While there are pesonal injury cases where head or brain injury is diagnosed immediately, the more common scenario involves diagnosis through specialists well after the injury occurs. Some of the common questions are answered below.
What is a traumatic head/brain injury?
A traumatic brain/head injury is an injury to the brain caused by an outside force, which results in an impairment of a person’s physical, cognitive or emotional functioning. Traumatic brain injuries range from mild to severe, and the resulting effects and impairments may be temporary or permanent. Traumatic brain damage (also sometimes called “closed head injuries”) may be due to sudden energy forces applied to the brain and skull or by any event which cause a disruption in the supply of oxygen or blood to the brain. Traumatic brain injuries may result from vehicle collisions, falls, blows to the head, exposure to toxins, or medical negligence. Sometimes a brain injury is not diagnosed for weeks or months after an injury, as it requires diagnosis by a trained, skilled medical doctor. The signs and symptoms are very often not obvious.
What If The Injury Victim Never Was Knocked Uncounscious?
The absence of any significant or identifiable period of loss consciousness does not always mean that an injured person has not suffered a permanent brain injury. Likewise, permanent brain injury can even occur without a person having hit his or her head. While sometimes not as immediately dangerous as injuries involving coma, hematoma or surgery, these hard to detect brain injuries can be life altering, and in some cases as permanently disabling as many coma injuries.
PROVING BRAIN INJURY IN COURT
Sometimes, special testing can conclusively show brain injury (MRI for example) but other times it can not. There are now various advanced imaging techniques that can highlight brain injury. One of the attorneys with my law firm was involved in a jury trial in Manassas, Virginia on behalf of an injured gas station worker who suffered a “mild” traumatic brain injury when the walls of the gas station crashed in on him as the result of a derailed Norfolk Southern train. In 2000 the jury returned the (at that time) largest verdict in Virginia history for any personal injury victim. The victim suffered a brain injury that was sufficiently proved in court, but the victim did not have clearly identifiable damage visible on MRI. However, his doctor diagnosed the brain injury through all kinds of testing and differential medical diagnosis. Also, the diagnosis of brain injury did not occur in the emergency room but much later.