How Important Are Specialists and Experts in These Cases for Attorneys and Clients?
In traumatic brain injury cases, specialists are extraordinarily important; the specialists can be both treating specialists as well as retained expert witnesses. In reality, healthcare providers offer opinions, and healthcare providers who offer opinions are experts. They may not be retained experts, but they are treating experts.
Specialists are very important because they are members of various healthcare professions, both medical doctors and others. The fact that someone is a specialist however, does not necessarily mean that they are experts in traumatic brain injury. For example, a neurologist may be more interested in treating other neurologic disorders such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, or epilepsy, than they are in treating traumatic brain injury and post-concussive syndrome. A qualified brain injury lawyer will know who is truly knowledgeable. Sometimes this involves traveling because the qualified specialist is located in a different municipality, a different state and sometimes even a different region of the country.
One of the other things that is often overlooked and can end up being confusing relates to vision. A very common condition that is caused by traumatic brain injury is a visual disturbance. It could be blurry vision. It could be a convergence disorder where the eyes don’t move in a coordinated fashion. Most physicians conducting a general neurologic exam will examine the eyes but will not do the type of examination that will identify a convergence disorder. They are looking at the pupils to see if the pupils are the same size or if one is enlarged compared to the other. They will write in their record that the vision is normal when it may not be.
Someone who really knows traumatic brain injury can identify this and will recommend a specialist such as a neuro-optometrist or a neuro-ophthalmologist who will conduct the more in-depth vision examination that won’t be conducted by a general physician or even a regular ophthalmologist that might conduct an examination for glasses.
A qualified brain injury lawyer must know the healthcare providers who can adequately document whatever is going on, and in turn, the lawyer is responsible for recommending and retaining experts who can do the kinds of evaluations and assessments that will provide the insurance company and ultimately a jury with the data point to prove the claim.
So it’s very important that injured people be represented by lawyers who know qualified experts. It would be a mistake to believe that a lawyer who rents a billboard or puts his photograph on the side of a bus is a lawyer qualified to handle a brain injury case. There are methods by which a lay person can identify quality lawyers and they include research of “Best Lawyers in America”, and the legal directory Martindale Hubbell that ranks lawyers for skill and ethics.
What Is the Role of Life Care Planners in Traumatic Brain Injury Cases?
A life care planner does more than put all the data on a template. A certified life care planner’s training, is designed to make them aware of the nuances of life time treatment for TBI, as well as the complexities of every day living with a brain injury. A life care planner is an expert who not only assembles information but also can appear in court and testify about the research and calculations performed.
The effects of a brain injury are not static but can produce a number of changes over time. The life care planner’s job entails accounting for probable changes in needs over a lifetime. Some anticipated changes or complications can be established as a likely occurrence by a licensed healthcare provider. Other anticipated expenses can be established through a life care planner based upon training and experience.
In brain injury cases, there is literature that supports the proposition the TBI increases the risk of complications including but not limited to seizure disorder, brain volumetric changes- most likely atrophy in injury regions, Alzheimer’s disease and other dementing conditions, as well as Parkinson’s disease.
Some symptoms that accompany traumatic brain injury place the patient at risk for other injuries and difficulties. Problems with vision or balance may make it more likely the TBI survivor will have additional accidents caused by trips or stumbles that result in falls. An injury to the visual network in the right side of the brain can cause a visual defect on the left side that can impact depth perception and make it more difficult to drive, ride a bicycle or navigate in crowded spaces. An injury that affects the frontal lobe can impair executive function decision making and increase the probability of risky behavior. These are all topics that can be covered through experts including life care planners. So there’s a whole host of things that can complicate the future for a TBI survivor.
In order to maximize a recovery following a traumatic brain injury, the earlier that an experienced traumatic brain injury lawyer is involved in a case, the better theodds are that the case can be adequately prepared and documented.
If you have suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury in an Accident, call Stewart Casper at the law offices of Casper & de Toledo LLC in Stamford, CT for a free initial consultation at (203) 325-8600 and get the information and legal representation you’re seeking.