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HomeNews & ArticlesTraumatic Brain Injury: Answers to the Questions We Are Most Frequently Asked
General Interest


Traumatic Brain Injury: Answers to the Questions We Are Most Frequently Asked

November 19, 2014  |  By:  Roger G. Oatley

Q:  What is a brain injury?  How is it diagnosed?

A:  A brain injury is damage to any part of the brain, however small.  Even a concussion is considered a brain injury, although concussions are common.  Brain injuries are classified as “mild, moderate, or severe” based on the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score.  It is important to note that the GCS may classify a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) as minor but it may have catastrophic consequences.  Similarly, a traumatic brain injury may be severe, according to the GCS, but the consequences may be insignificant on occasion.

Brain injuries are commonly associated with motor vehicle collisions, but they can also occur as a result of trauma incurred playing sports such as hockey or football, cycling, due to falls, or any type of trauma to the head.

Q:  What can a personal injury lawyer do for me if I have suffered a traumatic brain injury?

A:  Usually when we see a new client who has suffered a traumatic brain injury the injury has been diagnosed in hospital.  If this is the case, the personal injury lawyers at Oatley Vigmond will work with a wide range of experts to help get the treatment and support needed to reach maximum recovery and compensation.  Sometimes we will see a new client who is reporting many of the classic signs and symptoms of a traumatic brain injury, but it has not been diagnosed – perhaps because other medical issues were more pressing following the trauma, or because medications masked the signs and symptoms.  When we suspect a traumatic brain injury might be the reason for a client’s ongoing impairments, we arrange for the appropriate assessments to be done to find out if that client has sustained a brain injury.

Q:  What are the common signs of a traumatic brain injury?

A:  No two brain injuries are the same.  The easiest brain injuries to diagnose are the severe ones.  With severe traumatic brain injuries there is usually neuro-radiological evidence to confirm the brain injury.  Impairments can be anything from significant cognitive problems to dramatic changes in behaviour and personality.  Some moderate and severe traumatic brain injury victims have significant impairments in their ability to make decisions and have a lack of insight into their impairments.

Mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBI) are the hardest to diagnose.  There may be impairments in short term memory, the ability to concentrate and maintain attention, word finding difficulties, headaches, tinnitus, or fatigue.  Sometimes, people with mild traumatic brain injuries will experience only the mildest of cognitive impairments but will find themselves seriously neuro-cognitively fatigued.  Current neuro-radiological assessments do not reveal any damage to the brain.  Neuro-radiological assessments such as CT scans can confirm a traumatic brain injury but do not prove none has been suffered!

Q: Should I be worried about the cost of retaining a lawyer who is an expert in traumatic brain injury cases?
A: A personal injury law firm that specializes in brain injury law will not ask for any retainer.  Oatley Vigmond will cover all of the cost for you until the case is resolved.

Q: Is there any chance of a quick settlement in a personal injury case where I have sustained a brain injury?

A: Unfortunately no.  Realistically, it will take three to four years before this type of case can be fairly resolved.  It is not the legal process that takes all this time so much as the pace of your assessment and recovery.  Additionally, since your financial future will depend on the recovery of adequate compensation, there are many assessments that are required.  For example, once your impairments are properly understood, experts must assess the impact of your impairments on your ability to complete your education or earn a livelihood.  There may also be a lifetime of extraordinary costs for your care or for the care of your home which other experts must determine.

Q: How is a brain injury lawsuit started?

A: Whoever you decide to retain to act on your behalf, make sure that your lawyer has experience and specializes in brain injury. Your lawyer will start by filing a document at the courthouse called a Statement of Claim. The Statement of Claim describes all aspects of your lawsuit. You will be identified as the “plaintiff”. An at-fault party will be identified as the “defendant”. The Statement of Claim will identify how much money you are suing for, how you were injured, the injuries you suffered, what the defendant did wrong, and the particular types of “damages” (another word for compensation) you are claiming.

Q:  What if I was partially or completely at fault for my motor vehicle collision?

A:  Fortunately we have a system of Statutory Accident Benefits in Ontario.  Even people who are at fault for their injuries are entitled to Accident Benefits.  If you are so seriously impaired that you meet the definition of “catastrophic impairment” you may be entitled to millions of dollars in benefits.  People who become catastrophically impaired because of an accident they cause routinely retain Oatley Vigmond to assist them. We are paid for our services if and when the benefits are “cashed out”.

Q: What can I do to ensure I have the best personal injury lawyer for my brain injury case?

A: Brain injury cases are extremely complex and time-consuming, not to mention costly.  On our website you will find a video describing the questions you should ask a lawyer.

It is important to ensure your lawyer has experience in taking brain injury cases to trial. The term personal injury covers a vast range of injuries from mild to severe. Not every personal injury lawyer will know how to handle a brain injury case. Reviewing credentials and asking the right questions can help ensure you have a lawyer with the right qualifications and experience for such a complex case.

There are three important questions you should ask about credentials:

  1. Is my lawyer a specialist in civil litigation?

An accredited personal injury lawyer should be designated as a certified specialist in civil litigation. This designation is granted by the Law Society of Upper Canada; the only body that governs Ontario’s lawyers.

  1. Is my lawyer recognized by other lawyers as an expert in personal injury?

To find out, browse the peer review lists published by Lexpert and Best Lawyers to ensure your lawyer is on the list.

  1. Is my lawyer associated with one of the top 10 personal injury law firms in Canada?

Canadian Lawyer magazine publishes a bi-annual list containing the top personal injury law firms in Canada. Reviewing the most up to date list is the best way to find out which firms are classified as the leading firms in personal injury.

Q: What can I expect from my personal injury lawyer at Oatley Vigmond?

A: It is your lawyer’s role to be your advocate and help you navigate the complex and confusing insurance process. At Oatley Vigmond, you will be assigned a personalized legal team to help with your short and long term recovery.

When retaining Oatley Vigmond, your lawyer will assign you a skilled Accident Benefits Specialist which is not something all personal injury law firms provide. Our Accident Benefits Specialists are former insurance adjusters and will work with your insurance company on your behalf throughout the entire rehabilitation process. Because they have intimate knowledge of the insurance process, and work in partnership with the insurance companies, they ensure you have access to all the benefits to which you’re entitled.

The personal injury lawyers at Oatley Vigmond are dedicated to ensuring you receive the most compensation possible. We encourage you to review our lawyer’s credentials and get to know Oatley Vigmond better by visiting our YouTube channel.

To have your questions answered, or to receive a free consultation, call us toll free at 1-888-662-2481.


About the Author

Roger G. Oatley

Roger Oatley is a founding partner of Oatley Vigmond and one of the country’s leading personal injury lawyers. Roger has helped thousands of accident victims and their families re-build...

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