Experiencing a personal injury or accident is, by its very nature, traumatic. Regardless of the extent of their physical pain, patients’ quality of life can be severely hampered by the psychological or cognitive trauma or distress from which they now suffer. These types of traumas and injuries can result from any number of accidents or assaults — even in cases where the patient escaped physical harm. Shock and distress are not psychiatric disorders on their own, but they are often symptoms of other conditions patients experience as a direct result of many personal injury claims, including anxiety, depression, dissociation, phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), psychosis and sleep disturbance. Other conditions, such as brain injuries, or impaired memory, sensory-motor or cognitive functioning, can have lasting effects on patients’ lives and can often warrant compensation when these cases go to court.
How can Neuropsychological Evaluations Help your Case?
“An objective of a psychological evaluation is substantiating that the plaintiff’s suffering or disability was or was not the direct result of the accident or traumatic event, that is, the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s reported damage.”’
–Roxanna Rabhan Ph.D. PSY
While there is no “one-size-fits-all” method for determining the cause or compensation level of patients’ disabilities, there are many clinical and evidence-based evaluations the court will consider. A thorough psychological or neuropsychological evaluation conducted by a licensed professional can help validate strong personal injury claims via reliable clinical data.
Comprehensive evaluations use standardized procedures to evaluate many types of psychological damage and disability, their likely cause, and to illustrate how a patient’s quality of life has diminished by outlining the expected duration, extent, level of suffering, and severity of the disability. This can include the psychological impact of no longer being able to perform activities one previously enjoyed, or the suffering one’s children may experience when a parent is no longer emotionally or financially fit to care for them. In cases where additional treatment is recommended, a psychiatric disorder must be demonstrated and diagnosed.
What do Neuropsychological Evaluations Consist of?
Neuropsychological evaluations often used in personal injury cases typically include:
- Behavioral observations
- Collection of background and psycho-social history from clinical interviews with the patient and his/her family and friends
- Discussion of proximate cause of the damage/disability and its consequences
- Evaluation of the patient’s pre and post-injury functioning
- Mental status examination
- Review of relevant records (medical, employment, school, psychological)
- Standardized neuropsychological tests (i.e. attention, cognitive, memory, personality testing, visual-motor, etc.)
- Comprehensive clinical report consisting of a summary, conclusions, diagnostic impressions, level of impairment, recommendations for treatment, and prognosis of the patient’s injuries and recovery
When should I Request a Neuropsychological Evaluation?
Unlike physical injury, which can often express itself via visible trauma, psychological and cognitive injuries may be harder for the layperson to recognize. The best course of action if you believe your client may be suffering from such harm is often to listen to them and the words they use. Complaints such as “I’m always afraid,” “I’m unable to work,” “I’m unable to sleep,” “I can’t enjoy the things I used to,” or “My life is over,” may indicate more serious issues that could be corroborated by a neuropsychological valuation. Getting your clients evaluated sooner rather than later may have the greatest benefit in the long run, even if the report does not yield expected results, if only so he or she can begin any recommended treatment ASAP and untreated issues aren’t given the opportunity to worsen.
Need Help Finding the Best Providers to Help Your Clients?
You and your client already have enough on your plate without having to worry about finding doctors and specialists that specialize in personal injury cases. For that reason, Power Liens has your back. Since 2012 Power Liens has been connecting attorneys with physicians on liens and able to work on retainer, and we continue to grow based on the strength of the relationships we’ve nurtured between law firms and medical practices of all kinds all over California. Check out Powerliens.com for our full directory of providers, or call us at 800-680-5526 for more information about how Power Liens can help empower you and your clients to get the help they need!