Given that the brain controls everything about how we function, it is surprising that this organ is very soft and can quite easily be damaged. The human brain is encased in a hard outer casing, the skull. The skull protects the brain from trauma but the brain can still be damaged even without the skull being penetrated. In what is called a closed head injury, there are no fractures to the skull or any indication externally of damage but if the brain has been caused to move and has struck the inside of the skull then brain damage can result.
What are the different types of Brain Injury?
If injury results from some kind of force applied to the head, such as in a fall or an assault or road accident, then this is known as a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Other forms of injury to the brain such as those caused by a stroke, infection or lack of oxygen, are known as Acquired Brain Injury (ABI).
Whether a Traumatic Brain Injury or Acquired Brain Injury, the severity is categorised by doctors and the law as minor, moderate or severe.
Minor Head Injury
Thankfully, most head injuries are minor. These are often referred to as Concussion. You may have a very short period of unconsciousness and feel dizzy and sick and may well not even seek medical attention. If you do you are unlikely to be admitted to hospital but after assessment will be sent home with a head injury information sheet of things to look for when you should return to hospital immediately.
Although the effects of a minor head injury are very troubling to the person concerned, generally those affected will go on to make a full recovery within a relatively short period of weeks or a few months.
Moderate Brain Injury
A brain injury will be categorised as moderate if there is a period of loss of consciousness of more than around 15 minutes or there is a period of around 24 hours of what is called Post Traumatic Amnesia (PTA), i.e no clear and unbroken memory after the accident for this period of time.
If you suffer a moderate brain injury then you will be kept in hospital at least overnight under observation. When you are discharged then you may well have headaches and dizziness, fatigue, have problems maintaining concentration and attention, problems word-finding as well as feeling angry and irritable.
Often these symptoms can be quite subtle and to an outside observer they may think there is nothing wrong with the brain injured person. This is far from the truth and the effects of head injury can be greatly disabling in a moderate or even a minor head injury.
A large proportion of those who suffer moderate brain injury will go on to make a full recovery but typically, this can take up to a year or so before they feel back to normal and can return to their pre head injury activities, including work and hobbies.
Severe Brain Injury
If a period of unconsciousness runs into hours rather than minutes and the period of PostTraumatic Amnesia is more than 24 hours, this will be categorised as a severe brain injury. Such patients will be in hospital for a long period of time and may well then be moved to a rehabilitation unit before returning home if a return to home is possible.
Unfortunately, those who have suffered a severe brain injury will almost certainly have some permanent symptoms to a greater or lesser extent which can include cognitive and physical symptoms. These are likely to require long term treatment and such patients may need some personal care and therapy in their everyday lives. Traumatic Amnesia is more than 24 hours, this will be categorised as a severe brain injury. Such patients will be in hospital for a long period of time and may well then be moved to a rehabilitation unit before returning home if a return to home is possible.
What should I look for in a Solicitor to conduct my Brain Injury claim?
The most important thing is to choose an expert solicitor. Because the effects of a brain injury can be so diverse and in fact a lot of them missed completely, only a specialist, experienced solicitor will know what signs to look for and what questions to ask you to bring out all of the ways in which you have been affected, some of which you might not have even appreciated yourself or may not have attributed to the head injury.
Only a personal injury lawyer who can use this experience and questioning of you to build up an entire picture of how you have been affected will be able to secure compensation for the full amount of what you are entitled to.
A lawyer who is not a specialist in brain injuries may well end up settling your claim for less than it is worth.
There are charitable organisations that work with and for those who have suffered head injuries such as Headway UK as well as numerous affiliated regional Headway charities and The Child Brain Injury Trust. If your lawyer knows of these charities or works with them or is even involved in them then that gives you a good indication that your lawyer is a specialist when it comes to dealing with head injuries.
Will I have to be seen by experts?
The answer is yes. In fact a great number of people can be involved in a brain injury claim. As well as your specialist lawyer, you will have another type of lawyer, a Barrister acting for you at certain points during the case and if your case reaches Trial, to represent you at the Trial.
The type and severity of a brain injury and the symptoms resulting from it determine the type and number of experts that will need to be involved to fully and properly get to the bottom of how you have been affected and therefore to value your claim properly. The following are often typically instructed in a brain injury case.
In addition to those who will act as expert witnesses, there will be others involved in your case to ensure the best possible outcome, including:-
It can be seen that because of the need for the involvement of so many different specialists, a brain injury claim can often last for many years and in the case of a child, it is necessary to wait until the child has reached maturity before being able to fully and properly assess the true long term effects of the head injury.
That is not to say that there is no help available until the end of the claim. Rehabilitation will be put in place by your specialist solicitor and co-ordinated by a Case Manager appointed by your solicitor. Regular interim payments will also be obtained, either voluntarily paid or obtained through a Court Order in order to meet your needs as they arise and to facilitate the best rehabilitation possible.
If you, or a member of your family, have been left with a brain injury following an accident or medical treatment, we can help you make a claim– call us now on 0800 6341 777 to discuss your case.
For a discussion about your situation contact our team of experts today, or visit one of Bray & Bray’s three offices local offices in Market Harborough, Hinckley or Leicester.
Leicester call us on 0116 254 8871.
Hinckley call us on 01455 639 900.
Market Harborough call us on 01858 467 181.
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