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With Head Injuries It’s Not About X-Rays

Robert I. Feinberg

Those of us who deal with personal injury cases have become familiar with the diagnostic tools available to the medical profession. Two classics are the history the doctor obtains from the patient and the clinical exam. Obviously, however, every bit is important is the diagnostic testing in the formulation of a diagnosis.  X-rays have limited probative value in this area as they will show skull fractures but not much else to aid the assessment.

The tests that we most often see in the case of a brain injury are the CT scans, MRI’s, CT angiography, SPECT and PET scans (more controversial). When those tests are abnormal, it is obviously easier to prove a brain injury. In fact, those tests in conjunction with clinical assessments, family observations, and neuro psychological testing complete the picture.

It is hard for a defendant to disagree with the findings of a subdural hematoma or a subarachnoid hemorrhage. There is something known as a Glasgow Coma Scale to rate those injuries. In those instances, it is conceded that there was a brain injury in the first place. The battle line is drawn over the long-term prognosis. Because victims of these brain injuries often appear normal, it is incumbent upon the lawyer to develop the case in a thorough fashion, really leaving no stone unturned. In that way, this subtle but significant injury will receive its proper due.

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