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Did you suffer symptoms of a mild traumatic brain injury in your car accident?

brain-injury-maclean-lawMany car accident victims end up with brain injuries and it is very important to ensure a proper diagnosis and documentation related to these car accident injuries. This could have an impact on your ICBC claim. In the recent decision of Jampolsky v. Insurance Corporation of British Columbia 2015 BCCA 87, the British Columbia Court of Appeal considered the diagnostic criteria for suffering a Mild Traumatic brain injury or MTBI. In Jampolsky v. ICBC, the Plaintiff Jampolsky was involved in 4 motor vehicle accidents. The first three accidents occurred in the summer of 1999. The fourth accident occurred in August 2007. Mr. Jampolsky alleged that one or more of the 1999 accidents caused him to suffer a mild traumatic brain injury which had left him with significant personality changes as well with memory and cognitive deficits. At trial, the Judge did not find the evidence met the diagnostic criteria for a mild traumatic brain injury. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the following are signs and symptoms of a traumatic brain injury. Symptoms may not appear, according to the CDC, until days or weeks following the injury, or may be missed as people may look fine even though they may act or feel differently:

  • Headaches or neck pain that do not go away
  • Difficulty remembering, concentrating, or making decisions
  • Slowness in thinking, speaking, acting, or reading
  • Getting lost or easily confused
  • Feeling tired all of the time, having no energy or motivation
  • Mood changes (feeling sad or angry for no reason)
  • Changes in sleep patterns (sleeping a lot more or having a hard time sleeping)
  • Lightheadedness, dizziness, or loss of balance
  • Urge to vomit (nausea)
  • Increased sensitivity to lights, sounds, or distractions
  • Blurred vision or eyes that tire easily
  • Loss of sense of smell or taste
  • Ringing in the ears

The medical experts in these proceedings accepted that the extract from the CDC is an accurate description of the road signs to the diagnosis of an MTBI, and that each of the above symptoms is non-specific to an MTBI. That is to say, seen in isolation, the symptoms described above could have a variety of causes, including the existence of an MTBI. The Honourable Madam Justice Kirkpatrick writing for a unanimous Court of Appeal affirmed the diagnostic criteria from the CDC and at paragraph 61 indicated the following:

Furthermore, throughout his reasons, the [trial] judge noted that Mr. Jampolsky omitted to relate important information to the doctors about his symptoms following the accidents. It was thus telling that the symptoms said to be observed by the collateral witnesses were not reported by Mr. Jampolsky to the doctors when it would have been expected that he would do so.

In the end, Mr. Jampolsky bore the burden of establishing that one or more of the accidents caused the MTBI that he claimed to suffer. He failed to do so because there was no reliable medical evidence that he suffered a MTBI and no evidence that supported a causal link between the accidents and a MTBI. As Mr. Gunn submitted, he was not entitled to a finding of causation just because the collateral witnesses described symptoms that might be consistent with a MTBI.

The appeal was dismissed. If you suffer from headaches, reduced concentration, disrupted sleep patterns or any of the other criteria listed above following a motor vehicle collision you may have suffered from a concussion or mild traumatic brain injury. Do not delay, contact us immediately to get advice on how to report your symptoms to a physician.

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