Today I’m going to discuss a common, and commonly misunderstood, injury: the concussion or mild traumatic brain injury (TBI). Stick around to the end of the blog, where I’ll share a few tips for how to best handle a case involving a mild TBI or concussion
Now, let me be clear up front. I am not a medical doctor of any kind, and this blog is not intended as medical or even legal advice.
Instead, it’s an introduction to some of the things I see as an injury lawyer that I want to share to help you present the best case you can.
As I’ve said maybe 100 times before in my other videos and blogs, one of the best things you can do for your injury claim is to seek out good medical care and follow your doctor’s advice. And I mean that, but there are some things that you can be aware of.
Frequency of Traumatic Brain Injuries
Over the past ten years, there have been nearly 3 million visits each year to emergency rooms for what are known as concussions or mild TBIs or mild traumatic brain injuries. And many professionals think this is an underestimate because many mild TBIs go unnoticed or undiagnosed.
A doctor may classify an injury as a mild TBI if any of the following are present: loss of consciousness, amnesia or memory loss, or any altered consciousness at the time of the accident.
Common Causes of TBIs
There are several possible causes of mild TBI or concussions, what lawyers will call the ‘mechanism of injury’. In other words, how does it happen? The most common is what’s known as an acceleration/deceleration injury.
That is when the brain literally bounces back and forth inside the skull, causing physical and possibly chemical damage to the brain structures.
Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injuries
In many cases, injured people may be diagnosed with post-concussive syndrome. Post-concussive syndrome is where symptoms like altered mental consciousness or emotional symptoms, like depression or anxiety, and sleeplessness exist for a period of months after the injury and cause difficulty with daily functioning.
Difficulties of fighting a TBI claim
TBIs are real injuries and ought to be highly compensated by juries, but often they aren’t.
So why is that?
Well, one reason is that there’s nothing to see most of the time. The tests that lawyers and doctors often rely on, like X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs, typically don’t show the kind of injury that results in a mild TBI.
And if you’ve seen any of my videos on injury cases, you know this is the problem of the invisible injury. Insurance companies and defense lawyers love invisible injuries because they’re not obvious. Instead of being able to put pictures up for jurors to see the injury, lawyers have to hire doctors who need to perform tests and explain their results using words, many of which are technical and unfamiliar to most people.
Finding the right expert witnesses
So these doctors not only need to be good clinicians, they have to be excellent communicators as well. And because many of these tests rely on the subjective reporting of the injured person, him or herself, the injured person’s credibility becomes an important factor in the case.
And another thing is that you cannot easily prove a brain injury without the help of skilled expert witnesses, like neurosurgeons or neuropsychologists.
And suppose you haven’t received medical treatment in a while, your symptoms didn’t show up for a few months, or if your initial doctor simply didn’t diagnose a head injury, you may have difficulty having enough medical evidence to even demonstrate a brain injury, even with the best of help.
Common Insurance Company Tactics
If you or somebody you care about has been diagnosed with post-concussive syndrome or a mild TBI, you can expect that insurance companies and defense lawyers will do a deep dive into your life.
They’ll dig into your work history. Insurance company investigators will look at your medical records from way back, and they’ll investigate all of your social relationships as well.
And that’s because defense lawyers have three main arguments.
- It wasn’t our fault.
- If it wasn’t our fault, we didn’t cause harm.
- And even if we caused harm, it’s not that bad.
In these cases, defense lawyers will be going hard at numbers two and three.
They’ll be looking for anything inconsistent with a brain injury. Did you keep working after the injury? Do you have a functioning relationship? Have you ever had mental health treatment? Have you had fun since the injury?
Each time the defense finds an example of one of these inconsistencies, they’ll weave together a story that tries to show that you’re exaggerating.
Considerations when fighting a Traumatic Brain Injury Claim
So what can you do about it? Well, here’s what I suggest if you or somebody you care about has been involved in a car crash and suffered from a post-concussive syndrome or mild TBI.
Number one, follow your doctor’s advice. Read and follow the discharge instructions from the hospital. If you’re sent for follow-up, please see the consulting doctors. If you’re sent for occupational or physical therapy, follow through.
These clinicians can not only be very helpful, but they’re skilled observers, and their notes can provide excellent evidence of the kinds of things that lawyers and doctors need to prove this kind of injury in court.
Number two, keep an injury journal. And by that, I mean a journal separate from your personal feelings or the kind of things you might normally journal about. And I don’t mean a pain schedule, either.
Instead, keep a diary with a few sentences a day of the things that impact your life because of the head injury. If you had to oversleep, take extra medication, or were confused or lost, anything that demonstrates the effect of the injury on your daily life will be important to know months later. And also, these are the very building blocks of the kind of stories that lawyers will want to tell in the courtroom. So it’s great to have them all in one place.
And finally, number three, talk to an injury lawyer as soon as possible. These are time-consuming and expensive if you have a post-concussive syndrome case or a mild TBI case. You’ll want the right team working with you; they need as much time as possible to build the best case they can. So be in touch as soon as possible and get to work.
That’s where I will stop with today’s article about mild traumatic brain injury or TBI accident claims. I hope you found this information helpful. If you want to talk to me about your injury claim, send me a message or call my office.