Head injury cases are unique for lots of different reasons, but they’re unique mainly because you have to have experience and know what you’re looking for, and where are you going to find it? It’s as simple a question as saying, “Do you have a head injury?”
A lot of head injuries aren’t visible with an x-ray and you can’t see them with an MRI. So, if you can’t, where do you turn? How do I know if I’m going to be able to go back to work? There are neuropsychologists that we work with very closely. They offer certain types of tests that will find subtle changes that even the victim might not recognize.
Another thing that’s very important based upon your experience is to make sure the wife or the husband of the person who may have a head injury goes with them. Inevitably they’ve seen changes in the head injury person that even the victim doesn’t even realize. You also have to be pretty familiar with the new techniques of medical imaging. There are tools available that we didn’t have five years ago that take different types of pictures of your brain and actually show us where physical changes have occurred. These changes are affecting behavior or the inability to do certain things.
We have had experience with people who’ve completely lost their sense of smell, and have had a photograph taken, using special machines, that actually show that the part of your brain that helps you smell in this poor person was obliterated. It was gone. We’ve had cases where people have suffered blindness or partial blindness, and you’ve got to have very accurate imaging to demonstrate to the jury and to the corporations where the physical injury is.
So, a head injury case needs someone who has a lot of experience, who knows who the experts are, and can refer you to the right experts, because those are the people that are going to be able to dig, dig, dig, and dig until they get the answer of why are these changes occurring.
In some head injury cases, the experience is how to explain it to the jury. I recently had a coal miner whose head was crushed but he survived. His eye sockets and jaw had to be rebuilt. His jaw was wired shut for months and months on end. He had several skull fractures. And so that one, where the experience came in to help that person was the fact that we knew how to get the right imaging done, and then get it drawn for the jury so that they could actually see it.
And it was a very good way to demonstrate how seriously this poor, young, coal miner with two children and one on the way, how absolutely devastated his life was as a result of this head-crushing injury.
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