Identifying Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries
Imagine this: you seek legal help after being in a car accident, falling at work, or getting an injury where you hit your head. For these injuries, you have received treatment that has made the injuries less intense, but you still don’t feel normal. When asked what is wrong, you explain your symptoms of memory problems, small anger outbursts, lack of concentration, and more. People may have told you recently that you aren’t acting like yourself. The lawyer’s job now is to determine where or not you are suffering from a brain injury or concussion.
In the past, these types of injuries have been overlooked; however, with new techniques and tools to diagnose such issues, these illnesses or abnormalities can be more easily recognized and treated.
In any injury in which the brain may have direct or indirect contact with the skull, a traumatic brain injury must be determined. It is much easier for a severe brain injury to be detected rather than a mild one. However, most brain injuries that do occur on a day-to-day basis are mild traumatic brain injuries.
Minor traumatic brain injuries can be the result of many different incidents, including blows to the head, toxic substance exposure, or any accident in which the head was involved. One common cause of minor brain injury is known as ‘whiplash.’ Whiplash occurs when your head is snapped forward and back rapidly, causing the brain to collide with the skull.
Initial Interview With Your Lawyer
To be thorough in the initial interview with your lawyer, they must take the proper time and energy to assess every aspect of the situation. More often than not, you will not believe you have a brain injury and will in turn not associate your symptoms with such an injury. Because of this, it is essential to be detailed and precise in the initial interview.
At the initial interview, you might be given a questionnaire. You may be asked to record any possible physical or behavioral changes you have gone through since the accident. There may be questions about what you felt like before the accident and how you feel now. Your answers may help determine whether or not you are suffering from a brain injury.
The lawyer will review your answers and decide on the best way to move forward with your case. It may even be helpful for them to interview your close friends and family members to gather further information.
It is best if you fill out the questionnaire yourself to avoid any mix-ups in the responses. It is best to get the information from your perspective about how you are feeling without others’ input.
The Use of Medical Records
Medical records of any kind, whether they be from the first responder, the emergency room, or any other records, will be helpful to your case. However, to accurately assess these medical records, your lawyer must first know how these records are prepared.
For example, they must know terms such as the Glasgow Coma Scale and what the results of it mean for you. In this case, the GCS reported as being ‘normal’ has very little significance due to the limited evaluation. Any abnormal visual, motor or verbal responses may be a sign of trauma.
Another term to recognize in a medical record is known as ‘loss of consciousness.’ You may or may not realize that you suffered from a lack of consciousness. This term can mean various things and have different implications that must be considered. This term is an umbrella term for reactions such as being confused, in shock, dazed, and more. With this may come amnesia, or loss of memory of part or the entirety of the incident.
The commonly recognized symptoms of potential brain trauma include the possible impact to the head/brain, loss of consciousness in any form, and loss of memory occurring around the time of the accident or even later. These symptoms are crucial to the evaluation of your case and can be recognized if a thorough investigation into the accident and aftermath are studied.
Often in these cases, snippets of memories have been lost between the time that the accident occurred and now. Your lawyer may repeat questions to you over and over again to help you eventually remember something about the accident itself.
Medically Evaluating the Client
If your answers indicate you have indeed suffered some brain trauma, a proper medical evaluation must be done by a licensed medical provider. At the least, you must undergo a neurological or psychological assessment to ensure that everything is functioning correctly.
Usually, you will have to see your primary care provider first, depending on your medical insurance.
After the accident occurred, you may have gone to the emergency room. Typically, if a brain injury is suspected, you will have gone through a CT scan at the hospital that will show any signs of brain trauma. If brain trauma is present, white and gray matter will show up on the scan. To take this information further, an MRI will reveal how bad or severe the trauma is. Further medical evaluations can include tests and scans such as a PET scan, SPECT test, or DTI.
The results of these tests and exams will be communicated to your primary care physician who will then include it in your medical file for future reference. Your lawyer can get copies of these records so that they know where the brain injury is and how severe it may be. This, combined with your collection of data on symptoms, will create a clear image of the brain trauma and its extent.
A good lawyer will take all necessary steps in gathering information to serve as evidence of brain trauma or injury. This evidence will help them be better prepared at trial to prove that the trauma occurred as a result of the accident.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Other Effects
Though separate from the brain injury itself, post-traumatic stress disorder can be related to the event that caused the injury. The combination of brain injury and PTSD symptoms can further affect you and your ability to function normally. Aside from PTSD, you may also face symptoms relating to anxiety and depression.
These side effects can affect your cognitive, physical, and emotional abilities. However, do not be discouraged if the defense argues your depression is related to your symptoms and not to the accident. A good lawyer will have a medical professional explain how there is a probable connection between the side effects and the brain injury itself.
After the initial questionnaire and investigation, you may have to repeat the questionnaire process to ensure that your symptoms go away over time. Most mild brain injuries will go away within eighteen months to around two years. However, some never get resolved.
Around 15% of all brain injuries don’t go away. These injuries are known as ‘miserable minority’ injuries. Repeating the questionnaire may help determine if you are progressing towards recovery or experiencing a miserable minority injury.
It is necessary to get all the proper information out of you as soon as they can. As stated earlier, you may not remember certain aspects of the incident or aftermath, so timing and repetition are extremely helpful in encouraging you to remember.
As it happens often, your memories may become mixed with information from others. You may internalize what you hear or read and convince yourself that it is your memories of the incident. Because of this, it is crucial to ensure that you are giving correct information and that your lawyer is receiving accurate information.
In all cases of potential brain injuries or trauma, the keys to success are time, effort, and finances. It is crucial for you and your legal team to take your time to get all of the facts and records together. It is just as essential to have the financial backing to go through the necessary steps. You want to receive fair compensation for your suffering, so proper steps need to be taken to reach this point. The sooner the case is concrete, the faster the results will come.
If you or a love one need more information from a brain injury lawyer, please contact attorney Brad Nakase for no obligation free consultation: 619-550-1321.
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