As a Cleveland, Ohio brain injury lawyer, I have extensive experience in representing victims of traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by a variety of negligent acts, including workplace falls, falling objects, electrocution, explosion, defective products and related negligent conduct. We have investigated and litigated many such cases. TBI cases present a number of challenges that are not present in other personal injury lawsuits.
Traumatic brain injuries range from severe to mild. But even so-called “mild” TBIs can have devastating consequences for a personal injury victim. Unfortunately, mild TBIs can be missed early in a medical evaluation by emergency personnel who are more focused on obvious injuries, such as fractures and bleeding. The job of emergency medicine personnel is to stabilize the patient and triage them to other specialists within the hospital or on an out-patient basis. Medical studies show that TBI is frequently overlooked during this process. Indeed, there is no universally accepted test for TBI in the emergency setting. Emergency room records might document a concussion or post-concussion syndrome, or that there is evidence of a head wound or bruise, headache, retrograde amnesia, black out, loss of consciousness, or fogginess or agitation. Sometimes, the records are silent altogether.
I have suspected TBI in previously undiagnosed clients after a detailed interview of a new accident victim and their family. This comes after 30+ years of experience, ongoing review of medical literature, as well as a Top 25 member of the Brain Injury Trial Lawyers Association (BITLA). On those occasions, we referred my new client to skilled professionals who went on to make the actual diagnosis. This is not unusual in our practice. We work with neurosurgeons, neurologists, rehabilitation physicians, neuropsychiatrists and neuropsychologists when a diagnosis of brain damage caused by an injury or accident is at issue.
As a Cleveland, Ohio brain injury lawyer representing victims of brain injury, we face many other challenges. Family members coping with behavioral and cognitive changes caused by organic brain damage require emotional support and counseling. Often, family, friends and business associates must be interviewed to establish a complete picture of the injured party’s pre-injury and post-injury condition. While some medical testing can show objective evidence of brain injury, the injury is often evasive and objectively provable only on autopsy. As we learned from studies involving military combatants and professional athletes, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) does not always show up on imaging studies such as MRI. That does not rule-out the diagnosis.
Another challenge is that lazy, unskilled or general practitioners often misdiagnose organic brain damage as psychological disorders such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression. These psychological disorders often mimic the symptoms of traumatic brain damage. Defense attorneys seize on these inaccurate diagnoses and argue that the permanently damaged person merely has a temporary psychological disorder which can be treated through therapy and medications. Make no mistake, TBI is a permanent condition.
As a Cleveland, Ohio brain injury lawyer, I am particularly sensitive to the economic costs associated with TBI. We frequently encounter injury victims who have returned to work while trying to cope with mental deficits in social interaction, intellect, executive decision making, memory and concentration. These individuals are prone to unemployment, diminished work life expectancy and reduced earning potential. We often consult with vocational rehabilitation experts to determine the economic impact of brain injury on our clients’ earning potential. We use trained economists to assign a dollar amount to these losses.
In addition to loss of wages, benefits and earning potential, TBI victims often require ongoing evaluation and rehabilitation. In severe cases, TBI victims can require total care. These economic costs are captured through an evaluation by a certified life care planner who will assess the individual’s deficits and determine the medical and living expenses associated with this disability.
As a brain injury lawyer located in Cleveland, Ohio, Mishkind Kulwicki law firm provides legal services to clients throughout the State of Ohio who face the challenge of these complex and challenging lawsuits. If you have questions about traumatic brain damage caused by the negligence of another or due to defective products, please contact us. We can help.