People who are injured in an accident may suffer injuries that, unfortunately, may also include a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). When someone is in a car accident, or a fall, they may suffer a TBI from a direct blow to the head, or suffer from a TBI without actually striking their head but rather from the trauma the brain suffers from moving back and forth inside the skull, as happens in a car accident. Although the head may not have come into contact with anything the sudden acceleration and deceleration can cause the brain to suffer an injury.
Most people that suffer serious injuries in an accident generally tend to focus on and deal with their physical injuries, whether a fracture or a painful neck or back, and tend to ignore and not recognize a head injury. They may ascribe the problems they are having, whether it is difficulty sleeping, headaches or problems with their memory, to their pain, age or their medication.
Brain injuries can occur due to falls on stairs, falling off of a scaffold or ladder or even slipping on ice or other slippery surface.
The brain can suffer from bruising, swelling or tearing, when the brain which is soft is thrown against the front and back of the skull which is hard. This is called coup and contrecoup injury. For example, in a car accident a person’s brain may go from 45 miles per hour to zero in an instant and the soft tissue of the brain is propelled against the very hard bone of the skull. The brain tissue is “squished" against the skull and blood vessels may tear and release blood into areas of the brain. As the skull is hard and does not expand there is no room for this extra blood so that the blood then begins to press on the brain tissue which is very delicate. With enough bleeding the brain may stop working.
You may suffer a head injury from a car accident and then seem fine right after the accident. But with any signs of a head injury, you must go to a hospital following a car accident as symptoms may be delayed.
The important signs and symptoms to be aware of in any accident where the head was struck or if it was propelled backwards and forwards possible causing a brain injury are: headaches: pain in temples, forehead or back of the head: memory problems: forgetfulness: difficulty finding the right words: fatigue and get tired easily: emotional changes: depression: changes in sleep habits: difficulty sleeping: acting impulsively: difficulty concentrating: and visual disturbances.
Many brain injuries are on a microscopic level so that the injury may not show up on typical medical tests or even on a CT scan or an MRI which create pictures of the brain.
A relatively new technology that is being used to identify and diagnose TBIs is called “Diffusion Tensor Imaging” or DTI. This neuroimaging technique is more sensitive than an MRI and can therefore detect damage to the brain that an MRI may miss. The DTI is sensitive to the water molecules and their movement in the brain as well as the nerve fibers. This DTI testing can be used to confirm the presence of brain damage and is generally acceptable as a diagnostic tool to be used in court the same way a CT scan or an MRI are used.
Jaroslawicz & Jaros has represented many victims of accidents and have often heard their clients deny a head injury, but they then respond to many of the questions that are being asked of them with “I do not remember”. It is only when asked specifically about the apparent difficulties they are having with their memory, and also when their family members are asked, if they have noticed any changes in the client’s memory, that we discover that this has been a problem since the accident, but it has not been acknowledged or dealt with.
Once a brain injury is suspected, aside from DTI scan, there is also something called neuropsychological testing, which is a test to measure how a person's brain is functioning. The neuropsychological test includes reading, language usage, attention, learning, processing speed, reasoning, remembering, problem-solving, mood and personality and more.
Neuropsychological testing is performed by a neuropsychologist, who is a psychologist with advanced training in how brain injuries can affect behavior. The neuropsychologist’s testing will locate areas of the brain that may have been damaged and assist in planning treatment strategies to improve thinking in damaged areas of the brain.
Other medical experts that help people deal with brain injuries are occupational therapists that can help with returning to work, and with everyday activities; a neuro-ophthalmologist has more advanced training in vision problems caused by a brain injury: a psychiatrist who is a physician who works with people who have emotional or behavioral problems who may prescribe medication or a psychologist who is not a physician and does not prescribe medications: a radiologist who is a physician who specializes in looking at X-rays, CT Scans or MRI’s.
Not all doctors treat brain injuries even if they are neurologists, psychiatrists, radiologists etc. With a head injury it is important not only to find the right medical specialty but even more important to find the right doctor in that specialty.
It is important for attorneys representing people who were injured in an accident to recover compensation for their injuries to be aware of, and recognize, the signs and symptoms of a TBI. It is important to recognize a TBI so that not only will it be treated but will also be included as an item of damages in the lawsuit.
Once a serious injury such as a TBI is recognized then the right qualified experts need to be hired to examine the client and, to then be in a position to testify at Trial if the case is not settled.
If you suffered a brain injury in a motor vehicle accident, a slip and fall, a fall from a ladder or on stairs, or suffered any head injury as a result of someone’s negligence and think you may have a case it is important for you to retain a law firm that has the experience in the field as well as the financial ability to retain the proper experts to both consult with and to testify on your behalf should your case proceed to trial.
With a brain injury in particular you may need many experts to explain your injury to a Court or jury, that may include, a neurologist, psychiatrist, radiologist, and neuropsychologist, to explain your injury, as well as an economist to compute your loss of earnings and future expenses, as well as a life care planner to figure out ad explain what help and treatment you will need for the rest of your life.
You should hire a law firm that has the experience as well as the financial resources to successfully handle your case so that they can hire the right experts to assist you. Unfortunately, qualified experts charge substantial sums to review your records, do an examination, issue a report and then be available to testify at trial.
As long ago as 1984 the firm of Jaroslawicz & Jaros represented a lady who struck her head when she was a passenger in a taxi and then developed Parkinson’s almost a year later. With the assistance of qualified experts, we were able to successfully prove to a jury that she was suffering from traumatic Parkinson’s and obtained a large verdict to compensate her. We believe that this was the first verdict in New York State to ever prove that Parkinson’s could be caused by the trauma suffered during a car accident.
Since then, we have handled many lawsuits involving brain injuries in car accidents, bicycle accidents, trips and falls, slips and falls, falls from ladders and scaffolds, falling ceilings in apartments and many other causes.