People who are injured in catastrophic accidents often have injuries that can be seen. Broken bones, herniated disks, lacerations, scars, and loss of the use of limbs can have immediate impact on a jury when a case goes to trial. Often the most catastrophic type of injury is the kind that can not be immediately seen—injuries to the brain, which can be subtle and often require in-depth storytelling to allow a jury to understand the severity of these types of injuries.
Brain Injury Can Be Difficult To Demonstrate
Part of the problem with traumatic brain injury (TBI), is that unlike physical injuries, for a jury to understand its severity, the jury must have an accurate before and after picture of a victim. A jury can assume someone who is paralyzed could walk before the accident, but it may be harder to understand that someone who is now ornery and mean because of a TBI used to be kind and understanding. Stereotypes such as “he is sleeping a lot because he is lazy, not because he is injured,” often need to be overcome.
Most TBIs can be cured by surgery. Thus, jurors do not get to see the extended hospitalization or gory photos. This means that the seriousness of TBIs must be imparted to jurors without persuasive visual aid.
Much of this understanding has to come from the victim’s interactions with family members, neighbors, or co-workers. Proving a TBI case is thus largely dependent on getting as many witnesses as possible to testify on a victim’s behalf.
Any type of accident that involves trauma to the head could involve a TBI. Anything from gunshot wounds to slip and falls to car accidents can involve a TBI. Although blacking out at the time of the accident is a sure sign that TBI could have occurred, it is not a requirement.
There are different kinds of TBI. Some TBIs can be temporary, lasting up to a year before resolving. This kind of TBI is often missed in early diagnosis. While an ER can generally diagnose concussions, an ER is generally ill-equipped to recognize subtle cognitive changes, making it important that a victim’s family monitor him or her for mood or behavior changes.
A professional that can evaluate the victim will likely ascribe the victim a Glascow Coma Score, which is not just for people in a coma, but measures alertness, speech, reaction, and coherence. Medications may also be needed.
Changes in sleep patterns, mood, behavior, memory, and overall demeanor should be watched for by the victim’s family. At any sign of abnormality, treatment by a professional should be sought out, both for treatment’s sake and to document the progress or regression of the victim. Treatment may need to be long term, to determine which symptoms resolve themselves and which remain long enough to be considered permanent.
If you or someone you know has suffered a brain injury, contact the attorneys of Brassel, Alexander & Rice, LLC today for a free consultation to discuss your rights.