Friends slip away after head injury
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I have also acted for people who have become disinhibited. They swear inappropriately, make racist or sexist comments or can grab a women who walk past. Can you imagine sitting in the park, going to the cinema or to a restaurant and your partner, parent or friend making very loud personal comments about someone nearby. People who suffer brain injury are often known as the walking wounded. To see them you would not know they were injured. This means that to you and I they look healthy or "normal" so you jump to the conclusion that they are rude or offensive individuals capable of understanding what they are doing rather than someone who has been seriously injured. This can get them into difficulty or place them at risk of further injury. Those suffering head injuries , particularly young men can often find themselves in trouble with the police for anti social or aggressive behaviour or get into fights as a result of comments made.
I acted for a young man who had very antisocial behaviour. He was injured in a car accident though no fault of his own. The Defendant Insurers argued that his future care and loss of earnings claim should be reduced because he was likely to spend time in prison as a consequence of his behaviour. How can that be right? The premise of compensation is to put the injured party back into the same position they would have been had the accident not occurred. Surely the Defendant should pay for the care needed to protect that individual and keep them safe rather than taking advantage of their poor behaviour and trying to reduce the amount of compensation they pay out and passing the responsibility onto the state!
As a solicitor who acts for head injured individuals, I view my role as not only being there to help the injured person but also to support the family and friends as well. I try and ensure that a case manager is appointed to act as the individuals advocate, but also for them to be on hand to support the family and answer questions. Training can be given so that family and friends have a better understanding of the damage caused to the brain and why their loved one is acting as they do. They can also be taught techniques to try and spot problem situations before they arise. This has enabled friends to understand the changes and has on occasion made it easier for them to stay around.
It seems as a society we are more tolerant of physical disability. You can see the injury and understand it. There may be no alteration to the individuals personality so their sense of humour, intellect and outlook on life stay the same. Brain injury is very different. The person who survives the injury may be very different. Clients have described to me that their loved one died the day of the accident and now they have to learn to love a completely different person. Can you imagine how hard that must be?
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