Traumatic Brain Injury Settlement - $250,000 (Policy Limit)

On July 4, 2005, the plaintiff, was a front seat passenger in an antique car operated by her husband.  The vehicle was headed westbound on Center Street in the Town of Groveland when it went through an intersection without stopping and was hit by another vehicle traveling southbound on Route 97.  The antique vehicle was not equipped with seat belts and both occupants were ejected. 

At the scene, the plaintiff was combative and perseverating.  EMT’s reported that the plaintiff had a Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) of nine.  Upon arrival at the hospital, staff noted that the plaintiff was combative but her GCS was now fifteen.  A GCS of 15, though normal, does not rule out that the plaintiff sustained traumatic brain injury. It does, however, reflect plaintiff’s improved awareness and responsiveness.

Combativeness after trauma can be indicative of a traumatic brain injury.  Often times, police, EMT and ER reports will describe such a behavior, yet, the plaintiff will be unable to recall the incidents due to anterograde and retrograde amnesia.  Medical research has shown that brain injured patients who have amnesia can speak but do not later remember speaking because it takes four times longer to be able to lay down ongoing memory than the time it takes to speak.  This phenomenon and others unique aspects of a brain injury claim strongly suggest that an attorney with brain injury litigation experience be retained.

Secondly, brain injured individuals may exhibit perseveration, that is repeating questions despite receiving answers.  Query if perseveration represents the brain injured person’s inability to lay down memories, hence, asking the same question over and over.

Thirdly, Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) is a score sheet of observable symptoms used by emergency staff and ER physicians to document a brain injured person’s level of awareness, responsiveness, pain.  A change in GCS shortly after trauma can be an ominous sign warranting further investigation including but not limited to a CT scan.

The plaintiff had sustained bilateral subarachnoid hemorrhages (brain bleeds, if left unmonitored can lead to a rise in intracranial pressure), a pelvic fracture, multiple rib fractures and a left sided pneumothorax.  Months later, plaintiff’s primary care physician noted plaintiff’s lucidity and cognitive function. 

Plaintiff’s husband was cited for failing to stop his vehicle before entering the intersection of Center Street and Route 97.  Plaintiff’s husband claimed that he could not see the stop sign, was unaware that he was entering an intersection and could not see any vehicular traffic on Route 97 because overgrown trees and shrubbery obscured both the stop sign and intersection. 

Plaintiff brought her claim against her husband under the case of Brown v. Brown, 381 Mass. 231 (1980), which allows spouses to sue each other for personal injuries.  Plaintiff’s claim against her husband was settled eight months after the incident for the full policy limits of $250,000, without the necessity of filing suit.

Plaintiff has also brought a M.G.L. c. 258 claim against the Town of Groveland for negligent maintenance and repair of the stop sign and intersection, under Twomey v. Commonwealth 444 Mass 58 (2005).