A brain injury can produce significant personality changes. These changes can cause huge problems finding or keeping a job after the injury. Often, family members are in the best position to observe the day-to-day impact of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) upon an injured worker.
A recent article in Psychology Today tells the story of a nurse dealing with her husband’s personality changes following a brain injury. If you are dealing with an injured family member, you may be very familiar with the changes in mood, memory, thinking, and other personality changes that can result. The article in Psychology Today is well worth a read:
I often see clients who have suffered brain injury in an accident. Even a mild brain injury can produce significant disability when it comes to future employment. Yet, these injuries are often ignored. Why? A variety of reasons lead to this. The injured person may not understand their problems. Or, the injured person may be embarrassed to discuss their problems. Often, medical doctors who are very good at treating other physical injuries don’t even fully understand the impact of brain injuries. Finally, in workers’ compensation cases, the insurance carriers often try to ignore the problem to save medical costs.
However, a brain injury should never be ignored. Brain injuries can be complicated. You should seek an attorney who understands the issues involved in testing, treating, and evaluating these injuries. Here are a few quick tips I follow in cases involving brain injury:
- Interview family members and friends to understand the full impact of the client’s injury. These individuals will often be the most valuable witnesses to explain your client’s story.
- Involve medical professionals trained in testing and evaluating brain injuries. This requires that the attorney study and understand the various tests necessary to evaluate these injuries. It also requires the attorney to be familiar with the professionals in his area who are specially trained to provide this testing, such as neuropsychologists. Have the injured person tested by someone who is specially trained and well respected in the medical profession.
- Involve vocational professionals trained in evaluating the impact of the injury upon the workers’ ability to find or keep employment. It amazes me how many attorneys do not understand the impact of limitations upon employment. Credible vocational experts can explain to the court at trial how an injury can impact employment. Utilize these experts. Also, study and learn the huge amount of valuable information from the Department of Labor evaluating the requirements of different jobs.
- Involve the injured client and his/her family in the process. These cases are special. It can be difficult for families trying to deal with these injuries. Communication, emotion, and memory are all issues that can make it difficult for the family and for you as the attorney. If you are going to handle these cases, you have to be prepared for these unique communication challenges.