You can, and you should.
I’ve worked with clients who, after an accident, suffered a concussion or a mild traumatic brain injury, but they didn’t realize it at first.
Brain injuries are often more subtle at the beginning, but they’re no less debilitating over the long run than a more obvious injury. That’s why suing for compensation for a brain injury usually makes sense, however, these cases are more complex than the norm…
If You’ve Hit Your Head…
When you’ve had an accident, it’s very important to visit your doctor and be forthright about any changes you’re experiencing.
Dizziness, nausea, emotional stress – subtle changes can occur that seem insignificant but they could be symptomatic of a mild brain injury.
My advice is to present everything to your doctor and let him or her decide what is serious and what is not. If it is serious, now it’s down on paper, and more importantly, you can receive treatment.
Why Brain Injuries Are Hard to Assess
Brain injuries are tricky. Victims don’t always experience a loss of consciousness, so they can seem less serious.
Usually they occur because the victim has struck their head against a headrest, window or even another passenger. Your brain is like jelly inside your skull, and it goes back and forth the way your body would when hit. When it smashes against your skull, it can sustain damage.
Sometimes, clients don’t remember having hit their heads during impact (if you’ve ever been in a car accident, you’ll likely know that feeling), yet they start to experience headaches or changes in personality like greater timidity or aggressiveness, or perhaps they feel more emotional and impatient.
These are often the first signs.
When they look back, it’s obvious they hit their head, although, in the first hour after the accident, they may not even have considered it.
See a Neuropsychologist
If you’ve hit your head in a car accident – even if you feel fine – or you’re having symptoms of any kind, you need to be tested by a neuropsychologist.
A neuropsychologist will often perform psychometric tests to determine if you have a brain issue. Getting in to see the right specialist is important because only they can determine if a cognitive defect is due to psychological issues or if it’s an actual brain injury.
Brain Injury Suits Takes Time to Resolve
If you’ve read my blog before, you’ll be familiar with my saying how accident injury cases should never be rushed. Traumatic head injuries are a big reason why. They often take time to reveal themselves.
As your lawyer, it can be hard to tell the depth of the issue at the beginning of your suit. Most clients will say they’re having trouble with memory or concentration, but that can also be a psychological reaction to the accident.
Furthermore, people often assume that doing an MRI or CT scan will reveal all, but the reality is that, in a mild case, these scans don’t always pick it up.
You have Limited Time to Sue in Ontario
Before deciding to sue, it’s important to be aware of certain deadlines.
There’s a time limit to sue. In Ontario, it’s two years if you have a car accident. It can get complex – but for the case of this blog, let’s go with the two years.
If you meet with a lawyer in the early days, even if you’re not sure if you have a brain injury, the lawyer will generally monitor a not-so-obvious case for about a year.
If the lawyer feels you don’t have a case, doesn’t feel the need to monitor you, and perhaps even stops accepting your calls, call someone else!
Trust your instincts and get a second and third opinion if you must. You may find that a smaller firm is more willing to shadow your case than a big firm, so if you’ve gone to a big 200 lawyer firm and gotten the brush off, don’t be discouraged. Try a small firm next.
If you are in touch with a lawyer who is monitoring your case and new information arises from your doctors, share this info with your lawyer immediately.
The biggest issue I see is that clients tend to downplay brain injury symptoms and try to explain them away: “I am just tired” or “My concentration is low, I simply need to focus better.” But the reality is that, if you have suffered a brain injury, you’re going to need compensation to help with your recovery. So see a doctor then see a lawyer, in that order.
If you have any questions about a brain injury, always contact a doctor. If you have questions about whether you should seek compensation due to a mild or a traumatic brain injury, call me today. I’ll be happy to answer your questions