Head Injury – Permanent Effects on the Brain

Closed head or traumatic brain injury (TBI) is an injury to the brain as a result of an accident or trauma. It may be focal (confined to a small area) or diffuse (affecting a large area of the brain). When an outside force impacts the head, a brain injury can occur, even with relatively minor force. Over the past 20 years, there has been extensive research done, and sadly, we have learned that the brain is more vulnerable to injury than previously thought. Even without losing consciousness, a person can still suffer a TBI. Fortunately, there have also been remarkable advances made in testing technologies, including more sensitive MRIs and CT Scans, as well as treatment options. Nevertheless, injury victims who suffer serious brain trauma seldom fully recover and are often left with permanent injuries that will change their lives forever. And, even if they do recover, there are months, if not years, of painful and difficult rehabilitation. The medical treatment and bills are tremendous. And the toll on the entire family can be formidable.

Early Diagnostic Testing

Although juries are sympathetic towards a proven brain injury, insurance companies are much more skeptical and fight these cases aggressively. The objective is to get the best medical care and determine objective proof of a TBI. With advances in technology, there are more definitive tests, including MRI/DTI (diffusion tensor imaging) that shows damage to the “white matter” of the brain. The “white matter” is located in the interior of the brain and connects different parts or lobes of the brain. Another specialized test is the MRI/SWI (susceptibility weighted imaging) that shows “micro hemorrhages” in the brain. After a high-speed collision, there could be hundreds of these tiny micro bleeds that will not be visible through a standard MRI or CT Scan. As you can see, it is imperative that you get expert diagnostic care in the critical hours after injury.

Specialized Neuropsychological Testing

In closed head / brain injury cases, you can encounter the full range of effects. Some insults are obvious such as a penetrating wound to the head. Many brain injuries, however, are more subtle and can only be fully diagnosed through specialized testing. Family members and spouses may notice mood shifts, personality changes, and memory loss issues, short-term and/or long-term. The person injured may become very frustrated because they are not able to focus or complete relatively simple tasks. Other common symptoms include sleep disturbances, headaches, dizziness, as well as others. Each case is unique and may have unique factors. Standard MRI or CT scans may not reveal such injury and are reported to be “normal” or “negative.” This is where experience really matters. Neuropsychological testing is key in determining which areas of the brain and what functions have been affected. Then, for purposes of jury trials, the deposition of the treating neurologist is critical to explain how these effects will be permanent and potentially debilitating.

Early Intervention by Adjusters

Because any closed head injury is potentially very serious and expensive, insurance companies move very quickly in an attempt to minimize or even negate any claim for brain injury. Even while you are still recovering from your accident, adjusters will want to take a “recorded statement.” They will tell you that they only want to “get the facts.”  Because no one wants to admit they may have a brain injury, it is common for people to claim that they are “fine” or “I’ll be ok.” Just remember that any statements you make now can be used against you later. The best approach is to decline any request for a statement until you have had a chance to heal first. Then, only speak to an insurance investigator or adjuster with your lawyer present. An experienced attorney can protect you from misstatements or questions designed to minimize your claim.

Closed head / brain injury cases often arise from:

Fatal automobile accidents

Bicycle and pedestrian accidents

Large truck accidents

Motorcycle accidents

Bus accidents

Nursing home abuse or neglect

On the job injury (workers’ compensation)

Birth Injury

The personal injury trial attorneys of Reeves Aiken Hightower & Burns LLC are experienced brain injury litigators. They appreciate the complexities involved and understand both the legal as well as the medical aspects. As a former ICU Registered Nurse (RN), attorney Robert J. Reeves has personally treated critically injured patients and helped their families get through the ordeal of having a loved one seriously hurt. We welcome an opportunity to sit down and personally discuss your case. Contact us today for a private consultation.