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Six reasons to promptly retain a lawyer after a family member suffers a severe brain injury

If the injury is a traumatic brain injury, all of the following reasons are twice as important; patients cannot recover alone, and must rely upon family to look after things while they concentrate on healing.

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Daniel Corrin to Co-Chair Upcoming TLABC Seminar

Trial Lawyers Association of BC (TLABC) presents:

Persuasion and the Complex Case:
Strategies to Simplify Challenging Medical/Legal Cases

December 7, 2012
Fairmont Waterfront Hotel
Vancouver, BC

Webster & Associates’ Daniel F. Corrin will co-chair the event with Susanne K. Raab, Dr. Andrei Krassioukov and Dr. Rajiv Reebye. Daniel will also be presenting The Foundations of Expert Reports: Writing and Admissibility and will moderate a panel discussion on The Complex Psychiatric Case.

 

The seminar includes the following sessions:

Sexual and Fertility Consequences of Traumatic Neurological Injury
Dr. Stacy Elliott MD, Sexual Medicine Physician, VGH and GF Strong Rehab Centre Clinical Professor, Depts. of Psychiatry and Urologic Sciences UBC, Vancouver BC

Medico-Legal Issues for Patients with Dual Diagnosis: Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury
Dr. Andrei Krassioukov MD, PhD FRCPC, Professor, Dep. Of Medicine (Div. Phys. Med. & Rehab) UBC, Vancouver BC

Bowel/Bladder Management After Neurological Injury
Bonnie Venables, Clinical Resource Nurse/Nurse Continence Advisor, GF Strong Rehab Centre, Vancouver BC

The Foundations of Expert Reports: Writing and Admissibility
Daniel Corrin, Webster & Associates, Richmond BC
Susanne K. Raab, Pacific Medical Law, Vancouver BC

View From the Bench: How Medical Experts Can Improve Their Credibility in the Eyes of the Court and Hot Tubbing With Your Experts
The Honourable Judge Heather A. Lamoureux, Provincial Court of Alberta, Calgary AB

Traumatic Brain Injuries & Vestibular Dysfunctions
Dr. Rajiv N. Reebye MD FRCPC, Specialist in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation NMS (Neuromuscular Skeletal) and ABI (Acquired Brain Injury) Programs G.F. Strong Rehabilitation Centre, Vancouver BC
Dr. Nicole Acerra, PhD BScP.T., Physiotherapist, Vancouver General Hospital, Vancouver BC

Panel – The Complex Psychiatric Case: Panel Discussion With Case Presentations
Daniel Corrin (moderator)
Dr. Shaohua Lu, Addiction and Consult Psychiatrist, Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry UBC, Vancouver BC
Dr. Derryck Smith, Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry, UBC, Vancouver BC
John Russell MD FRCP(C), Director of Psychiatry WorkSafeBC, North Vancouver BC

Communicating Complex Medical Issues: A Visual Approach
Stephen Mader, Artery Studios Inc, Toronto ON

Strategies and Considerations When Presenting A Pre-Existing Injury Case
Anthony A. Vecchio, Slater Vecchio LLP, Vancouver BC

Effective Cross-Examination of the Medical Expert: What Works and What Doesn’t
The Honourable Mr Justice Christopher E. Hinkson, Court of Appeal of British Columbia, Vancouver BC

 

Find out more about the event and how to register at: https://www.tlabc.org/index.cfm?pg=upcomingprograms

Download the seminar brochure here (PDF).

 

Five Things You Don’t Want to Hear from Your Lawyer

Over the years, I have talked to a lot of clients and potential clients who are seeking compensation (for themselves or their loved ones) for a severe brain or spinal cord injury. I have heard a number of interesting stories about their experiences dealing with other lawyers — some have been upsetting, some frustrating and some funny. I want to share with you my top five.

Here are five things you do not want to hear from your lawyer if you (or your loved one) are seeking compensation for a severe brain injury or spinal cord injury:

  1. “I’m a brain or spinal cord injury lawyer. I also do wills, estates,
    conveyances or divorces.”

    No lawyers can do everything well.
  2. “This is my first brain injury or paralysis case so I’m happy to get the
    experience.”

    Do you want to take the risk?
  3. “Maybe you could do it yourself in Small Claims Court.”
    This is no joke! B.C. Small Claims maximum recovery is only $25,000. Far, far short
    of what a very serious case is worth.
  4. “We will need you to fund expenses in the amount of about $10,000 (or
    a similar amount).”

    I’m sorry to say it, but the expenses that are required to properly fund a serious
    brain injury case are likely to be more in the range of $50,000 – $100,000, or even
    more. If your lawyer doesn’t know this, he or she clearly doesn’t know what is
    required. Many firms that handle very serious cases will have the ability to carry
    the expenses for the life of the file and get them reimbursed when the case
    resolves. If your law firm can’t do so, it may not have the capacity to fully manage
    the case.
  5. “Cut back on the rehab. You are (or your loved one is) getting “too
    much  better” and the case isn’t worth as much as I thought it would
    be!”

    This one makes me really angry. The mother of one of my very seriously injured clients was told this by her former lawyer just before she fired him. Like every injured person, her child has only one life to live and only one chance at the best recovery possible. Every lawyer should do whatever possible to encourage, assist and support their client’s rehabilitation. If they aren’t doing that, whose interests are they serving?

If you or your loved one are seeking compensation for a traumatic brain injury or spinal cord injury, please make sure you retain experienced legal representation who understand the complex medical, as well as legal, nuances of such cases and who prioritize your (or your loved ones) care and rehabilitation above all else.

Settled Claim for 20 Times Amount Originally Estimated by Other Law Firm

A lack of understanding about how to value a serious brain injury case is very common – even amongst lawyers.

We recently settled a claim for a young man who sustained a severe brain injury at the age of 13. He was struck by a car while riding his bike on a road near his home in a rural BC community. Shortly after the collision, his parents sought legal advice from a local law firm. They were told by the lawyer that this was a high risk case that they should not pursue – if won, the case would only be worth around $30,000 and if lost, they could potentially lose their home. Additionally, the parents were told by ICBC that their son was 100% responsible for the collision. They decided not to make a claim. Six years passed and, despite ICBC’s obligation to provide “no fault” rehabilitation benefits, the young man received very little in the way of rehabilitation support other than that provided by his family.

At the age of 19, the young man coincidentally met another young person with a brain injury and learned about our firm. We met him and his family and told them that his serious injuries could be worth a great deal more than what was originally estimated by the first lawyer his parents had talked to; possibly more than a million dollars.

After we commenced a legal action on his behalf the case was settled by ICBC for more than 20 times the amount originally estimated by the first lawyer.

We take cases that other lawyers turn down as being too “high risk.”

If you or your family member has sustained a serious brain injury, please contact us to see whether we can help. We offer second opinions at no charge or obligation.

OR

If you are a lawyer, we are happy to work with you to assist your clients. Please call us for a no obligation, no charge consultation.
Tel: 604.713.8030 (Vancouver)
Tel: 250.589.8030 (Victoria)
Toll free: 1.877.873.0699 (within North America)

Email: info@braininjurylaw.ca

 

Fraser Health & Douglas College Brain Injury Film Festival

Roughly 14,000 British Columbians suffer a brain injury each year, and it remains the leading cause of death and disability for people under 45. Some 300,000 Canadians, meanwhile, live with brain injuries caused by stroke. Fraser Health’s Acquired Brain Injury Program and Douglas College hope to bring some light to a little discussed subject with the Brain Injury Film Festival, running every Monday in June.

June 6th: Marwencol

June 13th: Shameless: The Art of Disability

June 20th: Wipeout!

June 27th: The Lookout

Admission is free and is on a first-come, first-serve basis. All films start at 7 p.m. in Lecture Room 2201, Douglas College, 700 Royal Avenue, New Westminster.

To find out more, go to the Fraser Health website.

 

Appointing a committee as legal guardian

In most cases an adult is legally capable of making their own decisions, to initiate, and settle a legal action. However, if a person is not legally competent to manage their own affairs or to make proper decisions in their own interest, someone else can (and should) be appointed to make decisions on their behalf. “Committee” (pronounced kom-it-ee) is the legal term used in British Columbia for this court-appointed legal guardian.

If our clients need the support and protection of a committee (and those with very severe brain injuries often do) we will arrange for this to occur. Often it is a family member or trusted friend who will become a committee, but it can also be the Public Guardian and Trustee, or even a trust company. This process allows a family to act on behalf of their loved one who may not be able to take steps or cooperate in the legal process.

We recently settled a case for a severely brain injured client whose son was acting as her committee. In this case, we took steps at the start of the lawsuit and appointed our client’s adult son as her legal representative. Throughout the litigation process he made all the decisions. In appointing her son as committee, it provided our client with the protection she needed during and after the lawsuit – ensuring that her interests are protected and that the funds she receives are spent sensibly.

Brain injury during baby’s birth

Newborn babyThe birth of a new baby should be one of the happiest moments in a family’s life. Sadly, at times that joy can turn to heartbreak if a baby is not born healthy or if things go wrong in the hours or days following a birth.

Things can and do go wrong whether in a hospital delivery room, in a hospital nursery or at home during a midwife attended birth. At times, an injury to a baby cannot be avoided even with the best of care. Other times, the baby’s injury is the avoidable result of negligent conduct by a physician, nurse, or midwife. Doctors, nurses, and registered midwives all have insurance that can be made available to help care for a child who has suffered an injury through a breach of their expected standard of care.

Injuries can occur in many ways. Injuries caused by a lack of oxygen are too common and often preventable. A baby who does not get enough oxygen during the labour and delivery process will usually demonstrate fetal distress. Though appropriate monitoring, whether by electronic fetal monitoring or through auscultation, fetal distress can often be picked up at an early stage, and steps can be taken to have the baby delivered quickly in order to avoid any injury.

A lack of oxygen may cause an injury in different ways. It may be the result of a lack of blood flow to the tissues (ischemia) or a lack of oxygen within the blood (hypoxia) and a combination of the two.

After birth, a baby that has sustained a brain injury may show low apgar scores. He may have poor tone, poor colour and require resuscitation before he is able to breathe on his own. Some babies show a poor cry, poor suck, have a need for tube feeding, have persistent abnormal tone, or seizures. Some require medications like Phenobarbital for seizures or antibiotics like Ampicillin and Gentamicin.

Babies who have suffered a brain injury may undergo extensive testing after birth. Abnormal blood gasses, x-rays, CT scans and MRIs may each be indicators of a brain injury.

Some babies with brain injury may have blindness or other vision deficits, epilepsy, quadriplegia or developmental delays. Some have more subtle injuries, which may not be as outwardly obvious but may still be very serious or disabling.

The costs of providing the life-long care and rehabilitation that a child with a brain injury needs can be huge. In addition, that child may not be able to grow up to be independent, or to earn a living in the future. A legal action may provide the funding needed to ensure that an injured child is properly taken care of in the future.

 

Did you know that the limitation period for a birth injury in BC is 21 years from the date of the baby’s birth and may be even longer? If your baby may have suffered a birth injury, competent legal advice should be obtained at the earliest opportunity to be sure you know when a legal action must be commenced.

In addition to a baby’s claim for birth injury, parents may have a separate claim (called an “in trust claim” ). The limitation period for this claim may be as short as two years from the date of the infant’s birth. It usually costs nothing to talk to a knowledgeable lawyer to find out what limitation periods apply in your situation.

In our practice we have been retained to act for families with injured children even ten or twenty years after their injuries first occurred. Although delays may mean that the injury and the negligence that caused it are more difficult to prove, the claim can still be successful and insurance funding is probably still available.

Drivers with TBI are slower to anticipate traffic hazards

traffic signs indicating construction areaUnfortunately, the consequences of brain injury are far reaching, and the risk of further injury after an initial brain injury is a real risk that many of our clients face.  Most clients find that the struggle through rehabilitation is hard enough, but as they are told that they can’t (or shouldn’t) go back to the activities that they used to enjoy, they become even more frustrated.

A recent study was conducted to examine the effect of traumatic brain injury (TBI) on drivers’ ability to anticipate traffic hazards. Slower anticipation of hazards has been associated with higher crash rates, but this driving skill has never been assessed after TBI.

The study found that participants with TBI were significantly slower to anticipate traffic hazards than controls. Within the TBI group, while hazard perception response times were significantly related to duration of post-traumatic amnesia, they were not significantly related to Glasgow Coma Scale scores. Not surprisingly participants with a complicated mild TBI (which means that the initial injury met the ‘mild’ criteria, but upon imaging damage was noted) were significantly faster in anticipating traffic conflicts than participants with moderate to severe TBI.

This is not to say that people with past TBI’s can never drive, but for many of our clients, driver training is an essential part of the recovery process. Supporting a return to activities is really important (one of the consequences of prohibiting a return to activities is depression and a decrease in functioning) but proper rehab and therapy is essential to make sure it is done safely.

To review this study see: “Assessment of drivers’ ability to anticipate traffic hazards after traumatic brain injury” from the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry with Practical Neurology (Sept 2010). By Megan Preece, Mark Horswill, and Gina Geffen.
Most clients find that the struggle through rehabilitation is hard enough, but as they are told that they can’t or shouldn’t go back to the activities that they used to enjoy, they become even more frustrated.