When it comes to the nuanced specialty of Personal Injury Law, most lawyers are prepared to try any and all of the orthopedic injuries that walk through the doors of their office. However, the same can be said for a brain injury case. Many lawyers, while experienced in the standard practice of Personal Injury Law, are not equipped to handle the complexities of a TBI-related claim. Why is that? In our brief one-minute-video we provided the Cliff’s Notes version of the answer to that question. Now, we’ll follow up with a more in-depth article that expands on what we already explained to our viewers.
Invisible vs. visible: a brain injury case is more than what meets the eye
Within the specialized practice of Personal Injury Law, attorneys are most frequently met with orthopedic injuries. What, exactly, is an orthopedic injury? These injuries happen after an accident and usually involve, the arms, legs, neck, back, or all four areas. These are injuries the attorney can see, so he or she is able to show them to a jury when making their case in court. The jury can see these often catastrophic injuries (amputations, paralysis, broken bones) and can deliberate on damages accordingly. This is not the case with brain injury claims. More often than not, a brain injury cannot be seen.
The victim may be able to speak normally, appear physically unharmed, and walk into the courtroom seemingly uninjured. For an unexperienced attorney, this can be the thing that destroys their case and sometimes, even their credibility! An experienced attorney, most like a board certified civil trial attorney, will know that experts in the field of neurology, psychology, and radiology all must present their findings. Their findings are what’s known as expert testimony. Expert testimony is defined as:
Expert testimony is the testimony made by a qualified person about a scientific, technical, or professional issue. An expert is often called upon to testify due to his/her familiarity with the subject or special training in the field.
Expert testimony can back a victim’s claim of pain and suffering, and help to further prove that they were injured by the negligence of another. It is exceptionally helpful in traumatic brain injury cases, due to the “invisible” nature of the injury itself. While an attorney can argue on behalf of their client, what the judge and jury want to see is proof; evidence that the damages to be awarded are warranted and that the victim has truly been seriously bodily injured irreparably.
Expert testimony and the TBI case: who has the victim’s back (or brain)!?
When it comes to brain injury, it’s important to have the right experts on board the legal team to better assist the attorney in doing all he or she can to obtain the maximum amount of compensation for the victim. After all, an experienced personal injury attorney knows that the client comes first: they’re injured, suffering, and may be out of work with medical bills piling up by the day. Aside from an LOP granted to the client by their attorney in order to obtain medical care during the lengthy legal process, what–or who–else should be on board the personal injury legal team?
- A radiologist: A radiologist has a medical degree in obtaining and reading diagnostic imaging. This could be anything from a simple X-Ray taken in the ER, to a more complex CT Scan or MRI taken while the victim was inpatient receiving treatment after an accident. Regardless of the imaging study performed, it’s the radiologist who reads the scans and reports their findings to the patient’s medical team.
- A neurologist: inarguably the most important medical professional on a victim’s care team after a brain injury. The neurologist should be considered the captain of the patient’s ship, making diagnoses and consulting directly with the patient’s retained legal counsel. A neurologist, as an expert witness in court, can prove the patient has suffered irreparable injury even though it cannot be visualized by the judge or jury. This doctor can speak to the nature of the patient’s processing, their symptoms (dizziness, blurred vision, and migraines), and how these things have altered their life for the worse.
- Mental health professionals: mental health professionals are any professionals in the field of psychology, psychiatry, and mental health therapy. These type of professionals can also include social workers and others who can speak to the nature of the victim’s cognitive impairments following a brain injury. In a brain injury case, it’s important not only to prove that the victim has suffered a medical trauma, but that their mental health and cognitive function (and their ability to process) were dramatically affected as well.
The attorney can’t do it alone!
The personal injury attorney is at the forefront of a victim’s lawsuit, but it doesn’t mean he or she is able to thoroughly prove their case in court without a confident, experienced team on board to assist them in obtaining the compensation their injured client deserves. Due to the nature of brain injury cases, it’s important for the personal injury attorney to work closely with the team of experts to fully establish the victim’s pain and suffering. An inexperienced attorney can lose a case by forgetting, or being unaware to begin with, that these “invisible” injuries are not cut and dry.
The insurance companies are hoping that victims will give up and forfeit their right to a lawsuit; that they’ll exceed the statute of limitations on their case and won’t attempt to obtain compensation for an injury that no one can see. That’s why it’s of utmost importance for an attorney to fight aggressively, passionately, and with due diligence for their client. No one whose suffered a brain injury due to an accident that wasn’t their fault should ever suffer in silence. They have rights, and they deserve to heal, and to be financially compensated for all they’ve lost.