The questions on this page were answered by our team of Virginia Beach & Norfolk personal injury attorneys. The questions are categorized by practice area such as car accidents, medical malpractice, wrongful death, etc. If you have specific questions about your situation, contact our firm to set up a free consultation with an actual attorney.
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How Do I Recognize Whether My Loved One Suffered a Traumatic Brain injury (TBI)?
Noticing a brain injury isn't very easy. The signs of a traumatic brain injury are, quite often, subtle and vary from person to person. To matters more diffucult, the symptoms may not appear right away and can surface weeks or months after an accidnet. The following are common symptoms of a TBI that you should be on the look out for:
- Difficulty remembering, concentrating, or making decisions;
- Difficulty in forming thoughts, speaking, acting, or reading;
- Getting easily confused or forgetting certain locations (e.g. your home, your place of employment, etc.);
- Changes in mood (e.g., suddenly feeling depressed or angry);
- Increased sensitivity to lights, sounds, or distractions;
- Blurred vision; and
- Ringing in the ears.
Can an individual with a traumatic brain injury be required to undergo an examination by an employer to whom they are applying for a job?
Not until the individual has been offered employment. Once a job has been offered, an individual may be required to undergo a medical examination if it is job related and relates to the activities of the business.
Are people with traumatic brain injuries required to disclose their disabilities to employers to whom they are applying for a job or with whom they have a job?
Employees only need to disclose a disability if they need an accommodation to perform an essential function of their job. Applicants don’t have to disclose a disability on an application or in an interview unless they need accommodation to assist them in the application or the interview.
What is a traumatic brain injury and what do the different grades of severity mean?
A "traumatic brain injury" is an injury to the brain that disrupts its function. The Brain Injury Association of America defines it as "an alteration in brain function, or other evidence of brain pathology caused by an external force". A "mild" traumatic brain injury involves a brief or no loss of consciousness. The individual may seem dazed or confused at the time of the injury. Symptoms may include headache, irritability, sleep disturbance, fatigue, memory issues or depression. The symptoms may last for days or persist for extended periods. A "moderate" traumatic brain injury involves a loss of consciousness from a few minutes to a few hours. The individual may experience confusion which lasts for days to weeks. Impairments of behavior, cognition and physician abilities may last for months or become permanent. A "severe" traumatic brain injury typically involves extended periods of unconsciousness lasting days to weeks. Victims of severe traumatic brain injury may make some recovery, but they typically suffer significant permanent impairments.
What do I have to do to prove I have a brain injury?
A traumatic brain injury is a unique type of injury because it is not readily visible. It is not like suffering a broken arm or facial laceration where the injury is immediately apparent. In order to substantiate your brain injury, medical records are the best proof so seek medical care. Medical testing may include CT scans, PET scans and MRI's. Make sure that the results of these tests are included in your medical records. Once medical records are obtained, medical experts can testify about how the injury was sustained.
What is anoxic brain injury?
An anoxic brain injury occurs when your brain is deprived of oxygen and this leads to brain damage. When oxygen is prevented from entering the brain partially or completely, brain cells can die which can lead to permanent, life-altering brain injury. The following causes, along with the details of the specific incidenc, may be grounds for an anoxic brain injury claim:
Medical negligence or surgical mistake
Near-drowning accident (sometimes leading to premises liability claims)
Strangulation, choking, or suffocation. For example, a defective product like a crib or stroller that injures your child.
What are the long-term effects of a brain injury?
There are mild and severe forms of brain injuries with side effects that can last for just a brief period or for the rest of your life. In general, the more severe the brain injury, the higher chance you have suffered a permanent, debilitating traumatic brain injury (TBI). Some of the long-term effects may include epilepsy or seizures, Alzheimer's disease, dementia pugilistica, post-traumatic dementia, Parkinson's Disease, and other problems with motor skills, among others. A TBI may require the assistance of a nurse or medical professional on a daily basis. A mild brain injury is less severe but could lead to reduced motor functions and memory loss.
What are the side effects of a brain injury?
The symptoms and signs of a brain injury vary and you may not notice the side effects for days or weeks after the accident. But general symptoms of brain injury include:
· Losing consciousness even just for a minute
· Blurry vision, strange smells or a funny taste in your mouth
· Trouble speaking
· Personality/Mood changes
· Memory loss
· Dizziness or vertigo
I met with a personal injury lawyer about my head injury and they said I don't have a case. If a lawyer doesn't believe I can, or should, file a claim, does this mean I don't have a case? Should I speak with another attorney?
Every attorney has a different opinion on whether someone has a case. A good piece of advice is to always get a second opinion. There are many reasons why an attorney might feel that you don't have a case. Sometimes the liability or fault is not favorable to you which makes recovery difficult or impossible. An honest lawyer will tell you that it would be better for you to handle a claim yourself if the injury is not permanent and you would spend more money on a lawyer than if you handled the claim yourself. When it comes to brain injury that is a severe impairment which does require a seasoned attorney. You should always get a second opinion on anything in life, medical advice, buying a car, and legal advice is no different.
I am involved in a lawsuit resulting from a car accident where I suffered a traumatic brain injury. It seems like every week I am sent medical authorization forms from the insurance company and their attorneys so they can obtain medical records from the doctors that are treating me and virtually every other doctor I have ever seen. I feel like my privacy rights are being abused. Is there anything I can do to stop this?
This is a common question from my clients. The general answer is a lot of your past medical history will come up. It is in your best interest to communicate openly with your lawyer so that he/she knows about your past history and can address it properly in your current case. It is also important to know that there are limits to what the other side can find out and an attorney who knows what they are doing will make sure to fight those requests.
Once we get involved in litigation, meaning we actually file a lawsuit, the other side can collect a great amount of information related to your medical history. Of course this feels like a gross invasion of your privacy. Unfortunately, once we file that lawsuit, we open the door to your past because your medical condition is at issue in the current case.
Some lawyers will agree to everything that the other side asks for. This is where my firm is different. We as personal injury lawyers take the time to make sure that the requests from the other attorney are for information he/she is entitled to receive. Just because you are suing someone for back pain resulting from a car wreck does not mean that your mental health records from 20 years ago should be accessible. This is a frequent battle we fight with defense attorneys who issue broadly worded subpoenas. I can't tell you how many Fridays I spend at the courthouse arguing this very point. The general answer is a lot of your past medical history will come up. It is in your best interest to communicate openly with your lawyer so that he/she knows about your past history and can address it properly in your current case. It is also important to know that there are limits to what the other side can find out and an attorney who knows what they are doing will make sure to fight those requests.