In December of 2010, Stark & Stark launched the Personal Injury Law Journal as a way to provide clients throughout the state of New Jersey with timely information, news alerts and commentary on recent case law. Our attorneys offer updates on a wide range of legal issues including motor vehicle accidents, wrongful death claims, birth injuries, medical malpractice claims and many more. In addition to written posts, the blog also features podcasts and video-podcasts, individual RSS feeds for each practice area and attorney author and information on upcoming speaking engagements and events.

The Brain Injury Association of New Jersey will be presenting it’s 25th Anniversary Gala at the Crystal Plaza in Livingston, New Jersey on March 13, 2007. The event will honor Richard Bagger, Senior Vice President, Worldwide Public Affairs & Policy, Pfizer Inc.; David Grubb, Senior Partner, PERMA and Amy Mansue, President & CEO, Children’s Specialized Hospital for their corporate leadership. We are honored to have Rebecca “Becky” Quick, co-anchor of CNBC’s signature morning program Squawk Box who will serve as Honorary Chairperson and Mistress of Ceremonies.

This wonderful gala will celebrate 25 years of service of the Brain Injury Association of New Jersey. I look forward to seeing my many friends at this wonderful upcoming event. Tickets can be purchased by calling Event Headquarters at 800-626-8097 or logging on to the BIANJ website.

In a rare case where a brain injury can lead to something good, a study has found that damage to the insula, a region under the frontal lobe, can cause smokers to completely lose the desire to smoke.  The study was done on stroke patients who had smoked at least five cigarettes a day before incurring brain damage to this region.

The initial results are promising, but more studies must be done to see if this area affects other addictions, as well as how this knowledge can be used to help treat additictions in the future.

The New York Times recently ran an article on this subject, which you can read here (registration required).

In a recent post, I shared the story of Sarah Scantlin, who came out of a minimally conscious state (MCS) after more than 20 years.

Technology Review recently ran a story, Raising Consciousness, that highlights the story of Terry Wallis, a 39-year old man who was in MCS for 19 years after a car accident.  In 2003, Wallis came out of that state and has continued to make improvements.

The article also discusses the research of several medical professionals who are trying to find out how the brain works when in MCS and what a patients chances of recovery may be.   The researchers have learned much, but have not been able to pinpoint any one factor that indicates who will be most likely to recover.   They plan to continue study, hoping to find ways to stimulate recovery of people in MCS.  I believe this work can benefit people affected by Traumatic Brain Injury.

You can read the story here.

The Brain Injury Association of New Jersey plans to hold Brain Injury Awareness Day at the State House in Trenton on Thursday, March 15, 2007 from 9am-5pm in the State House Annex Tunnel.

"The purpose of this event is to raise awareness of brain injury amongst state lawmakers, staff and other government officials," says Tom Grady, Director of Advocacy & Public Affairs for the Association. "This is the third year we are holding such an event and we are confident that each year, the event has fulfilled it’s purpose," he added.

Brain Injury Awareness Day is to occur during the first state-designated Brain Injury Awareness Month. On June 29th 2006, Governor Jon Corzine signed General Assembly Join Resolution No. 85 [AJR85]. AJR85 designates the month of March of each year as "Brain Injury Awareness Month" in the State of New Jersey. It also requests the Governor to issue a proclamation calling upon public officials and the citizens of this State to observe the month with appropriate activities and programs.

Last year, Assemblyman Louis Greenwald, on behalf of the State Legislature, presented a proclamation declaring March 2006 as "Brain Injury Awareness Month" to Barbara Geiger-Parker and Tom Grady, executive director and director of advocacy and public affairs, respectively, for the Brain Injury Association of New Jersey.

"Brain injury is still a serious public health problem in our society and as long as it exists and people still are in need services, we will be working toward raising awareness of the disability to all segments of the population," Grady concluded.

Thank you to our friends at BIA-NJ for sharing this information with us.

As promised, I am letting the readers of the blog know that my new book, Litigating Brain Injuries, which I co-authored with Dr. Jeffrey Brown, is now available for sale.

Published by Thomson West, Litigating Brain Injuries provides tips and strategies for working with brain injured clients,  for proving "mild", "moderate" or "severe"  traumatic brain injuries, and  for detecting or disproving malingering.  The book also discusses the latest medicine for diagnosing and proving brain injuries.

I am excited to see this dream come to fruition and pleased to be able to share it with you.

You can purchase the book here.

 

Though it is not common, there are rare cases of miraculous improvement in brain injury cases.  One such story is that of Sarah Scantlin, a woman who has been in a state of minimal consciousness since a car accident in 1984.  Ms. Scantlin made national news in 2005 when she came out of that state and was able to speak.

You can read the CBS story about Sarah’s continuing recovery here.

 

 

I can’t say enough in this blog about the effects of sports concussions on athletes – both professional and youth.  A story in the January 18 New York Times discusses the suicide of former NFL star Andre Waters.

Experts believe his depression and following death were caused by brain damage caused by numerous concussions.   Dr. Bennet Omalu of the University of Pittsburgh likened Waters brain tissue to that of an 85-year-old man in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. More research is now being done with retired professional football players to discover the long-term effects of suffering repeated concussions.

We can only hope that these findings and further research will keep athletes from being sent back into play after they experience a concussion. 

You can read the story here (registration required).

I just finished reading Harry Chapin media award winner Stephanie Mencimer’s expose book entitled “Blocking the Courthouse Door, How the Republican Party and its Corporate Allies are Taking Away Your Right to Sue.” Now I have not used this brain injury blog to express my own political feelings and beliefs, this is nevertheless a legal blog and the topic of the book certainly is relevant to those who love our civil justice system and depend upon it to hold those responsible for the harm that they cause.

Ms. Mencimer writes: “The right to a civil jury trial – guaranteed by the Bill of Rights – is in serious jeopardy. Personal injury lawsuits, the kind most despised by Bush and his business supporters are on the decline…. The notion that Americans who take on deep-pocketed defendants or health care providers are making out like bandits is belied by numbers showing that plaintiffs in civil cases are taking it on the chin, losing far more often than they win.”

Yet the perception of the legal system as out-of-whack has proven highly resistant to correction by the truth. This is by design. The movement… is the result of a concerted and successful campaign by large corporations (especially the tobacco and insurance industry, but many others besides), to get this issue on the table and limit their vulnerability in the civil justice system. They have spent decades, and many millions of dollars on focus groups and Madison Avenue public-relation research. They have funded institutes, sponsored academic research, bankrolled politicians, set up phony grass root organizations and fed copied to journalists.

For corporations, the self-interest involved is fairly plain. Tobacco companies, no longer able to dodge the bullet of liability for knowingly selling poisons, are making an end run around the civil justice system. If they can’t win a class-action suit, they’ll make suing itself illegal. Insurance companies, drowning in red ink from mismanagement and bad investments, hike insurance rates by huge sums and blame malpractice suits.

“This book is in part about the marriage of corporate desire for immunity from lawsuits and a new breed of GOP politics. It is also the story of how big businesses succeeded in taking bad public-policy proposals, packaging and stage managing them and selling them to the public through well-paid “experts” gullible journalists and intensely misleading propaganda all to the detriment of the average citizen, who still thinks that if he ever needs the legal system, it will be there for him. Unfortunately, as this book will show, in many parts of the country today, that is no longer the case.”

This book is a must-read for everyone. Too often I interview new clients who tell me “We are not the type of people who sue.”  What they really mean is they are not the people who really sue until they are harmed by another and need legal representation and the protection of the civil justice system. This outstanding book can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Borders as well as at your local bookstore.

As I stated in my previous blog entry, I recently received the newest issue of Brain Injury Professional. This issue is devoted to addressing pediatrics and traumatic brain injury. We are fortunate that Dr. Roberta DePompei agreed to serve as guest editor of this wonderful issue. As Dr. DePompei aptly writes "Despite the fact that, annually, over 200,000 Americans become disabled from a traumatic brain injury, it is an ‘orphan’ disease-largely ignored by the public and the medical field-and if adult tbi is an orphan, than child tbi is the orphan of the orphan."  As Dr. DePompei writes, "This issue of Brain Injury Professional focuses on innovative ideas that can influence how children are supported after a tbi."

I urge everyone in the field of assisting adults and children with acquired traumatic brain injury to become a member of NABIS, obtain this wonderful magazine and attend NABIS’ medical and legal conferences which this year are scheduled to take place in San Antonio, Texas from September , 2007.

Dr. DePompei, Dr. Savage and Chas Haines are to be congratulated once again for putting out another wonderful issue of Brain Injury Professional.