John Maher: Hi. I’m John Maher. Today, I’m speaking with Russell Guest and Richard Allen of Guest and Brady, a personal injury law firm in Greenville, South Carolina. Today, we’re going to be talking about when it is warranted to call a brain injury lawyer. Russell and Richard, welcome.
Russell Guest: John, this is Russell. Thank you for having us.
Richard Allen: Hey, John. This is Richard. Glad to be here.
The Impact of a Brain Injury on a Family
John: What is the kind of impact traumatic brain injuries can have on a person and a family?
Russell: A brain injury, John, can happen with even a small accident that someone might be in. Different kinds of accidents can cause injuries to the brain. It could be a slip and fall type of accident on somebody’s premises, or it could be an auto accident. It’s not limited to just a typical car accident. We might find various types of injuries and many types.
Even in a work accident, you can have a traumatic brain injury. Traumatic brain injuries don’t have to be severe. They can be mild. They can be different degrees of severity. We measure that. They can be mild, or medium, or severe. All of them have value as far as recovery, and the treatment that is required for them is important as well, in order to recover fully from them.
Trauma and traumatic, they’re together. Trauma — that could be just simply slipping on some water and falling to the ground. Not necessarily hitting your head, but hitting your head could be part of that. It could be a whiplash situation if you’re rear ended in a car accident and your head gets snapped or your neck gets snapped from backwards to forward [motion] and your brain is thrown around inside of your skull.
You might not necessarily hit your head on the steering wheel or the side of the window at all. [That] is not required in order to have a traumatic brain injury. You could have injuries that you don’t even know you’ve had immediately. The symptoms could manifest themselves at a later date.
Brain injury can be one of the most difficult injuries to diagnose. It’s not like you have a broken bone and an obvious cut to your arm or to some part of your body where there’s blood. Images like x‑rays can easily point that out. An injury to your brain can be more subtle and difficult to diagnose.
The types of things that you might be experiencing could be physical symptoms, or it could be sensory symptoms, or cognitive or mental symptoms. Obviously, a loss of consciousness is one that we all are aware of. You could have headaches, or nausea and vomiting, fatigue and drowsiness, difficulty sleeping, dizziness, or loss of balance.
You could have sensory problems such as blurred vision, ringing in the ears, or bad taste in your mouth, or no taste at all, which has happened in one case that we had [where the victim] lost a total sense of smell and taste forever.
[You may experience] sensitivity to light or sound, you could have some cognitive difficulties, like memory or concentration [problems], or mood changes and mood swings. These kind of injuries are definitely something that affect not only yourself. [It also affects] your close family members, your spouse, [or] your children.
You become more explosive in a situation that you normally would not. You might have emotional outbursts that are very different [and] can change your personality. You could be diagnosed with PTSD where you have difficulties getting into a car again and [in] different circumstances that are unexplainable to you. Then connecting all of that becomes a challenge to the actual accident.
You can do that in different ways. There’s different diagnostic tests that are sometimes more clear than others. There [are] clinical tests that doctors can run, but you need to be able to get yourself in front of specialists to know how to do that.
An experienced accident or injury attorney can help you to navigate that provider scenario to get you in front of the people that are important. Not because we’re trying to direct your care, but because we’re experienced in having dealt with similar situations in the past. We’ve seen the courses of treatment and can recommend different ideas for [who] you [can] go and to talk to.
Long Term Issues with Brain Injury
John: I also imagine that traumatic brain injuries are typically more long lasting, or like you said, even permanent. That can cause much longer‑term issues with your family, or your ability to work and things like that.
Russell: Absolutely. We talked about the degrees of severity. We’re hopeful and prayerful that the [symptoms] absolutely will go away with treatment and in a short period of time. If they’re really severe, a trauma can include a penetrating object into your skull. Of course, that would be a real severe.
Those can be long lasting and permanent as well. [The injuries may] begin to disable you in terms of your ability to concentrate and you’re not able to now participate in work like you used to be able to. [Or,] you may still be able to work, [but] you might have a reduced capacity to work. You’ve now have a loss of income. You could have complete disability where you have no income.
We can help you recover that loss that you’ve experienced. We have to be able to see you and help you early on in these cases. If you try to deal with these yourself or delay your treatment, it becomes much more difficult to do the things that are necessary to legally connect your injuries to that accident, which is critical to have the third party responsible for the payment of that.
Sometimes, these symptoms can manifest themselves later. You’re just not certain as to why that’s happening. You definitely need to make sure that we’re seeing and consulting with you, and helping you to get in front of some medical people that could diagnose and treat you appropriately [as well as] relate it back to the accident.
How an Attorney Can Help After a Brain Injury
John: Richard, how can personal injury attorneys like the team at Guest and Brady help people to cope with brain injury as the result of an accident?
Richard: I want to expand on what Russell was touching on earlier. As far as making sure the clients are treated with specialists, and certainly we can guide that and make suggestions. [We can] also communicate with those specialists and ask the right questions. Especially, when perhaps you have an injury that manifests down the road, you’re not experiencing immediate symptoms following a car accident.
Part of pursuing a claim is to make sure you’re able to tie the symptoms in a brain injury back to the accident itself. It’s important for us as attorneys or for clients to have attorneys involved, who can communicate with the specialists or communicate with the doctors, and ask the questions, and get the answers that we need to connect the injuries and symptoms.
[As far as] navigating through health insurance issues, [it can] be quite expensive to see a specialist such as a neurologist, a radiologist, and get the diagnostic tests, [such as] MRIs [or] CT scans. Even if you have health insurance, there may be out of pocket expenses or just expenses in general. We can help as far as making sure we’re protecting the providers’ interest so that the clients can get the care that they need to heal and also to pursue the case.
Brain Injury Resources
John: What are some good resources that your clients have found helpful in dealing with brain injuries?
Russell: John, there are different resources available to us, fortunately. There’s been a great deal of study in recent years in regards to coping and assisting people that experienced traumatic brain injuries. One association that we are aware of is the Brain Injury Association of America, or USA, that has local chapters in different states.
In our state, [there] is the Brain Injury Association of South Carolina. The way they organize themselves here, and we assume it is in every other state that they are part of too, is that they have local chapters. Greenville has a local chapter. They have meetings and support groups, where an individual who’s experienced a significant brain injury can go, and their family members can go to learn how to cope with the particular change in new life or new normal that they’re dealing with.
In so doing, they offer the different therapies and new developments that might be available to people, and also give you emotional support as well, because they have also experienced similar tragedies and they may be further down the road in this recovery than you and your family are. It certainly can be a benefit to be aware of that resource.
John: That’s really excellent information and good advice. Russell Guest and Richard Allen, thanks very much for speaking with me today.
Russell: Thank you, John.
Richard: Thanks for having us, John.
John: For more information about Guest and Brady, visit their website at guestbrady.com or call 800‑903‑8101 or 864‑233‑7200.