For the most part, the injuries we are talking about stem from a soft-tissue/ whiplash case. However cases that appear to be soft tissue sometimes turn out to be more serious because of a possible brain or head injury.
Your brain is like jello inside of your skull. When you are rear-ended the brain sloshes forward and backward and because the skull is not even and smooth inside and because there are little protruding bones, some of that brain can be sheared or torn away. Because it is not jello, but is instead your brain, if the portion that was torn away had to do with word retrieval, you may find yourself having word retrieval problems. Unfortunately, I find that when this happens, my clients are often not the best historians. In other words, they are not in the best position to be aware of a change in habit and/or problems that they are encountering.
A few years ago I had a case with a woman who was in her late thirties and was divorced with a 17 year old daughter. A couple of months into the case the daughter had occasion to drop off some papers to my office. The mother had been saying everything was going fine every time I asked her and when the daughter came in I asked the daughter how her mother was doing and the daughter said “not so great”. I had the daughter sit down and tell me what was happening. She explained that her mother had two things that she loved — her, obviously, and a parakeet.
The daughter had gone to stay at her father’s house for a week and when she returned home the parakeet was dead on the bottom of the cage. When the daughter questioned her mother about this, the mother, who had fed and watered the bird every day and would not let anyone else touch the bird, admitted that she had forgotten that she had a parakeet and did not feed or water the bird for a week. Thus, the bird died. This was my first exposure to something that most other lawyers just became aware of in the last few years, and that is a possible brain/head injury from a soft tissue case. We are seeing a lot of press regarding brain injuries, since some football players have discovered the problem from impacts.
In recent years, I have attended several weekend seminars on handling head injury cases. What I and most other lawyers learned for the first time is that you don’t have to hit your head or be unconscious to have a brain injury. Though it is the exception rather than the rule, brain injuries can occur from the brain sloshing backward and forward. The brain injury can be manifested in various forms. It could be something as simple as having trouble remembering words and/or associations. That is why it is important to tell your significant other to be aware of any changes in your normal daily patterns. This is why you should have your significant other read this article if you have been in an accident of any kind.
For instance, maybe your daily pattern involved your getting out of bed, going to the bathroom, brushing your teeth, taking a shower, reading the paper and having a cup of coffee. If this was a pattern that you performed in the same order every day but was one you subtly changed, there may be a problem. Hypothetically, after the accident you may now get out of bed, read the paper, have a cup of coffee, take a shower, brush your teeth, etc., etc. In other words, it is in a different order. It is a subtle change and probably not serious but this is something that should be looked into by a doctor.
This Part 6 of a 7 Part Series. To be continued next week.


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