(…following is a continued discussion about proving damages in brain injury and stroke cases…)
Once a brain injury is suspected, it is important to gather information from the client, the client’s family, accident-related records (like an incident report or police report), and the client’s medical records. These sources offer important clues about the severity of the trauma, whether the individual lost consciousness, whether imaging shows evidence of brain injury, whether signs of brain injury (e.g., a Glasgow Coma Scale assessment) are documented in early medical records, and whether the client experienced a change in cognitive function. Family members can be particularly helpful in establishing changes in the client’s functional status. Often, individuals do not realize or may not want to admit that they have become more forgetful, less mentally astute, less able to concentrate or unable to complete tasks that require planning and execution.
Medical records are additional sources of evidence about a brain injury. Emergency personnel and primary care providers may not be experienced with diagnosing brain injuries. However, their records may reveal clues about the client’s cognitive function. Emergency personnel may report a loss of consciousness, grogginess, disorientation or inability to give a proper history. Primary care doctors, like a family physician or internist, may record the client’s self-reporting of loss of concentration. A generalist may even misinterpret changes in cognitive function as depression.
If a client who exhibits signs of brain injury has not been thoroughly evaluated by a skilled and experienced neuroscientist, it is imperative that such an assessment be conducted. There are a variety of medical experts who can perform such an evaluation: neurologists, neuropsychiatrists, neuropsychologists and physiatrists, for example. Once the nature and extent of the brain damage is determined, a skilled injury lawyer can then prepare an assessment of the damages.
“Damages” is a legal term that refers to the measure of compensation that can be had in a particular case. In Ohio, depending on the type of case, there may be caps on noneconomic damages, such as pain, suffering and emotional trauma. Thus, when there is a serious brain injury, a careful injury lawyer will try to capture all of the economic damages associated with disability caused by the injury. Here, we look at past and future loss of wages and benefits, lost earning capacity, past medical expenses, and future costs of care.
Often, we will hire rehabilitation experts to estimate an individual’s capacity to work and earn a living. We may also hire a “life care planner” to assess future costs of care. These costs of care may include the cost of skilled nursing care, assistants to help with everyday activities or adult sitters, depending on needs. Life care planners can also estimate the cost of needed accommodations, like transportation services or necessary home modifications.
Finally, we work with economists who assist in estimating future economic consequences of an injury for the injured person and their family. Economists are also used to calculate in current dollars the sum needed to pay for costs of care that may arise over the course of the injured party’s lifetime.
These expert evaluations are costly but necessary to prove damages on behalf of brain injury and stroke victims. In addition to expert testimony, it is important to show insurance companies (or, if the case cannot be settled, jurors) testimony from real people who can corroborate the experts’ findings. Thus, friends, neighbors and coworkers may be called upon to describe in layman’s terms how a brain injury has changed the client’s life.
As you can see, proving damages in these cases takes experience, dedication and significant resources. Most clients do not have the financial wherewithal to retain the expensive professionals needed to prove damages in a brain injury case. Mishkind Kulwicki Law takes pride in representing victims of brain injury and stroke. We have the experience and resources needed to obtain well-deserved compensation for clients suffering from these devastating injuries.