Jeffrey F. Brooke
The recent settlement of the NFL Players Union with the National Football League Owner’s over head injuries has cast a new spotlight on closed head injuries. What are they and what significance do they have in personal injury cases?
Closed head injuries are also sometimes called “traumatic brain injuries” (“TBI”). As the name suggests, the brain may be subjected to dangerous trauma in many kinds of incidents. Frequently the trauma is thought to be “minor,” if there is no fracture of the skull or other serious sign of injury.
Doctors now understand that even mild or moderate impacts to the brain can have serious long-term consequences. For this reason our office is screening all new personal injury clients to see if there might have been a traumatic brain injury. The reason is simple: even where injury victims say they are okay, serious damage to the brain may have been done. This is because the brain is a rather fragile organ which rests inside of a hard structure (the skull). The forces of rapid acceleration or deceleration (not to mention a direct blow to the head) can cause the brain to push up against the inside of the skull. We now know that this can cause injury to the brain cells which may never heal. For this reason, we are screening our clients and asking the following kinds of questions. If you have been in an accident you may want to ask yourself or your loved ones similar questions:
1. Was there a direct blow to the head?
2. Even if there was no direct blow to the head were there other signs of significant trauma in the accident (such as significant property damage to the vehicle, something broken inside the passenger compartment, etc.)?
3. After the accident was there temporary amnesia or confusion about what had just occurred?
4. Did the injury victim suffer any type of cognitive problems such as forgetfulness, disorientation, dizziness, etc.?
5. Did the victim suffer other symptoms such as double vision, headaches, falls, depression, etc.?
Since the symptoms are so unusual and may not be in one part of the body, head injury victims frequently discount their problem or fail to make the connection to their accident. This can be a big problem for a number of reasons. First, there are treatments for head injuries, but they are best if begun immediately. Of course, if a person fails to obtain a diagnosis, treatment cannot begin. Starting treatment well after the accident can cause the prognosis to be very poor. Second, an attorney representing any injury victim will want to see documentation of the problem early on in the case. Even if a diagnosis comes late in the case for innocent reasons (for example, the injured person forgot to report the symptoms), insurance companies will frequently claim that the injury is not related to the accident.
If you feel like an accident may have caused some of the symptoms discussed above or that there is any chance of a closed head injury or traumatic brain injury, you should seek the immediate assistance of a competent healthcare provider and personal injury attorney. Our office can help point you in the right direction and make sure that all of your interests are properly protected.