New Technology Could Affect Traumatic Brain Injury Cases
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is one in which the victim suffers a head injury that causes serious physical or neurological problems that may require long-term care depending on its severity. It has often been difficult to link an accident to a TBI, but new scanning technology that can specifically identify and locate a brain injury could have legal implications for victims and their attorneys.
Technology May Pinpoint the Injury
MRI Scan: University of Pittsburgh scientists have developed an MRI scan that could diagnose and pinpoint a traumatic brain injury and help doctors determine the nature and extent of the damage.The MRI uses diffusion tensor imaging that outlines major fiber tracts in the brain, similar to a freeway with onramps, except the brain has millions of them. The brain cells travel along the tracts or connectors and will detect breaks in the fibers. A breakdown in fibers could be correlated with a TBI victim’s inability to move a limb or fingers, or problems with cognitive functions like memory or learning.
CT Scan: Military researchers are developing a CT scan that promises to detect blood flow changes in the brain that could indicate an abnormality that may be causing neurological complications. The study is attempting to correlate TBI injuries suffered by combat veterans with these abnormal blood findings.
Proof of Injury
Personal injury cases require plaintiffs to prove they suffered injuries that were a result of another person's negligent conduct. In many head or brain injury cases, physicians are unable to see or to locate the source of a brain injury that causes serious cognitive or physical problems.
A personal injury attorney must show a connection between the accident and the client's injury. Brain injuries may be difficult to objectively verify, but if the MRI or CT scan does indicate where the damage is located and correlates with the victim’s pathology, or if significant blood flow changes in the brain are noted, the causation element of proof may be met.
Additionally, automobile accidents attorneys could more easily prove that an injury was permanent if the nerve fibers were permanently damaged. This would indicate that certain medical costs and specific treatments were reasonable and necessary for treating the traumatic brain injury victim. Damages for pain and suffering could also be substantially increased if a direct link between the scan results and the injury is demonstrated, possibly confirming a permanent disability.
Many personal injury claims depend on the plaintiff’s credibility. Jurors are more apt to award significant damages, and insurance adjusters to offer full value, in injury claims that can be verified. Injuries that can be seen on a scan and be reasonably explained will more likely point to a definite connection between the wrongful conduct and the plaintiff's injury, resulting in higher awards.