Comparing Traumatic Brain Injuries to Psychological Injuries

In continuing this leadership role, Barnett & Lerner, P.A. has recognized the importance of distinguishing between psychological and traumatic brain injuries.
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Fort Lauderdale, FL ( November 27, 2012 - By: David C. Barnett, Esquire & Brian C. Karsen, Esquire

Barnett & Lerner, P.A. continues to lead in the field of psychological injury claims under the Defense Base Act as evidenced by our recent decisions in S.A., where benefits were awarded for a secondary psychological injury which developed naturally and unavoidably from a physical injury and G.S., where benefits were awarded based on the cumulative events experienced over a number of years working in a war zone. In continuing this leadership role, Barnett & Lerner, P.A. has recognized the importance of distinguishing between psychological and traumatic brain injuries.

Most recently in N.M. v. MVM and KBR, the firm enlightened the trial court on the distinction between the two. The Court awarded benefits while recognizing the delayed onset of psychological symptoms resulting from a traumatic brain injury. More specifically, N.M., a former Navy SEAL working security detail, was injured in 2005 when the vehicle he was riding in was impacted by a bomb blast. N.M. was treated for injuries to his knee, shoulder, and back and thereafter returned to work in Iraq. During the course of his work over the next few years, N.M. began noticing a change in his mental capacity, focus, concentration, memory, and personality. N.M. did not believe he was depressed or otherwise suffering from a psychological condition and sought a medical explanation for these changes. Ultimately, after medical evaluation and diagnostic testing, N.M. learned he suffered a traumatic brain injury from the 2005 bomb blast which was further aggravated by his continued stressful employment. Not surprisingly, both employers denied N.M.'s traumatic brain injury claim. Following the Jones Act workers compensation law, the Court agreed with Barnett & Lerner, P.A. and awarded compensation and medical benefits related to the traumatic brain injury itself. Interestingly, the medical benefits awarded included psychological counseling to assist N.M. in his recovery!

For someone experiencing symptoms similar to those of N.M. (i.e. anger, lack of concentration, lack of focus, memory issues, personality changes, etc.), it is important to seek medical help. In doing so, one must undertake a personal assessment of not only their current symptoms, but also of their prior experiences, including any prior head trauma. Conveying a detailed history, combined with current symptoms, will allow the medical provider to determine whether there may be an organic basis for the mental changes. For more information, please feel free to contact one of our maritime workers compensation and Defense Base Act attorneys or visit our website at


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