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Maryland Brain Lawyer: Watch for Symptoms in Loved Ones

Gwen-Marie Davis Hicks | Offices in Lanham and Rockville

Video transcript:

Gwen-Marie Davis Hicks:

Oftentimes, you just don't see it. It might not come up on scans, but you're experiencing it, and it could be very difficult to live with and function.

Rob Rosenthal:

Do you know why traumatic brain injuries are called the invisible injury, and do you know how to get help? Well, we're going to find out because that's what we're going to ask the lawyer on today's episode.

Hi again, everybody. I'm Rob Rosenthal with askthelawyers.com, and my guest is Maryland attorney Gwen-Marie Davis Hicks. I want to remind you that if you would like to ask questions about your specific situation, just go to askthelawyers.com, click the button at the top of the screen that says “Ask a Lawyer”, and you can do all your asking right there.

Gwen-Marie, it’s good to see you again. Thank you for making some time to help us out today.

Gwen-Marie Davis Hicks:

Good to see you too. It’s always a pleasure to be able to speak with you.

Rob Rosenthal:

Let's start at the top. Why is a brain injury called the invisible injury?

Gwen-Marie Davis Hicks:

That's a good question. With a brain injury, unlike a fracture for which you can tell you have a fractured leg or a fractured arm, when your brain has been injured, oftentimes in a car crash, the car shakes and that's the one part of your body that’s not separated by anything, and your brain could shake. So when that happens, oftentimes on MRIs and different scans, it can come off as normal, but the person could feel irritable; they can feel dizzy; they can have loss of memory and feel nauseous, dizziness, confusion. All of those things are symptoms of a traumatic brain injury, whether it’s post-concussion syndrome or concussion, you name it. Oftentimes you just don't see it. It might not come up on scans, but you're experiencing it and it could be very difficult to live with and function.

Rob Rosenthal:

Now it seems like the kind of thing that could get missed and maybe not be diagnosed in the emergency room right away, or maybe they're not looking for that sort of thing. Does that happen?

Gwen-Marie Davis Hicks:

That’s true. Oftentimes people have headaches and they just miss it and think, “Oh, it's just a headache.” Or they have loss of balance; they can't balance, they’re confused or irritable. All of those are symptoms of a concussion or traumatic brain injury, and people could brush it off and say, “Oh, it will go away.” And oftentimes, it won’t. Oftentimes, doctors will tell you, you can have it missed and people will go on with life and look at their screens and things like that, and those are no-no’s when you're trying to recover from a brain injury. So oftentimes it’s misdiagnosed because people don't know what it is and they don't want to complain about it, but it could be very, very serious.

Rob Rosenthal:

It would seem to me that sometimes the person who has the injury may not even realize they have the brain injury, and maybe it's other people around them who notice that something doesn't seem right. Have you found that to be true?

Gwen-Marie Davis Hicks:

Yes. Oftentimes you do seem different. Oftentimes people seem irritable; they could have sensitivity to light or sudden headaches, and of course the people who know you best wonder why is this person so irritable or sensitive to light, things like that, or memory issues. Things like that can come up, and those are all symptoms of a traumatic brain injury.

Rob Rosenthal:

What are some of the other challenges that you've seen your clients that have traumatic brain injuries face in their life? I would imagine just going about their daily life or working could be really difficult.

Gwen-Marie Davis Hicks:

Yeah, it can be very different because again, sometimes there's memory issues. You go back to your job and short-term memory is something that a lot of people take for granted. Forgetfulness could show up and be an issue at work, and if misdiagnosed or not even diagnosed, a person won't know what it is; and of course, if you don't mention it, it's hard later to be able to say, “Oh, it's from my injury.” So I recommend to my clients from the beginning when they first hire our firm, do you have headaches? Are you nauseous? Vomiting? Sensitivity to light? Any memory issues? Oftentimes they say yes to all of them, but sometimes they say yes, I'm having headaches, I was wondering what that was. And seeing a neurologist early on too is a good step in the process to help identify a brain injury. Because one of the things, too, with brain injury is that the NFL and things like that brought a lot of attention to brain injuries, and sometimes people don't realize. If you hit your head, your brain can recover, but you have to be really careful not to injure it again. So it's really important to have a neurologist helping and treating you, and also it helps to build your case along the way so you can have the best recovery.

Rob Rosenthal:

So speaking of cases, especially in things that are more serious than say a concussion like maybe a TBI or traumatic brain injury, obviously an attorney like yourself is not going to be able to repair their brain, but how can you help them? How can a lawsuit or some sort of recovery help them in their lives?

Gwen-Marie Davis Hicks:

Well, absolutely. A couple of things; first concussions, yes, that is a traumatic brain injury, but oftentimes, as you said, there's bleeding on the brain and things like that, that may not come up on a scan. So filing a lawsuit is important as well, because otherwise your injury could be minimized. A brain injury is very serious and you should be compensated for it, and oftentimes, without filing a lawsuit, your injury and what you’re going through could be downplayed. It's important to have a lawyer fighting for you so you can get the compensation, being able to file a lawsuit and have the experience to identify it so you don't miss it; making sure your neurologist is treating you properly and then you can get the full recovery that you need. That means going to a jury and having your neurologist explain to a jury what a TBI is and how it works and how it affects you, it's huge because there are long-term effects too that I didn’t even talk about. Sometimes the memory issues don't go away; I mean, there's dementia, things like that which neurologists have been able to link to traumatic brain injuries. So it's something that is silent but huge, and you want to have an attorney on your side.

Rob Rosenthal:

Is it possible that somebody with a TBI might require care for the rest of their lives? Maybe the families may have to become their caregivers and it may be something they have to face for the rest of their lives?

Gwen-Marie Davis Hicks:

All of that is possible. So it’s important to stay upon the claim and kind of go from there. Absolutely.

Rob Rosenthal:

And is it important, Gwen-Marie, to have an attorney who understands brain injuries or can any attorney handle these kinds of cases?

Gwen-Marie Davis Hicks:

I wouldn't recommend having just anyone handling that. It’s a very specialized area and you want to make sure you don't miss anything, being able to ask the right questions to your experts; helping you get the treatment and following along with the process, and then ultimately being able to fight for you in getting the client the recovery that they deserve, because it's so important. But it could be easily missed because, again, it's that silent injury that people want to downplay.

Rob Rosenthal:

Makes a lot of sense. Lots of great information is always, Gwen-Marie. Thank you so much for making some time to answer our questions.

Gwen-Marie Davis Hicks:

Thank you for having me.

Rob Rosenthal:

That's going to do it for this episode of Ask the Lawyer. My guest has been Maryland attorney Gwen-Marie Davis Hicks. Remember, if you'd like to ask questions about your specific situation, go to askthelawyers.com, click the button at the top of the page that says “Ask a Lawyer”, and it'll walk you through the process right there. Thanks for watching, everybody. I'm Rob Rosenthal with AskTheLawyers™.

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