Every year, 2.4 million Americans sustain a brain injury, according to The Brain Injury Association of America. In order to increase public knowledge on the subject, March has been declared Brain Injury Awareness Month.
An article from ABC reports that car accidents are the second leading cause of traumatic brain injury, only behind accidental falls. Many car accidents that cause traumatic brain injury lead to lengthy court battles, but proving a defendant’s negligence and the fact that the injury was caused directly by the accident can be tricky.
Connecting the Dots Between Negligence, Accidents, and Traumatic Brain Injury
Oftentimes, the ramifications of accidents like severe car crashes are not instantly apparent. This is particularly true in cases involving traumatic brain injuries, which can cause irreparable damage, but is also applicable to situations involving slight brain damage.
Gathering Evidence That Proves Traumatic Brain Damage
Courts require proof of neurological damage. According to the CDC, Medical professionals typically demonstrate the location and severity of traumatic brain injuries through radiographic procedures such as:
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- CAT scans, or computed axial tomography
Other Forms of Evidence that Can be Helpful in Court
Aside from radiographic test results, doctors and specialists can complete psychometric evaluations to determine how the patient’s abilities and traits have changed since the incident. They might then be able to correlate the changes to specific areas of neurological damage.
Also, written records establishing any post-traumatic amnesia or loss of consciousness may be invaluable when attempting to substantiate severe brain wounds.
All of these pieces—radiographic evidence, medical records, and psychometric evaluations—can create a comprehensive profile of severe brain injury, especially when combined with follow-up tests completed months or even one year after the patient’s accident. Lawyers can then use this strong profile of traumatic brain injury to argue that the person whose negligence caused the victim’s accident should be held responsible for the victim’s injuries and associated medical bills.
Demonstrating Slight Brain Damage May be More Difficult
Even with proper preparation and evidence, proving the cause of mild brain damage is still far from simple. As Kim Patrick Hart explains in Deposing and Examining Doctors, “Putting the puzzle together in mild brain damage cases, especially involving the elderly, is extremely difficult. Here you begin by looking for signs of loss of consciousness or short-term amnesia. Normally you will not have the benefit of a CAT scan or an MRI of the brain. You will rely heavily on the testimony of family members and friends who are in a position to describe how your client is different since the accident. No matter how well you put the pieces together, there will always be substantial risk that the jury will not believe that the auto crash caused any brain injury. This is especially true with the elderly where you will always face the built-in prejudice that older people have memory problems.”
Additional Tools to Help Gather Useful Information From a Doctor’s Deposition
Some defense doctors try to intimidate you during their depositions. They pretend they don’t understand what you are asking, state that you have misused medical terms, and suggest that you don’t have an accurate grasp of human anatomy.
To be effective, you must know the underlying medicine and have a game plan. Kim Hart’s Deposing and Examining Doctors gives you both. This valuable book offers hundreds of pattern questions, dozens of outlines, over 100 practice tips, 8 specialist-written medical chapters, and 79 four-color medical illustrations suitable for enlargement.
Each chapter is designed to stand alone so that it can be reviewed quickly in case you need a refresher before taking a doctor’s deposition. Even better, review the relevant deposition, trial, and medical chapters when you first accept a case so you understand how to best handle the medical evidence.