Calculating Damages in a Traumatic Brain Injury Case
Virginia Traumatic Brain Injury Lawyer
“Damages” loosely defined are the amount of monetary compensation an injury victim should receive. Of course, we know that no amount of money can undo the harm that a victim has received due to someone else’s negligence. The argument we frequently make in court, however, is that since damages are the only option (albeit a poor option) the compensation must be significant enough to make a lasting and positive change. But, how do the courts (and insurance companies) go about doing this?
Of all of the many different types of injuries, perhaps none are so difficult to valuate as traumatic brain injuries. Traumatic brain injuries can be contrasted, for example, with broken bones and lacerations. With these latter types of injuries, the damage can be seen and readily understood. But an injury to the brain involves the place of the soul and affects the very being of the person. At the same time, many traumatic brain injuries cannot be readily visualized using traditional diagnostic tools.
In the appropriate case, our office works with many different kinds of experts to understand and evaluate the client’s traumatic brain injury. These experts can include psychiatrists, neuroradiologists, vocational rehabilitation experts, economists, life care planners and others.
In a recent case, our client had sustained a blow to the head, but physical changes were not apparent using traditional diagnostic tools. At the same time, the client’s friends and family all noticed real changes in the client who had become depressed and confused.
We frequently hear from friends and family members that a victim of traumatic brain injury is “not acting like themselves.” Other observations are that there has been a fall-off in job performance, depressive type symptoms and more.
It is simply inappropriate to evaluate such a claim based upon the usual measure of severity: medical bills. In fact, in many traumatic brain injury cases, medical bills alone barely begin to describe the victim’s damages.
In order to do the case justice, it is critical to understand the victim’s pre-injury status by talking to friends and colleagues and obtaining objective measurements of their abilities. Often we will even go back to elementary and high school records to judge academic performance. We ask for standardized test results and employment evaluations to understand the client’s previous level of functioning.
Once the full extent of the drop-off is understood, we can begin to fill in the blanks. Injury damages include a provision for pain, suffering, and the loss of enjoyment of life in many instances. How can a law firm, insurance company or jury begin to make this assessment? The short answer is that it is not easy. But if the drop-off is sudden and traumatic, it is clear that the victim may have sustained catastrophic losses. Through the proper mix of experts and truly understanding the nature of this devastating injury, we can begin to help our clients cope with their life after injury. While damages will never fully fill in the gaps, the assistance and medical care that can be obtained with adequate resources can begin to put an injury victim back on an even keel.