Is Traumatic Brain Injury Part of Your Injury Claim?
Identifying Brain Injury
When a person injures their spine, or fractures a bone, or suffers a severe joint injury, they tend to know it. That is not always immediately true for traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). In years past, emergency medical providers, doctors and ER staff, and even primary care doctors missed brain injuries because they simply didn’t ask about them. Symptoms sometimes occur right away, and others can develop over time. Some concussions can be identified immediately after a car crash, for example, because the victim can feel disoriented, have trouble with vision, hearing issues, or just feel like they are underwater and everything is muffled. Sometimes symptoms like trouble with cognition, reading, memory, etc aren’t immediately obvious. Mood changes are often associated with head injuries as well, and all the other symptoms can make these worse, as many traumatic brain injury patients become frustrated by pain and other limitations they did not previously have to deal with.
I have no idea why, but it seems many people who suffer head injuries are very reluctant to acknowledge a head injury. I do believe that is some part of the reason brain injuries were overlooked so often in the past. I have had clients go see eye doctors the day after a bad collision involving a head injury, because they can’t see as well as they did before. Rather than connect vision or hearing issues, difficulty with memory or cognition or reading, or mood swings to a brain injury, many first turn to specialists in those areas, only to be directed back to treat the brain injury. It’s fair to say that we shouldn’t rely on a person who just suffered a brain injury to recognize it.
Early recognition of a brain injury can save the injured a long series of doctor appointments and lost time. This is where friends and family can help. Everyone around an accident victim, especially someone who may have struck their head, should ask them questions and act on the answers. Did you hit your head? Did your head snap violently? Did you lose consciousness at all? What do you remember? Do you have any new symptoms since your injury?
The Mayo Clinic lists common symptoms of traumatic brain injury. Check out the list and ask questions based on those listed. When in doubt, seek out treatment and guidance from a medical provider with expertise in identifying and treating brain injuries.
Taking It Seriously
I am increasingly concerned by the number of clients who come to me with provable traumatic brain injuries who have been told by other injury lawyers that they should only pursue compensation for their other injuries. Not every case is a neck injury caused by a rear-end collision. It is important not to try to force an injury claim to look like other cases that we injury lawyers may be more comfortable with. Brain injuries are obviously real, often life-changing, and simply overlooking losses associated with a brain injury only benefits the at-fault insurance company.
As explained above, brain injuries can, in some cases, be difficult to identify. Due to the fact that TBIs change how people think and feel, those who have suffered brain injuries can require additional time, care, and explanation from their attorney compared to others. Traumatic brain injuries can also require specialized treatment, may have much longer recovery periods than other injuries, and are more often than not expensive to document and prove. None of this means brain injuries should be ignored or otherwise swept out of a case.
People who are seeking compensation for traumatic brain injury deserve their attorneys’ best efforts, and should be concerned about lawyers who can’t be bothered to fully investigate the injury. Failure to fully investigate brain injuries and their symptoms because they do not look enough like the other 500 cases an attorney is handling, or because of a general belief that they are hard to prove, results in loss of compensation for the injured. That is not righting wrongs. That is processing the easiest insurance claim and moving on to the next one.
This is not to say that there aren’t good and informed reasons not to pursue losses associated with a brain injury. However, that is a decision that should be made based entirely on the merits of the case and our ability to prove the injury and related damages, rather than an attorney’s reluctance to get outside of their comfort zone.
In the context of an attorney-client relationship, how would the client know whether advice to ignore a brain injury claim is good advice or lazy advice? One way might be to try to determine whether the attorney is comfortable handling brain injury cases. Have they had success with these in the past? Do they advertise for them on their website? Do they write blogs about traumatic brain injury, or otherwise demonstrate an interest in the subject? Does the attorney only handle car-crash whiplash claims and do they seem to lose interest or enthusiasm where other injuries are involved?
Finally, communication can solve this, and almost all, attorney-client issues. Simply asking an attorney to explain what they have done to investigate the claim and why they do or do not think a brain injury claim would be successful can give the reassurance, or doubts, that can guide the injured party in the right direction for them.
A New Normal
Most who have suffered symptomatic brain injuries could tell you why their experience was life-changing. Traumatic brain injury, whether quickly identified or not, can mean a new normal for the person suffering through emotional and cognitive changes. Click here for a blog post covering the importance of families recognizing the realities of that new normal following a brain injury. In this video interview, Shelbi Williams, who is a recovering brain injury patient, describes having to accept that she is not the same person she was before her injury.
Compounding Life Impacts
Almost any kind of injury can be life-changing. I have personally seen enough injuries of different kinds that have impacted different people in different ways to know that there is no such thing as a typical injury case. However, the real-life, practical impact of traumatic brain injury reliably reaches every aspect of an injured person’s life. None of these life impacts exists completely free of the others. In these cases, it is truly the sum of the symptoms that begins to create a full and truthful image of the value of a loss. Here’s what I mean:
Above, I discussed the importance of identifying symptoms in order to get the correct treatment. Who is going to do that? The person who is now struggling to think the way he or she did just days ago? That person who is panicking about how they will do their job and pay their bills and tolerate the ringing in their ears that just won’t stop? If not them, maybe their family or friends. What if those people are “giving space” because of mood swings that started after the injury, or because they can see that their loved one currently isn’t thinking clearly so they decide to give that time to pass? What if it is the people that injured person normally spends time with who would notice a difference, but the torn shoulder that also happened at the same time is keeping the person in bed and away from that support network?
It is easy to see how brain injury symptoms can be easily missed, and make other circumstances and symptoms worse along the way. These are all just examples that could apply to the days following a brain injury. Many of these interrelated life impacts likely only get more pronounced with time.
How Ready Law Can Help
I have successfully represented clients with a variety of brain injuries, covering a wide range of related symptoms. Some were lucky enough to identify their need for treatment right away, and for some that realization took longer. I believe these cases benefit from representation by someone with an interest in brain injury cases. That may be the first step toward making sure someone suffering from a traumatic brain injury gets full compensation for it. But there is much more to it. These cases also benefit greatly from a full and energetic workup. That means getting the injury diagnosed, and appropriately treated. It means digging into the details to fully understand the life impact, and at best it means lots of communication and accommodation of any limitations that arise from the injury along the way.
My traumatic brain injury clients require the kind of personalized attention, communication, and caring that I pride myself on anyway. I believe they don’t get their best outcomes without those, and I would be happy to discuss your case with you. If you have suffered a brain injury that was someone else’s fault, call or text me now and let’s discuss how to get your case moving in the right direction. (720) 201-3802.