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Neurolaw: Brain and Spinal Cord Injuries.

Neurolaw: Brain and Spinal Cord Injuries by J. Sherrod Taylor Reviewed by Lars A. Lundeen

This looseleaf formatted book is published in cooperation with ATLA Press. Its author, J. Sherrod Taylor, is a senior partner in his Columbus, Georgia, law practice where he frequently represents people with neurological injuries and their families. He is a member of the Board of Governors of the International Brain Injury Association and a former director of the National Head Injury Foundation. He also is the editor-in-chief of the Neurolaw Letter.

As those of us who have practiced in the neurolaw field know, the area of personal injury trial practice dealing with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and spinal cord injury (SCI) requires trial lawyers to have a good grounding in medicine, rehabilitation, and law in order to serve our clients properly. Due to the complexity of some of the subjects, Taylor has incorporated copyrighted works of other authors to expound in certain fields.

Approximately one third of this book is devoted to imparting a basic understanding of brain injury, beginning with brain anatomy and leading the reader through a discussion of both medical and legal definitions of brain injury. It also includes a detailed discussion of the sequelae of brain injury, including physical, cognitive, emotional, psychosocial, behavioral, and vocational impairments arising out of TBI. There also is a good discussion of the mild brain injury, the kind of injury which many attorneys face in their daily personal injury practice when your client says she was only dazed or lost consciousness for just a brief moment after striking her head. These injuries can be the most difficult to prove, yet are well documented in the medical literature.

The discussion includes a reprint of the article "Closed Head Injuries: Understanding the Issues" which first appeared in Trial Magazine in April 1988. It is this incorporation of the writings of other noted trial attorneys and medical experts in this volume which adds to its worth. It helps to outline the steps trial lawyers can take to evaluate their client, get the facts, and assemble neuropsychological evidence in support of their client. Particular emphasis is placed upon the analysis of closed head injury (CHI) and trial techniques for trying these cases.

Another major third of this volume is devoted to the early stages of litigating the neurological injury case. Helpful in this regard is the list of various research references, which head up each of the major sections of this book. The author also deals with the potentially touchy issues which may arise during attorney-client conferences and conferences with significant others. One of the problems often confronted by the neurolaw practitioner is the changed mood and affect of injured clients and sometimes their failure to recognize their own symptoms and traumatically induced shortcomings, which may be crystal clear to their significant others. The reader is shown that this is all part of the TBI syndrome.

The last third of this work deals with the actual trial and potential appeal of a TBI case. Again, it lists invaluable research references for trial purposes, including instructions for planning and producing a "day in the life" videotape and exploring the rehabilitation and life care needs of a TBI victim. It also provides detailed checklists for proof of damages in closed head injuries which even the most experienced practitioner can find helpful in its comprehensive treatment.

To his credit, Taylor has devoted a substantial amount of effort to explaining the implications of Daubert v. Merrill Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and how this may affect your ability to introduce expert testimony in this arena.

Attorneys currently litigating lead poisoning cases will also find this volume helpful in its treatment of proving causation and damages in childhood lead poisoning cases, which borrows heavily from a presentation by Benjamin Hiller at the ATLA Winter Convention, 1990.

The concluding chapter of this work provides numerous resources available to trial lawyers who represent individuals with TBI and SCI, including organizations, directories, books, journals, newsletters, and even Internet databases. The book also has a well constructed index, making research of your particular topic relatively easy. For those practicing or contemplating practicing neurolaw, this is a book well worth having in your library.

Neurolaw (265 pages) is published by Clark Boardman Callahan and sells for $145 ATLA member/$165 non-ATLA member.

Lars A. Lundeen, a member of the Rutland, Vermont, firm of Griffith & Lundeen, P.C., is a cum laude graduate of the University of Miami School of Law, with a B.S. degree from Cornell University. His trial practice includes neurolaw and other personal injury litigation.
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Title Annotation:Review
Author:Lundeen, Lars A.
Publication:Florida Bar Journal
Article Type:Book Review
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 1999
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