Concussions, especially those due to motor vehicle accidents, have significantly increased in that last several years. The reason for this is the large number of violent collisions caused by careless, reckless, and distracted drivers.
As Lead Attorney of the Horn Law Firm, head, neck, and concussion cases have been my area of concentration. From a legal standpoint, winning a concussion case is all about obtaining a fair, full, and maximum settlement or award. Although there are a number of factors that go into obtaining the best legal recovery, below are 3 key areas of proof necessary to obtain the best results for the concussion victim.
1. Sudden Onset of Concussion
The foundation to obtaining a maximum legal recovery is to prove that the collision caused a sudden onset of concussion. In addition to securing evidence of the severity of the collision impact, paramedic and emergency medical evaluations can help establish a sudden onset of concussion.
Absent proof of a concussion in the emergency medical reports, it is vitally important that the concussion victim report concussion-related symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, memory problems, attention/concentration loss, vision/speech issues, mood swings, and frustration.
In terms of making sure concussion-related symptoms are reported and properly evaluated by medical personnel, I help my clients identify concussion-related problems in terms of their physical, psychological, and cognitive symptoms. Not only does this help my client properly report his or her symptoms, but also puts them in the best position to receive appropriate medical attention and care.
In addition to reported symptoms, never overlook the importance of an early neurological exam which can help cement the concussion diagnose and form the basis for further medical recommendations.
2. Medical Management of Concussion
Not only is good medical management necessary for obtaining an the best medical recovery, but it also helps establish the evidence that is important in reaching the maximum legal recovery.
Concussion care has drastically improved over the last several years. There are now a range of specialists who provide concussion care, including neurologists, neuro-ophthalmologists, cognitive therapists, vestibular therapists, speech therapists, and psychologists.
It has been my experience that innovative concussion rehabilitation techniques can address a wide range of symptoms, including the vision-related changes and disturbances. This is particularly valuable because a high percentage of concussion patients suffer from sensitivity to light, blurry vision, reading difficulty, loss of peripheral vision, double vision, and abnormal eye movements.
While medical management aids in expediating the medical recovery, it also ensures that the medical record will reflect the full nature and extent of the concussion. This is especially important when concussion symptoms continue to persist and additional therapeutic interventions may be recommended.
The other advantage of good medical management is that it allows the doctors to be confident in stating expert opinion concerning the patient’s prognosis. Expert opinion can play an important role in providing evidence of how the concussion may affect the patient’s longer-range consequences, including the ability to take care of their work, household, and family responsibility.
3. Longer-Range Consequences of Concussion
It is not uncommon for concussion victims to experience lingering symptoms that impact their physical, psychological, and cognitive health even after they have reached maximum medical improvement. Because they are no longer under the active care of a doctor, special medical experts in concussion rehabilitation are often called in to evaluate how the concussion will impact the patient’s daily routine and life care requirements.
Vocational experts, who can state opinions regarding present and future earning capacity, also may be part of the roster of experts who can forecast what the financial impact will be over the active life.
Because a concussion victim is usually entitled to only one settlement and award, it is also important that the legal recovery reflect compensation for the fact that the concussion victim will not only be more susceptible to a future brain injury, but also that if the victim is concussed again, the concussion recovery will be more complicated and the likely-hood of permanent issues will be increased.
Standards of Legal Representation
It is important that a concussion victim be afforded a zealous legal representation. A zealous representation requires that the attorney for the concussion victim present a diligent and dedicated legal representation at all stages of the representation, including the later stages of the case where “advanced negotiations” can help establish “value drivers” which impact the final settlement and award.
1. Aggravated Liability
2. Sudden Onset of Injury
3. Objective Medical Evidence
4. Confinement (home or hospital)
5. Medical Treatments/Therapy/Rehabilitation
6. Income Loss or Work Accommodations
7. Restrictions (work, household, family, self-care)
8. Prior Quality of Life
9. Guarded Prognosis
10. Permanent Impairment
11. Management of Injury Evidence (Post MMI)
12. Loss of Physical Capacity
13. Loss of Household Services
14. Accelerated Decline