TBI Lawyer: Helping Brain Injury Survivors Overcome Obstacles

This video features Joel H. Siegal, a Civil Rights attorney based in California.

The Challenges Facing TBI Survivors And Their Families

Video Transcript:

Joel Siegal:

Oftentimes clients don't get the right diagnosis.

Rob Rosenthal:

Do you know why brain injuries are sometimes called the invisible injury? Well, we're going to find out right now, because that's what we're going to ask the lawyer.

Hi again, everybody. I’m Rob Rosenthal with askthelawyers.com, and my guest is California attorney Joel Siegal. Joel, good to see again. Thank you for making some time for us.

Joel Siegal:

Thank you.

Rob Rosenthal:

So I've heard brain injuries sometimes called the invisible injury. Explain to me why that might be.

Joel Siegal:

Well, first of all, brain injuries are oftentimes diagnosed by CT scans or by MRIs, and sadly, a lot of hospitals don't like to do these procedures because they're expensive. And if at all possible, hospitals try to not spend money, so therefore, oftentimes clients don't get the right diagnosis. We have to get in there and fight on behalf of our clients and make sure that they get the right sort of diagnosis. So that's one reason why brain injuries are called the invisible injuries.

Rob Rosenthal:

I imagine there can be a lot of expert witnesses involved in something like that too, right?

Joel Siegal:

Well, of course there are expert witnesses involved. Neuropsychology tests are often very important. Our friends, I'm using that term loosely, but the insurance defense lawyers and the insurance adjusters, oftentimes like to think that people who have suffered from brain injuries are malingering, and that's oftentimes a defense that they will assert. But the good news is that there are certain tests that neuropsychologists give which can defeat the claim of malingering. So those are very, very important for us to send people out to neuropsychologists.

Rob Rosenthal:

Are there some challenges that people with brain injuries may face that most people may not realize, and what are they?

Joel Siegal:

Of course, some of the problems are being able to function at your job. Sometimes we have clients whose jobs are lower level jobs, and they were having problems functioning at their jobs before the injury, so it's made matters worse. The thing about brain injury is that it also affects both sides of the equation; we've actually had cases where, believe it or not, the defendant had a brain injury, which caused the accident. Let me tell you this story because it's kind of an interesting story.

Our client was a young woman whose mom sadly died in a car accident. The mom was sitting at a red light, minding her own business waiting for the light to change, when suddenly a truck went through a red light and struck her head on and killed her. Now, in the hour investigation in the case, we learned that the truck was driven by a tire repair operator; he was changing a tire and in the course of changing the tire, the rim exploded off the tire, hit him in the head, and he called up his supervisor to say that he needed some assistance in changing the tire. And the supervisor went out there, and the supervisor for some reason thought he was a doctor, he gave the driver the stigma test, he said, “Here, follow my finger.” And the driver was able to follow his finger, but an hour later driving his vehicle, he passed out and he ended up killing my client's mother.

Rob Rosenthal:

Wow.

Joel Siegal:

So we had to use brain injury to show that the defendant was not competent to drive the vehicle, and that the supervisor was negligent in allowing that driver to get on the road.

Rob Rosenthal:

Wow. That's very interesting. So it would seem to me too, Joel, that sometimes brain injuries, obviously they affect the person who suffered the injury, but they could also have effects over the whole family, their caregivers, people that deal with them every day.

Joel Siegal:

Absolutely. There are issues that go on in families—and this is really one of the things we do best here in this office—in order to determine what people's damages are, we like to get in there, we like to talk to family members, we like to talk to family friends; we like to see how the injury has affected people's lives, because that's one of the elements of damages to a case. There is something called special damages, which you can write down on a blackboard; medical bills, lost wages, cost of repairing items, those are clear and they're special, you can write them down. What about general damages? What about damages for pain and suffering? What about damages for the loss of enjoyment of life? The real way to prove that is for us to get in and learn about your life, and to see how this accident has affected your life and made your life less meaningful than it was prior to the accident.

Rob Rosenthal:

Just from your answer so far, Joel, it seems to me that it's very important to have an attorney helping you out after a brain injury who has experience in these sort of things, right?

Joel Siegal:

It's very important. It’s been said about brain injuries that for somebody with brain injuries, it's like traveling in a foreign country and not understanding the language. So as to your question about how it affects people in the family, you can imagine if your loved one—your father, your brother, your mother, your spouse—they're talking to you, and all of a sudden they get lost in a conversation, they can't follow what you're saying. Imagine the level of frustration to you and everyone else in the family. And the kinds of treatment for a traumatic brain injury is difficult and it often takes a long time, and it’s important to have the absolute right type of treatment as well.

Rob Rosenthal:

That's going to do it for this episode of Ask the Lawyer. My guest has been California attorney Joel Siegal. Remember, if you want the best information or you'd like to be able to choose a lawyer that lawyers choose, make sure to go to askthelawyers.com. Thanks for watching. I'm Rob Rosenthal with AskTheLawyers™.

Disclaimer: This video is for informational purposes only. In some states, this video may be deemed Attorney Advertising. The choice of lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.

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