Proving a Brain Injury
Often brain injury cases do not involve a single trauma resulting, for example, in a fractured skull or brain surgery. Brain injury cases thus often require multiple levels of proof and a confluence of data to establish causation. There are four main approaches: neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, neuropsychology, and collateral evidence.
Brain and Neuroradiology
Not every brain injury will show up on radiological findings. While it certainly helps, for example, to have an abnormal MRI to prove your case, many individuals with apparently normal MRIs have suffered a severe brain injury.
Whether or not neuroimaging will document a brain injury depend on the specific type of neuroimaging and the specific injury.
That said, brain imaging has come a long way, especially recently. Some methods are admissible in court, while some may be more difficult to use at trial, depending on the jurisdiction and judge. Different types of neuroimaging available include some designed to assess brain form and some brain function:
- MRI – Magnetic Resonance Brain Imaging
- FMRI – Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging
- MRS – Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
- CT Imaging – Computerized Tomography
- SPECT – Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography
- PET – Positron Emission Tomography
- DWI – Diffusion Weighted Imaging
- FLAIR – Fluid Attenuation Inversion Recovery
Different methods work better for different kinds of brain injuries, and your attorneys and experts should have the resources to explore all potentially viable means to prove your case.
Neurophysiological tests measure the functions of the nervous system, including the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves.
EEGs (electroencephalograms) pick up electrical impulses sent out by your brain, which control actions like speech and muscle coordination. An irregular EEG can help locate an injury to a more specific region and thus better document the injury and help establish causation.
Evoked Potential (EP) testing measures the electrical activity in specific regions on the brain in response to stimulation of specific nerve groups and can help diagnose and document visual, auditory and or somatosensory delay caused by a brain injury and/or spinal cord damage.
Neurophysiological testing can be used in connection with other methods to strengthen causation.
Neuropsychology is a relatively new field, but one that is used often in brain injury cases. Typically both sides in a brain injury lawsuit will have their own expert neuropsychologists. Neuropsychology aims to understand how the structure and function of the brain (including the injured brain) directly relate to and influence psychological processes and behavior.
Neuropsychologists use standardized tests, such as the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS), Wechsler Memory Scale (WMS), Test of Memory Malingering (TOMM) and others, in order to attempt to determine what psychological and cognitive impact an alleged injury has had on an individual. Your attorneys and experts should understand how these tests can be used to bolster your case and how they can be misused by the defense to attempt to discredit the plaintiff or downplay the alleged injury sustained.
Whether or not the brain injury is tangible with neuroimaging, evidence from everyday life is important to document how severe and debilitating the injury really is on a day-to-day level. Witnesses from the plaintiff’s workplace, friends, family, and so on, should be interviewed and relied upon to paint a picture of the plaintiff’s life before and after the brain injury. Nothing speaks louder than concrete examples from credible witnesses of how the plaintiff just isn’t the same person anymore after the brain injury, and just can’t get along in life and interact with others in the same way as before.
Brain injuries cause people unhappiness and decrease quality of life. It is important for the jury to realize that, aside and apart from the neuro-radiological, neurophysiological and neuropsychological evidence.