When it comes to personal injuries, it’s often true that the more visible the injury, the higher the chances are of your lawsuit being successful. People with paralyzing spinal damage, amputees, and severe burns surely can’t be making up their injuries. But what about when the damage is internal, like with concussions and traumatic brain injuries? That’s where science comes in to help your legal case.
Internal damage caused by personal injury accidents are harder to prove. You need a knowledgeable attorney like Hershey Law, top-notch medical care from reputable providers, and someone to explain to the jury the medical aspects of your situation in both scientific and layman’s terms that anyone could understand.
When you combine science and law together with your injuries, you get a powerful case.
The Science Behind Concussions and Traumatic Brain Injuries
Technology has come a long way in understanding how the brain works. But there is still so much we don’t know about this incredible organ. We do know that when your brain is injured, even mildly, it can have significant consequences to your normal life and your activities of daily living.
Researchers are continually studying the links between concussions and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), for example, is a degenerative disease that is often found in individuals who have a history of repetitive trauma to the brain, such as athletes. It has been all over the news recently now that research has shown the progressive nature of this condition and how rampant it really is.
TBIs are responsible for almost one-third of deaths from injuries in the United States. Those who survive a brain injury usually end up with permanent residual symptoms that affect their cognitive abilities. They struggle with retaining basic information, short and/or long-term memory loss, basic movements, sensation loss, and emotional instability. It’s not uncommon for loved ones of those with TBIs to express concern that the victim’s personality just is not the same as it was before the injury.
Yet none of these, aside from difficulty with movement, are visible symptoms. That’s where the science and medical reports come into play with your case.
When the brain is injured, it changes the biochemistry of the entire body. This adjustment results in mood and personality differences. Consistent small injuries, like minor impacts to the brain in sports, or significant trauma to the head from an accident cause a biochemistry shift as well as injury to parts of the brain itself.
When it comes to diagnosing concussions, though, the biggest problem is that they are hard to detect. You can’t see the brain injury and, unless you go to the hospital and have in-depth imaging studies done, you may not know there is any damage. Sometimes you may see the signs of a concussion, such as:
- Enlarged or unequally dilated pupils,
- Nausea and vomiting,
- Blurred vision,
- Slurred speech,
- Excessive fatigue,
- Memory problems, and
- Unusual behavior patterns.
But these are not completely accurate and may not occur in all instances of concussions. So when a person who does have a concussion doesn’t display any of these signs upon examination, they move on with their lives as though they are fine, not knowing that long-term or permanent damage is taking place on the inside.
Luckily, there is a new blood test that has been FDA approved for detecting concussions. This test, the Banyan Brain Trauma Indicator, works by measuring the protein levels in the body. Proteins are released from the brain into the bloodstream, and, after a head injury, medical personnel may be able to diagnose a concussion if there are high protein levels in the blood.
This blood test is thought to detect the presence of intracranial lesions without the need for exposure to radiation through CT scans, previously the only way to diagnose a concussion accurately. But the test should be administered within 12 hours of the head injury.
If it is used widely, the blood test could reduce the need for CT scans, exposure to radiation unnecessarily, and high hospital bills, as well as incorrectly diagnosed concussions and traumatic brain injuries. With a fast and accurate diagnosis, a person could quickly begin to receive treatment for their injury and reduce the long-term damage.
This blood test can also help your lawsuit as it provides definitive medical evidence that you suffered a trauma to your brain after your accident. Combined with the proper course of treatment after your hospital visit and a knowledgeable lawyer to put all of the pieces together, you have a strong case to present.
Doing Your Part – Follow Up with Medical Care
Visiting a hospital and getting a diagnosis of a concussion or other TBI is the first step of many you’ll need to take. Of course, you want to get your initial care, but you also need to follow up with treatment. In California, many concussion patients stop seeking treatment after that first diagnosis, thinking their head injury is minor. But without quick treatment, those minor injuries may not heal and can turn into long-term problems.
Medical experts consider the first three months after a TBI to be the critical recovery period. If you haven’t seen a doctor during this time and you have a brain injury, the impact could be long-term or permanent. That lack of care can also affect your lawsuit, since the defense and insurance companies could claim that you weren’t injured enough to seek treatment.
Whether you notice any symptoms and correlate them to your head injury or not, you should always follow up with your medical doctor. Physicians are trained to notice signs that you might not see and can determine if they are due to the concussion or not.
Your doctor can also help you reduce the severity of your head injury by teaching you how to predict triggers that could worsen your symptoms and take care of your health as your brain heals. Some common suggestions include:
- Finding and avoiding triggers such as loud noises, bright lights, strong odors, etc.
- Avoiding overstimulating the brain through reading, watching television, studying, playing on your phone for too long, or engaging in other stimulating behavior.
- Getting plenty of rest while your brain is healing. Sleep is the only way your brain is given the quiet time necessary for it to recover.
- Avoiding stimulation to the body that would increase your heart rate.
It’s also recommended that those with concussions not drive until they are cleared to do so by their doctor, since it’s possible to lose consciousness or go into a seizure unexpectedly. Be sure to continue to follow up with your doctor, listen to their suggestions for treatment, and be honest with them about any worsening or unusual symptoms or behaviors you notice.
Let the Legal Side Take It from There
As you continue to do your part in recovering as best as you can, your attorney should be by your side taking care of everything from dealing with the insurance companies to investigating and planning your strategy for your case.
To you, your situation might be clear-cut, but your attorney will know all of the tricks that the defendant will be using to get out of their liability. You have to have proof that your medical doctor correlates your symptoms to the accident and that the accident was caused by the defendant’s negligence. This is standard procedure for every personal injury.
Once your physician submits medical records as evidence that state that your injuries are likely due to the accident in question, your attorney can cite negligence. But it’s not as simple as that. Your case must be connected together to prove:
- The accident was caused by neglect on the part of the defendant,
- That the defendant owed you a duty of care to avoid acting in such a way that would cause you harm, and
- That the lack of performance of their duty of care resulted in the injury that you are claiming resulted from the accident.
Once your attorney proves these factors, you may be able to receive compensation for the trauma you sustained. The amount of compensation will depend on the severity of your injuries, making it crucial for your medical records to show the ongoing nature of your symptoms. Your level of memory loss, any cognitive impairment, and emotional or behavioral changes will all play a part in your final damages.
Head injuries are more difficult to prove, but once they are determined, you will be able to receive compensation for your economic and non-economic losses. Economic losses include any out-of-pocket expenses for medical care, lost wages, and loss of future earning capacities due to your injury. Since TBIs can result in permanent damage to the brain, this could be a lifetime loss.
Non-economic, or general, damages are given to quantify a loss that can’t be replaced. This category contains things such as physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, mental anguish, loss of companionship, humiliation, and loss of consortium.
None of these damages can be fixed with money, but the compensation is awarded to potentially help alleviate some of the stress that comes with your losses. When you are ready to move forward with your case and file a lawsuit against the party that caused your accident, contact Hershey Law for your free consultation.