Brain Injury Cases FAQ
Can I have a brain injury if I did not lose consciousness?
A: Yes. In fact, Minnesota has a statute for this. It is a very common misconception that a person cannot have a brain injury if there has not been a loss of consciousness. While it is true that most people with a significant brain injury will have suffered a loss of consciousness or a period of altered consciousness following trauma, such is not always the case. In addition, we will commonly see it reported in the emergency room or ambulance records that there was no loss of consciousness. The ambulance crew does not have the luxury, and the emergency room physicians do not have the opportunity to interview witnesses to the accident in its immediate aftermath. They are left to rely on the report of the injured person when making a determination of whether there was a loss of consciousness or altered consciousness.
The Importance Of Careful Questioning
Witnesses at the scene will often confirm either that the person had in fact lost consciousness or was otherwise displaying signs of disorientation or confusion. Very careful questioning of the injured person can also disclose that there was a loss of consciousness. For example, the last memory the injured person has before a collision might be about something that happened seconds or minutes before the collision. The very next memory might be of emergency personnel standing outside the door of the vehicle. While the injured person does not know that consciousness was lost, questioning indicates that it was and gives some insight into how long the person was unconscious. Also, a person can appear conscious and function as though fully conscious but have no memory for a specific period of time. It is as if the record button was not depressed for a period of time. This period of amnesia can also indicate altered consciousness and be instrumental in determining insult to the brain when it otherwise was not apparent.
How are attorneys paid in these kinds of cases?
A: Most personal injury claims are handled on what is known as a “contingency fee” basis. That means that you pay no attorney fees unless there is a settlement or verdict in your case. The fee is then taken from the settlement or verdict proceeds. A contingency fee of 33 1/3% is standard for vehicle collision and other standard injury cases. The contingency fees in medical malpractice and product liability cases are typically 40% to 45%. That is because those cases are extremely expensive to pursue, often difficult to prove and are very vigorously defended. With any contingency fee case, the client does remain responsible for file costs that are incurred in pursuing the claim. These typically include things such as:
- The cost of obtaining a copy of your medical records
- The accident report
- Filing fees if a lawsuit is commenced
- The cost of depositions taken during the litigation
- Expert witness fees