Every year, almost 1.4 million people in the United States suffer a head injury or brain trauma, per statistics by the CDC. Head injuries can be caused by anything from car accidents to various sports events, and eve, a slip and fall. If you have been an accident caused by someone else and had a head injury, you could suffer a suffer a severe concussion or brain damage. You may be entitled to compensation under the laws of the state of Oregon.
Local Legal Help Immediately
If you believe another person has liability for your head injury and you want to file suit, the first thing to do is to talk to a skilled personal injury attorney who specializes in head injuries. Brain injury cases are complicated from a legal and medical standpoint. So you need to talk to an experienced legal counsel.
Understanding the Legal Basis of Your Head Injury Case
Most head injury and brain injury lawsuits are based upon the negligence legal theory. A negligence claim requires the plaintiff to prove that the defendant is legally responsible for the injuries. To succeed in a legal action based upon negligence, you must show each of the following:
In a head injury case, proving that a brain injury occurred and linking the conduct of the defendant can be challenging. Brain injuries are complicated and can be harder to detect than most injuries. So, collecting as much evidence as possible about the nature of your brain injury and how the accident and actions of the other party caused it will be helpful to prove your case.
Gathering Evidence About Your Head Injury
Your experienced head injury attorney will inquire about how your head and brain injury happened. He will probably ask you what you remember about the incident, how it happened, where you were and what you were doing. Plus, he will want to know what medical treatment you received. It is important to be very honest with your attorney and collect as much information as you can from accident reports, witnesses and newspaper articles.
Remember a brain injury can easily be misdiagnosed from the start and even missed in the emergency room. If that occurs, you also could be entitled to compensation.
How Do We Prove The Brain and Head Injuries? One way is through Possible Witnesses:
For many patients’ families, the fate of their loved one is almost worse than death. They are left with a very different, sometimes incompetent or even violent person.
There are usually three results from serious head injuries:
Regarding psychosocial changes, the person could become much more aggressive, which is one of the most difficult symptoms to handle for the family. There is evidence suggesting that aggression actually may not improve with time; it often gets worse as the patient gets older. One study determined that ‘bad temper’ was found in 48% of cases at least three months after the injury. It rose to 67% after one year. Mood swings also increased and were twice as frequent at 12 months as three months after the head injury.
Increased aggression from head injury is not the only problem. There could be other personality problems that are similar to psychiatric illnesses. Some patients may suffer from mood disorders and can have manic-type episodes. They may become schizoid, anxious or even psychotic. Patients who have pre-existing personality disorders will usually have worse outcomes from the head injury. This is similar to a PTSD patient who might have had a pre-existing mental health problem that was made worse by the trauma. A head trauma patient also could have a return of the earlier psychiatric illness. This could be the case even if it was in remission for years. It also may be accompanied by more impulse control problems. Depression also is common. Other common problems are self-hate, inappropriate sexual behavior, bulimia, and stealing.
Regarding impaired cognitive abilities, cognition should be thought of as a blend of various perceptions, thinking, and memory. This gives the person their own unique understanding of the world. The hardest cognitive task for all of us is relating to people well, thus divorce is common in people with brain injuries. As patients, they are difficult to manage; they are reactive to anger and unspoken tension. There could be major deficits in memory, as well.
There is controversy regarding how long the post-traumatic memory loss or amnesia could be. Some experts say it can take four times as long as it took the patient to speak. Others say that the period could be related to how long the coma was.
Regarding impaired physical abilities, there is a nearly endless list of physical abilities that can be damaged after a head injury. Expert medical advice is needed in physical medicine, neurology, and psychiatry to deal with the many physical problems of a patient with a serious brain injury.
The proper diagnosis and assessment of the long term impact of a head injury can be hard to determine in cases where the injury is not severe. Changes in personality may be quite subtle. A neurosurgeon or neuropsychologist may need to rely on the commentary by friends and family. In the case of a severe head injury, serious changes will be noted. Psychosocial changes could be harder to pin down and categorize.
Trauma to the brain in a personal injury case must be proved with expert testimony. Also, the results of the injury need to be proved with the testimony of experts. Normal types of proof involve neurological and neuropsychological testimony based upon the examination of the patient by the expert witness.
Before and after evidence from fellow workers, employers, family, and friends also can help to show the change in personality, loss of ability and related mental functions.
An attorney in such a case should use caution when trying to separate the mental aspects of trauma from emotional aspects. This can be very challenging, but it is key because emotional effects on the brain injured person can be life-changing. But this could have less impact on the jury than an understandable and identifiable explanation by a medical expert about an actual brain injury that has caused a change in personality. Also, the effects of the ‘new’ person on the family must be clearly described to the jury. The family can act as historian for the before and after view of the person, and also on how the patient interacts with family members.
The National Head Injury Foundation is based in Framingham, MA and keeps a list of states with head injury foundations, as well as keeps a bibliography of texts that can be helpful.
In a case where a patient has a severe head injury, the defense might not focus on physical impairment. They may focus more on the economic effects of head injury. But where the impairment is subtler, a strong defense can be expected. The argument could be that the injury will resolve in a few months. These injuries can resolve themselves over time. But it is more likely to be sympathy for a person with clear and obvious head injuries with clear deficits in memory, speech, intellectual function and cognition.
A blow to the head may not be needed to make a person disoriented or to produce loss of consciousness or similar loss of cognitive functions. For instance, if the head is whipped violently back and forth, the brain could suffer injuries by slamming inside the skull itself. Or, the liquid the brain sits in could rush back and forth across the organ, which can irritate the brain surface. It is key that the neuropsychologist talks about the physical placement of the brain in the skull so that the jury can understand the complex biomechanical aspects of the brain injury.
The family of the person who has been injured will undergo a high level of stress and changes as they face months and years of uncertainty. Living with a person with a traumatic head injury is highly stressful for the family. The loss of competence by the patient as well as the personality changes and loss of interpersonal skills puts high burdens on the family. It is not unusual for family members to require counseling to help them to deal with the injured person and also with their own reactions to the injury.
The cost of the injury and illness in severe head injury cases can be high. It poses additional problems for loved ones who may not have enough insurance and face long periods of time for there to be even a partial recovery. The costs must be addressed and analyzed by the lawyer evaluating the legal case.
If you have been injured as a result of the wrongdoing of another, you could be entitled to monetary compensation. Contact Herron Law 503-699-6496 24/7 today to set up a free consultation!