There are many degrees of brain injury – some result in a coma which can be very deep or shallow, and can leave a person in a vegetative state or minimally conscious where there are limited signs of awareness. These are the most serious brain injuries.
One indicator of severity is the Glasgow Coma Scale. This is a technique used to measure the severity of a coma and ranges from 3 to 15 with 3 as a deep coma and 15 as fully conscious. A low score is strongly indicative that a full recovery will not take place.
Another indicator is the length of time between the injury and the client regaining their day to day memory. The longer this period, the more likely that the potential outcome may be poor.
However, there are also many cases of the “walking wounded”. Those clients who have suffered brain injuries which in the first instance do not appear severe but which result in subtle changes causing small microscopic tears in the brain. These changes may not be seen on a CT or MRI scan but can have wide ranging effects on life and work. Often it is the family who pick up on these differences long before a medical legal expert is appointed to examine the client for their personal injury claim. Signs such as headaches and visual problems, difficulties with thought processes being slower, memory problems and personality changes such as irritability and anxiety.
Visiting a client at home can be very helpful for the personal injury lawyer to enable them to see how the client is coping in their home environment. I have seen a client who said they could cook only to discover that they can no longer follow a recipe but instead are heating up ready meals. Their letters lay unanswered on the table because they cannot cope with paper work, and somehow they managed to insure their house 3 times with different insurers.
Such clients look normal but the reality is that there is often permanent damage to their thought processes and personality.
I am not medically qualified but listening to the family and to the client can be helpful in identify early problems that can be helped by bringing in support as soon as possible and long before the litigation process is underway.
If you would like to discuss any issues relating to this article please contact Anne Maguire on 01908 689365.