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Empty Calories

     He looks her right in the eye. He knows that their relationship may be changed by the upcoming three months. The gate attendant says, “final boarding call to London”. She  wonders if he will meet someone else, while she spends this semester on foreign study. She takes a bangle bracelet off her wrist and puts it on his, “I want this to help you remember me”. He half-smiles and says, ” I don’t need anything to help  remember you”.

     If the above fictional couple did end up getting married, I’m sure that they would tell that story over and over to their kids and grandkids. My wife and I were just reminiscing about names we called/call our grandparents.

 Just saying the word “Pop Pop” brings a smile to my face because of the memories associated with that name. Whenever my “Grammy” would put a pie in the refrigerator, you knew you could have a piece, if there was also a knife sitting under the tin foil too. Aren’t memories a wonderful thing.

     Kodak built an empire on memories. First, just being able to take a photo of something, froze it in time. Then, adding the “moving pictures” created more method to remember the memories. Now, everyone is carrying a cell phone with the capability of capturing, without planning. Then, even emailing it to others.

     There are companies now who focus their business on storing memories. They run commercials of the “what if” type, to scare you.  What would happen if you lost those memories?

     I am redundantly emphasizing the importance of memories because, in my practice, I see clients who suffer head injuries and experience short term and long term memory loss. Then, family members report that the person they knew, no longer exists. As a result, the effects of a brain injury lead to divorce in a majority of couples, where one spouse has suffered a head injury.

     Defense attorneys and insurance companies don’t want to accept responsibility for head injuries. In fact, at a recent Defense seminar on how to defend against a brain injury, the panel emphasized specific defenses and attacks to lessen the financial exposure of a brain injury claim.

     I was interested in these emphasized defenses of that panel. That panel consisted of a doctor, who is regularly hired by the defense and I have seen him repeatedly; There was also a defense attorney who has defended against several claims, brought by my clients who suffer the effects of brain injury. Finally, there was an insurance adjuster who has been assigned to many of my claims, when her employer/insurance company is the carrier providing insurance coverage for the claim.

     In their own words, the panel had specific advice for those defending brain injury claims. Get prior records of the education and work history and show that they were not exceptional students or workers before the crash. Get their medication history to show that any effects of the medicine could actually be cause of the problem and not the crash. Finally, establish that the person is “just depressed” from everyday life, rather than suffering the effects of brain injury.

     An article was published in the Virginia Lawyers Weekly, that set forth these defenses and recommendations of that panel. Since I see these defenses repeatedly, it was no surprise, except to see it in print.

     I wonder why accepting responsibility for harms caused, is so difficult? Why does a person that gets hurt, face attacks and blame? Why would a doctor specialize in helping defense attorneys defend against brain injury claims?

      I guess a defense attorney feels that they are just doing their job. However, even when my client gets a significant settlement or recovery, it never feels like winning. I don’t look at a jury verdict as an award.  

The only satisfaction to the client is what that verdict or settlement can do. It helps to afford treatment that includes testing, therapy, counseling, medication and coping mechanisms.   Those seminar tips, that those attendees were gobbling up, to equip in reducing a recovery, may seem very filling as an argument to a jury. To me, I think that a jury sees them as nothing but empty calories, in that defense blame game.

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