Skull Fractures: Important Information for Attorneys
Michael V. Kaplen: In reviewing a client’s brain injury case, what important information does an attorney derive from knowing that a skull fracture was sustained?
In representing a person who has sustained a traumatic brain injury, it is important for a lawyer to know whether a skull fracture took place since the force of impact necessary to cause a fracture to the skull implies severe brain damage most probably has taken place.
The brain injury attorney needs to carefully consider and investigate for all possible injuries to obtain proper compensation for his or her client.
Skull fractures frequently result from high speed car crashes, from falls on ice and uneven surfaces where the individuals strikes their head on the ground, in accidents where pedestrians being struck by an automobile fall and strike their heads on the roadway, in individuals being struck on the head by falling objects and in falls caused by unsafe walkways and surfaces.
There are some types of skull fractures which are not easily detectable by routine skull x rays yet do present classic signs that a skull fracture took place that the brain injury attorney needs to be aware of.
One such sign is known as “Raccoon Eyes” which are black and blue marks around the eyes. This injury is caused by a basil skull fracture, a fracture at the base of the skull and represents damage to the thin bone that separates the skull from the nose area called the cribriform plate
Another sign of a skull fracture is the presence of black and blue marks over the neck area. This is known as a “Battle Sign” and is associated with a unique type of fracture known as an ipsilateral skull fracture.
A person who has sustained a skull fracture has a far greater chance of sustaining bleeding within the brain and damage to nerve cells far away from the point of impact.
This damage to brain nerve cells requires careful assessment by neuropsychological testing to determine what cognitive deficits have resulted.
An attorney representing a person who has sustained a skull fracture needs to know that that their client has an increased risk of developing a seizure disorder or traumatic epilepsy.
The presence of a skull fracture also increases the chances that the victim has sustained damage to the nerve cells that control the sense of taste and smell. These senses are often not tested as part of a standard neurological examination and are often missed by lawyers and doctors who do not understand traumatic brain injury.
Another problem that often develops as a result of skull fractures are difficulties processing sounds and increased sensitivity to loud noises. Often patients with a skull fracture develop a condition known as tinnitus where constant ringing in the ears takes place or hyperacusis which is sensitivity to loud noise or background noise that can’t be blocked out. Dizziness must also be investigated after a skull fracture.
To properly represent an individual who has sustained traumatic brain damage, a lawyer needs to know the full extent of the brain damage sustained by their client. Only through careful questioning of the client and careful evaluation of the client’s hospital and medical records and radiological studies can a full understanding of all brain injuries be obtained.
The proper representation of a client with brain damage takes both skill and patience.