The Law, Lawyers and Traumatic Brain Injuries

By David K. Jaffe

Closed head injuries are those which generally occur when the head encounters blunt force trauma. A subdural hematoma or bruise, generally in the scalp or temple area, forms when blunt force is applied forcefully to the head, resulting in movement of the brain into the cranium and a resultant brain injury.

Generally, traumatic brain injuries are classified as mild, moderate or severe. On CT-Scan, with a severe traumatic brain injury, white lesions can be seen which form within the brain as the injury progresses. Negligently inflicted closed head injuries generally involve a concussion of some kind. The more serious ones may have short-term post-concussive effects, such as grogginess, dizziness, vomiting and severe headaches. Chronic post-concussive syndrome frequently develops, as well, which may require a comprehensive psychological and medical treatment plan.

Also associated with many traumatic injuries is the condition of post-traumatic stress disorder, which involves, primarily, the executive function of the brain and can manifest itself in the form of loss of short- term memory; difficulty concentrating and screening out diffuse environmental stimuli and other pronounced "cognitive deficits".

Over time, most or all of these symptoms may disappear, depending on the severity of the brain injury and the treatment plan developed to deal with these problems.

In the most serious cases, the victim of blunt force trauma may end up in a temporary or permanent vegetative state, depending on how massive the hemorrhaging in their brain was.

Local rehabilitation facilities, such as the Hospital for Special Care in New Britain and Gaylord Hospital in Wallingford, specialize in rehabilitation of patients with severe traumatic brain injuries.

Additionally, an association such as the Brain Injury Alliance of Connecticut or the Acquired Brain Injury Program of the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addictive Services, are available to provide resources to the victims of such brain injuries and their families, as well.

If you or a loved one or close friend, due to the negligence of another party, is injured from trauma to the head, due to a car collision, for example or a work place accident or use of a defective product or an assault, it is incumbent that you communicate immediately with an attorney who is experienced not only in personal injury or products liability law, but also with the effects of traumatic brain injuries on injured persons.

As a longtime member of the Connecticut Brain Injury Alliance and an attorney who has represented many brain injured clients, I have developed the experience to effectively investigate, develop and bring such cases. I have a team of experts available to evaluate and address the health and psycho-social needs of the brain injured client and to present their case through depositions and in court, if necessary.

In a serious traumatic brain injury case, it is imperative that the patient immediately visit a hospital, since strong medication and/or emergency surgery may be indicated to reduce brain pressure or otherwise treat the brain injury before it progresses further.

At the hospital, a neurologist will be called, if necessary, for diagnostic tests to determine the differential diagnosis and course of treatment. A neurosurgeon will also be available if any surgical procedures are necessary.

In many cases, as well, a neuropsychologist should eventually be seen to determine if the executive functioning of the brain is still intact and if not, what cognitive deficits the brain injured person may have so that a treatment plan may be established.

Additionally, of course, since traumatic brain injuries can result in frustrating symptoms and diminishment of one's prior cognitive abilities due to the adverse effects on their brain, a therapist such as psychiatrist or psychologist is often very helpful as well, to deal with the natural anxiety and depression resulting from such brain injury related difficulties. Furthermore, psychotropic medication may be beneficial. In such circumstances, a psychiatrist is required to prescribe medication.

Over the years, I have represented many clients who are victims suffering varying degrees of brain injuries as a result of severe automobile collisions or vicious assaults on them by citizens and police officers or when they were vulnerable or defenseless or falls from varying heights and injuries while riding motorcycles and bicycles or engaged in other activities.

Traumatic brain injuries can be extremely debilitating and frustrating to the victim and disheartening and discouraging for their family members and close friends. It is important to find an attorney to deal with these demoralizing types of injuries, when caused by the negligence of another party, with the proper experience, knowledge and resources to utilize the best medical and psychological professionals available. Additionally, the attorney should be familiar with the psyche of traumatic brain injury victims, who often require a type of gentleness, kindness, understanding and patience in dealing with them, due to their injuries, that attorneys may not possess if they are not familiar with how to interact with such brain injured persons and their family members.

Early on, in a serious traumatic brain injury case, there are many important steps which should be taken and which will be taken by an attorney experienced in the areas of personal injury and products liability as they relate to the suffering of traumatic brain injuries. In every one of my cases involving seriously brain injured persons, I utilize my many years of experience with such cases and clients and the vast resources available at my firm, to provide thoughtful, thorough and effective representation to such victims and their families in their time of need.