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Minor Concussions from Car Accidents Can Lead to Serious Traumatic Brain Injury

December 1, 2009 by Steven M. Gursten

Several news reports, including most recently the television show 60 Minutes, state that athletes who have concussions, even ones that are considered minor, can go on to have permanent brain injury and dementia later in life. These new studies may provide important help for traumatic brain injury attorneys entrusted with the responsibility of showing what futures may hold for car accident victims.

The Dishonest Defense Argument about Brain Injury

The 60 Minutes show was based on a study of the long-term effects of traumatic brain injury (particularly concussions) in athletes. This story highlights a problem that TBI attorneys and brain injured victims see far too often: Defense lawyers and insurance companies saying these injuries “look too good” to be a problem for a jury to take seriously.

As Dr. Robert Cantu, a neurosurgeon who co-authored the University of North Carolina study said, “A large segment of society thinks that concussions are innocuous and everybody recovers from them, and life is gonna be merry ever after.” But Dr. Cantu stresses this notion, made by defense lawyers about traumatic brain injury victims in courtrooms around America every day, couldn’t be further from the truth.

The story concluded that brain injury and subsequent brain damage – even from a “minor” accident or “minor” concussion – poses major problems such as dementia, early Alzheimer’s, severe clinical depression later in life. It compared the violent hits between football players to those people take in serious car accidents.

Take hard-hitter Ted Johnson of the New England Patriots, who suffered many concussions and now lives with early onset of dementia and depression. “I was in bed with no contact with anybody, curtains drawn. I would get up, go eat, go back to bed. That was my routine for a long, long time,” Johnson said of how he felt when the symptoms overcame him four years ago.

Our client was run over by a pick-up truck and propelled head-first into a log cabin. His brain injuries now cause him severe depression, lapses in concentration, chronic pain and headaches. The former engineer can no longer work, and is just not the same man anymore.

Because many people with brain damage look and speak normally, defense lawyers and insurance companies have a hay day trying to deny responsibility for TBI cases. That’s why this research paper, and the 60 Minutes program should be required of any attorneys helping TBI victims. It truly highlights the challenges we face in protecting these people from lifelong medical challenges later in life. It also provides clear evidence that brain injuries can devastate lives.

Here is the news story. The accompanying review article is called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in Athletes: Progressive Tauopathy After Repetitive Head Injury. It’s by the American Association of Neuropathologists, Inc.

On Thursday I will blog about the hidden but deadly traumatic brain injury, and Michigan’s closed-head injury exception, which gives TBI accident victims with normal CT scans and MRIs a fair day in court.

Steven M. Gursten is a member of the American Association for Justice Traumatic Brian Injury Group and the Sarah Jane Brain Project. In 2008, Steve received a trial verdict of $5.65 million for a TBI victim; the largest reported auto negligence verdict in Michigan for the year.

Related information:

Documenting Traumatic Brain Injury

The TBI Case: Too Many Fleas and it’s a Dog

How Michigan TBI Victims Can Reach a Jury

Symptoms of Brain Injury

Michigan Auto Law exclusively handles car accident, truck accident and motorcycle accident cases throughout the entire state of Michigan. If you have been in an auto accident and are having traumatic brain injury symptoms, please call (800) 777-0028 for a free case evaluation with one of our attorneys. For more information, please read our law firm quick facts.

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