In the last few years, the scientific community released a plethora of evidence on the causes and effects of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). There is so much out there that it can be difficult to sift through the reams of information to cite the most supportive evidence in your TBI personal injury case.
Building a strong case begins with the client interview
In cases of mild TBIs, the damage from the accident may not initially be apparent. Sometimes even when a TBI is known or suspected, the seriousness of the injury may be disguised in part by soft tissue or other injuries. For instance, if a patient has missing teeth, a broken nose or swelling from facial lacerations, doctors might not immediately realize that the patient's speech is affected by a TBI.
That's why it's important that attorneys screen clients carefully during the initial meeting. It's more difficult to settle a TBI case that begins as simple personal injury litigation arising from soft tissue injuries.
Below are some tips to help attorneys on their fact-finding consultations with potential TBI clients.
Make sure to start off on the right foot with clients
First impressions are lasting, so make yours a good one. The most effective attorney-client relationships are based on mutual trust and good rapport. Many clients are nervous or apprehensive around attorneys, so attempt to put them at ease before getting down to business.
Establish common ground with new clients. Use visual cues to pick up on subtle clues. Is he wearing a Patriots jacket or White Sox t-shirt? There'a a good opening. It doesn't really matter what topic you choose — the goal is to touch them on a personal level and appear down-to-earth.
TBIs present with a wide range of symptoms across most of the body's organ systems. Some of the neurological consequences of TBIs can result in embarrassing behavioral problems or symptoms that can be quite distressing to relate to a stranger. Establishing a close and trusting relationship with your client is imperative for them to reveal the deeply personal psychosocial effects of the TBI.
Look for nonverbal clues
Clients convey information in various subconscious ways that the attorney should be able to interpret. Observe the mannerisms the client uses and note any unusual behaviors or problems with their responses. Does the client have trouble with recollection or the timeline of events before and immediately following the accident? A TBI can make survivors struggle with linear time, so you might have to ask them to repeat the timeline more than once.
Discussing the accident or incident can be traumatic for survivors, but note if their agitation or reactions seem extreme or appropriate for the situation.
Get deep background on your client
It's important to do a deep background investigation on each TBI client that you represent, as you can believe that the defense will do so.
You may need to interview the client's spouse or significant other, parents, siblings, children, colleagues and friends. The scope of your background will depend on the client's circumstances and personal relationships.
Representing a TBI client is more labor-intensive than litigating many other types of personal injury cases. The extra work means that attorneys need to see a good return on their investment. Making sure that all the details are squared away from the first meeting with the client helps pave the way to a successful outcome.