A legal action that is colloquially mentioned to as a “brain injury lawsuit” may actually refer to a wide range of things. The most common case likely refers to a suit filed by a victim who suffered a traumatic brain injury after being involved in a car accident or slip and fall. The lawsuit would then center on the potential negligence of those who may have caused the accident, such as another driver or the landlord of the place where the fall took place. In other situations the brain injury may result from mistakes made during childbirth. These injuries are usually not traumatic brain injuries, because they do not result from blunt force trauma to the infant. Instead, they are most often the result of a lack of oxygen and blood to the brain for a prolonged period of time. These birth injuries arise with surprising frequency, often when a C-section is not performed in a timely fashion following a problem during the birth.
In each of these cases, the brain injury lawsuit would likely name the individual that caused the actual injury as a defendant. However, there are other situations where a brain injury lawsuit may also involve not only the individual’s whose negligence caused the accident, but also those who failed to act properly after the injury already arose. These are usually “failure to detect” cases, where one in a position to catch the brain injury fails to do so, meaning that treatment is delayed. In these situations the victim suffers more harm that he or she otherwise would have if the injury had been detected in a reasonable manner.
This potential problem was reported on in Pro Publica this morning. The article framed the issue in the context of brain treatment programs in place for our military service members. Traumatic brain injuries are a common injury for soldiers, considering that roadside bombs are one of the most common dangers faced by our troops. In order to help the problem, Congress has passed legislation requiring the military to test soldiers’ brain function before they are allowed to re-deploy. Failure to catch these brain injuries can have life-long effects on soldiers, and the screening is necessary to prevent those problems.
Tragically, a new investigation has found that the screening process is failing. The problem is that the test used to determine if a soldier has suffered a traumatic brain injury has not actually been shown to properly detect the injury. In this way, the program gives the appearance of helping service members while not actually doing so. In the four years that the program has been around, more than a million troops have taken the test, costing the taxpayers more than $42 million. Yet, the fruits of that cost may be nil, because the test doesn’t reliable catch brain injuries even when they exist. Our Chicago brain injury lawyer is concerned that the military’s failure to detect serious brain injuries in soldiers may have significant long-term consequences. One former military doctor explained that “the test was not developed for the purposes of identifying the kinds of problems that we see in concussions.”
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