Anytime someone suffers a severe personal injury, the harm affects not only the victim but also those who are personally close to the victim. This is obviously most apt when it comes to close family members. Parents, spouses, and children often suffer intensely when their loved one is hurt because of another’s negligence. There are a few ways that damage awards in personal injury lawsuits try to account for this harm (loss of companionship, consortium, support, and similar damages). However, damage awards never fully compensate victims for the full scope of what they experience following one of these accidents.
Our Chicago injury lawyers know that this is particularly true with brain injuries.
For example, consider injuries suffered in a car accident. If a father is hurt in the accident and breaks both of his legs, that injury will have repercussions on his family. The man may not be able to work, his wife may be needed to stay home and provide help, and the whole family is likely to experience the financial strain of the situation. Now imagine that the father suffers a traumatic brain injury. That injury may completely alter the father’s personality, make it impossible to create new memories, and make it so that he needs observation around the clock because he is prone to become confused about his surroundings. Imagine the impact on the family in that situation. It is impossible to fully comprehend how that will affect the family dynamics and relationships.
One aspect of that issue that has received a bit of attention lately is the effect that traumatic brain injuries have on marriages. The Republic published a post this week that addressed the subject. It was noted how the strong bond between Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly creates a false impressions that it may not be all that difficult to keep a marriage intact after a traumatic brain injury. Even though Congresswoman Giffords has made amazing progress in her recovery (much more than others experience), her husband admits that he has “had new realities to live with-the reality and pain of letting go of the past.”
It is undeniable that some marriages are ended following these injuries. This is not any one person’s fault but simply a reality that must be understood. However, the divorce rate following a traumatic brain injury is actually much lower than one might expect-17% when measured a few years after the injury.
Of course while a couple may remain married after one of these injuries, depending on the severity of the harm and the personality change that the victim experiences, the quality of that marriages is undoubtedly strained. Some psychologists have actually been working on unique marriage counseling strategies specifically for those who have a brain injured spouse. Those involved say that the goal of the therapy is not to restore a relationship to the previous levels of happiness (as is done in traditional counseling) but is instead geared toward helping spouses cope with a new reality. Those who have participated have explained that it is beneficial for both the injured and un-injured spouse.
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