When we’re looking at anything that manifests itself long-term, damage needs to be evaluated. We are often looking at a loss of earnings capacity, which means a meaningful reduction in the ability of that individual to earn money following their brain injury. What is interesting about brain injury cases is a lot of the time there is not a large medical bill. This is because once you have the brain injury, treatment can encompass all sorts of modalities such as occupational therapy, speech therapy and therapy to help people cope with their injury. Generally speaking, there isn’t a lot of treatment that we can offer people to treat their brain. The initial medical bills are frequently not large, but the long-term ramifications of the injury are huge, and we need to document that in terms of earning ability as well as simple everyday life tasks, ADL’s or activities of daily living, which provide a guideline for future needs and long-term therapeutic needs.
Some of best ways to show the impact of the brain injury on an individual is not through the testimony of the individual themselves, but instead through the testimony of the people around them. For instance, if somebody is failing at work, sometimes the best person to talk about that isn’t the person who’s having a rough time at work, but instead the co-workers who have to cover for them, or who have taken over their work because the individual no longer is able to be trusted with it.
You can bring in neighbors to talk about how different the person is. You can bring together former coworkers who will explain to you how incredibly smart, devoted, and diligent that individual was, describing what the injured person’s abilities had been prior to their injury. I think sometimes that sort of “wider net” of who this person was can be more powerful than just the person saying, “here’s what I think is wrong with me.”
You can also talk to their spouse or have their loved ones testify about their reduced capabilities. It can be sort of heartbreaking for them to hear their spouse talk about how impaired they are, because sometimes people have just enough of a understanding of their injury, but not a full appreciation of it, and it’s sometimes better to be a little in the dark about it. These stories and evidence of impairment can help determine what that person might need in terms of care and cost of treatment in the future, and this helps in estimating damages.
What if the head injury victim dies during the law suit?
If the head injury victim dies during the law suit the next of kin will have the right to continue the case and that would just go in the ordinary order of succession. Most commonly, the children and/or the spouse of the deceased would be able to bring claims.