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The Critical Value of Medical Expert Witnesses in Brain Injury Cases

The X-ray of the human brain closeup image

The right expert can make a substantial difference in the outcome of a TBI claim.

Fewer injuries have a more profound impact on victims’ lives than brain injuries. A traumatic brain injury (TBI) or acquired brain injury (ABI) may require a lifetime of care. It may permanently compromise the victim’s ability to work and earn income. TBIs and ABIs can also dramatically affect a victim’s quality of life.

In high-stakes, complex brain injury litigation, medical experts take on a profoundly important role. The right medical expert can work to accurately assess and maximize the value of your brain injury case.

Diagnosing and explaining the brain injury itself

Unlike broken bones and lost limbs, brain injuries are tricky to diagnose and explain to a jury. Medical experts such as neurologists and neuropsychologists can interpret medical tests and provide detailed, nuanced explanations of how the brain injury has affected the victim’s health and quality of life.

Just as significantly, medical expertise may be needed to explain the mechanism of injury and connect symptoms that may have arisen weeks or months later to the initial injury-causing event. As symptoms such as headaches, numbness, and neurological effects become more debilitating over time, there is a significant opportunity for experts on both sides to explain why the incident did or did not cause each specific symptom, with potentially hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars in damages hanging in the balance.

Exploring or refuting alternate causes of symptoms

Brain injuries can cause a wide range of symptoms, and some of those symptoms have dual causes. The only way for a jury to know which symptoms to attribute to the brain injury and which to attribute to some other condition is with insight from an appropriate medical expert.

Alternative causes can play a significant role in brain injury claims. For example, as we previously reported, in the high-profile Gwyneth Paltrow brain injury lawsuit, defense experts successfully presented medical evidence that the plaintiff’s symptoms may have been caused by pre-existing conditions, age-related decline, or even the stress and national profile of the lawsuit itself.

Explaining the prognosis and defining damages

Defining the prognosis of a brain injury is especially difficult. Every TBI and ABI is different, and the potential complications vary depending on the parts of the brain that are damaged and the victim’s overall health and life stage. Expenses such as in-home care, rehabilitation, occupational therapy, medical treatment, and more need to be accounted for, as do the impact on the victim’s ability to work and earn income in the future.

The long-term cost of a brain injury can easily be in the millions of dollars, and most of those costs can be defined, directly or indirectly, through medical expert testimony. The more descriptive and effective the expert testimony, the more likely it is that a verdict or settlement will reflect the true value of the case.

Types of medical experts who can support brain injury cases

In any brain injury case, neurologists, neuropsychologists, radiologists, and other physicians who directly treat brain injuries can play a key role, as they can explain the injury itself and the likely prognosis. In addition, if the brain injury was allegedly caused by medical malpractice, an expert in the same specialty as the defendant physician is needed to explain the applicable standards of care and opine on whether those standards were met.

Life care planners also play a crucial role in traumatic brain injury litigation. While non-physician life care planners can offer helpful testimony, physician life care planners are the gold standard because they can independently assess the victim’s symptoms and prognosis and offer their own opinions on their treatment needs based on their medical knowledge. Physician life care planners may also have more credibility in the eyes of a jury.

Contact Rieback Medical-Legal Consultants and Find Your Expert

In high-stakes brain injury litigation, you can’t take chances when it comes to expert witnesses. Since 1986, Rieback Medical-Legal Consultants, Inc. has been supporting the legal community with the best in medicine. Our network includes physicians in all medical specialties, and we provide ongoing support throughout your case. Contact us online today to find out how you can benefit from our network of brain injury experts.

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