Proving Damages When an Injury is Not Externally Visible

Proving Damages When an Injury is Not Externally Visible

I’m Ed Smith, a traumatic brain injury lawyer in San Francisco. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) cases are considered among the more complex personal injury cases for a variety of reasons. To begin with, brain injuries are often internal, and may not show any significant external skull wound or laceration, or even a hairline fracture in the diagnostic imaging results.

Does Not Have to be Seen

Many victims and their family members assume that if the person looks, talks, and walks normally, they haven’t really been injured. But just because the head injury is not visible externally, it doesn’t necessarily mean there is no injury.

With advanced medical diagnostic techniques and close monitoring of symptoms, it is possible to identify and establish a traumatic brain injury promptly. The potential long-term medical consequences of a traumatic brain injury make the non-economic damages as well as the future medical care costs highly significant in a TBI settlement or verdict.

Building a Case

All the future economic damage presentations depend on the medical management of the TBI case. If the injury is physically apparent – like an injured spine or a broken arm – the victim will receive treatment for that injury, and the results will help a life-care planner or a doctor to determine whether future treatment is required.

Generally, the patient is required to undergo treatment and rehabilitation over many years. In most traumatic brain injury cases, a good life-care plan includes:

  • Case management
  • Neurocognitive rehabilitation
  • Medication
  • Psychotherapy
  • Counseling
  • Schedule of daily living assistant
  • Follow-up by neurologist, neuropsychologist, and other medical professionals

Watch YouTube Video: You Look Fine – The Real-Life Struggle of an Invisible Injury – TBI Awareness. Cristabelle Braden, the founder of Hope After Head Injury, discusses the struggles of an invisible traumatic brain injury.

Getting to Know Our Clients

It is essential to spend some time – maybe a couple of days – with our clients and their family; it will tell me about them and all the struggles they are facing post-injury. Having periodic meals with them and meeting with their friends, family, and coworkers is a poignant way to get ideas for the trial.

Getting the Right Experts

Every attorney agrees that the quality of experts greatly affects invisible injury cases. In these types of cases, mine and my client’s credibility is everything; it can make or break the case. That’s why it’s integral to get experts that appear credible and not manipulating or exaggerating.

Every TBI case usually involves 4-5 experts – a neurologist, a neuropsychologist, a psychiatrist, a rehabilitation expert, and a neuro-radiologist. I want to make sure that all of our experts understand how important continuity of care is for our clients. Their opinions should never contradict each other.

Discussing the Client’s Life-care Plan 

In invisible injury cases, a life-care plan is inarguably one of the most significant exhibits I’ll bring up at the trial. And in most cases, it is one exhibit that I’ll have a tough time admitting in court. There is a big reason why most defense counsels vehemently object to keep it out. However, it is extremely important to have a life-care planner go over all the categories of care, and explain:

  • Why it is so necessary, and
  • Whose opinion it is based on

This direct examination can be quite tedious but do not underestimate its importance in the case. This is the only way for a life-care expert to gain credibility as to what medical treatment will be required in the future.

Covering the Non-economic Damages

Converting the realities of living with a traumatic brain injury into an actual number is not an easy feat. While discussing a category (as mentioned in the previous point), I will talk about the real-life implications of the damage suffered by my clients. For example, when I discuss the loss of enjoyment of life, I describe the depression our clients are going through and how it is keeping them from feeling happy or content. Also, I want to talk about how my clients are now suffering from frequent headaches and loss of effectiveness in movement due to the prescribed anti-depressants. If my clients had an active social life before, I’d tell the jury how they had stopped going outside since they just want to lie on the couch now. For each category of these damages, I allocate past and future monetary value. On top of this, I will change the future non-economic request to a dollar-per-hour value if my client is young.

Final Thoughts

There is no formula, no “one-size-fits-all” approach when it comes to proving injury in a TBI or invisible-injury case. But the factors mentioned above go a long way in maximizing my chances of getting justice and fair compensation for my clients. By getting to know my clients, getting involved in their life-care plan, bringing in the right experts, and maintaining my credibility and integrity throughout the trial, I can improve my odds significantly.

San Francisco Traumatic Brain Injury Lawyers

I’m Ed Smith, a San Francisco brain injury attorney. If you or a loved has suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) due to another’s fault, you’ll need the best possible legal representation. Call me today for free, friendly advice at (415) 805-7284 or (800) 404-5400.

I am a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and the Top One Percent, a National Association of Distinguished Counsel.

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