mandatory concussion management training

Indiana passes new concussion management legislation effective July 1st requiring all coaches for students in grades 5 through 12 to take a concussion on line certification course every two years. Presently only high school coaches were required to take a certification course.

Concussions can occur in every sport to students of all ages. This new requirement is a good step in education coaches to the signs and symptoms of concussions and the importance of removing a student from play once a concussion is suspected.

Post stroke fatigue

Post stroke fatigue

It is not uncommon for stroke victims to experience cognitive fatigue. According to the American Stroke Association, upwards of 70 percent of stroke survivors experience fatigue.

The American Stroke Association and the American Heart Association has compiled an on-line fact sheet to assist stroke victims and their families understand the ramifications of post stroke fatigue.

Here are some important points:

  • Post-stroke fatigue can happen whether there has been any exertion or not.
  • Post-stroke fatigue doesn’t always get better after a survivor takes a break, or gets rest.
  • Sometimes there may be outwardly noticeable signs of fatigue, other times there may not.
  • Some fatigue may be a side effect of medication.
  • Post-stroke fatigue is unpredictable. Some survivors experience good days and bad days. For some it is all day, every day.
  • Some survivors may be doing well then suddenly “hit a wall.”
  • For some, “hit the wall” episodes may decrease over time, but they still may generally feel that they don’t have the energy to do what they want and need to do.

Click: Fatigue information sheet to obtain a pdf version of the post stroke fatigue fact sheet.

Second International Conference on Pediatric Acquired Brain Injury

The International Paediatric Brain Injury Society (IPBIS) and the International Brain Injury Association (IBIA) have announced registration is now open for the Second International Conference on Paediatric Acquired Brain Injury which will be held in Rome, Italy from Setpember 20-23, 2017

The conference will focus on new strategies to improve outcomes and quality of life in children following a traumatic brain injury.

More information on the conference is available on the International Brain Injury Association web site.

Concussions in Girls

Concussions can occur in all sports and girls are as likely to suffer a concussion as boys. In conjunction with the Pediatric Brain Injury Conference, a post conference session will be held on Saturday, September 23, 2017 focusing on brain injuries in girls and women under the age of 25.

The post conference program is organized by Pink Concussions.

Prevent Pool Drowning Safety Campaign

According to a new report from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, drowning continues to be the number one cause of death among children between 1 and 4 years old and the second leading cause of death among children 5 to 14-years old.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Michael Phelps Foundation announced a partnership informational program to help prevent needless drowning in pools and spas from occurring.

The program emphasizes the need for swim lessons, adults to service as water watchers, installation of fences, and training in CPR.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission campaign, Pool Safety is an education and outreach effort to prevent drownings and entrapments in swimming pools and spas.

Brain Injury Association of America-Award Nominations

The Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) has announced nominations are open for the Sheldon Berrol, MD. Clinical Service Award and the William Fields Caveness Award.

The Berrol award is intended to honor an individual who through a long and noteworthy career has made outstanding contributions to improving the quality of care, professional training, and/or education in the field of brain injury. The Caveness award is in honor of an individual who, through research on both a national and international level, has made outstanding contributions to bettering the lives of people who have sustained brain injury.

Nomination forms and further information about these two distinguished individuals dedicated to improving the lives of brain injury survivors can be downloaded from the BIAA web site. All nominations must be received by 5 p.m. EDT July 10, 2017. For more information, contact Marianna Abashian.

Founded in 1980, the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) is the oldest, largest, non-profit, nationwide brain injury, advocacy organization.

The mission of BIAA is to advance brain injury prevention, research, treatment, and education, to improve the quality of life for the 2.5 million children and adults who sustain traumatic brain injuries (TBI) in the United States annually. Since its founding, BIAA has worked jointly with Congress, the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Defense, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and state public health agencies. The Brain Injury Association of America’s national network of chartered state affiliates provide direct support, information, resources, education, and advocacy for individuals living with brain injury, their friends, family, professionals and the public.

The brain injury attorneys at De Caro & Kaplen, LLP are honored that our partner, Shana De Caro is serving her second term as a member the board of directors of the Brain Injury Association of America. De Caro & Kaplen, LLP is a Brain Injury Association of America, Preferred Attorney law firm.


What is a life care plan?

The Importance of Life Care Plans in Brain Injury and Personal Injury Cases

In a brain injury and severe personal injury case, a life care plan is essential to support a claim for financial compensation.

A traumatic brain injury affects every aspect of the victim’s life. Because brain injury lasts a life time, the future costs for the care and rehabilitation of persons with a brain injury can be substantial. In cases of traumatic brain injury, a life care planner will consider the nature and extent of the brain injury, the limitations these injuries have on the victim’s ability to live independently, work, and engage in recreational activities. The planner will consider the services required because of the brain damage including rehabilitation, home care, transportation services, medications, medical care, vocational training, home modifications, and adaptive equipment.

A comprehensive life care plan is prepared. The plan includes an analysis of the costs and services required by an injured individual. The plan prepared by a qualified life care planner is used by a personal injury attorney to explain and quantify the medical needs, mental health services, housing, vocational services, household assistance, and equipment required because of a client’s injury.

Personal injury attorneys frequently utilize life care planners to prepare reports of a client’s future needs in cases of brain injury, spinal cord injury, and birth related injuries.   Individual with these injuries frequently require life time medical care, home-care assistance, rehabilitation services, educational support, and child care assistance.

The life care plan report will be utilized in negotiations with the insurance carrier representing the negligent individual or company to support claims for proper compensation. If the case goes to trial, the services and expenses will be testified to by the life care planner and will be used by the injured individual’s personal injury attorney to support a claim of damages and financial compensation that will provide fair and adequately compensation.

The brain injury attorneys at the New York personal injury firm of De Caro & Kaplen, LLP routinely consult with qualified and experienced life care planners when prosecuting a case of brain damage to understand the losses and limitations of their clients in cases caused by motor vehicle collisions, pedestrians struck by negligent drivers, truck and bus crashed, poorly maintained buildings, dangerous construction sites, and medical malpractice.


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