Traumatic brain injury is a common result of a serious accident. A brain injury if also very often missed by busy hospital staff who do not take the time to do a deep dive into a patient’s symptoms. It is also frequently missed by attorneys who handle a large volume of cases using a template format, for example in car crashes.
What are the signs and symptoms we have to look at in order to determine if an individual is at a greater risk of brain damage after an accident? The cause of brain injury could be a motor vehicle crash, a fall, assault, sports injury, work accident, or something else.
For an attorney, it is crucial to spend time with the new client and to interview family and friends.
Questions to Ask
A TBI attorney must ask the questions which will help identify if a brain injury was sustained.
How severe was the impact?
Did the airbags deploy? An airbag is an explosion within the car that happens at over 200 miles per hour and can lead to a TBI by itself.
Did your head hit anything inside the car?
Was there any impact to the side of your head?
Did your head rotate or snap back and forth?
Are there gaps or holes in your memory of the accident?
Ask open-ended questions and be patient in allowing your client to tell his or her story. How have you changed after the accident?
Has their sense of taste changed? Sense of smell?
Observe your client
Are the eyes making repetitive uncontrolled movements? (Nystagmus) These movements could be form side to side, up and down, or in a circle. This can affect balance and depth perception.
See if your client has issues with both eyes working together when looking at nearby objects. Does one eye turn outward instead of staying in sync with the other eye? This condition is known medically as convergence insufficiency leads to double vision or blurred vision. It can make routine tasks like working at a computer, reading or watching television extremely difficult. The result could often be headaches or stomach upset.
Another big-ticket item is balance. How does the person walk? Is there a lack of balance, a very wide gait, staggering, or instability while moving? An example: https://makeagif.com/i/HZ7nR5
When interviewing friends and family members, it is important to do so away from the client. Some patients with severe brain injury will omit symptoms when talking to their lawyer or doctor. No one wants to admit they have brain damage. It is also frightening to risk losing your job. Many people downplay symptoms thinking they are temporary and will go away but in reality damage to axons in the brain gets worse and continues to deteriorate hours and even days after being released from an emergency room.
Ask your client to keep a daily journal or diary where the injured person and family write down symptoms and changes. How do they feel each day? What are they experiencing? This is very helpful to have the client and family do for 2-3 months after the accident.
Similarly, have your client log his or her sleep including the number of hours each night. If possible use a sleep app or tracker from Apple, Garmin, or similar device.
Interview Family Members & close friends regarding
Changes in personality. Has the individual become more aggressive? more passive or lethargic? more depressed ? have anxiety or worry levels increased?
Has your client had greater difficulty making decisions?
Getting confused easily? especially if there is a noise nearby or other distractions such as people talking?
Memory Problems? What kind? Describe
Has your client become overly or hyper-sensitive to noise?
Hypersensitive to light?
Difficulty tasting foods ? or getting a bad taste or smell?
Difficulty finding the right word to use?
Drifting off into space and losing focus or attention
After the first interview when the intake is complete, an experienced and effective brain injury lawyer has to stay on top of the case and keep up interaction with the client and circle of family and friends. And in doing so, there are certain areas of focus that a lawyer needs to concentrate on together with medical specialists. These include:
Did the client have sleep issues before the trauma?
Does the client have any of these after the injury?
Trouble falling asleep
Sleeping fewer hours after the injury
Difficulty staying asleep
Awake due to dreams or nightmares
Required to use a sleeping pill only after an injury
Not feeling rested even if you sleep longer
Not feeling rested and refreshed when waking up
Difficulty staying awake
Did you have chronic headaches or migraines before your injury?
Describe History & Treatment
Obtain specific symptoms/ feelings from headaches – throbbing, pressure, what area of the head hurts, where do they start in the head, does the pain travel or remain in one spot, etc. Get specifics and details
Rate headache on pain scale 1-10
Do any of the following triggers a headache?
a) Reading for 15 minutes or more?
b) Using a computer, cell phone, tablet, television?
Do you get any of these feelings or pains during a headache?
b) Sensitivity to light
d) Sensitivity of sound
Was your balance different before the injury?
Do you experience any of the following after the injury?
c) Falling because of poor balance
d) Needing to use handrails on stairs when you did NOT need to do this before the injury
e) Feel more stable when holding onto a grocery cart in the supermarket ?
f) Required to use a walker
g) Do you hit your sides when walking through doorways
After the injury, do you experience the following?
a) Misplacing items while you use them
b) Misplace items you use daily
c) Feel more forgetful and absentminded
d) Forget to pay the bills?
e) Difficulty remembering important events like birthdays
f) Forget to keep scheduled appointments
g) Feel panicked if you do not recognize our surroundings or environment
h) Forget to do tasks assigned to you
i) Experience episodes of amnesia where your recall has holes (swiss cheese memory)
j) Experience times when you cannot recall your own actions or what you did earlier that day
k) More dependent on reminders or memory strategies
PLANNING, ORGANIZATION, EXECUTIVE FUNCTION
Do you have difficulty with the following?
a) Being on time for appointments
b) Walking into a room and forgetting why you are there or what you were doing
c) Planning your day
d) Budget money to cover expenses
e) Being in touch with the needs of others and recognizing their needs/ feelings
f) Making decisions without considering all factors
g) Getting stuck doing a task while another task is much more important
h) Lack of motivation
EMOTIONS: MOOD / DEPRESSION
Do you feel like you can have fun?
Frequent crying episodes?
Crying triggered by stress? If yes, do you feel relief after?
Any changes in appetite ? if yes, please explain _______
Have you had a change in your weight? if so, How much and how often?
Do you feel optimistic about the future?
Have there been changes in your libido? if yes, please explain _____
Do you feel your mood is no different than usual?
Did you have symptoms of anxiety or received medical care for anxiety before your injury? if yes, please provide the diagnosis and medications:_________________________
Do you currently experience periods of anxiety?
Do you feel anxious during the following?
a) If you do not recognize your surroundings
b) When there is sudden movement around you
c) With loud or sudden noises
d) In crowds
e) While in stores or other familiar community areas?
f) While driving?
g) With unfamiliar people?
Do you find yourself more aware of your surroundings?
Do you worry about making the right decision?
Do you often feel restless?
Do you worry something bad is going to happen?
Do you get nervous when things do not go as planned?
Do you often worry or obsess about things that don’t really matter?
Do you obsess about death?
Do you find it hard to shut off your mind at bedtime because you are worrying?
Do you find it hard to get out of bed and start the day in the morning? Does this thought stress you?
TALK TO A BROOKLYN TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY ATTORNEY TODAY
Traumatic brain injury cases can very complex and may even require the help of medical professionals and life economists. Hiring a Brooklyn traumatic brain injury lawyer to represent you or a family member to seek compensation for your injuries and losses may increase your chances of success.
TBI attorneys could help you recover a monetary award that fairly compensates your injuries by building a strong personal injury case. They could do so by negotiating a fair settlement offer from the defendant’s counsel or by presenting the case before a jury.