One of the most challenging aspects of brain injury cases has to do with people who were very smart to begin with for whom a brain injury renders them slightly less smart, and the reason those cases can be so challenging is that very smart people have the ability to compensate for injuries in ways that are pretty impressive.
For example, maybe they were at the ninetieth percentile on language and verbal skills, and now they’re at the seventy fifth percentile. They’re still above average even though there is impairment and that impairment is going to be noticeable to them. It may even be noticeable to their friends and family, but it’s really hard to quantify. We do a lot of work at our firm with people like that to show through what we could just call circumstantial evidence how smart they have been and how significantly the brain injury has changed their lives.
How do you prove that a client was more intelligent or functioned at a higher level prior to their injury?
That’s a great question because it can be really challenging. If you have a healthy person who was above average and you just ran an ordinary neuropsychological examination on them, not because of an injury, but for testing as a baseline, you would find that they tend to do well in most if not all categories. In other words, smart people tend to be smart in all categories. They’ll do better in some than others, but generally speaking above average people tend to be above average crossed the board. Average people tend to be average across the board.
Sometimes, in the neuropsychological testing what you’ll see somebody who is above average, on three tests in a row, and then on the fourth test they drop to ten percent.
That would be a very unusual finding in the ordinary world, but you do see that in accident situations, where they have been really smart across the board and now they have these sort of random deficits, and that’s going to depend on where the brain was injured, the nature of the injury, and you’re going to see consistency in that loss across testing modules. If I did a test, and then the defense hired someone to do a test right afterwards, you would likely see the same deficiency on the same test.