Head and Brain Injury

Serious brain injuries are often obvious. There will usually be a defining event, such as a serious road traffic accident or a violent assault. The injured person may be unconscious at the scene and receive immediate treatment on arrival at hospital. In some cases, surgery to the brain may even be undertaken.

Mild brain injury is more difficult to detect and, in some instances, it is not picked up until a later date, for instance, where there are serious orthopaedic injuries, and where the medical staff at the hospital are concentrating on saving life and limb. Mild and moderate forms of brain injury can develop over a period of hours or even a day or two, where the original trauma to the head causes, for instance, a slow swelling of the brain tissue.

Litigation involving brain injury often involves a complex array of legal issues. Medical opinion often differs, especially if the injury is mild or moderate as opposed to severe. There is not always a clear diagnosis from the hospital, and the medical experts instructed by the parties to the litigation very often differ in their diagnosis. One of the most common arguments is whether the injury is an “organic” brain injury (physical injury to the brain) or whether the symptoms suffered are “psychological” (there are many different types of psychological injury which can cause the person suffering to present with similar problems to those with an organic brain injury). Mild and even moderate brain injuries are often not significant enough to show up on a scan, which means there is no solid evidence of the cause of the symptoms.

The organic v psychological argument is probably the most significant issue affecting the prognosis of the injured person and therefore the value of the claim: if it turns out to be a psychological injury, the individual has a good chance of a full recovery. Conversely, if the injury is organic, the chance of recovery is less positive.

Because of this and other complex issues, it is important that you choose a solicitor with plenty of experience in dealing with head and brain injury claims. It is important for you to understand at the outset what will be involved, the number of experts you are likely to have to see and how long the claim is likely to take. If you have been severely affected by your symptoms, for instance you have lost your job, you will need to discuss with your chosen solicitor whether there is any chance of obtaining an interim payment to help you survive financially while the case is running, and what practical assistance you can obtain, for instance, care and medical treatment.

We are often asked by professional bodies and brain injury charities to have a friendly chat with people who are not sure whether they may have a claim, or who are not sure whether their claim is proceeding as it should. We are passionate about helping people to understand their circumstances and are always willing to spare the time to discuss the situation and to give some guidance as to the options, whether or not we take on the claim.