June 1, 2023

Proving Loss of Consciousness In Brain Injury Cases

Loss of consciousness is an important factor in brain injury cases, as loss of consciousness often accompanies serious head injuries. Although it is entirely possible for a brain injury to occur without a loss of consciousness, it is more likely that a loss of consciousness has occurred but not documented. Emergency room records often note “no reported loss of consciousness,” but as a rule, emergency personnel are not at the scene of the accident. Such a report, which may simply be inaccurate, can hinder a brain injury claim due to the above misconception. This means the attorney must look for signs of a loss of consciousness that may not be readily apparent to others.

In some cases the plaintiff may have been alone at the time he suffered a loss of consciousness, in which case there would be no witnesses and no record. For this reason, the plaintiff himself will typically be the best source in determining whether there was a loss of consciousness. A detailed interview with the plaintiff with particular attention to time sequence will provide clues, such as a gap in memory. If an interview does not reveal an unexplained gap in memory, it may very well reveal a change in mental state, such as forgetfulness or confusion. Family members may also lend insight: Was the plaintiff confused when they returned home? Did they repeat themselves? Sometimes a loss of consciousness will not reveal itself until hours after the injury occurred.

Similar information can also be gleaned from ambulance and emergency room reports. References to certain symptoms such as disorientation, nausea, or the need for oxygen could indicate a loss of consciousness occurred. Some common physical symptoms are fatigue, seizures, difficulty with speech, loss of motor control and coordination, sensory problems, difficulty sleeping, headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and balance difficulties. Common cognitive symptoms include loss of short-term or long-term memory, slowed thinking, difficulty concentrating, impaired judgment, reduced organizational skills, difficulty completing tasks, short attention span and lack of initiative.

A loss of consciousness can manifest itself in many ways, and a diligent attorney can use these symptoms and behaviors to support the argument that an otherwise undocumented loss of consciousness did occur. In doing so, the attorney can better persuade the jury that a loss of consciousness, and therefore, a brain injury, was sustained.

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