It is important to realise that even a minor head injury can result in brain damage.
It is even true that in exceptional cases a brain injury can result from no head injury if bodily injuries are severe enough.
Damages for brain injury cases are significantly higher than for other types of injuries and special attention is needed in conducting any brain injury case.
Initial trauma and classification of brain injury cases.
The Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) and Mayo classification are the traditional clinical classifications for brain injury cases.
The GCS is a reading taken very soon after the accident usually by a paramedic or in the ambulance. This will vary often depending on whether and for how long the patient has been unconscious and whether the patient has eyes open, has a verbal response or a motor response. If the scale is anywhere between 3-8 the patient will usually be in a coma.
Generally speaking 8 or less would signify a severe brain injury, 9-12 a moderate brain injury and 9-15 a mild brain injury.
It is very important to realise however that even if the score is 15/15 this does not mean there has not been a brain injury and the scale is used for guidance only really to assist Accident and Emergency when the patient is admitted.
As will be seen from case studies at the end someone displaying only a mild brain injury can attract very substantial damages.
The classification was meant to try to simplify different types of brain injury and 3 categories are used:
- Moderate/severe, definite TBI (Traumatic brain injury)
- Mild, probable TBI
- Symptomatic, possible TBI
This is an injury which follows on from concussion following head trauma. Also in some cases it could come on again from serious bodily injury but no substantial head injury. Typically, the symptoms are headaches and dizziness. Other symptoms are likely to be fatigue, clumsiness, poor short-term memory and concentration.
Post-concussion syndrome, whilst not classified as a TBI, can seriously impact on someone’s life, livelihood. Therefore any claim arising could be substantial and whilst the symptoms will not usually be permanent, they could and often do last for several months and in some cases years.
Medication (especially for headaches) and CBT are sometimes offered as treatment but are not always successful.
Very often the claimant will be suffering psychological trauma too and there can often be overlap which is why CBT can assist in some cases.
Attitudes from Insurers to Brain Injury Cases
Insurers know such cases are valuable in the quantum sense. They will often do all they can to defeat/reduce the claim.
The most common approach is to allege that there is no real cognitive deficit and that effectively it is a psychological condition which will be cured or reduced with treatment. Often past psychological vulnerable history will be suggested too.
Whilst the psychometric tests are fairly objective they can be interpreted differently. There are also plenty of insurance friendly neurologists available to assist insurers.