By Patrick McMurchy
The term “mild traumatic brain injury” (MTBI) describes the physical injury to the brain but not the effects of the injury. In some cases, the physical injury may be mild, but the symptoms and effects may cause severe disability. Each case should be looked at individually in order to properly assess the impact of such an injury.
There are a number of challenges in MTBI cases for both the victim and the lawyer.
The first difficulty is that MTBI injuries are often difficult to diagnose. There might be no outward indication of an injury, such as bruising, on the head. A person does not have to strike their head for an injury to have occurred; MTBI can occur just from shaking or jarring. Injury victims may deny the loss of consciousness – a sign of having suffered a MTBI- because they may not be aware of it, or it was so brief.
Ambulance crews and ER doctors are very busy and the subtle signs of an MTBI may be overlooked.
Even MRI scans done shortly after the injury may not detect the damage to the brain because the injury occurs on a cellular level. MRI scans performed several months later will likely appear normal.
Another problem is that many of the typical symptoms of a mild traumatic brain injury such as fatigue, headaches, depression, memory loss, personality changes and difficulties with learning and focusing, tend to mirror psychological conditions or injuries.
All of these difficulties raise issues with respect to proving causation, that is, proving the accident caused an injury or the injury and the effects that are claimed. Defense counsel will assemble experts to deny both the injury and the effects of the injury.
This means that more than in some other cases, the evidence of family, friends, and co-workers who have known the victim before and after the injury will be of great importance to establish the threshold question of causation. Of course, such evidence is also necessary to prove the nature and extent of the effects of the injury.
This article is for general information only, and should not be relied on as legal advice in any particular case. Consult a lawyer for advice on your case.