Brain Injury FAQ
Q. Why is brain injury a separate specialty from other injuries?
A. Traumatic brain injuries are a personal injury specialty because they can occur under many different circumstances—automobile accident, sports accident, medical negligence, construction site accident, maritime accident, etc. For this reason, many legal firms have attorneys that are especially skilled in working with brain injury cases.
Q. What causes a brain injury?
A. Traumatic brain injuries occur when the brain is bruised or shaken by an abrupt impact to the head or violent movement of the head. If the injury is severe enough, a person will black out. Depending on how badly the blood vessels and nerves are stretched and/or torn, injury can be mild or very severe. Acquired brain injuries (ABI) occur without direct trauma to the brain, but rather by lack of oxygen, poisoning (such as lead) or electrocution. Severe loss of blood can also cause ABI. Patients can also suffer from post concussion syndromes after a brain injury. The constellation of symptoms may include head aches, light sensitivity, noise sensitivity, vertigo, dizziness, executive function problems, loss of memory or reduction in attention, concentration, difficulty speaking, walking, or other motor and sensory dysfunction, and/or other conditions.
Q. What are some of the common types of brain injuries?
A. Diffuse axonal injury is one of the most common brain injuries in car accidents. The nerve tissue is twisted as the head is thrown when the vehicles collide. Frequently this nerve damage causes the release of chemicals in the brain that cause further injury. Even though this type of damage rarely shows up in CT Scans and MRIs, it often results in permanent cognitive and behavioral issues.
Q. What are the most frequent causes of traumatic brain injuries (TBI)?
A. According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, 28% of all traumatic brain injuries are caused by falls, followed closely by motor vehicle accidents at 20%. A further 19% of injuries occur when someone is struck by something. Assaults cause 11% of the TBI cases reported. The remaining 21% occur from miscellaneous causes.
Q. Do I have to black out to prove I had a brain injury?
A. No. This is a common misconception. Damage can occur even when you retain consciousness.
Q. What are the symptoms of a traumatic brain injury (TBI)?
A. There are many symptoms including difficulties with concentration, memory, mood control, difficulty speaking or understanding speech, loss of ability to write, loss of sensory skills, giving what is seen meaning, visual difficulties, seizures, and more.
Q. I am told that I have a mild brain injury. Does this mean that I won’t have any serious long-term problems?
A. No, it doesn’t. If the initial insult to the brain did not result in serious physical complications, it is considered a mild brain injury. This doesn’t mean that you won’t suffer from short or long-term impairment or some type of functional disability from the injury. Common symptoms include fatigue, visual disturbances, memory loss, loss of concentration, sleep disorders, depression and seizures.
Q. Are expert witnesses need to prove a brain injury occurred?
A. Yes. You can expect that the defense will hire a neuropsychologist to evaluate your condition. You will need to have a neuropsychologist with the skills to analyze and rebut any claims made by the defense as well as the ability to show jurors quantifiable information about the effects of your brain injury. Neurologists, neurosurgeons and psychiatrists are also critical witnesses in a brain injury case.
Q. So, what is a neuropsychologist?
A. He/She is a clinical psychologist who specializes in brain-behavior relationships. They are instrumental to a successful brain injury lawsuit because they have the ability to test for intellectual ability and personality. By combining research of a patient’s academic and work record, and interviews with family and friends, they are able to reconstruct pre-accident personality and abilities. Then he/she evaluates post-accident academic and/or work abilities. By comparing the two, a neuropsychologist determines the extent of damage.
Q. Does a physician need to confirm the neuropsychologist’s diagnosis?
A. Yes, a practicing neurologist needs to confirm the diagnosis. Because neurologists specialize in disorder of the nervous system, including the brain, they are critical to explaining the mechanism that causes the aftereffects of a traumatic brain injury.
Q. Will going back to work injure my chances of a successful lawsuit?
A. If you are following the advice of your attending physician and your therapists, there is no reason that returning to work should damage your claim. In fact, returning to work can verify your claim. Carefully document any issues that you have at work that you didn’t have before. Fellow workers can verify the challenges your brain injury presents in the workplace.
Q. How soon after my brain injury occurs must I file a personal injury lawsuit before I lose the right to do so?
A. In Washington, you generally have 3 years in which to file your claim, but there are some exceptions, particularly for minors. Please contact a personal injury lawyer to determine precisely by when the statute of limitations shall run your claim so it does not become time barred. Once the statute of limitations shall run, your claim is time barred and you shall recover nothing.
Q. How much does it cost to speak with you about my situation?
A. We never charge for an initial consultation and for a review of the facts surrounding your case. Contact Rob directly or call 1 (800) 282-4878 to schedule a free consultation or case evaluation over the telephone, by e-mail or in person at a convenient location for you, either at our main office, a satellite meeting location, in your home or at the hospital.
Author: Rob Kornfeld