There are a number of aspects that must be fully considered in order to obtain full compensation for a TBI victim.
Earnings Capacity and Vocational Ability
At the outset, earnings capacity loss should be considered. A vocational expert can testify about the individual’s ability to work, the types of jobs in which they are capable of working, the amount of hours the individual can work in a week, and the number of years in which the person can work over their lifetime. It’s important for jurors to understand that a TBI injury can affect memory and reasoning ability, which can preclude many potential job opportunities and vocations (including a job or vocation that the injured person may have had at the time of the injury). TBI may also be mild but due to other non physical issues (depression, anxiety, functional overlay), may not result in vocational damages. To differentially diagnose the condition is the role of a forensic psychologist, like Dr. Manges.
Should the person have a recognized TBI the individual’s vocational abilities need to be understood, so that an economic determination can be made concerning the expected income to be received by the individual in a job that offers the highest compensation for which they are qualified following their injury. When the present value of the amount of new expected earnings is determined based upon life after the TBI injury, this amount must be compared to the present value of the expected earnings if the TBI injury had not occurred to determine the total lost earnings.
Even though an individual may be able to work in a certain vocation does not necessarily mean that meaningful employment may be readily available. Other information and factors may thus impact the realistic financial opportunities available. Age, training, motivation and recovery are all issues to be reckoned with and evaluated.
Ongoing Healthcare Costs
Individuals who have sustained a severe and lasting TBI will may have ongoing healthcare costs related to the TBI. These costs may include medication, assistance with daily life activities, or even the necessity of having a paid caregiver. These costs need to be determined when making a damage claim. Dr. Manges refers to Life Care Planners and economists to help determine the expenses expected into the future.
Loss of Enjoyment of Life
Many jurisdictions allow expert testimony on the loss of enjoyment of life. As an example, a person who engaged in a number of athletic activities prior to a TBI may no longer be able to participate in these activities as a result of the TBI. A TBI, therefore, may have a significant reduction on an individual’s quality of life, which should result in monetary compensation.
Severe TBIs can result in complex psychological issues, including depression, anxiety, an inability to exercise normal emotional control, anger issues, and a host of related mental conditions. In essence, the psychological impact of the TBI may be thought of as two components – the direct effects of the TBI (such as loss of cognition) and the secondary effects (such as depression and anger arising as the result of the loss of executive functioning).
The range of psychological issues can also severely impact the TBI victim and his or her family. When a TBI victim cannot control their emotions or rage other issues develop, the person may no longer be able to have interpersonal relationships as they had pre-injury with their children, significant others family, and friends.
Expert Witness Testimony
Obtaining expert testimony in a TBI case can be critical in obtaining full and fair compensation for your client. Contact us today if you are litigating a TBI case. Once we have had an opportunity to learn about your case we can explain how we can help.