A client is on a motorcycle, and is hit by a truck that fails to yield at an intersection, and lands on his head. He is taken by life flight to a big city trauma hospital, where his cranium bone is removed in order to relieve the pressure on his brain from a brain bleed. After spending a two month stint in the hospital, he is transferred to a rehab hospital for follow-up care. A second surgery to reinsert the cranium bone fails when the bone becomes infected leading to a third surgery to remove the bone and a fourth surgery to insert synthetic bone. Unfortunately, the client was not wearing a helmet, and the legal question is whether this may be a defense to the client’s head injury. If your state does not mandate use of helmets, courts may rule that this cannot be used as a defense because no law was violated. Even if your state does require use of helmets, there is legal precedent that an individual is not required to anticipate the negligence of another. Thus, this precedent may still disallow the insurance company from claiming the lack of helmet use as a defense. You will need to consult your local attorney on this question.
The damages in these cases can be catastrophic for a family including the loss of short and long term memory. The client may not be able to recall past events including significant family milestones such as school graduations, marriages, deaths, and the lives of their children as they have grown. These types of damages are called consortium and hedonic damages, which are significant in a closed head injury case. The client may need constant 24 hour or eyes-on supervision to ensure their safety moving forward. These damages are called special damages, and can often be determined by an expert in life-care planning who will consult with a neuro-psychologist as to the future course of treatment.
However, not every closed head injury case involves a significant blow or trauma to the head as described above. Sometimes, a more modest blow to the head will result in concussive effects that will lead to post-concussion syndrome. You should look at issues such as whether the individual lost consciousness, vomited after the head blow, and has symptoms of fatigue or brain-fog that are continuing and long term. You will want to demonstrate that other life-stressors and psychological issues are excluded as causing these symptoms, and that the symptoms are instead related to the head trauma. These cases require experts in neurology and psychiatry, since you will need to demonstrate that more modest head trauma that lacks proof on CT-head scans can nevertheless result in a closed-head injury. Your local experienced attorney can provide you with guidance in the types of experts that are needed in these cases such as the Personal Injury Lawyer Manchester NH locals trust.
Thanks to authors at Bouchard, Kleinman & Wright, P.A., for their insight into Personal Injury Law.