As the only attorney who sits on the Board of Directors of the Brain Association of Pennsylvania (BIAPA), I get a lot of referrals from both attorneys and medical professionals who treat patients with traumatic brain injuries (TBI’s). Most of the cases that make it to my desk involve individuals and their families who have suffered great losses because of the catastrophic nature of the injury. With many of the “cases” it is difficult to assess what actually happened or how the injury occurred.
I write about a case involving an 18 year old female who sustained a profound and permanent TBI because of a car crash. The case was referred to me by a rehabilitation nurse who was assigned to Jill’s care. Jill’s parents were at a loss thinking about Jill’s future, especially on how to pay the hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars for Jill’s future care and treatment.
Jill was driving her car at the time of the crash. It was, by all accounts, a one-car crash. Jill was on a winding road in upstate Pennsylvania. From the police accident report, it looked like Jill lost control of the car and careened off of an embankment, flipping several times before finally hitting a tree….it sounded like a scene out of a movie.
It was roughly a month after the crash and after Jill was admitted to a very well-known brain injury facility in Philadelphia before her parents consider exploring legal action or even speaking with a lawyer.
They spoke to their family lawyer who advised them that there was no other vehicle so it appeared to be no case. The family lawyer nevertheless referred Jill’s parents to a lawyer who deals specifically with personal injury cases. This lawyer also echoed what the family lawyer said and advised that there was no case. Frustrated, Jill’s parents sought the counsel of two other personal injury lawyers in Philadelphia who also advised there was no case. They were rejected by four lawyers because the case, if any, was not clear cut.
So why is Astor Weiss different?
When the situation was brought to our attention by the rehab nurse and after she explained the rejection and frustration that Jill’s parents experienced we agreed to investigate the crash in a more advanced manner….we began thinking out of the box. Clearly there wasn’t another vehicle to pursue which was apparently the thought process of the other four lawyers who reviewed and rejected the case. Jill had no recollection of what happened, which is not uncommon for individuals who sustained a TBI. We had our work cut out for us.
We elected to make the investment, both in time and money. We weren’t sure what, if anything we would find. We did exhaustive research, we dispatched private investigators to speak with the investigating police officers, surveyed the scene and investigated other prior crashes on this section of the roadway, we hired an accident reconstructionist and put together forensic evidence to help us assemble a working theory of the crash, we obtained possession of Jill’s vehicle and then had it examined for its crashworthiness, we had the tires and brakes examined and tested by experts. Four other lawyers before us did not do any of this. While doing our investigating, we closely monitored Jill’s physical and mental condition, visiting her in the hospital and when she was discharged making frequent visits to her home to keep her and her parents closely apprised of what we were doing.
The case was settled shortly before the trial for enough money to give the family some sense of ease that Jill would be financially cared for the rest of her life.
Jill is showing slight signs of improvement but will nevertheless endure a lifetime of suffering which Astor Weiss Kaplan & Mandel made just a little bit more bearable.
This is how and why we practice law.
Chairman, Personal Injury and Litigation Department
Astor Weiss Kaplan & Mandel